Understanding Behaviour Is The Secret Key To Great Comms

We marketers love shiny, new toys, and social media is no exception to that rule. Having worked in social media for over 10 years I think clients and agencies in the Middle East need to focus more on the core fundamentals of understanding human behavior. This should be where they begin their journey of putting plans in place to create the valuable engagement with their customers that they all crave so much.

We live in the age of information jet lag or content shock where it is stated that only 2 per cent of traditional communications cuts through the noise. This is an age where we are seeing too many marketers focus effort and time on what they see as easy wins rather than use technology to help them organise themselves around the same key principles of great marketing that generate sufficient levels of commercial impact.

There is a smarter way to encourage user engagement and this approach starts by focusing on behaviour first and then content, channels and strategy second.

There are three simple but important aspects of human behavior that we need to understand. Basically humans like things ‘simple, stupid’ especially when it comes to action therefore ‘ease’ is a big driver.

Secondly, humans are by their very biology and physiology social creatures, we suffer physical and mental symptoms if we do not have regular social interaction with other humans, so we are inherently social. This, combined with the opportunities technology and its channels provide, has allowed us to easily share our thoughts and lives with the groups of people who we hold connections with. This is the secret to why Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram have all penetrated our lives so quickly and deeply. We share on social networks for two reasons, First is to validate ourselves and create the perception from others that we lead great lives. The second is to secure support, acknowledgement and comfort;

Lastly, humans are also creatures of habit. Once they have nailed down simplicity and harnessed the social drivers, marketeers now need to design service tools to help form habits that are valuable to consumers and brands in equal proportions. This is the only way to secure strong long term value from customers.There are all sorts of simple techniques for achieving this, but ultimately, what is needed is mechanism that makes it simple for users to look good and complete desired behaviour, reinforced over time to create routine. In order to be successful, you need to tap into these themes of ease, social and habit. I know because there are infinite example of how this approach translates into serious business that if marketers identify what consumers want, i.e. social, easy and habitual services. This will in turn encourage behavioural change through triggering behaviours to take place at the right time to result in a long term return on investment.

If you want to understand what makes the new digital, mobile consumers click it is really important you read the teaching of Stanford University Professor, BJ Fogg. He is by far and away one of the best writers on this subject for non academics trying to improve their understanding of what makes customers click and how marketers can use this insight to elicit the behaviours from their audiences in order to meet commercial goals.

A great example of a local company that understands customer behavior is Red Tomato. Their VIP customer Pizza Fridge Magnet app is inspired. It takes away the hassle of ordering online or on the phone your regular pizza fix. You literally just have to press one button on your fridge and everything else is taken care of. It is so simple, it’s genius!

It taps into the essential truth that everyone is looking for ways to make the most of our time. Everyone wants to take the shortest route possible to complete any task. Take a look at some of the most successful products today, they are based around making things easy for us, Netflix makes it to consume content, Uber takes the hassle out of hailing taxis, DropBox it’s your one stop shop to keep my information. Everywhere I go, whatever device, whatever application, I know that I can pull things out of it.

So how can you start thinking in this way? Consider game mechanics, not to increase motivation through badge bribery but to make the product experience fun to interact with. Engagement will then follow. You need to be able to understand the science behind what makes games so engaging and utilise these mechanics. Your gift to your customers can be making the mundane easier and more fun. If you reward them, they will be grateful to you. There are some really great developers who are creating Arabic content first games such as the free Al Mwajaha app, which launched in April 2014. This app is an Arabic first trivia game and users can challenge their Facebook friends to contests. Over the last few months, the game gathered 110,000 play hours and 500,000 challenges in the month after launch, while the first couple of weeks after the launch saw players coming back more than 150 times to play the game. The highest number of players come from Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait, the UAE, Egypt, Qatar, and Algeria.

The technology already exists to track user preference and trigger behavioural change. Indeed only recently we have seen tons of campaigns from brands in the region who want to leverage these insights to create true consumer and brand engagement. For example, Coca-Cola’s Today I Will campaign this used a Coca-Cola augmented reality can to deliver inspirational stories from the region on Facebook. Amongst the stories are those of Saudi rappers Black R, and Alanoud Badr, who designed her own fashion line and has become a prominent fashion blogger.

The most sophisticated marketers will therefore be looking to employ these software platforms to identify motivated consumers, offer them the experiences and services that they want; — while simultaneously encouraging small changes in behaviour through supporting a persons ability to complete the behaviours that lead to the commercial goal.

Marketers can leverage this insight by applying the following tips to increase engagement

  1. Place understanding human behaviour at the heart of your marketing and services strategy. Understand what content and context influences people in different situations, focus on creating tools and services for those motivated to purchase from your brand that give them something back that makes their lives easier and more social.Help them create habits and reinforce positive behaviour
  2. Invest time and resource in understanding and evolving through testing and trialling what actually makes users click, not building products and campaigns that your agency believes will create epiphanies in users to buy your goods at some point in the future. Work towards triggering changes in their behaviour at the right time for them where they can actually generate some commercial benefit there and then.
  3. Analyse and track influence. As the web becomes more social, and we are influenced by different people in different contexts not by noisy brands . It is important to monitor how people interact and influence each other. When considering their data analytics processes, businesses are increasingly needing to implement a new analytics programme which tracks interactions with people around content, not just interaction with the content itself.
  4. Harness big data. Companies today hold lots of valuable data about its customers, which is often overlooked and unused. Measure browsing habits, online footprint and preferences in real-time to create bespoke experiences for customers. Here in Dubai we see some large enterprises partnering with big data solutions providers like SAP to drive innovation. For example, SK Solutions, co-innovated with SAP to enhance worker safety, reduce costs and improve productivity on Dubai construction sites.

So to summarise, keep it simple, help people connect with each other and allow them to create a ritual or habit around what you are trying to do and you will be effective at changing your customers behavior for the benefit of you and more importantly for them!

Originally published at emalinakeruae.tumblr.com.