[Alexander L. Metcalf of the University of Montana, Justin W. Angle
of the University of Montana, Conor N. Phelan of the University of Montana, B. Allyson Muth of Penn State University, and James C. Finley of of Penn State University recently published an article in Social Marketing Quarterly titled “More “Bank” for the Buck: Microtargeting and Normative Appeals to Increase Social Marketing Efficiency.” We are pleased to welcome Dr. Yang as a contributor and happy to announce that the findings will be free to access on our site for a limited time. They have provided further insights regarding the inspiration behind the research below.]
We were motivated to pursue this research because so many conservation outcomes are dependent on human behavior and we saw a tremendous opportunity to modernize the toolkit used by conservation advocates and outreach specialists to improve natural resource stewardship. National media stories have been dominated by negative stories about big data and digital marketing by political campaigns, social media, and corporate interests, yet few people have explored how these tools might help achieve conservation goals or promote the public good. The most challenging aspect of this work was conducting a randomized controlled trial in a real world setting; experiments that allow us to truly demonstrate efficacy are relatively easy in the laboratory. In contrast, our field experiment required years of planning and coordination within our team and with our outreach partners. After all this work, our results demonstrated there is large, untapped potential to apply modern marketing tools to address critical environmental challenges, especially by connecting conservation appeals to each individual’s personal values. .
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