An exact definition of nudge psychology is hard to come by. But, once you understand what it is, you’ll start seeing it everywhere.

Nudge psychology, or nudge theory as it is sometimes known, burst onto the marketing scene in 2008. And, even if you’ve never heard of it, it’s probably been affecting your decision-making ever since.

Think of it as directing somebody towards a desired outcome, without restricting their options, instead you subtly promote the preferred result.

By nature, nudges should be subliminal, to the point that you shouldn’t even notice you’re being nudged. Examples include; putting a bowl of fruit at eye level to promote a healthier diet. Or discouraging littering by increasing the quantity and noticeability of bins.

So read on to discover three ways that the nudge theory can boost engagement with your digital content. And keep your eyes peeled for examples of nudge psychology all around … 👀

🤖 Who doesn’t love a quirky yet helpful chatbot?

When Thaler and Sunstein first published their findings on nudge psychology in 2008, they were aware of the potency of their theory. They intended to harness behavioral economics to improve the average person’s life, as a force for good.

The potential for nudge psychology to be used for sinister purposes is not hard to imagine though. In fact, it’s a classic science fiction trope. Innovation that was meant to improve quality of life, gets hijacked and twisted into a force for evil.

So combining nudge psychology with another classic sci-fi archetype could easily be seen as a recipe for disaster. Yet, a robot gently altering your thoughts isn’t as fantastical as it sounds.

In the bottom right of your browser window, you can find Finn (the Turtl Bot) who will do just that. Finn is just one example of a chatbot, one of the most useful and commonplace features of websites these days, which nudges visitors along the marketing funnel.

Chatbots nudge by performing any number of functions, from suggesting questions to promoting content. The website owner carefully chooses the chatbot’s questions so that they subtly educate, upsell, and promote certain features.

As in the case of Turtl, and how we use Finn, chatbots can also be used to nudge readers towards engaging with digital content. Finn not-so-subtly signposts visitors towards one of the Turtl Team’s favorite pieces of content; the content personality quiz!

Nudging a prospect towards content like this means they’re a lot more likely to engage, progress through the sales funnel and comprehend messaging.

🚨 Add pressure with push notifications

The advent of the smartphone has led to a new, super-effective way for digital content to nudge itself to the forefront of our minds. The oh-so noticeable push notification, that little red dot that’s just impossible to ignore.

Our attention is a hot commodity. And while push notifications are no doubt responsible for hotting up the competition for attention – US smartphone users receive 46 push notifications every day – they are highly effective instruments of nudge psychology.

2016 study found that users who had push notifications enabled averaged 53% more engagement, compared to those who had notifications switched off. So communicating your digital content in a format that nudges your audience using push notifications, is a highly effective way of increasing engagement.

One way of achieving this would be releasing your content as a newsletter that drops directly into your audience’s inbox. This way your digital content will be accompanied by a notification to nudge its way towards higher engagement.

Asking your audience to sign-up for a newsletter is also a great way for them to self-identify. On top of giving your engagement a boost, marketers can be confident audiences will read, given they chose to sign-up.

🖱 Stop mindless scrolling, encourage active engagement

You’re sending an email, designing a website page, or creating a digital advert. Often the most important metric for you to prove marketing value is the all-important click-through rate.

So you’ve studied your audience, targeted them carefully, and brushed up on your copywriting skills to finesse your persuasive body copy. But what else can you do to secure more of those valuable clicks?

Try doubling down on that simplest of marketing tools; the call to action. Make your CTA brighter, bolder, and more eye-catching than standard body copy and you’re already applying nudge psychology to make readers notice what you want.

What if there was more we could do? An even more subtle nudge psychology trick …

Luckily, there is one more psychological trick you can use to drive that engagement; the layout of your content.

Thinking deeply about the nudge capabilities of layouts has been standard practice in publishing and design for decades. It’s the reason magazine editors are paid so highly. And it’s why the average length of a shopping trip to IKEA is so long, that the company website has a dedicated “prepare for your visit” page.

Well-executed design nudges people into remaining engaged. For your digital content, this means factoring in design principles like White Space, and considering aspects like text block alignment or the location of imagery.

This psychology of capturing attention and turning it into engagement is the foundation of Turtl’s Creation Studio. We want to make it easier for anyone, especially marketers, to develop content that nudges users into reading for longer and exploring deeper.

Understanding what goes on inside the head of your readers is key to winning their engagement. Find out all there is to know below!

Click to read Demystifying the psychology of attention | Turtl

Subscribe to the Turtl newsletter

A round up of insights, trends, and tips on the world of content marketing