Have you ever bought candy from the checkout aisle on "accident?"
It's hard to resist. You can feel your resolve slipping away.
Now you're back in your car. You don't remember getting in, but you can taste chocolate, and your throat feels a little dry. When you look down, you find an empty, sticky, crinkly wrapper in your hand. Then, it dawns on you.
What happened? How did you end up buying a candy bar? You didn't intend to, right?
Well, what if I told you it wasn't an accident? What if I told you it was a deliberate choice? One that wasn’t made by you, of course, but by the stores and candy companies.
Now, what if I told you that you could apply these same tactics in your e-commerce copywriting to drive more sales?
Would you want to learn more?
If so, keep reading.
Displaying candy in the checkout counter is a classic example of "nudge theory."
Behavioral economists popularized this term to describe influencing behavior by manipulating environments. In other words, you can "nudge" people toward the choice you want by making it easy.
Let's see how this works out in another grocery store example.
Because plastic bags harm the environment, lawmakers in the U.S. have placed a tax on them. Now, if you want a plastic bag, you have to pay the grocery store 10 cents.
Even though 10 cents is not a lot of money, it's enough to discourage people from opting out of using plastic bags. People will choose to bring reusable bags instead, which is what the lawmakers wanted them to do. Now, consumers are taking action to improve the environment, whether they meant to or not.
Nobody can force people to start or stop a particular behavior. You can encourage the behavior you want them to take through these "nudges."
Professionals have also applied nudge theory in marketing. Businesses have developed tactics to guide people toward an action. In marketing, this equates to buying something.
Let's see how this plays out in the candy-at-the-checkout-aisle example.
Stores and candy companies want customers to buy these products. If customers only need to pass through a single candy aisle, they can and will avoid it if they want to.
Nowadays, people are more health-conscious and aware of what they eat. If customers are trying to steer clear of junk food, they will.
That being the case, how can candy companies still get people to buy their goods? The answer they came up with: place it somewhere customers can't avoid, i.e., the checkout aisle.
It's ingenious — positioning your product where everyone sees it before leaving the store. You'll never fail to prompt someone to think "might as well" and buy some candy last-minute.
It's the opposite of "out of sight, out of mind." Now, it's "within sight, within mind."
Once it's within their minds, customers tend to buy.
You might be wondering how nudge theory applies to your e-commerce business. After all, you can't place your products under customers' noses like you can in grocery stores. Plus, visitors don't have to pass through the checkout page to exit your website.
Luckily, there are many ways to apply nudge theory in marketing — even online. Much like a physical space, use your website to make it easy for your customer to buy your product or service.
This includes, but isn't limited to:
You can use nudge theory in all your website copy to frame the choice you want customers to make. In other words, if you want customers to buy from your brand, make it as easy as possible for them.
You might think it's a bit unnecessary. After all, if customers are already on your website, it means they're going to buy from it, right? Well, not exactly. That's only half the battle.
You want customers to add to their shopping carts. That means your copy shouldn't be bland, filled with jargon, or pasted from anywhere else.
Instead, the copy you publish should be intentional. It should direct customers toward the decision you want them to make, i.e., buy your products. Using nudge theory can help you get them to do this.
Here's how it works:
One of the best things about using nudge theory in your e-commerce copy is that it'll help you be more persuasive.
Again, even though customers are on your website, there's no guarantee they'll buy from it. You can "nudge" site visitors to buy from you in subtle and non-pushy ways with nudge theory.
First, think about why people buy things. It's because they want to improve their lives. Customers spend money to achieve a sense of comfort, get rid of a sense of discomfort, or both.
You can distill these reasons into more categories like desires, beliefs, and identity.
These are the things people want and need. People usually want things for their physical, material, and sensual comfort.
As far as physical comfort goes, people want to be healthier and look good. Let's say your business sells banana-flavored protein bars. They're a healthier alternative to typical snack bars and pack twice as much protein. You can market your product based on these priorities. That'll encourage health-conscious people to buy your bars instead of less healthy competitors.
For material comfort, people want to have more money and valuable belongings. They want more comfortable lives without worrying about having enough money or possessions.
