Every year Black Friday looks more and more like a zombie apocalypse. Crowds of people pushing and shoving and running and grabbing. This past Black Friday I remember watching the news and the scene was frightening. People were going absolutely mad for sales.
But why would a person who’s normal every other day of the week go to that extent? Because companies know how to use psychology to create urgency in us.
As a merchant your main goal is getting sales. You’re not only dealing with visitors who come to your site and then bounce, but also with shopping cart abandonment.
Luckily for you, there are some powerful psychological techniques involving urgency that you can use. These techniques will speed up your customer’s decision making process and increase your conversion rates. Here are 4 of them.
The less there is of something, the more we want it. It’s that simple. Susan M Weinschenk, psychologist and author of Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click states “If there is a limited availability of something, we assume it is even more valuable, and we want it even more.”
When the iPhone first came out, there were massive lines to get one. It was implied that there may not be enough in stock and that even if you pre order, you might have to wait to get one. So people got up at the crack of dawn, some die hard Apple fan boys even camped outside their local Apple store, just to be able to get their hands on a shiny new Apple iPhone. This continues right to this day, with every Apple release.
It’s easy to invoke scarcity on an eCommerce site, I see it all the time. Travel sites will show in red letters “only 1 ticket left” or “2 others looking at this hotel”. This does two things. First, both statements create scarcity by explicitly or implicitly communicating that stock is low and it’ll be gone fast. Second, it offers social proof (which I’ll talk about next). The site doesn’t leave much room for thinking.
Bali is a place I’m planning on visiting soon. As an experiment, I searched for Bali on hotels.ca and here is what I found. I’m shown that many of the hotels I’m looking at only have 1 or 2 rooms left. Uh oh, I better act fast! Also, on the right hand side of the screen there are pop ups every couple of seconds, in the example shown we see that someone from the United Kingdom booked less than a minute before I started looking at hotels. This tells me that I have to take action. Scarcity tactics at work; you bet.
Scarcity and Social Validation
I was recently scrolling through my Instagram feed and stopped on a picture of a gold pineapple necklace I thought was nice. I saw that 329 other people had like this photo! Not to mention the countless number of comments like “I have to have this.” I then checked out the description and the first four words? Just a few left.
Reading on, the company Tidepool Love, described how this item was on sale and to get it while supplies last. So what is so powerful about this scenario? Scarcity combined with social validation.
Scarcity as we’ve seen is powerful on it’s own, but when social validation is sprinkled in, it’s an incredible combination. That’s because humans oftentimes look to others to decide what we should do. It’s hardwired into our brains to want to belong and fit in. We look to others on how to behave without consciously thinking about what we’re doing.
Wanting to belong combined with scarcity will have people acting fast. They no longer have to think about whether or not they should make a purchase because the decision has already been made for them. They know if they put off making the purchase the product might be gone.
Limited Time Offers
There are limited time offers that ensure your conversion rates will go up, such as free shipping. This quote from Wharton professor David Bell, which you’ve probably heard before, sums up just how enticing free shipping is
“For 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.”
Your limited time offered doesn’t have to be free shipping though, it’s just an example of what’s highly effective. Simply running a sale, with a time limit, is enough to get people buying. People love sales and go crazy for them, as we’ve seen with Black Friday.
Artizia, a women’s fashion retailer, does an incredible job of running limited time offers. Artizia is known to only run sales about 3 times a year and many line up for the annual Aritizia warehouse sale. It get’s pretty intense as seen here. At the time of writing this, they’re running a “you snooze, you lose” sale which is on for a limited amount of time. They recently added free shipping to the sale this past friday the 13th but it only lasted a few days. You can bet they increased conversion.
Another thing they did right was not wait for me to come to their site and find out about the free shipping and sale. They had my email from a prior purchase and they emailed me with the subject line “free shipping until midnight”. The email had one goal in mind, to tell you me that I needed to shop now, before it’s too late.
Society 6, a website that sells original artwork, often has some sort offer going on but it never lasts more than a few days, sometimes even one day. They encourage people to sign up for their newsletter because on days when they offer free shipping, it usually only lasts one day, encouraging people to buy that day. This time they’re offering a dollar amount off until February 16.
The power of words
The best leaders know how to gain followers and influence people through words. So do the best converting websites. According to Neil Patel there are 9 time related words that are known to increase conversions through urgency.
These words create a psychological reaction called FOMO, fear of missing out. This is the reason why we are bombarded daily with phrases like “act now” or “never again”. Marketers want you to act first, think later.
I recently tried an experiment. Since I was already at the Artizia website I added a product to my cart and left. (I know, I’m horrible) Sure enough they sent me a remarketing email. See the subject line below.
Aritzia clearly knows that many people who abandon their carts do so because they weren’t ready to make the purchase. Maybe I was interrupted by a phone call or simply needed a bit more time to think about it. In any case, they sent me an email telling me that the product I was looking at might soon be gone. As you can see, they also use power words such as “delay” and “too late”, to further drive home the point that my camisole won’t be around forever.
First Time Customers
According to Cam Foundation, the cost of acquiring a new customer can be 4-6 times more than marketing to an existing customer. But there are some techniques to improve your odds, and decrease those customer acquisition costs.
Studies show it only takes about 7 seconds for someone to form an opinion of your brand. Make those 7 seconds count.
Customers that come to your site may have found a product they like through a social network, a search or perhaps they heard about you from a friend, either way they probably have a reason why they came there. If you want to convert a visitor into a customer, give them a first impression they won’t forget and an incentive to buy right away.
Shoptiques is a store I found through Pinterest while I was browsing. I clicked on a product and was taken to their store. I was immediately offered a 10% discount, all I had to to do was give them my email. Nice! What’s great about this offer is that even If I didn’t end up buying anything, you the merchant would still have collected my email address. This gives you the chance to remarket to me with similar products, discounts or current events.
Creating a sense of urgency in your marketing can turn even the most indecisive people into customers that take action quickly. And by “take action”, I mean spending big dollars on your online store.