Digital Nudging Techniques

Kate Dubovikova

Kate Dubovikova

Humans face choices every day. Users who come to your website have multiple options for their next step/click. They will either move forward through the funnel of your online store or bounce from it. What are the factors that influence their decision making process? Can you alter their way of thinking and guide them to a specific direction on the website? 

The answer is yes. You can influence the behavior of your website visitors by applying nudging techniques into the design of your store. Consumers are not always driven by rational deliberations of the available options. Their choices are easily affected by priming, or digital nudging

Digital Nudging is a subtle form of presenting information and using design elements to guide users in digital environments and help them make the “right” choices. It is important to understand that you don’t make a decision for them and don’t restrict their freedom of choice. You rather prime them showing the way through the customer journey on your online store. Human psychology is very powerful and combining intuition with data can help better inform your brand create better merchandized experiences that convert higher. Coming from behavioral economics theories, some principles of nudging can be translated into the eCommerce space. We’ve compiled effective digital nudging techniques to help you increase conversions, lower the bounce rate and boost sales.

1. Scarcity (FOMO):

The fear of missing out is based on a psychological concept of loss aversion. When losses are twice as powerful as gains, we’ll do whatever we can to avoid losses. The more scarce the product is, the more attractive it becomes in the users’ eyes.

The use of a low stock nudge is one of the most common examples in eCommerce. By updating the stock status and showing your customers how few items  are left in stock, you can evoke the FOMO effect and increase conversions. Use your logistic platform to convert inventory status into a conversion boosting nudge.

2. Exploration:

As you might already know, it costs a business 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than it costs to retain an existing customer, so it is always a good idea to use the nudging techniques that will increase profits with eCommerce upsells and cross-sells. Smart Recommendations work perfectly for this scenario. Implement product recommendations powered by search data  that will help you offer relevant customer shopping experiences site-wide. These recommendations may be displayed under “Frequently bought together” or “Other customers viewed” sections. Introducing more items from other categories  can cause your customers to explore more on your website and trigger them to buy again from your store. Make sure that this experience is personalized and streamlined effectively not to overwhelm your customers with too many choices.

Add reminders sent in email or popped up on the website to convert abandoned carts into sales. Make every word count and present the value clearly and in a personalized way.

3. Pre-Selection:

It usually takes an effort for human beings to make decisions. When we face a lot of options, the choice is perceived as a challenge. Consumers are reluctant to spend time evaluating a multitude of different options. Sometimes, we refuse to buy simply because it is too hard for us to choose. Here is where a pre-selection or authority nudging should come into place to guide your customers and help them convert.

When you visually highlight one of several options, such as the most popular product, your customer is triggered by the visual and mental cues and makes a decision almost automatically. Again, this technique does not imply that you are making a choice for them, because we usually perceive the preselection as a mere recommendation. Other items should also be presented, yet appear less salient. You can highlight the products by labeling them as being recommended by designers, the brand, or other customers.

Choice paralysis a real problem that consumers face. By guiding the customer through the path of purchase, you are able to replicate a 1:1 sales process digitally. This leverages control over product selections and enables the seller to imrpove conversions, build trust, and relay information to their customers.

4. Framing:

There is no neutral way to present products. Your website should be built in a way to lead your visitors in certain directions. The layout, framing and wording of messages on your website matter and influence customers’ choices.

Which option would you choose? 

A. Sale! 50% off if you buy two.

B. Sale! Get one free, when you buy one.

Most people are triggered by the B option because of the word “free” as a powerful nudge. Experiment with the way information is presented on your website to Improve people’s decisions and increase conversion rates.

Your team can set up A/B tests like these to help boost conversions and continually optimize your site content. Swap out videos, tag lines, promotional offers, image graphics, product information, etc and test until you find the winning recipe.

5. Social Proof

If I tell you that Trellis blog is the best, it simply does not mean anything to you. Probably, it turns you skeptical. But what if you hear the same from your close friends, eCommerce experts you follow or any other authority of yours? Customers tend to rely on the other buyers’ opinions. This is why we browse for reviews when undecided. The reference or customer feedback usually becomes that last push to purchase.

