Nudge Marketing: the subtle power in online influence

Do you know about nudge marketing? What is meant by persuasive marketing? Let me give you a preview.

By applying nudging techniques to online marketing, you can create suggestions for your users that guide them to take specific actions you desire.

Do you already feel intrigued by this technique?

Wait until you get to know how it works better, thanks to the contributions of Luca Florentino, CEO of Ottosunove, and Giuliano Trenti, CEO of Neurexplore.

We will delve into how nudging works, what it is based on, and how to apply it to digital marketing to discuss nudge marketing.

What is nudging?

Nudging is the collection of strategies used to encourage a consumer to take specific actions or adopt certain behaviors. In simple terms, it involves influencing people’s choices using the concept of “gentle nudges” (derived from the verb “to nudge”).

These psychological nudges lead the user to make choices naturally as if those choices originated in their mind independently. In reality, the consumer is guided towards a persuasive choice, even if they are unaware of it.

How does nudging work, and what is it based on?

luca florentino as ottosunove founderLuca Florentino says, “Behavioral sciences suggest that we make decisions, and most of the time, we rely much more on our instincts, sensations, and emotions than on pure rationality.

This, of course, can expose us to evaluation errors.” But how can you influence an individual’s behavior? Well, it’s simple. By leveraging these errors, known as cognitive biases.

To put it succinctly, we could say that they are all those systematic errors our minds continually make. These errors occur because our brains tend to use mental shortcuts and simplifications to conserve energy.

We are physiologically drawn to options that involve no risks, those that require the least amount of change, and essentially, the simplest options.

nudge marketing definition

So, in summary, humans tend to make instinctive and emotional decisions, which leads them to make “systematic errors” that can be exploited to guide them toward making the best decisions for themselves or for the society they live in.

And there you have the basis of nudging. Fascinating, isn’t it?

What is libertarian paternalism? Thaler and the theory of nudges

luca florentino as ottosunove founder

Luca Florentino explains, “To help people evaluate and make better decisions — for their own well-being first and also for the community/society in general — sometimes it’s necessary to provide a small assist, a nudge, as defined by behavioral sciences.”

Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, the “fathers” of the nudge theory, explain that a nudge is essentially an element capable of guiding toward certain choices and behaviors, without prohibiting others.

nudge theory explanation

Nudges are not orders; they are simply “gentle pushes” toward what appears to be the best choices in a given situation, simply by changing the way this choice is presented.”

The consumer has the same alternatives available; there are no bans or restrictions imposed from above. However, these nudges stimulate making a more desirable decision, one that might be overlooked due to the natural limits of human rationality.

Now, let’s explain what nudge marketing is.

How is nudging applied to digital marketing?

luca florentino as ottosunove founderLuca Florentino tells us, “The digital world also represents a context of choice for people, and nudges can motivate users, whether on an e-commerce site or a landing page, to make a decision.

First of all, you need to understand who you are communicating to and who is your target audience. What are they expecting when visiting your website?

How can I provide, in the best way, what they are looking for? What can I do to make the customer journey on my site smoother?


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After verifying this, it’s the presentation of the product itself – both visually and in language – that captures the interest of the digital consumer. Some behavioral and psychological principles can be applied to the copy or call to action to guide the choice of a product.

For example, by playing on scarcity, you can make an opportunity/offer more desirable when its availability is limited: it’s a technique (FOMO Marketing) successfully used by sites like Booking, which capitalized on the high demand for hotel and apartment bookings, motivating people to reserve a room as soon as possible to avoid missing out.”

Evolution of Online Communication

luca florentino as ottosunove founderLuca Florentino explains: “We generally make decisions more willingly when we have fewer options at our disposal.

Comparing two product presentation layouts on an e-commerce site – one with specific product feature details and another more minimal containing only essential information.

It was demonstrated that the more appreciated layout that encouraged purchases was the one with less information, as highlighted by Web Psychologist Liraz Margalit during the 2017 Shopper Brain Conference in Amsterdam.

So, less information, presented clearly with a focus on functionality and actual benefits that people can gain by making a purchase decision are good starting points for building relevant and effective digital communication.

In this particular historical moment, emphasizing the values promoted by the company or brand allows the consumer to identify with shared ideals, engaging and motivating them to choose.”

Let’s dive even deeper into the details, to explain in particular how you can leverage cognitive biases to your advantage and how you can make your digital communication more effective through practical applications of nudge marketing.

Video Interview on Nudge Marketing with Giuliano Trenti from Neurexplore

content marketing practitioner

What do you do in life? What is your occupation?

giuliano trenti as neurexplore founder

I work in the field of neuromarketing. I have a laboratory where we conduct research on buying behaviors and people’s choices.

