Today, with the convenience of online shopping, people can afford to take more time to research their options before finally buying a product. This makes urgency even more relevant as a strategy to increase sales and grow revenue.
Urgency causes people to act quickly. It forces them to come to a faster decision about a purchase. If they were planning to leave your site and take some extra time to think about your offer, a message about a special offer or low stock levels might change their minds.
“Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.” — Jim Rohn
â€” Jim Rohn Official (@OfficialJimRohn) March 6, 2015
But hereâ€™s the thing: while urgency is a strong catalyst for increasing sales, it doesnâ€™t stand up very well on its own. In other words, adding urgency wonâ€™t work if your offer isnâ€™t appealing or relevant to your audience.
Now the obvious question: how do you create urgency? In this post weâ€™ll share with you a few simple ways to use urgency to skyrocket the conversions on your website.
A classic study that demonstrates the psychology of scarcity reveals an interesting quirk of human behaviour that may hold a clue as how to increase urgency. In 1975, three researchers wanted to know how people would value cookies in two identical glass jars. One jar held ten cookies while the other contained just two stragglers.
Which cookies would people value more? Though the cookies and jars were identical, participants valued the ones in the near-empty jar more highly. Scarcity had somehow affected their perception of value.
Why? It could be that scarcity signals something about a product. If there are fewer items, it might be because other people know something you donâ€™t. Namely, the cookies in the almost empty jar are the better choice.
This basically means that people tend to place higher value on an object that is scarce and a lower value on one that is available in abundance.
So, if you want to speed up the buying process you could try displaying your stock meter on your product page. Hereâ€™s an example from Bottica:
Hotel comparison sites also do a great job at adding stock urgency. Take this example from booking.com that shows three instances of stock urgency suggesting that this hotel room wonâ€™t be available for long due to its popularity and limited number of rooms.
Limited-time discounts off the regular price
Everyone loves to save money, and offering discounts is one of the most effective ways to entice people to buy. However, for this to work you canâ€™t be offering discounts indefinitely, otherwise youâ€™re training your customers to expect a permanent price cut.
To avoid the effect of cheapening your product while still leveraging the power of a discount, always set a deadline. Itâ€™s a tactic weâ€™re all familiar with: â€śThis offer ends at midnight!â€ť and â€śOrder within the next 12 hours and receiveâ€¦â€ť. However you decide to phrase it, make sure to use words that entice customers to act now rather than later.
Hereâ€™s a simple example from Amazon:
A limited-time discount makes the offer look so tempting and fleeting that customers are compelled to seize the opportunity for fear of missing out (FOMO). Just make sure that potential customers are aware that your offer is time-limited. Feature the discounted product(s) and the deadline on your homepage to stimulate interest and urgency, like in this example from The Knot Shop:
Special offers available for a few hours to certain users
Another thing you can do is to tailor your offers depending on your visitorsâ€™ actions on your site. Give them a personalised experience by varying the discounts based on what they do, whether theyâ€™re creating an account, signing up for a newsletter or downloading a case study.
You can also offer a special discount to users who have added items to their cart but havenâ€™t finalised their order. Offering limited-time discounts on abandoned cart items is another great way to use the urgency principle to encourage a sale.
Implementing these types of dynamic offers can increase conversions because it gradually escalates the sense of urgency and it can also impress the visitor at the same time. Just make sure youâ€™re clear about your offer as well as how many hours the user has until the offer expires.
A bundle offer refers to adding on more products to the core offer and then discounting the entire bundle. Even with a discount on the bundle, youâ€™ll still be increasing your revenue.
Hereâ€™s a simple example from beautybay.com where you get a 20% discount when you buy two products:
You can apply the same technique on your site. Create bundle offers with products or services that complement each other and also set a time limit so potential customers are made aware that they need to act sooner rather than later if they want to take advantage.
Free express shipping thatâ€™s only available for a few hours/ days
Free express shipping is one of those limited-time offers that can help increase your conversion rates. This quote from Wharton professorÂ David R. Bell, which youâ€™ve probably heard before, sums up just how enticing free shipping is:
â€śFor whatever reason, a free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing to many than a discount that cuts the purchase price by $10.â€ť
Youâ€™ve surely come across this while shopping on Amazon. On the product page youâ€™ll see a countdown timer urging you to buy the product to be eligible for express shipping.
So if youâ€™re already offering next-day delivery, why not offer free express shipping with a minimum order of ÂŁ20 when they order within the next 24 hours? Just inform users how many hours or days they have to purchase the product if they want their order to qualify for free express delivery.
An exit offer is a pop-up with an offer for a discount that users see when theyâ€™re about to leave. Itâ€™s usually a message along the lines of â€śHang on! Get ALL this for just ÂŁXX!â€ť When the user clicks the message, theyâ€™re usually taken back to the product page where they see a timer counting down to their deadline.
The good thing about the exit offer is that you donâ€™t have to give a visitor a discount until the moment they decide to leave without buying anything. So you can convert a few visitors at full price and net the rest with the discount.
These are just a few of the techniques you can use to increase conversions by driving urgency. But before you set out to use them, there are two golden rules to keep in mind:
- False urgency can backfire. So donâ€™t use flashing calls-to-action like â€śhurry, only one item leftâ€ť just to get rid of the stock that wonâ€™t move. You risk visitors calling your bluff and the chances are theyâ€™ll never come back or recommend you to their friends. Hereâ€™s a real example of how false urgency can kill customer loyalty.
- Donâ€™t overdo it. If you employ all these techniques at once and in an aggressive manner, you will come across as pushy, manipulative and untrustworthy. Remember that moderation is key.
Now youâ€™re ready to use these tactics and increase conversions and profitability.