In e-commerce, there is a variety of ways that you can present customer feedback on your page:

  • Success stories
  • Customer Reviews
  • Social Cues like “Visitors shared this sofa 35 times today”

You can  also add reminders or non-intrusive pop-ups for visitors who spend much time on the page without a purchase – “Look, John has just left a review on this product. See what he has to say about the sofa.” 

Most buyers do not want to be the first to try a product, but they also do not want to be last. Use this psychology to your advantage and create a community of customers that everyone wants to be a part of!

6. Less Is More:

Keep it simple. Don’t try to use too exquisite wording in your product descriptions, because there is a high chance that you visitors will bounce, rather than try to read into it. People like things they can recognize and easily perceive. The goal of their visit is not to pick up new words, but to find what they want and buy it. It is in your interest to keep your visitors on the website, so there is no need to scare them off with exhausted descriptions. If you want to be thought of as credible, avoid using complex language where simple language can do.

Simple is better not only in the copy, but also in the design. To help your customers perceive your message easier, consider reviewing the font, colors, image/video quality and other attributes of your website content.

The ultimate goal of an eCommerce site is to convert your traffic into sales and eliminating friction along the path to purchase will foster better results. Site content should not be distracting but rather informative. Effective merchandizing pushes them towards to conversion not away from it.

7. Decoy Effect:

This is a technique that exploits the option that normally nobody would choose on your website, so you could attract users to other preferred rewards. Everything is relative, and when compared to other options we usually go for the most attractive in current settings. So make the settings explicitly guiding you in the right direction.

This is another form of building guided merchandizng experiences and will help boost conversion rates and sell through products of your choosing.

8. Middle option Bias

The technique with the Middle option is similar to Decoy Effect but works in two ways. Imagine you have three subscription models. One is the most expensive targeted at advanced professionals who need a lot of features, and the cheapest has only basic functionality that can hardly work best for your projects. The optimal option would be something in between with extended functionality that is enough, yet affordable.

9. Dynamic Data

In eCommerce, personalization should be the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. You can’t just address  customers by their first name and expect high returns on investment. Advanced ecommerce personalization is when brands use data to share relevant, actionable and interesting content and products that enhance their customer’s shopping experience.

Add a message about location-based delivery times for each visitor so that they see what to expect if they decide to purchase with you. By showing the best delivery time, you’re not only solving for your customer and answering their questions proactively, you’re also building trust with them.

Apart from delivery information based on IP address lookup, you can add dynamic pricing to introduce promotions and discounts that change depending on the loyalty programs your users subscribed to. When done well, personalization drives more conversions, builds loyalty and increases ROI.

There are other nudging techniques that can be introduced on your website. As long as you create a website design with the needs of your customers in mind, you can go through the customer journey and see how you can improve it to help your users make the right decisions. Sometimes, you can mix and match different digital nudges. Just make sure that they are incorporated naturally into the architecture of  your online store and are not intrusive for the users. Consumers should be able to identify the nudging intervention with a basic level of attention.

3 Steps To Organize The Digital Environment:

  1. Identify your goal and the user’s end goal. Think about what you want to achieve with a specific nudge. The nudge should not steer your users into directions that are not aligned with their purposes of visit.
  2. Understand the user. Empathize with your potential customers and analyze what emotions are at play when they browse your website.
  3. Design and implement the nudge. Remember that you should meet your customer at the right place and at the right time. When designed well, it will make your customer happy and will increase your ROI.


People make more than 35,000 decisions every day. How many of them are digital? A decent number. Now you can influence them with  effective tools of nudging. 

Trellis is a team of experts in eCommerce and web design that can help you audit user interface and user experience to maximize website traffic, increase conversions and improve engagement. Contact us to schedule a free consultation for a goal-oriented and user-centric website that converts.

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