We all love instant gratification.
Line people up and ask them if they’d rather have $100 today or $200 next year and they’d take the $100 almost everytime.
Similarly, a conversion now (on the present visit) seems so much more valuable than a conversion 3 visits from now. And it is.
But the question is, how do we create a ‘buy now’ mindset to persuade shoppers?
Buy Now: The Psychology of Urgency
Though there are small differences between the two, the primary psychological bedrock of urgency is a trigger known as scarcity.
In a broad sense, urgency is when someone feels like they need to act quickly. At its base, urgency is based on two factors:
Hit the right user with a message of importance, and you’ll trigger urgency. You can do this with copy, color, design, pop-ups, and really any other element on your site. It’s often most effective to embed urgency into your checkout process, as it’s closest to the decision.
Scarcity is the main method by which urgency is triggered. It’s when there are limitations on your product based on either quantity, time, or both. If there are an unlimited amount of t-shirts, there is no urgency to buy one. Now, if you really like the shirt, and there are only 3 left, you want to jump on that.
It’s similar with time constraints. If you’ve got a 20% of discount, but it’s only good for a limited amount of time, you’re incentivized to use that discount within the allotted time period.
Here’s an example of a promotional email I recently got from KottonZoo:
You can see how they encourage customers to buy as soon as possible, as % discounts decrease by the hour. The faster you can purchase, the better deal you get. If you wait, the benefits diminish.
If you give someone a long enough deadline, they’ll take it. If there is an unlimited quantity, there’s no reason to buy right away. Any constraint, in quantity or time, helps push the purchase in the moment.
And of course, urgency is a core component of WiderFunnel’s popular L.I.F.T model for conversion optimization.
WiderFunnel explains urgency as the following:
“Urgency has two components: Internal (or how the visitor is feeling upon arrival) and External (or influences the marketer can introduce to the visitor). While Internal Urgency is generally pre-existing when the visitor arrives on the page; the tone of the presentation, offers and deadlines can all influence External Urgency.”
In addition to internal and external urgency, there are also two ways to exhibit urgency on a webpage:
Implicit urgency uses subtle means to imply urgency. This includes the use of urgency words and phrases like ‘order now,’ ‘reserve today,’ or ‘don’t wait, reserve your spot.’
Explicit urgency is real and tangible and is almost always a scarcity measure. When there are only 4 swim suits left, there is a real need to buy now.
Thou Shalt Not Manufacture Scarcity
One quick note: don’t fake scarcity. If you have a digital product that (by definition) won’t run out, don’t say there are 4 copies left. Sure, use a time constraint on a sale, but a manufactured quantity is incredibly disingenuous, and customers will see through it.
That said, there are solid ways to add urgency into your offering. In addition to some classic techniques, real time marketing has created new and sophisticated opportunities for marketers.
3 Ways To Create a Buy Now Mindset
There are hundreds of ways you can trigger urgency; we’re going to focus on three. These three will be baked into the checkout process so you’re optimizing closer to the money. They’ll also incorporate the data trends set forth by real time marketing.
1. Set a Time Limit
This is one of the simplest, and most common, ways to trigger urgency. Actually, if you’ve ever received a promotional email, you’re familiar with this. It looks something like this:
In fact, this method of scarcity is the standard trigger for companies like AppSumo, who promote short term deals:
Another example. Check out the HelloBar that Pet Pro Supply Co uses:
Honestly, this is a pretty straightforward tactics. Set a time limit on your promotions and express that time limit to spur purchases. ConversionXL laid out an urgency case study in which the conversion rate increased almost 3x by adding a countdown timer.
2. Limit Quantities
This technique is also incredibly common, especially during the eCommerce checkout process. I’m sure you’ve seen something like this while shopping:
Limited supply means that something is rare. Rarity implies value. The most popular baseball cards are the cards of lowest quantity. Remember Cabbage Patch Kids? In 1983, the supposed ‘scarcity’ of Cabbage Patch Kids nearly causes a riot.
It’s amazing what people will do when they know something is selling out soon. That’s why event organizers know that there are usually two ticket spikes: when the event is first announces, and immediately before the event itself. The fear of missing out stirs people to purchase tickets before they are all gone.
How can you implement this in your own marketing? The very simple solution is show stock quantities, especially when they are low.
Sales pages also come with the assumption of limited quantities (though this one also uses a time constraint):
Finally, you can sell limited edition items. The secret behind any viral products in the last few decades:
3. Trigger Urgency Messages at the Right Time
You could use the words “buy now,” in your campaign, or you could give customers a real reason to buy right now. Which do you think works better?
Real Time Marketing is marketing that is based on up to date events. Or as a Clickz article defined it, “Real-time marketing is the ongoing cycle of engagement, data management, analytical insights and optimization – performed continuously and immediately.”
60% of marketers struggle to personalize content in real-time, yet 77% believe real-time personalization is crucial – and ⅔ are planning on implementing real time marketing in the future. The benefits are clear:
Increased conversion rate
So we’re trying to tie together real time marketing with urgency to create ”just-in-time” or “on-the-fly” that pushes more product purchases. At Granify we work with our customers to deliver the right message at the right time, many using urgency. Here is an example:
In this example, we’re triggering time urgency specifically for this user by reminding them that the items in their cart can be delivered today if they order right now.
Urgency can be one of the most effective psychological triggers in marketing. But it’s a powerful mechanism, one that should be used ethically. Don’t manufacture constraints on a digital product that will never run out (have you ever seen Amazon say that have only 10 copies of a Kindle copy left? That would be absurd).
There are some manual ways that you can trigger scarcity, methods that have been done frequently. You can add a timer countdown, do flash sales, limit quantity, or produce limited edition items.
You can also set it and forget it with real time marketing software like Granify. This way, you’re reaching specific users with specific messaging at exactly the right time, based on hundreds of data points.