Now, let's say your banana protein bars are more affordable than your competitors. Be sure to promote that, as well. That way, customers focused on material comfort will be more likely to buy your products.
People also want to feel good. That is why customers are willing to spend money for sensual comfort. If your protein bars are as tasty as unhealthy snack bars, customers are more likely to choose yours.
By marketing to your audience's desires, you can use nudge theory to drive conversions.
Here are ways to elevate desires in your copywriting.
Another factor that makes people buy things is if it aligns with their identity.
For example, some of your banana protein bar customers might be bodybuilders. Your bars align with their identity as people who take extra care of their physique.
Some of your customers could also be mothers who want to give their children healthy snacks. They may buy your snack bars because they believe it's the right choice for them based on their role as a good mother. Or rather, what it means to be a good mother for them.
Even though your product stands on its own, it also conveys something about the customer who buys it.
Your ideal customers might be more advanced in their health-food journey. They don't need help transitioning over to healthy food. Instead, it's their first choice. They know how to read nutrition labels, and they focus on protein above all else.
This helps you target a particular type of customer.
If you can tap into your target audience's identity, you'll be more likely to sell your product.
Beliefs relate to identity. It's the way people think and what they accept as fact. They may not always make logical sense, but they're still powerful. Beliefs influence how someone lives their life.
Imagine most of your customers believe a clean and sustainable world is a human right. Let's say you package your banana protein bars in recyclable material. Customers would choose your product because it aligns with their beliefs and values.
Products may seem like standalone objects, but customers buy products with specific meanings.
That's why your copy should appeal to your customer's desires, identity, and beliefs. We're all susceptible to these emotional and psychological triggers. It’ll help persuade them to buy your products and drive more online conversions.
In this article, you'll learn how to make your copywriting directly spark buying behavior in your target market.
You've seen how nudge theory works in the real world to appeal to customers. Applying it to your e-commerce website will help you understand your target audience.
You've gone over what makes people buy things. Now think about the reasons why customers buy from your specific brand.
What do your customers want? More than anything? What and how do you provide these things for them?
What kind of comforts do they want to achieve, and what kind of discomforts do they want to avoid? Think about these questions in relation to their desires, identity, and beliefs.
These steps ensure that you won't have to guess what your target audience needs to read before buying. Instead, you'll know what kinds of things appeal to them. This ranges from the individual, attention-grabbing buzzwords to the broader values you embody.
It'll also help you understand your target audience's psychology. You'll learn about the psychological forces that motivate their behavior. This understanding will help you create suitable copy to tap into these motivations.
That way, you'll be more effective at influencing their buying decisions.
Now you know the deeper factors that motivate and influence your ideal customer. You should also know how to make your products sound more appealing.
One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is not connecting their copy with their audience. Many businesses copy and paste info from manufacturers or suppliers and call it a day.
Think about the target audience, though. Manufacturers and suppliers provide information specific to retailers — not individual customers. Retailers and the average consumer have different priorities. They need to read different things before they buy.
If your copy doesn't appeal to your audience, you'll never persuade them that they need your offer. To avoid this, make sure your copy excludes information that customers don't value.
For example, let's say you sell stylish clothes made from sustainable banana fibers. Now imagine the copy on your website reads like this:
"We made this shirt from banana fibers. We produced it in India. It's a yellow short-sleeve button-up shirt. There are palm tree designs colored with green dye. It weighs 4.5oz."
Assuming there's a picture of the shirt on your website, this information is useless. It's dry, boring, and too literal. There's no excitement. It doesn't entice the reader to buy from your brand.
Now imagine the copy reading like this:
"Sleek, stylish, and sustainable. We crafted this shirt with tropical banana fibers, so you can stay cool and fresh during the long summer. All while saving the world at the same time."
Do you see how much more attractive this copy is compared to the first description? It's compelling to people who care about the environment and dressing well in a hot area. There's a higher chance someone will buy this shirt after reading that description.
Another thing you need to make sure of is not using copy that’s too wordy. Customers don't want to read copy loaded with unnecessary adjectives and grammar mistakes. That copy means nothing to them.
