President Obama appears to be taking a page out of the performance marketing handbook by signing an executive order promoting the use of behavioral science in federal government decision making and programs. The New York Times ran an insightful opinion piece last weekend looking at President Obama’s endorsement of federal government agencies’ use of behavioral science insights. Behavioral science is the study of insights into how people actually make decisions. ? Noted law professor and former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration, Cass Sunstein noted that:
It’s one thing to make financial aid available to students, so they can attend college. It’s another thing to design forms that students can actually fill out.
Building on impressive new findings from the White House’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, Mr. Obama ordered his government to use behavioral insights to simplify forms, cut wait times, eliminate administrative hurdles and reduce regulatory burdens. A new report from the team, which has been up and running for more than a year, shows that small reforms can make a big difference.
Sunstein highlights examples from the executive order and report, including one of how “the team helped to design a new email campaign to increase savings by service members, which nearly doubled enrollment in federal savings plans.” The results may not be surprising to seasoned marketers and lead generators.
Sunstein says the report “found that simple text messages to lower-income students, reminding them to complete required pre-matriculation tasks, increased college enrollment among those students by 5.7 percentage points.” It will be interesting to watch how this initiative proceeds as consumer protection enforcement agencies such as the FTC and CFPB have been actively promoting consumer friendly disclosures in advertising and marketing, including in social media, and both agencies have been working on updating the consumer facing parts of their websites. Indeed, a great deal of attention was paid to the CFPB’s efforts to have a contemporary government website.
You can check out the full op-ed at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/opinion/sunday/cass-sunstein-making-government-logicalhtml.html?emc=eta1&_r=0. The executive order is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/15/executive-order-using-behavioral-science-insights-better-serve-american.