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Tik-tok! Mastering time-sensitive offers for your emails

Tik-tok! Mastering time-sensitive offers for your emails Deana Kovac Partner post
· 11 min read · Email marketing · Jul 9, 2019

If you understand some of the mysteries of human psychology, you’re well on your way to becoming an ace email marketer.

One of the most exciting aspects of human psychology for marketers is how urgency affects motivation. 

If you’re looking to build your email list, creating a sense of urgency and playing on people’s fear of missing out (FOMO) can be effective. No one wants to miss out on a great deal that’s going to vanish shortly. 

However, creating a time-sensitive offer that converts is harder than it sounds. You can’t slap on a shade of red or add a countdown timer without a sound strategy. You have to be inventive with your copy and tap into this human psychology. 

Want to know how to do that? Let’s get started, we don’t have much time!

Why urgency in emails works

As a psychological trigger, urgency causes us humans to act fast. It’s a time-based concept embedded in our brain that makes us feel uncomfortable if we don’t act right away. 

According to research, humans put urgent tasks before more critical tasks that are not time-sensitive. Just because the task is deemed to be more urgent! 

Scarcity value works the same way. It’s another psychological trigger that causes us to assign more value to those things that are scarce (or rare, like diamonds or gold iPhones). 

And then there’s FOMO, which is the short version of Fear Of Missing Out. If something is running out of stock, we begin to panic and weigh up the pros and cons of splashing the cash. FOMO can make a person feel dissatisfied, resulting in action.

When it comes to marketing, adding elements of urgency, scarcity and FOMO speeds up the buying process. 

Of course, what you’re offering has to add real value to their lives. It must solve your customer’s problem.  

Urgency is great to use in emails, but there’s one catch. Studies have shown that, while urgency can work in marketing, it can also backfire if you don’t follow up the offer by showing people what to do next.

Here’s how to use urgency in newsletters and have it solely benefit your email success.

5 ways you can enhance urgency in newsletters

1. Use time-sensitive phrases 

The most straightforward way to create urgency is to use time-sensitive phrases. These phrases work because they put the prospect under pressure. 

If your audience doesn’t act within X amount of days/hours, they will lose out.

Time-sensitive phrases don’t have to be too clever or complicated. Keep it super simple, like  “only 2 more days left to register for this webinar!”  

At the same time, you don’t want to sound too pushy. 

Here are some examples:

  • See my offer now: By using first person language, you’re creating a sense of ownership, which is really important for urgency. It makes it about the reader, which causes curiosity. You’re planting a seed in the reader’s mind that becomes their own.

  • Last call for tickets: ‘Last call’ is a more unique (and fun) way of saying “Act now!” It’s a way of getting folks to take action right now without being pushy. Remember, just a single word or phrase can change the way people act, so experiment and be playful.

  • Beat the Clock: Like the above example, “Beat the clock” is a fun and interactive way of getting people to take action. It’s almost like playing a game, and to win, subscribers need to make a move ASAP. 

Here’s an example:

chemical guys urgency email example
  • Better hurry! Our other webinar is sold out: By referring to another webinar or event, you’re suggesting that this one will also sell out soon. It’s a form of social proof, which is really powerful to get people to take action and letting them know that they don’t want to miss out on this huge event (FOMO).

  • Enjoy it while it lasts: Okay, so the phrase “Enjoy it while it lasts” is pretty mundane by itself. But take a look at how Starbucks have put their own twist on it. By adding a delicious image of the insatiable treats on offer, as well as a seductive word like “bliss,” they’re compelling people to take action.

starbucks urgency email example 2

2. Exploit FOMO with scarcity 

To tap into your customer’s FOMO, communicate that you’ve got great products available today, but that they might be gone tomorrow. There are some simple yet effective phrases you can use in your headlines, body copy and call to actions. 

