What is it about urgency that works when selling online?

Urgency seems to be a new tactic a lot of retailers are utilizing to get you to buy more, or to buy quickly. Urgency is typically created in one of two ways: limited quantities, or a limited time to buy. You want to give customers a reason to buy now. If customers feel bad not buying immediately than you’re doing an even better job of utilizing urgency. But you don’t need guilt to get this tactic to work for you.

Urgency boils down to the idea that we as people are averse to loss. The idea behind “loss aversion” is that we tend to stick to is the idea that we’re more motivated if we think we may lose out on something than we are by the thought of getting something of equal value. It’s like the cookie study we talked about in an earlier blog post. Two jars are filled with cookies that are the same in both jars. The only difference is that Jar A has 2 cookies and Jar B has 10. People valued the cookies in Jar A more. Psychologically we are tailored to believe that the less there is of something the higher its value is. Why do you think diamonds are so rare and sell for so much money?

Cookies in a Jar

Beware of the backfire

Urgency is not always persuasive. It can also backfire on you in some cases. People sometimes won’t want to feel like they’re forced into anything. If your offer sucks or isn’t trustworthy and real (like the discount is still available after the time runs out) then people won’t trust it and you’ll end up hurting your conversions-it’s quite a fine line. Since people commonly return a few times before making a purchase you’re very likely to get caught if you’re using scummy tactics. Customers aren’t stupid, remember that.

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