7 Ways to Use Scarcity Marketing to Increase Conversions

Scarcity associated with limited time offers can increase email marketing conversions

How can you improve your email conversions and conversions on your website? One way is to implement scarcity in your email marketing campaigns. The psychological principle behind scarcity marketing is simple. The less there is of something, the more valuable it becomes. It’s such a driving force that there’s an acronym for it: FOMO (fear of missing out).

This is human nature, and it’s why some of the most memorable sale days revolve around limited supply or time-bound events.

A good time to use scarcity marketing to increase conversions is when you’re dealing with visitor apathy. You create an email for a product launch or content upgrade and send it to your subscribers. You know your subscribers are interested because they’re opening your email, and many click through on the offer. But sales are trickling in slowly because your customers don’t feel any urgency to make a purchase now.

Adding scarcity as a component to your offer can change the customer’s mindset and get more people to buy now. Here are 7 ways to apply scarcity to your own email and marketing campaigns and increase conversions.

1. Use words that imply scarcity and urgency in your marketing

The words and phrases you use in your marketing emails can trigger a sense of scarcity. Words like “limited” or “while supplies last,” imply that there’s a limit to how much of something is available. That can make people feel like they need to act fast. Reminders about limited quantities can be particularly useful in your November email marketing campaigns. Besides helping you sell your products, they remind your readers to order gifts and other items before they run out.

Other words, like “now” or “today,” imply that the offer is only good for the present moment, which can increase urgency. You can use the same effect with phrases like “for the first time ever!”

You can also use language that implies time is running out to increase your email open rate. For instance you could say something will only be available for purchase until tomorrow at midnight. Focus on the benefits of your product or service, make the time frame for the offer short and well-defined, and use language that creates urgency.

2.Communicate urgency in your subject line.

It’s one thing to convey a sense of urgency in your email, but you also need it in your subject line. Writing subject lines that communicate urgency isn’t easy. It’s a balance. You don’t want to seem too pushy, too desperate, or misleading while still communicating your offer’s urgency. Here are some examples that point in the right direction. Notice the good email subject lines are more specific – they use numbers rather than generalities:

Bad: Last chance to buy before sale ends!

Good: Two days left to save on X.

Bad: Sale ends at midnight – act fast!

Good: Only four hours left to lock in these savings!

Other examples of subject lines with specific timelines: “Offer expires in 72 hours” or “Only available until (date).”

When talking about the expiration date, it’s good practice to pack as many details as possible into the text that describes the offer. For example:

“For a limited time only, receive 20% off our e-book How to Put Your Goals on Autopilot with this coupon code XXXXXX. Offer expires in 72 hours.”

Think about the last time you bought something at a discounted price because you thought it was only available once. There is nothing like a little scarcity pressure to motivate someone to act fast!

This shows your subscribers that it is a genuinely limited offer and creates urgency for them to act now so they don’t miss out.

3.Limit the quantity to create true scarcity.

If you have a product in high demand and low supply, let your customers know it. No one wants to miss out on their favorite item. These scarcity tactics work well for special editions, rare finds, and overstock items that are about to run out of stock.

A tried-and-true method for creating urgency is to offer limited-time deals or discounts. Use an email campaign tool like Campaign Monitor to create a timer that counts down until your offer expires. Also, set up an automated email series to start when the user signs up for your service or subscribes to your email newsletters.

4.Introduce hurdles, requirements, or limitations to accessing the offer.

Creating a hurdle, requirements, or limitation to access an offer is another way to create scarcity. Hurdles typically come in the form of time, money, energy, or information (or all four). Put yourself in the shoes of your targets and avoid creating hurdles that are too high. Create urgency, not frustration. It’s important to give people enough time to act, but not so much time that they can forget about your offer or put off acting until a later date.

Asking customers to go through a sign-up process creates a small hurdle for people who want access to your special offer. They will have to spend some time filling out a form before they get access. Don’t make the hurdle too challenging or time intensive, or they’ll get frustrated and leave.

5.Send a series of autoresponders and make each one sound more urgent.

Another way to use scarcity in email marketing is to set up a series of autoresponders. You can set the first one to go out the moment someone opens your newsletter, and have subsequent emails go out days later with different subject lines.

The first email could contain some basic details on how people can save money by buying your product or service. It doesn’t include a discount code because they just signed up for your newsletter.

A few days later, send an autoresponder with a slightly more urgent subject line and copy that includes some benefits people will get if they buy now. Again, no discount code–but it lets them know they should buy before something bad happens (e.g., they miss out on saving money).

A few days later, send another email with an even more urgent subject line, copy that explains why people should act now, and a discount code for 30% off products/services at checkout online or in-store.

6.Offer a product at “scratch and dent” sale prices.

Set aside a portion of your inventory for a “scratch and dent” sale. Provide a good reason why the discount is being offered (e.g., you’re trying to liquidate old inventory before the new season). Then, emphasize how you have a limited supply.

Don’t forget to:

•   Include social proof in your email (e.g., testimonials from happy customers who bought scratch and dent products).

•   Add a countdown timer to your email, so people know how long they have to take advantage of this offer.

7.Create scarcity via social proof.

You can also use social proof to reinforce scarcity.  People tend to go along with what they think others are doing, even if it’s not true. As a marketer, you can play into this by referencing how many people have purchased or signed up for something.

Start by mentioning the number of customers who have already purchased your product or service–for example, “Over 4 million people have already signed up for this free webinar.” You can use this approach whether your company is huge or small.

Related content: How to write subject lines that get opened

Scarcity and Truth in Advertising

One word of caution about using scarcity in email or marketing campaigns: To comply with truth in advertising laws, any advertising claims you make about something being in limited supply or available for a limited amount of time have to be true. Fake countdown timers, fake deadlines or other tactics meant to mislead consumers are illegal. So, be sure any limitations or deadlines you promote are real.

The Bottom Line

Scarcity is a keen marketing tool to drive email conversions and business. Now you know some tactics you can use to create scarcity in your emails. Applying these methods to your email campaigns will boost conversions and drive more people to your offers–without having to spend extra every month on paid ads.

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