Imagine for a moment that you’re trying on jeans (everyone’s favorite task, right?) and you find a pair that fit you well, but don’t blow you away. You might think to yourself, “Well, maybe I’ll keep looking, and if I don’t find anything better, I’ll come back later this week and purchase them.”
But what if, as you’re exiting the fitting room, you see a large sign that reads, “TODAY ONLY: All Jeans 50% Off!” Even though you’re still on the fence about how good they make your bottom look, you’d rather purchase the jeans now than miss on such a good sale.
If buying jeans isn’t your thing, imagine this scenario: You’re at your favorite outdoor supply store and you see they have tents on display. You know your tent at home has a hole in it, so you decide to check them out. One tent in particular stands out to you, but it is a budget-buster, so you decide to put off the purchase. What’s the likelihood that you’ll ever return to that store to buy that tent?
However, imagine that as you’re getting ready to leave without the tent, your spouse calls and says that your neighbors invited you to go camping this weekend. Even though it means pulling out the credit card, you need a tent in just a few days, so you make the purchase.
One more scenario to image! Let’s say that you’re shopping for a new car. You test drive a certain make and model and enjoy the ride, but are hesitant to pull the trigger on making the purchase. Then the car salesman mentions to you that this is the last one they have in stock, and its unlikely that they’ll get any others in for several months, and as you’re discussing the potential deal, another family walks up to the car and begins looking at it.
Hey! That’s my car! BACK OFF!
What do all of these scenarios have in common? They create a sense of urgency for the customer. And lucky for you, email is a great way to relay this information to your potential target market. Let’s take a look at how to create a sense of urgency for your customers using your email list:
Buying Blue Jeans: Expiring Price/Benefit
First, think of our jeans example. What created the sense of urgency in this scenario is the one-day sale. In other words, a lower price would be expiring quickly. This can take on many forms:
- Limited time discount (like the 50% off sale)
- Normal price changing soon (for example, the clothing company is manufacturing jeans differently, so starting with the next batch, the price will be higher)
- Extra benefit expiring (for today only, the jeans come with a free pair of shoes)
Email is a great way to relay this kind of information to your potential customers because it is a quick way to reach people. Don’t just send one email though. People typically respond more readily when they see the information at least three times. So, send an initial email to announce that a price or benefit is expiring, a follow-up reminder, and a final reminder right before the expiration time/date.
You can boost the response in the follow-up reminder by including some social proof. For example, you could say, “500 people already took advantage of today’s limited time discount. Don’t get left behind!”
Remember to set up your email campaign so that people who purchase your product after the first email do not receive the second two emails further reminding them of the discount. People get crabby when they receive emails about products they’ve already purchased.
Buying Tents: Immediate Need
Next, think of our tent scenario. In this case, there was no pricing benefit, but rather, the person really needed the product immediately. Without a tent, you and your spouse would not be able to go camping with friends over the weekend.
There are certain times of year when everyone on your email list could have an immediate need for your product. For example, if you’re selling tents, the week before a holiday weekend in the summer is a time when a lot of people go camping. Many people have an immediate need.
When this is the case, send at least one email that outlines the specific benefits of your product, which creates awareness, and at least one follow-up that plays on the sense of urgency. In our tent example, my first email might talk about when my tent is better than every other tent out there, while my second email would play to the fact that customers could use the tent right away.
Another option is to identify a specific group of people from among your email list who could use your product right now. For example, are you tracking everyone who purchases a tent? If so, those people probably also need other camping supplies?
Going camping this weekend with your new tent? Don’t let chilly nights ruin your experience: check out our heated sleeping bags!
Just because people got to the end of your sales funnel by purchasing a product doesn’t mean you can’t convert them into a repeat customer.
Buying Cars: Limited Quantities
Lastly, use the threat of limited quantities to make people feel a sense of urgency. That’s exactly what the car salesman did in our example. We all have this knee-jerk reaction to claim something when it is the last one available. We don’t want to miss out!
Keep in mind that for digital products, the time is what you could make limited. It doesn’t make sense to say “We only have 100 copies of this ebook left” because when a product is digital, you don’t run out. But you could say, “In one week, we will no longer be offering this product for sale.” Disney is a great example of a company who does this. They put their films in a vault, so they are only available for sale for a limited amount of time. You can also say, “We’re only selling 100 more copies; then this product will no longer be available.” People often do this with webinars, consulting sessions, and so forth by saying that seats are limited.
As soon as quantities become limited, send out an email to relay this information. Even if you have thousands left, some people will buy simply because they know that the product won’t be available forever.
You can and should also send email updates as quantities start to sell. Typically, it makes sense to note when they’re half gone. So if your initial emails says that you’re only selling 100 more items, you should send an email update when there are only 50 left. Then, send further emails as the numbers continue to dwindle.
Again, make sure that people who already purchased the product don’t get the follow-up emails.
Why Email Works
You can also use other outlets to create a sense of urgency. I recommend that you tell people about price expiration, need, and limited quantities using social media, mailings, etc. as well. But email works because you’re making sure that people see every message. That repetition is how you can get people to pull out their credit cards. While someone might miss your tweet in an ever-moving stream or toss out your postcard with the junk mail without even glancing at it, with email, they will at least see the subject line.
So make that subject line count. Make people feel a sense of urgency. Pound it into their heads that they need to be NOW or they’ll miss out on your fantastic product.