How human behavioural insights can shape your content strategy

By July 19, 2017Content

This month I spoke to Chloe Foy, who worked as a researcher in Human Behaviour and Happiness at the London School of Economics. Chloe has published research into the impact that context has on human behaviour and productivity, and judged at Ogilvy’s Nudge Awards. I wanted to find out how we can use her insights to shape better content marketing.

What do you think are the biggest influencers in people’s daily decision-making?

We are ‘nudged’ all the time. We make between 2,000-10,000 decisions every day so influences can come from all sorts of places. The biggest influence is probably from other people, our ‘social norms’. Friends, family, colleagues and strangers shape our behaviour, not that we like to admit it. In some ways, humans are like sheep and bearing in mind human evolution, we like to fit in and follow the tribe.

So, how easily influenced are we?

Very. The great thing is we don’t know we are being influenced because it is unconscious. Sometimes we know we are being influenced but go with it any way. The brain is essentially lazy as it’s always trying to conserve attentional energy, so it therefore makes shortcuts that means it will look for cues in the environment. That’s when we are tired, we tend to ‘go with the flow’ a bit more.

What things can affect our ability to make decisions?

If it’s about making ourselves happier or helping others, then it depends how easy you make it to do those things. Behavioural science is rooted in making things easier for us to do them, so, the easier you make it for the decision to be made, the better.

From a marketing perspective, what do you think companies could do to better influence their customers?

Keep it simple. Really simple. With a world constantly vying for our attention (and we know our attention spans are shortening at a frightening rate) then it’s a classic case of less is more. Make the call to action really easy and obvious. Get outside perspective, do some good testing and learn what actually works for the customer.

What common mistakes do companies make that could put people off?

We know that hyperlinks and too much text, or unclear messaging can put people off. There is a study that shows greater engagement with the news when it is read physically rather than virtually. I think that companies don’t look enough at the complete user journey. Sometimes there can be too much focus on new customers rather than retaining the ones you have for the long-term. You can also nudge too much.

Do you think the internet, access to smartphones has changed the way we make decisions?

The extent to which the internet and smartphones have changed the way millennials make decisions is a hard one to answer. What’s interesting is even when we are not online, what we have previously seen or read can still nudge us later on as it sits in our unconscious. Smartphones are affecting our attention span, navigation, logic, reasoning, creativity and emotional intelligence. We’re social animals and we live in a more (virtually) socially connected world than ever. Not only are smartphones reducing our cognitive ability, social media is making us more stressed and with so much going on online, we are influenced heavily by what others think and do but how do we know what is really right decision for us? I think there is a lot to say about how we can use behavioural science to not just influence customers, but increase individual happiness and help generate greater experiences in life.

So, perhaps less is more in the world of content marketing? Not overloading customers with information, aiming for social proof and keeping it simple are not just smart, but are better aligned to human behaviour.

If your content and social marketing needs a nudge, get in touch with us today.

Find out more on how to avoid common B2B communications mistakes, in our blog here.