Mindfully Nudging Our Audiences
First, let’s splash a little cold water before giving you a warm blanket; there is no nudge that works in every context, and not every campaign requires a choice architect. But, when applied properly, behavioral science can be a force for good – both for your campaign’s success and your audience’s well-being.
1. Focus on the Present
Marketers build customer journeys leading up to one moment: the point-of-sale. They intuitively understand what studies show — we make decisions in the present, and the journey up to that point and our experience in that moment influences those decisions.
The science goes a step further: we frame our decision based on how we believe we’ve acted in the past, and what we think we’ll want in the future. Yet, we have a lousy memory of the past and we’re an even worse judge of knowing what our future selves will want.
That’s why, as communicators, it’s important to think about our audience’s journey and establish their experience. It’s also important that our “what’s in it for me?” messaging accounts for that human irrationality.
2. Establish Attention
We all know that simply stating your argument clearly is not enough to convince your audience. The science now helps us to understand two reasons why: availability bias and confirmation bias.
Basically, our audience is seeking out information to confirm what they already believe, and then when they make a judgment about an issue, it’s based on their most recent and memorable piece of information or news. As a matter of fact, facts and figures that disagree with their point-of-view are more likely to cause a “reactance effect,” further pushing your audience away from your position.
Consider four basic tips as you get started: 1) use data analytics to identify the outlets your audience follows for your media relations; 2) build out your SEO strategy to consider how your audience is searching for information; 3) stop their scroll with smart paid and organic content; and 4) develop a content strategy that is more focused on storytelling than arguments.
3. Practice Listening
As an educated thought leader, you have a clear point-of-view on your issue. You may even “know what’s best for your audience, even if they don’t know it themselves.” For years, behavioral scientists have hammered home the idea that we should be careful to design choices in such a way that the decision is still in the hands of the individual. Additionally, recent research has focused on ensuring that we consider “spillover effects” (think: eating that ice cream sundae after working out). This includes how our intervention may ultimately impact our audience’s well-being.
So, as you consider your interventions, first start by listening to your audience and what they are trying to tell you. There are a number of tools at your disposal, including social listening, quantitative and qualitative research, as well as the real-time metrics and results from your campaign. As you do so, consider what mindfulness experts remind us all: listen without judgment. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be able to get to work in designing your campaign and the choices in front of your audience to succeed for you both.
At VOX Global, we fuse behavioral science theory and data analytics to deliver strategy, tactics and content based on actionable insights and stories that are meaningful and persuasive.
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