Making Communications Better With COGNITION


The coronavirus pandemic, and measures in place to limit its impact, present an unprecedented challenge for industry. Everyone has to make fundamental changes to the way we behave, in our businesses and in society at large.

More than ever – if you are in business, you are in the business of behaviour.

Unless a business influences behaviour, it will not succeed. A business needs people to buy and use its products and services to generate revenue. It needs people to make and deliver those products and services.

Or at the very least it needs people to create those products and services, or to build and program the machines that create them. And it needs to do those things better than its competitors to survive and grow.

This much should be self-evident. But there are lots of things businesses do that fly in the face of the latest evidence on how, and why, people behave as they do. Or worse, businesses frequently don’t even try to change behaviour, but merely perceptions or attitudes, and wrongly assume behaviour will follow.

Here at BVA Nudge Consulting we believe every piece of communication can, and should, change people’s behaviour. By employing the latest expertise in behavioural and marketing science, we ensure that all communications are evaluated in terms of their influence on behaviour, not simply attitudes or awareness. 

To make your communications as effective as possible during the pandemic (and beyond), we are helping businesses based on our extensive experience of delivering successful behaviour change. As we are seeing in the government response, communications at a time like this are absolutely critical – and a poorly received message can be disastrous. 

COGNITION Audits are our unique approach to effectively changing behaviour through communication.

Our new service allows you to create measurable customer behaviour change. COGNITION Audits are designed to optimise your communications whether it be online experiences, marketing, print materials, call centre scripts, or internal communications. Our COGNITION framework is based on years of experience of international best practice, marketing science, psychology and behavioural theory.

A COGNITION audit is an expert review rooted in behavioural science, where our COGNITION framework is applied to create a shortlist of optimisations designed to be put into testing. The final document is a short, accessible guide for creatives, researchers and stakeholders on how to deliver more effective communications – that will change behaviour for good.

This report includes a set of recommended Communication Optimisations Guidelines (COGs), each rooted in behavioural science theory and the COGNITION framework and designed to change specific behaviours. The results achieved have been dramatic – this approach helped one of the UK’s largest savings banks achieve an 11% efficiency saving via its call centre.

In 2018, a credit card company asked us to behaviourally optimise their consumer website. They found that, having driven potential customers to their site, surprisingly few actually went on to apply for a card.

A COGNITION audit identified several opportunities to make the user experience cognitively easier – including that users had to scroll through three pages of (largely irrelevant) product information before they got to the ‘Apply Now’ button. For customers wanting to get on with an application, this required unnecessary cognitive effort.

One of our recommendations was to conduct an A/B test to see how the existing website compared to a version where the button was made more salient – by moving it ‘above the fold’, to the top of the web page. This instantly increased the click-through rate to application on the webpage by 54%.

For businesses that can collate data on actual behaviour and test accordingly, there really are no excuses not to do so – the benefits are potentially huge. 

COGNITION audits provide the solution to clients who want to ensure their communications actually change behaviour – and gives them the evidence to prove it.