Examples of headlines that express scarcity: 

  • While supplies last 

  • For a limited time only

  • Don’t miss out

  • Seasonal offer 

  • Product typically sells out fast

  • Cyber Monday sale

  • Get this before it’s gone forever

Express Next combines "don’t miss out" with an exciting background image that further heightens peoples’ fear of missing out.

express next fomo email example 1

Udemy uses urgency when announcing their one-day-only Cyber Monday sale. They even include a countdown timer to make the urgency more visual.

udemy fomo email example 2

Of course, you have to be creative and not generic with how you fit these phrases into your copy. 

For example, check out what BirchBox did below with an item of theirs that’s tricky to get hold of. They made sure to include the phrase “Limited time,” but they also included a benefit, which is that it’ll motivate people to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. 

birchbox fomo email example 3

3. Add a deadline 

A deadline is a combination of the two psychological effects we’ve discussed so far — scarcity and urgency. 

When you add a deadline, people know they’re up against the clock. It’s important that you get specific too, by adding both the date and time. The more specific you are, the clearer the prospect is about how much time they’ve got left. 

It’s a good idea to experiment with how long in the future your deadlines are. For example, does a really tight and aggressive deadline (such as a day from now) work better than a deadline two weeks in the future? 

Longer deadlines can work better than you might think because, as each day passes, more sales begin to trickle in.

Take a look at the furniture store, JOYBIRD. They create urgency by presenting a tight deadline coupled with a great offer of 20% off the entire site. 

joybird deadline email example

If you find the right balance of presenting a killer offer with a reasonable deadline. more readers will act!

4. Use action-oriented words 

You already know to use action-oriented words in your CTA. What’s more important is the way you combine them with verbs and other phrases. 

It’s a good idea to give the recipient a sense of ownership by writing in the first person (as mentioned earlier). For example: 

“Hurry! Book your reservation today.” 

A better alternative is: 

“I don’t wanna miss out — give me my eBook now!” 

Here are other action words you can use within your newsletter. 

  • Subscribe now: It’s direct, urgent and it taps into what people want the most, which is the product. While Christmas cards might tell you that it’s better to give than to receive, if a customer is on your website doing some shopping, they’re in this for themselves. And sometimes they need a phrase like this to give them a kick in the right direction 

glamour action-oriented urgency email example
  • Save today: Customers are always on the lookout for ways they can save some cash. Indeed, free shipping is a great way to get abandoned cart customers back in the game. So, remind them that they can make savings, but only if they act now.

  • Free for X days: This one is similar to the one above but it’s got that all-important word ‘free’ in it. Free is a trigger word that compels customers to take action, especially when you remind them that it’s only free for X more days.

  • Limited number available: This one reminds prospects that other people have already taken up most of the products. If they don’t want to miss out, they have to act fast. They’ll see this and ask, “What am I missing?” 

For a complete list of useful action words, click here.

5. Show the problem and solution 

People don’t always know they’ve got a problem in their life until you highlight it. The best way is to highlight it and then introduce the solution — and then demonstrate that they don’t have much time left to fix it! 
Think about it: If a person has just been told they’ve got a major problem on their hands; they’ll want to solve it fast. And that’s just what you’re going to do. 
Use your copy, then show the person their problem and follow-up by pitching your product as the perfect solution. 

You could write something like: 

“Sick of working with a team that just doesn’t get along? Stop fighting and boost your communication today. Our team management app will mend office relationships and improve productivity and your bottom line. Sign up today for a free trial!” 

Or this: 

urgent email example 4

If the solution is compelling, people will want to use it ASAP.

Before you head off, read this

From now on, whenever you write copy designed to get people to take action, take your time to read through it and look for areas where you can create a sense of urgency, scarcity — or both. 

Everything matters, from your headline to your sub-headlines; from your copy to your CTA. Keep things simple and direct but be creative with how you word things. Make your emails pop with visuals and language so that your conversions rocket. 

What are you waiting for? Act now!

Deana Kovac
Deana Kovac

Deana is an internet marketing specialist at Point Visible, a digital agency providing custom blogger outreach services. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music and singing karaoke. Also, her day just can’t start without a hot cup of coffee.