These things may seem minuscule, but they're enough to influence your reputation. If your audience doesn't relate to your brand or finds your copy sloppy, it'll erode their trust.
Make sure you're communicating information about your product that customers want to know. This should be easier now that you understand what your audience values. You can emphasize these things in your copy.
Often, e-commerce sites only promote the product's features rather than its actual benefits. The problem is that features aren't persuasive. They don't convince your customers that they need your product.
Let's go back to the banana fiber shirt example. Some features of this product could include:
Sure, these are important facts about your product, but they won't compel your customer to buy it. What customers care about are your product’s benefits, i.e., how buying it can improve their lives.
Think about the above points. How does your product fulfill your customers' desires? Strengthen their sense of identity? Reaffirm their beliefs?
Let's assume your customers care about sustainable living and live in a warm climate. You could highlight these benefits:
These benefits are much more enticing than the features listed before. Each of them ticks off a box for your customer. Who wouldn't want to buy this shirt? It's a no-brainer.
This is an excellent example of how you can use nudge theory in your e-commerce website copy.
Learn how to use "benefit-centric" copywriting here.
Now that you know what appeals to your audience and why you can get their attention with nudge theory.
Again, you should tailor your copy to frame a choice you want them to make. Then make it easy for your audience to make that choice.
Going back to the banana-fiber shirt example, let's say it's a new product your brand is rolling out. One of the ways you're promoting it is through your email newsletter. So how can you get your audience's attention? Write a powerful headline that’ll stick out in their inbox.
Try to appeal to your audience's desires, identities, and beliefs.
For example, a headline like "We've got a new shirt with your name on it" sounds dull. It's not specific, and it doesn't tell customers why they should care about your new shirt.
Instead, appeal to the things your target audience values. A more effective headline looks like this: "Want to stay sleek, stylish, and cool this summer with one shirt?"
This headline hits the mark for your target audience. It references their priorities, entices them with a cool image, and makes them want to learn more. Customers are more likely to click that link than from the headline above.
This may be a simplistic example, but it shows how important it is to know your audience first. Once you do, you can nudge them to make the right decision or the decision you want them to make.
With so many different options available, shopping can feel overwhelming to customers. That's why people often experience decision fatigue while shopping. They struggle to choose one product to buy amongst a variety of similar options.
This can affect your business in a negative way. Your products may get drowned out amongst the competition. Or, customers could miss out on your brand. That's why it's so important to narrow down the choice for them.
When customers show up on your website, make it the best and easiest option to buy from you.
You already know how to appeal to their desires, identity, and beliefs. Now that you've got their attention, narrow down their options even more.
Some strategies include urgency or scarcity, which encourage them to buy right away. Let's say you tell customers that your product is 15% off for a limited time or can save 10% if they buy now. They'll be more likely to buy from you right now.
Another tactic you could use is to point out the best or most popular option for them. For example, highlight the product or service that's the most popular or best selling. Instead of sifting through the options, they'll have an easy time making a decision.
These strategies will stop customers from wasting time and get them to buy as soon as possible.
Now you know why nudge theory is so critical in marketing. It's all about eliminating choices from your customers' minds. If you can highlight the choice you want customers to make, they'll be more likely to take that action.
The best way to start using nudge theory in your copy is to understand your target audience. Gain an understanding of their desires, beliefs, and how they identify. After that, you can tailor your copy.
Show them how your brand aligns with your audience's values. Then you can use the above strategies to encourage them to buy from your brand with ease.
Want to convert customers in a more reliable way? Use what you've learned about the nudge theory when you write e-commerce copy.
Want higher conversions on your landing pages, sales letters, emails, or ads? It might be time for you to work with an expert copywriter. I’ve driven tens of millions of dollars in revenue for hundreds of clients over the past 10 years — including some of the largest B2B companies and digital brands in America.
Using my words, I’ll tap into your prospects’ deepest desires, deploy my menagerie of psychological sales triggers, and prime them for the sale. The result? More wins for your business and more revenue and profits in your pocket. Sound interesting to you? Click HERE to learn more about my copywriting work and see if we’re a good match.