Increase your ROI from one of our marketing subscription memberships

Explore our Digital Experience Management Toolkit

How to apply EAST: A behavioural insights framework to improve customer experience

Author's avatar By Content Partner 06 Mar, 2018
Essential Essential topic

The EAST framework combines behavioural economics with other sciences and psychology to truly understand and influence behaviour change

Behavioural economics is nothing new in marketing, having been a fundamental industry discipline for the past few decades, but there's a new kid in town and it's behavioural economics, supercharged.

Behavioural Insights (BI) has long been a tool for Government departments to improve the design and implementation of public policy, with its umbrella spanning research into behavioural economics, sciences and psychology.

Its aim is to understand and influence behaviour change among citizens by:

  • Simplifying processes
  • Removing unnecessary steps
  • Making services more user-friendly

We think it translates perfectly into marketing too when improving and enhancing customer experience.

Nudge and learn – a winning approach

Much like in conversion rate optimisation (CRO), services are streamlined by testing subtle changes to the design, content, timings, and navigation of websites, letters, emails, forms and other methods of communication with citizens.

Something as simple as changing the website link in a letter or making the default option opt-in instead of opt-out can have a small but substantial impact on user behaviour.

For example, when the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) tested this with pension auto-enrolment, they found a significant uplift in participation – rising from 63% to 81%.

Simplifying processes like this means service use is increased, and they become more effective and cheaper to run. A win-win all round, both for the citizen using the service and Government department providing it.

It’s this ‘test and learn’ ethic that Marketers know all too well and so the BI approach offers the perfect premise for marketing optimisation.

Behavioural Insights and marketing

Behavioural insights (BI) is about understanding and changing behaviour – and ultimately, as marketers, that is our goal too – through the understanding and optimisation of customer experience.

To simplify processes, make brand interactions more intuitive, achieve higher click-throughs on our emails, and encourage more conversions online – these are all goals shared within BI and marketing.

But there is a question of ethics. Where BI aims to improve the welfare of citizens through the optimisation of Government policy, services, and communications; with marketing, it only works if you have visibility of the overall customer experience beforehand and can identify a need, want or desire to change, to begin with.

The customer must already have a desire or need to fulfil – it’s the job of the brand, and therefore the marketer to make it as easy as possible to achieve that goal, empowering them to make positive, conscious decisions across their journey.

You are helping and nudging them along their journey, not changing their path with persuasion.

The EAST framework

There’s one BI framework that translates wholly to marketing and can bring focus and benefit to your marketing efforts.

The EAST framework was developed by the Behavioural Insights Team (the world’s first Government institution dedicated to the application of behavioural sciences) in early 2012, as a replacement of the MINDSPACE model that had previously been in use.

The EAST framework states that to change behaviour the intervention must be:

EASY - If a decision requires minimal effort, it’s more likely to be the one that’s chosen.

  • Harness the power of defaults – making the desired action the default option makes it more likely to be selected.
  • Reduce the hassle factor of taking up a service.
  • Simplify messages – making messages clear and concise can increase response rates and engagement.

ATTRACTIVE – If something is attractive, we will be drawn to it.

  • Use bold and striking colours and professional imagery.
  • If a choice has a financial reward or other incentives, we’ll be drawn to that too – and if it captures our attention we’ll be more likely to engage.
  • For example, responses to the electoral roll increased by 2% when a £5k and £10k lottery element was introduced in the reminder letters.

SOCIAL – We are social beings – we care about what our peers are doing, and what they think of us.

  • Show that most people perform the desired behaviour – use social proof to highlight and reinforce participation.
  • Use the power of networks – peer relationships are very important to us, both in person and online.
  • Encourage people to make a commitment to others – commitment devices voluntarily ‘lock ourselves’ into doing something in advance.

TIMELY – The time that you choose to prompt or ‘nudge’ someone towards a desired behaviour is vitally important.

  • Prompt people when they’re most likely to be receptive – behaviour is easier to change when habits are already disrupted.
  • Consider the immediate costs and benefits – we’re more influenced by costs and benefits that take effect immediately.
  • Help people plan their response to events – identify the barriers to action and develop a plan to address them.

Applying the EAST framework to marketing

Before you apply the EAST framework to your marketing, you must first understand your customers’ journeys and any challenges faced on their path to conversion.

Mapping out the customer experience like this allow you to identify moments of truth, which can barriers and blockers that might dissuade the user from continuing onto the next step – whether that’s contacting you, signing up for an email, making a purchase or simply completing an action on your site.

Customer Experience Mapping

Carry out Customer Experience research, including journey and empathy mapping.

Looking at the ‘moments of truth’, identify the challenges people have within their experience – this step takes the guesswork out and gives you true context and perspective from real life customers (existing or potential).

List out which behaviours and outcomes you want to change – Consider what the particular behaviours are that can contribute to what you want your customers to do? Decide how these are going to be measured so you know how effective your activity has been (or not, which remember isn’t always a bad thing, but instead is a learning).

Decide on your specific activities that need to be used to change the behaviours. These are known as ‘interventions’ in behavioural terms but can also be called your ‘solutions’.

For each of these, list out what is needed from the EAST principles:

  • How EAST is it for them to do what you would like them to do?
  • How ATTRACTIVE is it for them to do it?
  • What are the SOCIAL implications?
  • When is the right TIME for them to do it?

Test and learn – start to implement your activity but make sure you test and learn from this, then adapt your activity accordingly. This helps avoid wasted time and budget.


For a more detail on this approach Download Fresh Egg's whitepaper, ‘LOOK EAST: Using a Behavioural Insights framework to improve your customer experience’, to learn:

  • More about what behavioural insights is and how it can relate to consumerism and marketing.
  • What the EAST framework is and how to apply it to marketing for increased relevancy to drive continued revenue and growth.
  • Practical tips and examples on how you can apply EAST to your marketing strategy.
  • How EAST can help improve on-site fluency, and make it easier to find, interact with and purchase from your brand online.

Author's avatar

By Content Partner

This article is contributed by a Smart Insights Content Partner. To find out how you can become a regular contributor and share your knowledge and experience with our readers, please see our Content Partnership options.

Recommended Blog Posts