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Why your marketing strategy needs a behaviour change objective

woman in lights

No campaign is launched for the sake of it.

In a nutshell

  1. Almost all marketing campaigns have a goal of encouraging a change in behaviour.
  2. Getting specific on what that behaviour is and where it sits in the customer journey can help us get closer to changing it. 
  3. Use our template to help guide the behaviour change objective in your next campaign.

With almost every campaign and piece of creative, you are trying to solve a problem that requires people to change their behaviour in some way.

Whether you're in the public or private sector, marketing and communications in essence are always about changing thoughts, feelings and actions. They might take the form of building trust, or awareness, or brand loyalty, but ultimately all brand and communications activity is building toward getting someone to do something – encouraging a change in behaviour.

Defining the behaviour you’re trying to change sounds obvious but this crucial step can easily be overlooked.  

Behaviour change objectives in marketing 

The first step to incorporating behaviour change into your engagement and communications is to understand what behavioural outcome you want to see. 

Getting specific on what the behaviour you want to see is, and exactly whose behaviour you’re focusing on, can help you get closer to changing that behaviour. And like any good project, setting measurable indicators will helps track change.  

Some campaigns have clearly defined behaviour change objectives. For example, encouraging commuters to take public transport to work, convincing women to have regular breast screening checks, or converting one-off charitable donations to regular contributions from ongoing supporters. In these cases, the behaviour change objective is clear and easily defined. 

However, in other cases, the behaviour change objective seems broad and hard to pin down. 

In these instances, you might need to get greater clarity on the problem you are addressing. Hone in on a moment in your audience's journey, look to a more specific audience, or focus on one key behaviour. 

How to set a behaviour change objective

The more specific you can be about the behaviours you’re trying to encourage through a marketing or communications campaign, the closer you can get to changing those behaviours.   

To set a behaviour change objective, identify the audience, behaviour, conditions and measurement required. 

behaviour change objective template

Here’s an example of a behaviour change objective set for the launch of Auckland Transport’s new Northwestern Bus Service:  

Audience: Existing and lapsed public transport users in the Northwest suburbs. 

The behaviour: Catch the new Northwestern bus service with confidence for regular journeys (for example to work or study, the gym, supermarket and so on).  

The conditions: When the bus service goes live in 2023.  

As measured by: Patronage numbers in the Northwestern area growing compared to the current service patronage numbers.   

Another example, this time for low carbon residential building:  

Audience: Homeowners and investors who are looking to build a house.   

The behaviour: Use low-carbon building materials and build above the minimum standard for a more energy-efficient home.  

The conditions: When completing a build or major renovation  

As measured by: Increase in low-carbon building materials sold and used in residential homes. Increase in homes built and renovated above minimum standards. Increase in insulation values, solar, passive homes and triple glazing.  

Download our template

To get started with crafting your own behavioural change objective, download our editable PDF template

Lindsey Horne
Behavioural Insights Lead
With a background in neuroscience and applied behavioural science, Lindsey works across behaviour change projects with social and government clients. Her approach to behaviour change is holistic, from broader cultural and social change through to behavioural economics and nudges.

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