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What Is Nudge Marketing?


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Hard selling is very common when marketing online. We do everything we can to drive traffic and conversions including aggressive targeting.

But did you know that there is a gentler approach called Nudge Marketing?

Let’s learn all about it.

What Is Nudge Marketing?

Hard selling is very common when we’re marketing online. We do everything we can to drive traffic and conversions by doing aggressive targeting, buying keywords, backlinking and outbound links. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but there is a gentler approach.

You can drive people to your desired behaviour so gently that they won’t even notice and you can make your CTAs very alluring that people were just compelled to click on them. That approach is called “Nudging.”

A “nudge” is described as a gentle push to get your traffic moving in the right path. In this article, we will discuss

Nudge provides a low-cost and non-intrusive way of changing bad habits and encouraging certain choices. One way to do this in retail is to point out specific characteristics of a product that appeal to the shopper.

These subtle yet effective messages help the decision-making process easier. They act as relevant behavioural triggers that act on someone’s level.

What is Nudge Marketing?

The idea is simple – if you subtly promote a choice that you want people to make, people will naturally drift towards it. But of course, it has to be something simple and it can’t ban or inhibit the behaviour you don’t want.

So instead of hitting your customers with an over the head CTA, you should just gently push your customers towards the action using subtle cues.

It’s a consumer influencing strategy where you manipulate how and when information is presented to consumers so you can steer them towards the behaviour you want.

Nudge Theory

Nudge Theory was popularised in 2008 by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Thaler and Sunstein described nudge as any aspect of choice architecture.

It changes someone’s behaviour in predictable ways without having to remove any options or changing their economic incentives.

Traditionally, nudge theory was referenced to driving people to make good decisions instead of bad one’s.

How to get started with Nudge Marketing

Here’s what you need to focus on to get started with Nudge Marketing:

1. Understand Your Target Audience

Understanding your market is a critical prerequisite. If you don’t know who you market for, you won’t be able to use words or phrases that appeal to them.

Understand their interest, language, and personality. Dig deeper by analysing their psychographic profiles.

2. Analyse Product Offering’s USPs

Once you know what your customers need, it’s time to find common ground. Some psychological principles you can apply are:

Social Proof: Use messages like “bestseller”, “popular” or “season’s favourite.”
Scarcity: For products low in stock, you can use messages like “low in stock”, “exclusive offers”, or “limited edition.”
Authority: If you have products that you recommend, let your audience know!
Innovation: Use tags like “innovative tech” or “cutting edge design” for products using new technology.

You can also describe the functional benefits of your products like “organic”, “waterproof”, “original” and more.

3. Draft and Test Variations On Few Products

Come up with as many copy variations as you can. Try putting the labels in different colours to keep the attention of your shoppers. Then select a handful to bear the labels. Remember to reduce the Choice Overload so don’t choose too many.

Otherwise, the labels will be ineffective because it won’t limit the selection.

Once the content is ready, you can start testing, If you’re used to A/B testing, you can get started with multivariate testing. Run various tests to find the most effective copy. Or use AI to streamline the process.

4. Iterate and Analyse Data

Iteration is essential in any test. Make sure to check tests to see which are performing best. This can provide insight to which techniques resonate best with the audience. You can even use these insights on cross-channel communication.

Nudge is everywhere. The most famous example took place in the early 1990s at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The airport’s designers printed a housefly inside the urinals which improved users accuracy and reduced spillage by 80%.

The “Speed Camera Lottery,” is also a great example wherein they use speeding cameras at intersections to reward motorists who obey the speed limit. 24,857 cars passed the cameras and the average speed dropped from 32 km/h to 25 km/h. There are many more examples of a nudge.

Nudge Marketing Examples

1. The social proof nudge

By telling your site visitors what other customers have liked before, you’re more likely to convince new visitors to do that too. Because even we think that we’re all unique, we like things that other people like.

Labels such as “most popular” or “bestseller” are great examples. Some also position it above other plans to give more emphasis. With these, you’re assuming that it’s the best and most popular plan.

What Is Nudge Marketing

2. Numerical anchors nudges

Numbers are compelling arguments but they also work as a nudge. If you can anchor your price against something higher, then it’s more likely to convert.

The best example is infomercials. Adding labels like “that’s $300 value for only $39.95.”.

As a customer, you’ll think $39.95 is not bad compared to $300 even if it’s more than what you’re prepared to spend.

3. Option restriction nudge

People don’t like complexity so if you can streamline your offering, you can increase your conversions as you nudge people towards your preferred behaviour.

Social shares are a perfect example. If you have many social buttons, you will cripple social decision making. So limit your options so your content can be shared more.

Pricing is another example. You can go with only two pricing plans rather than the standard three and more.

4. Competition nudge

You can encourage your market to share and convert using the competition. App games channel this nudge best. App games will post on your social media accounts and challenge your followers to beat it. It’s a great way to get the attention of competitors.

5. The embedded nudge

If you can embed your desired action into user flow, then you’re nudging people into the right direction. Just like modal windows, you can put your desired action in front of the user and nudge them into taking that action.

Nudges are gentle indicators to push users into doing what you want them to do. They have to be gentle, easy, and can’t block off all other options.

The goal is to promote the options and not eliminate other options altogether. If used successfully, it can increase your conversions without trying too much.