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How to Use FOMO to Create Urgency in Your Email Marketing

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FOMO – the fear of missing out – and the concept of exclusivity are potent tools for email marketers.

“FOMO marketing is messaging that triggers your audience’s innate fear of missing out in order to make them more likely to take action,” writes Sharon Hurley Hall at OptinMonster. “It’s essential to learn how to use FOMO in marketing, no matter what age group or location you’re targeting.”

As consumers, we are continually face-to-face with very-effective FOMO triggers, often without realizing it. Ever notice that when you are searching for a hotel room that there always seem to be “just a few rooms left at this amazing rate?”

And when you begin to finalize your Amazon order, you are always informed about exactly how much more you must spend to “take advantage of free shipping?” They are both subtle and yet very effective methods designed to influence our purchasing decisions based on our fear of missing out on a good deal.

Marketers and sellers have been leveraging FOMO as long as people have had products and services to sell — it’s only natural to, for instance, stress that a sale is only for a specific time, or that supplies won’t last. But the need to create urgency is made more critical by recipients’ short attention spans and the crushing competition in every inbox.

Ramping up the urgency can’t wait for your body copy; rather, that quest must start with a FOMO-inducing subject line. The effort to craft one is worth it: “Subject lines that convey a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate, writes Khalid Saleh, in an Invesp infographic.

To inject FOMO into a subject line, “just pick one of your recipient’s goals, hopes, or dreams, and dangle it in front of them,” suggests Nico Moreno at SUMO. “Explicitly show them what they’re missing out on, and how they can get it now_,_ by taking the action you want.”

Subject lines that emphasize the limited nature of offers or what recipients will miss by not reading (and acting on) your message can work wonders, which is why words and phrases like “24 hours only” and “last chance” can get pulses racing and drive conversions.

Paradoxically, you probably want to use exclamation points — which have the express purpose of signifying urgency – sparingly, if at all, since they have a tendency to trigger spam filters.

Activating FOMO with exclusivity

According to Ramona Sukhraj at IMPACT, “The impact of exclusivity on human beings begins with the scarcity principle. Like supply and demand, the scarcity principle says that the more rare or unattainable something is, the more valuable it is. This elusive value sparks a sense of curiosity and urgency within a person and makes them want to know exactly it is that they’re missing out on. To the benefit of marketers, it’s these emotions that also make people want to convert or click-through to make sure they’re in on your exclusive offers before it’s too late.”

“Creating a sense of exclusivity in your campaigns can activate the recipient’s FOMO,” according to Alan Cassinelli at Mention. “Everyone loves a secret club. Fostering the idea of an elite club will make your recipient feel special for being offered up the content you’re serving them. Encourage your consumers to join your loyalty program with a campaign that promotes the special benefits they’ll receive.”

Of course, loyalty programs aren’t actually secret, or clubs; rather, they are mutually beneficial affiliations. But starting an actual club is also an option, advises Kevin Keating at Hanger12. “Any type of curated monthly ‘club’ or subscription presents a great opportunity for delivering emails that are opened and content that gets consumer clicks. Exclusive consumer groups can also be leveraged to offer product ‘subscriptions’ that can bring in recurring purchases that are less likely to occur otherwise.”

And Sukhraj offers these additional suggestions for marketers who want to use exclusivity to create some FOMO:

  • Use waiting lists – Build hype and awareness by having individuals sign up for an upcoming offer or event ahead of time with a dedicated landing page.
  • Set deadlines – Deadlines for registering for an event or redeeming a promotion creates a sense of urgency and gives your audience an extra push to act now instead of waiting until it’s too late.
  • Limit quantities — This, similar to setting a deadline, creates a sense of urgency and scarcity around the offer and encourages recipients to take action now to and be one of the lucky few to benefit from the promotion.
  • Require qualifications – Have specific criteria for those who can take advantage of a particular offer. Depending on your business, perhaps it’s only open to people in a certain area or industry. This limitation increases the perceived value of the offer.

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