This is a guest post by Anastasia Sviridenko
Anastasia Sviridenko is a content marketing specialist at TextMagic. When she’s not working, you can find her sipping on cocoa in the nearest coffee place, or reading a book at home.
Creating a sense of urgency is an intricate part of online sales. A beautifully photographed and well-worded product listing or even simple consumer need isn’t enough. Even if customers look at a product on your website and decide they need it, they may figure there’s no rush, and put off the purchase until later. They may even add it to their cart first but never return. That’s almost a sale, but almost is the same as failure.
The best way to turn an almost sale into an actual sale is to give customers an emotional incentive to buy right then and there, i.e., a sense of urgency. Urgency can turn a customer that is thinking about buying into a customer that is buying. There are several proven techniques that any business, no matter how big or small, can use to create a sense of urgency in customers that will implore them to click that Confirm Order button.
Urgency Means Sales
Urgency is getting customers to feel like hitting that Buy button or signing up for a special offer right then. When handled correctly, urgency can increase sales over 300%. The best part is that any business, big or small, can do it — from Amazon to a mom & pop store.
But how is it done? Urgency hinges on the idea of scarcity. When it comes to sales, scarcity means that there is either a limited quantity or a limited time to buy something. Scarcity creates a sense of value. It’s the force behind iPhone mania and the impossible-to-find special toy at Christmas. Getting that random item suddenly becomes a matter of great importance to the customer who otherwise may or may not have cared.
Scarcity is the way a business imparts a sense of urgency. It does so by getting people to determine that they need to take immediate action to buy a product. It makes them feel they will lose out if they don’t. This is known as FOMO, or fear of missing out.
The key to creating this urgent need to buy lies with some part of the offer being limited. There are several proven ways in which the limited strategy could be used, either by luck or design. However limited happens, a business can take control of the situation, and create a sense of urgency in the customer.
It’s the Final Countdown: Driving Sales with Countdown Timers
Yes, that song is probably stuck in your head now. But, there is something vital you need to remember — timing is everything when it comes to your marketing outreach.
An excellent timing strategy is to put up a countdown timer; it will get your company’s product stuck in your customer’s head. Countdown timers speed up the purchasing decision because they show customers that an opportunity is slipping away from them second by second.
Edible Arrangements increased same day sales by 8% by using a countdown timer to urge customers to buy.
Vanishing Stock: Giving Customers the Last Chance
No one has used this technique better than Amazon. Imagine the number of people who go to the site to do a little research on a product, only to see that there are just a couple of items left in stock. Instead of wanting to know more about something they might buy, they feel like they have to buy it now or else they won’t be able to get it.
The convenience of online shopping has turned many shoppers into procrastinators. It may be comfortable for customers browsing sites in their homes, but that isn’t good for sales. 73% of procrastinating shoppers will not decide to buy on their first visit.
The vanishing stock counters can give them a good reason not to procrastinate and make the purchase.
Bonuses: But Wait! There’s More!
The infomercials got it right. Giving people a good deal on a product is excellent, but when the deal is made better by offering something extra for free, or at least half price, customers get more excited. It all comes down to one thing — reciprocity. If a business makes a customer feel like they’re getting something for free or otherwise doing them a favor, the customer is more likely to return that favor and buy something.
Case in point. The University of Minnesota did an experiment on how well different promotions fared for hand lotion. They found that a “free” volume increase of 50% made sales rise 73% more than selling a regular sized bottle for 33% off. This shows that a little bit of free can go a long way.
Get in on the Fun: Invite the Customers to Be Part of Something Big
For better or worse, wanting to be cool didn’t end at high school. People will always want to be part of the in-crowd. That often means having the trendy new widget these days — whether it’s the latest phone, craft beer, or the newest design in home furnishing. Getting people to believe that the sooner they buy a product, the quicker they can be part of something creates urgency.
Being a part of something big or special doesn’t just apply to luxury goods or the upper crust. Pokémon Go, which has grossed over 2 billion dollars, is the perfect example of a product that people of all ages (kids and nostalgic adults) and all economic backgrounds could be a part of. The game had a significant impact on our culture for a while, and everyone wanted to be a part of it.
Limited Time Offers: Use It or Lose It
Sales and other promotions can’t go on forever, and reminding customers of that is an excellent way to drive sales via urgency. So, try to tie limited time offers to events. It could be a holiday sale, a grand opening, or a discount that has to be claimed within X amount of time. Limited time offers are also a great way to get people to sign up for newsletters or buy memberships.
One of the best examples of having a product for a limited time is the McRib. The sandwich was so unpopular when it debuted in 1981 that it was officially taken off the menu for a few years. However, it did do well enough in some markets that it was occasionally brought back from time to time. This limited time offer of the McRib turned a failed idea into a success that has infected pop-culture.
Well Said: Using the Right Words
How it’s said is as important as what is said. A big part of communication between people is non-verbal. A change of inflection or body language can make a simple goodbye have more than a couple of meanings. Websites don’t have those non-verbal cues, so the choice of words matters more than it does in real-time communications.
Now! Don’t Miss Out! Limited Time! Sale! All these words help create a call to action and can help impart a sense of urgency when paired with the right sales message. Crafting a message with words like value, savings, huge, amazing, etc. will make the customer feel like what they’re reading is essential and worth acting on. And don’t forget to say “Thank You” when the sale is over.
Remember to keep it short and sweet. A 25-word email is more or less as effective as a 2,500-word email. It’s sales, not the next War and Peace. Speaking of highbrow literature, don’t get too fancy. Messages written at a third-grade level have a 36% higher response rate than the ones written at a college level. Thanks, reality TV.
Special Editions: A Little Above the Norm
Video games, classic rock albums, cars — they’ve all had special or limited editions of the standard product.
Often this is nothing more than a different color scheme or an extra label. Sometimes more is offered but not always. The bottom line — special editions can increase sales.
Colors Can Be Urgent Too
People react to colors on an emotional and subconscious level. Yellows, reds, and oranges make people hungry, which explains most fast food color schemes.
When designing web-based order forms, CTA buttons, or color schemes for a product listing, pick the right colors. Orange and blue help create and maintain that all-important sense of urgency by making people feel trust, value, affordability, and worth.
Keep in mind that using colors is a good idea, but keep things readable. Customers will move on to other things if they can’t quickly figure out what they’re seeing. And, keep it subtle. A little orange Buy button is good (Amazon), but a whole page drowning in orange is a bad idea — even during Halloween.
Value: Customers Must Feel It’s Worth It
Any carrot at the end of the stick a business uses to create urgency must have value to the customer. Offering free bacon for every purchase to a vegan isn’t going to give them that sense of urgency.
If customers feel like they’re getting the deal of a lifetime, they’ll whip out their wallets. Remember the $20 Sham-Wow? It may have been pitched as the greatest thing since sliced bread, but in reality, it was scraps of industrial rayon and plastic sold at a 1,500% markup.
Ultimately, your marketing team needs to sit down and look at your company’s demographics. From there, they can decide what strategy for creating a sense of urgency will work best for your niche and your brand.
Then, it’s just a matter of driving traffic to your site. And, there are many tools that can help you do that. With a sold multichannel marketing approach that includes text messaging, email marketing, and social media, you can create that sense of urgency to drive up those sales.
Do you use any urgency techniques on your website?