Why Your Email Needs Urgency, NOW!

What would you think if I told you to read this article now, because it would be removed at 23:05 hrs tonight? Because of the power of the email tactic described below, I can only allow myself to share it with a select number of interested readers. After 1.000 pageviews, it is going back into the vault.  Are you already thinking about what is going to be next? Will it be a secret email marketing tactic? 

 

The psychological effect

It’s not that strange to be curious, people are curious by nature. Especially when using some of the strongest fundamental principles of psychology, namely: Exclusivity, mystery, promise of value and urgency. Psychology gives an explanation of behavior of people, their interest and buying behavior. No wonder it is getting more popular in marketing, especially these days under the umbrella name of persuasion tactics. And you can use these to benefit your own email marketing.

Maybe you want to save this article right now, or print it, just to be sure.

 

Urgent matters

One of the persuasion tactics that I can share is creating a sense of urgency. It is known to work very well in stimulating opens, clicks and conversions in email. In some cases I have seen a “last chance” reminder outperform the original email. But it is also a strong emotional driver, and people can be easily put off, if it seems to be unauthentic. That is why I would urge you to be thoughtful and use it:

 

1. Not too often

The use of urgency goes along with trust. If it is overused, your unbelievable deal literally becomes unbelievable. If I send out an email: 15% discount this week only, and next week there is an email with a 20% discount, that isn’t cool. Just as other email marketing tactics always take email frequency into account. Recipients have good memory for these kinds of things, hit them with urgency too often, and it won’t work anymore.

2. On special days that matter

Consumers love to buy on special days. Holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving are perfect excuses to go and buy something for yourself or a gift for someone else. Special promotions around these days are very natural. So make use of the marketing calendar. An example is the mention that you should “Order now to receive this by Christmas”, Amazon is king in using email marketing for sales and they even go as far as doing a holiday shipping countdown.

 

 

 

Interesting enough though, the promotion doesn’t have to have the best deal ever if it is thematically relevant. A dutch retailer had a  Friday the 13th promotion where people got 13% off on Friday the 13th at 13:00hrs. It worked better than other promotions with even higher discount percentages! So urgency combined with an original or creative campaign works even better!

3. FOMO: Limited and exclusive

The Fear of Missing out (popularly known as FOMO) is an urgency increaser. Marketing Experiments did a test where they only added the line “limited 1000 attendees” to their email copy. It increased the click-through rate by 15%. Just that line, they changed nothing else. If you think about it, yes only 1000 seats available? It must be popular too, why otherwise add that line? So this is a combination of implied urgency and social proof.

 

A time to trigger

One place where urgency works very well is in timed or event driven email messages or autoresponders. Emails that you can set up beforehand and that are sent based on your subscribers actions.

So test urgency for instance in your welcome emails, to encourage that your new subscribers engage quickly with your brand after they have signed up.

Birthday emails also are a logical place to limit the time the offer can be used. Set a time limit (a week for instance), this also allows you to send a reminder at the time the offer hasn’t been redeemed in time.

 

Watch your watch (and step)

In the intro I told you this article was going to be removed after 1.000 pageviews. I cheated, the article won’t be removed. Kind of a letdown, I know (play sad trombone ). Just to emphasize that it is always important to be genuine when using exclusivity and urgency. A lot of brands lie about a deal being last day, while next week you see the same one coming by. Have you ever noticed that? I hate it. While urgency works very well, be smart and don’t overdo or fake it.

  • http://twitter.com/emailupdater Miles Date

    Very nice post Jordi.

    So what should a smart email marketer do? I want as many people as possible to open that email! NOW! Urgency like “last minute” and exclusive discounts go hand in hand.

    You talked about a marketingsherpa test, do you have a link to that article?

  • Jordie van Rijn

    I had to look that one up Miles, but Google is your friend in those cases. :) There is a slideshare here: http://www.slideshare.net/marketingexperiments/email-copy-tested with the test and the results.

  • http://twitter.com/madmimi Mad Mimi

    While it’s a great idea to use intriguing language to catch the interest of your readers, I (Becca) would personally recommend against using all CAPS, exclamation points, or % signs in the Subject Line of the email. Spam Filters tend to flag emails with too much punctuation or urgency, which coud make your mail skip the inbox altogether. A gentle prod like “Holiday Shipping Countdown” is awesome, but anything like “Get 20% Off NOW!” is probably best saved for your website, not your email.

  • http://twitter.com/jvanrijn Jordie van Rijn

    Hi Becca,

    Thanks for reading and your additional comment. How are you doing?

    These days, most of the spam filtering is mostly reputation based and far less content based. So sending out interesting emails which your subscribers love should be priority number one.

    I never mentioned that you should use all caps or triple exclamation points, but they could still work :)

  • Jim_Ducharme

    Jordie is correct. Today, “spammy words” are largely considered myth. Sender reputation is by far the bigger concern. Ken Magill covered this rather well in a post last year: http://www.magillreport.com/Content-Schmontent-Its-Your-Behavior-Stupid/ and I’ll be hosting a webinar with DJ Waldo on March 13th where we’ll be “Myth Busting” some other tall tales about email marketing. You can sign up here free:https://getresponse.clickwebinar.com/Email_Marketing_Myth_Busters/register

    Regards,
    jim