Using electroencephalography, eye tracking, and various other technologies, we are able to objectively measure a range of parameters that enhance the effectiveness of communication and marketing activities. This is the core of our work.

Nudge Marketing: examples and real cases

content marketing practitioner

Could you illustrate the fields of application of nudging within online marketing?

giuliano trenti as neurexplore founder

In my opinion, the most interesting aspects involve applying principles that encourage people to have more responsible behaviors that are beneficial to their health and well-being.

In many cases, the most relevant aspects concern the application of cognitive biases and everything related to emotions, in order to effectively convey messages and shift people’s attention to certain elements.

This also results in behavioral responses favoring certain choices over others, which can be more advantageous for the consumers.

For example, a rather curious case I recently followed involves the world of insurance, where the purchase of certain types of coverage can be increased by altering the way information is communicated to individuals.

This helps them realize the underestimation of risks that would otherwise not be properly assessed.

Persuasive Techniques

content marketing practitioner

Are there advantageous techniques for modifying the architecture of choices online?

giuliano trenti as neurexplore founder

There are many techniques, at least a few dozen. The most commonly used techniques in this field typically involve utilizing the status quo bias, configuring a choice architecture with default settings that steer people towards choices that align with their interests by using this default mechanism.

Another type of technique is to use the decoy effect, also known as the decoy effect. If you have two options to choose from, introducing a third (clearly unfavorable) option can alter the comparisons made between the options, focusing attention on the similar options.

This example illustrates the concept:

For instance, in a famous experiment conducted on popcorn, it was demonstrated that if you have two packages of popcorn, one priced at $3 and another at $7, to shift focus to the $7 package, you can introduce a third option at a medium value, such as $6.50.

decoy effect in marketing

People will then tend to focus on the packages priced at $6.50 and $7, leading to a shift in choices toward the $7 package. In contrast, when people have only two options to choose from, they tend to select the cheaper one.

Another very interesting technique is that of the use of the bandwagon effect, also known as social proof, which materializes in the fact of saying that many people have made a certain choice, and therefore, we tend to go in the same direction.

Online usability

content marketing practitioner

As for usability, how can the user’s online experience be optimized?

giuliano trenti as neurexplore founder

Regarding user experience, we conduct dozens of experiments every year, and after years of application, I would feel confident in giving at least a couple of suggestions. The first thing is not to immediately think about the interface.

Paradoxically, the first element to consider in building a good user experience is a person’s habits. Before building an interface, I must ask myself: What are the things a person wants to know while interacting with the tool?

What are the things a person uses most frequently? What are those used less frequently? The things a person uses most frequently should be highlighted, putting the rest in the background.

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However, in many cases, you realize what is what when you have already created the interface, and as a result, you face a usability problem related to the fact that you used your perspective and not the customer’s perspective in designing the interface.

Once these elements are understood, you can build and test the interface to see if people react as you expected to this type of interface.

user online experience

Details make the difference, specific colors, the position of certain elements, or button shapes can greatly help guide the eye across the screen and significantly increase the pleasure of using the tool and consequently the user conversion rate.

Target Experiments

content marketing practitioner

What are the tools/tests used to study responses to stimuli from a specific target?

giuliano trenti as neurexplore founder

We have essentially two laboratories. The physical laboratory where we have all the neuroscientific instruments, and then we have an online laboratory, a platform that allows us to administer stimuli to a large number of people and understand the reactions these stimuli evoke.

The most important difference between the two laboratories is in the methods used and the sample quality.

In the physical laboratory, there is maximum possible control, the highest sample quality, and the possibility to have physiological recordings second by second of the reactions people experience in response to any type of stimulus. In the laboratory, we have actual cabins where people are not influenced or distracted by anything other than the stimulus presented to them.

With the online approach, on the other hand, it’s not possible to have exact control over what people do and maintain strict experimental control over contextual aspects. However, we have found mechanisms to ensure that the online research we conduct is as similar as possible to those conducted in the laboratory to ensure good data quality.

marketing strategic support

This allows us to conduct research that has the ability to increase the effectiveness of communication and provide strategic support to business operations, suggesting specific actions based on how people have responded to the presented stimuli for a better chance of success.

This is a fundamental aspect because in many cases, people are convinced that success can be achieved through communication alone, but that’s not the case at all. Each context has its specificities; for example, B2B does not follow the same rules as B2C.

So, this is the type of work we do to increase marketing returns, not only at the communication tool level but also at the strategic level.


In conclusion, we can emphasize the significant importance of applying nudge marketing to your business activities for more effective communication and a higher user conversion rate.

Nudge marketing is indeed an excellent way to improve your marketing activities and achieve remarkable results.



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