How to turn insights into effective behaviour change in 3 steps 

As an integrated agency based in the North West that specialises in research and insights, we know a thing or two about delivering multiple award-winning behaviour change campaigns for our clients. 

When briefed on any marketing or brand campaign, conducting the right type of qualitative and quantitative research is essential for building out a strong and robust strategy. But if you’re looking to drive real behaviour change, we’ve found there’s a fine line between encouraging somebody to do something and telling them what to do. So, your communications need to be carefully considered. 

Each of our award-winning campaigns has been driven by our ability to delve deep and uncover the key insights – not only at the start but at three crucial stages throughout. This is what truly helps us to understand the audience’s behaviours, desires, barriers, and motivations inside out and create effective marketing messages that will make a lasting impact.  

Here are our secrets to truly unlocking a real shift in public behaviour.   

Stage One: Understand your audience

Defining your target audience is the starting point of any successful behaviour change campaign. We start by pinning down who they are, what their current behaviours are, what barriers are in the way of them making the desired behaviour change, and what we can offer to motivate them.  

Most people can’t be easily convinced to change their behaviour, they need to be motivated. The key to motivating people is often understanding what’s in it for them. What matters to them enough to make them want to change?  

Sometimes different groups are motivated by different things, which is why we segment our audience into relevant groups. By dividing your audience into distinct segments based on shared characteristics, needs and behaviours, you can tailor your messaging and interventions to resonate with each specific group. 

Remember – never assume anything about your target audience!  

One standout example is our recent work with the Champs Public Health Collaborative, an organisation led by Cheshire and Merseyside’s nine Directors of Public Health. In the run up to winter, we embarked on a campaign aimed at keeping the community healthier. Rather than relying on generic public health advice, we dug deeper through primary research. It revealed that, while there was “message fatigue” around handwashing and surface sanitisation due to numerous national COVID-related campaigns, there was still a high concern of future outbreaks. Our audience wanted to be empowered.  

Stage Two: Test your messaging  

Once armed with insights, the next step is developing the big idea that will drive action and when you’ve come up with your winning creative – it’s time to test. No matter how well you think you know your audience, you don’t know for sure how your campaign will land until you ask.   

In the case of our work with the Champs Public Health Collaborative, that’s exactly what we did. Our initial quantitative research led us to a creative which empowered people and focused on all the things people would be able to do this winter if they stayed well, by reinforcing that ’The simple things mean a lot’. 

Through a series of focus groups, we tested our creatives and got some invaluable insights. People did not want to be told what to do anymore and they wanted more recognition for what they had been doing. Focusing on the future good times just didn’t land with our audience the way our initial research had predicted, but they did resonate with ‘Simple things mean a lot’!  

We re-briefed our creative team to tweak our initial concept. We kept ‘Simple things still mean a lot’, but added in a thank you to people for continuing to help prevent winter illness and illustrated using a series of simple human interactions people could relate to. And, this time, the messages landed loud and clear!  

Backed by a positive response, we were ready to launch. As an integrated agency, we used multiple channels to deliver our campaign messages to our target audiences.  

Stage Three: Measure your effectiveness  

Did your messages land and change people’s perceptions or behaviour? The only way to prove this is to ensure you have the tools in place from the beginning to measure awareness, sentiment and / or behaviour, depending on your specific objective.   

Measuring levels at the start gives you a baseline to work from, so you can truly measure the impact of your campaign and learn from the results.  

And remember, evaluation shouldn’t just be used to bookend your campaign at the beginning and the end – to make the most impactful use of insights, you need to track results throughout. This allows you to gauge which tactics and messages are most effective and should receive the bulk of the resources.  

For our ‘Simple Things’ campaign, we employed various tracking mechanisms to gauge its effectiveness throughout and the results speak for themselves. We achieved 30% recall, rising to 52% of our primary target audience (16-34-year-olds). While four out of five people who saw our adverts claimed they made them wash their hands more or sanitise surfaces more.  

The campaign’s evaluation also found that 80% of those who saw the campaign said it ‘grabbed their attention’ and 71% said they shared the messages with friends and family. 

Insight is the foundation of successful behaviour change. By investing time and effort into understanding the target audience, testing messages, and measuring effectiveness, we equip ourselves with the knowledge we need to drive real change. Our ‘Simple Things’ case study is just one of our campaigns which exemplifies the power of insight in action. You can see more examples of some of our recent campaigns here.   

Feel free to also get in touch with us for a chat on how we can use our insights and research expertise to inform your next campaign.