It’s quite well known that conversion optimization techniques helps increase conversion rates by persuading people to buy. What is perhaps not so well known is that if not used properly it can ruin your copy and work against you. (Photo credit: etienne gerard )
Perhaps one of the least used and properly used conversion optimization techniques is that of urgency.
Why use urgency? Let’s first look at research in the use of urgency as a conversion optimization technique.
Research on using urgency effectively
Research by Howard Leventhal studied the effects on people who were handed tetanus brochures.
2 different pamphlets were handed out to participants. Both pamphlets went into the details of the effects of the tetanus disease on one’s body. One pamphlet just had the details on the effects of the disease and nothing else, whilst the other also had minimal information that indicated where they could schedule an appointment to get vaccinated.
The outcome was that those that received the second pamphlet with the information on where they could set an appointment for a vaccination were much more likely to take action. They were far more engaged with the information they received. Why?
Our minds are prone to blocking out information that evokes a sense of urgency if there aren’t any instructions on what to do next. Even though the follow up information in the pamphlet wasn’t very detailed it was enough to increase engagement with those who read it.
Those that read the pamphlets that didn’t have the follow up information were prone to convincing themselves that they did not need to worry about it for now. They felt that it wouldn’t happen to them anyway. Those that did have the follow up information had less of an incentive to feel that way given they had information to take action and so couldn’t put it aside so easily.
So urgency can be blocked out by a prospects brain if specific instructions on how to solve the problem identified are not given.
Examples of Conversion Optimization Using Urgency
Amazon is renowned for their continual conversion optimization processes. urgency is a technique they have used and keep using on a regular basis as the screen shot below shows.
They not only place a time limit on the offer but also entice people to order immediately with the offer of one day shipping.
Here is another example by Conversion Labs to an email sent out by a Norwegian Car dealership.
As the image shows an extra line of text was applied to their A/B test. The text added in said – ‘Amazing offers valid for a limited period’ and was placed above the button. The result – an increase in conversions by a whopping 27%.
How can you use urgency effectively or apply it to businesses?
There are quite a few ways in which direct urgency or implied urgency can be used by businesses in their marketing and communications.
- On offer pages on your website.
- Within shopping cart pages and other pages where you need to encourage immediate action.
- In the subject lines of emails, newsletters and posts.
- In your customer welcome or subscriber welcome emails. Urgency encourages new members to become more deeply engaged in your site quickly.
- In emails to drive more potential purchasers back to their abandoned shopping carts.
- In emails when subscriptions expire to reactivate subscribers.
- In press releases and other offline marketing.
- In PPC and CPM advertising.
One of the key places to start with is the headline of your copy as 8 out of 10 people will read the copy as opposed to 2 out of 10 that will read the rest of your copy. Copywriter Clayton Makepeace in an edition of Early to Rise proposes asking 6 questions before you write your headline.
1. Does your headline offer the reader a reward for reading?
2. What specifics could you add to make your headline more intriguing and believable?
3. Does your headline trigger a strong, actionable emotion the reader already has about the subject at hand?
4. Does your headline present a proposition that will instantly get your prospect nodding his or her head?
5. Could your headline benefit from the inclusion of a proposed transaction?
6. Could you add an element of intrigue to drive the prospect into your opening copy?
Two things that are critical in the sales process of your copy is the call to action and urgency. The call to action is really just a simple explicit instruction to buy eg;
Click Here To Reserve Your Spot Now >>
While it may seem silly if you don’t tell people to “buy right now” many of them won’t.
Urgency in your copy is the reason your prospects act now not tomorrow or the day after that.
Copy like the one below inserts urgency.
Act Now! This offer will expire in 3 days.
Take advantage of the low price now, while it’s still available.
Offers with a limited time offer nearly always sell more than offers that are open-ended. Without the sense of urgency or scarcity, your prospects inertia will more than likely keep them doing what they are already doing … nothing.
It is important to understand that you should never pressure people to push them into purchasing but rather use pressure to prevent them from procrastinating. In other words help your prospects to make the move they likely already want to make by giving them a logical reason why and you’ll find that more people will.
A study done on employing urgency in online sales copy found that creating urgency will almost always increase sales but “manufactured” cut off points can kill your credibility and sales.
How do you provide the push to help people make a decision on a purchase given the short window of opportunity you have while the prospect is on your webpage?
Here are 7 techniques to use urgency effectively that you could employ.
- Last Chance – A reminder that you’ve made an offer before and that time is running out. If you say last chance then mean it. Marketing Experiments did a test where they added the line “limited 1000 attendees” to their email copy to a webinar. Just adding that line increased the click through rate by 15%. Just adding that line which is a combination of implied urgency and social proof made the difference.
- Limited Edition – This works well when you have a few items that are special in some way and there is a quantity limit or a time limit. This works well for coins, plates, art, special book printings and other collectible or even rare items.
- Seasonal offers – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine ’s Day etc are perfect excuses for people to buy something. Promotions around these days are quite natural. Amazon for example is very good at using email marketing for sales and go so far as to provide a holiday shipping countdown during the Christmas season.
- Charter Membership – You offer a prospect the chance to be one of the first to subscribe to a publication/club/organization. As part of this a special introductory price/gift/incentive is usually included.
- Enrollment Period – You create a “window of opportunity” for when people can enroll for a course or business service.
- Pre-orders – This technique is often used by publishers. Essentially you tell people that you need to plan ahead or that you are taking pre-orders or orders before publication at a special price to reserve copies. This way readers are guaranteed a copy as soon as it is published or released and save money (usually 10 -15% off). It can also be leveraged to increase word of mouth referrals and get some social buzz around the topic and publication going.
- Price Increase offer – If prices are due to go up, you can announce it ahead of time so people can take advantage of the former price one last time or stock up. Tax time or the end of the financial year is generally a good time to use this technique.
What challenges do you encounter to use urgency for conversion optimization effectively? Let me know in the comments below. Have you had any success, let us know what worked for you.