How to Improve Ecommerce Conversion with Urgency

Richard Sutherland
April 16, 2020

Customers usually come to your store with a view to solving a problem in their lives through the use of your products or services. And, thanks to your excellent marketing and on-site persuasion, they believe they’ve found the solution with one of your products! They’re primed to buy, but niggling doubts begin to creep in. 

People start to come up with ways in their minds NOT to buy the product. Is it too expensive? Could they get a better deal on another website? Does it perform as well as the company suggests? Can they afford it? Should they wait and discuss the purchase with their spouse first? Can your company be trusted? Are there coupon codes available? Should they wait till there’s a sale?

Often, these doubts dampen the will to buy, especially if the customer goes away and thinks about it for an extended period of time. Perhaps they forget about the product. Perhaps they come back later to buy a product but end up going to a competitor site. Perhaps they find a better gift, an alternative tool, a cheaper solution. If only they had a better reason to purchase in the first place.

We call this problem ‘urgency.’ We want to use a number of psychological tricks to get customers to want to buy as soon as possible.

Before we rundown some of the top ways to increase urgency, we should mention that urgency can only work on products and services that the reader actually wants. Before you think about improving urgency through sales tactics, you should improve the marketing, branding, design, and presentation of your products. Urgency can only work by ramping up the existing feelings of the customer.

Analyze Where Things Are Slipping

First off, you need to analyze the data to consider where people are choosing to abandon their purchase and whether a boost in urgency at that point could help. You could be losing people on your landing pages, product pages, shopping cart, or checkout. Consider whether it’s because your offer lacks a sense of urgency.

For example, if people often put items into a shopping cart but don’t push through to checkout, you can test whether adding a countdown timer to the shopping cart adds a sense of urgency, enough to ensure more people continue to the next step instead of getting sidetracked.

Check Your Color Scheme

Stores often make the mistake of choosing green or blue call-to-action (CTA) buttons as they appear ‘friendly.’ In most cases, warmer colors like orange, yellow, and red have been shown to perform around 20% better than cooler colors.

Whatever color scheme you land upon, ensure that your CTA buttons prominently stand out from the rest of the page and the many other buttons and links on the site.

The National Portrait Gallery has many products with vibrant colors that could make pages messy. The design keeps things simple with a muted color scheme so the CTA can stand out.

Set a Deadline 

Many of the urgency tools we can use online mirror techniques that have been used effectively offline since commerce began. Setting a deadline for purchase is the most direct way of creating urgency. 

There are multiple ways to create deadlines:

  • Show that stocks are low and running out fast – buy now!
  • Offer a sale price that’s running out soon
  • Offer an incentive to purchase within the next few hours (such as expedited shipping)
  • Throw in an extra item for a limited time, especially if the customer looks to be abandoning their shopping cart

Expedited shipping for immediate purchase can be a good one-two, as it’s capitalizing on some customers’ desire to get the product in their hands as quickly as possible.

Debenhams includes multiple time-limited offers, including offering expedited shipping if you purchase within the next few hours.

Competition and Fear of Missing Out

Showing that stocks are low and other people are buying the product taps into customers’ Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Again, it’s a good tool because it both suggests time urgency and includes an element of social proof. Other people are buying this product NOW and it’s almost sold out! It’s relatively easy to manufacture the illusion of stocks running out when you only sell a part of your inventory at a time.

Showing that other people have been purchasing items that are limited in stock also introduces an element of competition that motivates another type of buyer. You can build this up more by offering a discount to only the first 50 buyers, for example.

Agoda pulls out all the stops with its urgency cues, showing social proof, shortage of stock, personalized offers, and multiple time-limited offers.

Our Shopify partner app, Avada, has a simple social proof app that helps you build the urgency by notifying visitors when their preferred items have been purchased by many others. This creates fear of missing out.

Similarly, DataCue offers an onsite notification feature where we notify your visitors if the products they have viewed are low in stock or are on sale. This creates urgency and converts visitors faster.

Customize Your Offers

There’s no doubt that personalizing your special offers can create a major jump in urgency. With DataCue, all the actions of your visitors are tracked automatically and a profile of their previous behavior is created.

At the right point, personalized notifications can popup to advise the customer of a special offer that’s been created just for them. Not only does this entice the reader to purchase a product we know they’ll probably be very interested in, but it also builds a feeling that your site has been created just for them. Consciously or sub-consciously, the customer will feel that the offers your website has are just so ‘them,’ bring them back time and again and building trust and brand loyalty for your company.

There are many ways to increase urgency but implement them smartly and without being too obtrusive. Throwing up popups and garish urgency pushes when the customer is not ready for them can backfire. Roll out your changes to urgency in a slow, calculated, and measured manner so that you can ascertain whether you’re making gains. 

Cover photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash.

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About the author

Richard Sutherland has worked in online marketing and search engine optimization for over 15 years. Excited about how we can offer the customer a streamlined, personalized online experience, Richard looks for every way to increase conversion percentages with a high return on investment.

Sobre el autor

Richard Sutherland tiene más de 15 años de experiencia en marketing online y optimización de motores de búsqueda. Apasionado por ofrecer una experiencia inteligente y personalizada a cada consumidor, Richard está constantemente buscando nuevas maneras de incrementar la conversión y, con ella, los retornos a la inversión.

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