Sharon Hurley Hall Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional freelance writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 20 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with her on Twitter @SHurleyHall.
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According to multiple studies, around a quarter of people are chronic procrastinators. Even people who aren't habitual procrastinators can take longer to make buying decisions. It turns out that many people find it easier to do nothing than to take action - a BIG problem for e-commerce, which relies on consumers taking action. The solution? Create a sense of urgency.
Why use urgency in your marketing?
When you create urgency, your customers feel that they need to move quickly - or even immediately - to take advantage of your offer. Neil Patel points out, it’s a psychological trigger that highlights the importance and time-sensitive nature of your offer. Using techniques to create a sense of urgency encourages your customers to take action and results in increased conversion. Writing for ConversionXL, Marcus Taylor highlights urgency as a key conversion optimization technique. On one landing page, Taylor increased conversions 332 percent by adding buttons to display the number of products bought, the status of the sale, and a sale countdown timer.
Conversion Fanatics also experimented with adding urgency messaging around a call to action button and saw at 41 percent improvement in conversions for the page. Similarly, Search Marketing Standard improved conversion rates by 500 percent for a DVD it was selling simply by mentioning the quantity of DVDs available.
Types of urgency: Real and implied
Most conversion experts agree there are two types of urgency. Real urgency is when there's an actual need to take action now (like in the above examples), and implied urgency is where marketers create the need for customers to take action through use of language (like in the title of this article) and other techniques. To offer additional examples, Thrive Market often creates urgency in its promotional emails for new products:
It outlines the customer's need (sun protection); the offer (free sunblock and an extra 20% off); and the time limit (24 hours), in one package. In other words, if you don’t redeem the offer within that time, it’s gone.
That’s real urgency. Implied urgency is different. It is often done by using the right language, like adding the words "now" and "today." This suggests that it's important for the reader to take action immediately. GILT uses this technique:
And so does Neil Patel:
The Ecommerce Expert has a list of words you can use to imply urgency in your web copy:
Campaign Monitor suggests pairing these words with an action word can be even more effective. In general, real urgency is more effective than implied urgency, but both methods are highly effective. Use real urgency where you can, and where it doesn’t make sense, imply urgency.
Where and how to use urgency in marketing
If you want to get the most from this technique, you’ll need to know where and how to apply it. Here are some ideas to test out: Headlines In the ConversionXL article cited above, Marcus Taylor showed how changing a single word in a headline boosted the clickthrough rate for an ad from 0.77 percent to 3.94 percent. Since the headline (or subject line for email) is the first thing most people see, then that's an obvious place to use urgency. Copywriting experts AWAI use this in a lot of their emails:
And many online stores do this in their headlines:
Color psychology is a huge in marketing, and using the right colors can also help to create urgency. Red and orange create a sense of urgency to take action, which is why these colors are often used in sales signs.

Calls to action
Your call to action is a crucial place to use urgency, and is even more powerful when combined with real or implied urgency in some of the other parts of your copy. Simply adding the word "now" to your CTA can have a huge impact. One marketer boosted conversions by 147 percent on a site with that simple change.
In the example below, the Content Marketing Institute combines an orange box with a time-related word to inspire action.
Sales copy
Headlines and CTAs don't stand alone, so use urgency within your sales copy too. Seeding in the right language where appropriate can help to motivate customers to act. Appsumo does this well in this copy for a course bundle, using both real and implied urgency in its copy.
You can also imply urgency in your sales copy by getting the reader thinking about their needs. Ask questions that get them reflecting. For example, if I was promoting a skin product, I might try asking readers something like, “Is your skin getting the treatment it needs?” A question like this gets people wondering, “Am I?” And then they read on. And that’s where the description of your product or offer comes in. Emphasize how you will minimize pain points and how you will add value. Be specific. Help Scout is also pretty good at this:
Product pages: stock quantity
Many retailers imply urgency by putting stock amounts on their product pages. If the quantities really are limited, then this is real urgency. If not, use implied urgency. Here are examples of both:
If an item is a limited edition or a seasonal product, including that in your copy can also be effective. And making some items available only to members can also be a way to create urgency. Retailers often have members' preview days offline; why not try something similar online?
Product pages: deadline
We’ve already shown this technique a lot, but deadlines can be particularly effective on product pages. Either imply or set a time limit for purchase completion. You see this a lot on sites like Eventbrite, which show how much time you have to complete the purchase. In case you haven’t, here’s what that looks like:
Another example of using deadlines is providing a time-limited discount or a closing date (e.g., for a competition).
Use urgency wisely
Like any technique, urgency can be overused. If you want to retain credibility in your marketing, avoid hype and artificially created urgency. Your customers will catch on, and it will stop being effective. Copyblogger suggests that rather than pressuring people towards conversion, you should persuade them away from procrastination. Tom Searcy agrees that encouragement rather than nagging while clarifying the consequences of inaction is a better strategy. A key part of using urgency successfully is responding to your customers' needs. If what you offer is doing that, then there's no need for them to procrastinate and your call to action becomes a welcome impetus. Iacquire suggests that giving people a reason to buy, rather than simply creating urgency for its own sake, helps to makes them more likely to act. Combining urgency with trust builders such as social proof and trust seals can also make it more effective. Finally, as with any marketing technique it's a good idea to test and measure your headlines, CTAs, copy, and colors to see whether urgency is improving your conversions. Have you ever experimented with real or implied urgency? What was the outcome?
Implied urgency
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Creating Urgency: How To Get Site Visitors To Buy Your Products Now
Sharon Hurley Hall
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