The Psychology of Urgency: 9 Methods to Drive Conversions

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional
6 min read

Using urgency as an instrument to operate a vehicle conversions

Successful marketing strategies concentrate on changing just how target audiences behave. To get this done well, marketers have to know how people think. It’s no wonder, then, that the very best marketing principles have their basis in psychology. Probably the most relevant psychological principles which can be put on eCommerce is urgency.  In this website post, we unpick the psychology of urgency and demonstrate nine methods for you to use it to improve conversions.

How urgency influences behavior

When an activity is urgent, folks are more prone to act onto it. Interestingly, that is even the case once the sense of urgency is artificially created.

Five experiments in a 2018 study showed when unimportant tasks are seen as a spurious urgency (e.g. an illusion of expiration) folks are more prone to perform them over more important tasks.

This psychological principle is named the “mere urgency effect”. Marketers in eCommerce may use the mere urgency effect to prompt visitors to act. Click that button. Enter those card details. Make that purchase.

Why is urgency important in eCommerce?

In the digital age, customer journeys are complex. The buying process meanders between multiple channels and devices. It’s rarely linear.

What’s more, the journey to get is frequently lengthy. With this type of breadth of preference and selection of prices, customers might take days, weeks, as well as months researching options.

Adding elements in to the customer experience that induce urgency speeds things along. It pushes those considering buying to take action now, in order to avoid really missing out.

Strategic usage of urgency triggers purchases from impulse and frequent buyers. It could even generate demand leading to sales that could not need otherwise happened.

9 methods to drive conversions with urgency

Keen to harness the energy of urgency? Listed below are nine tactics it is possible to implement to improve conversions:

1# Setting deadlines

Restricting enough time shoppers have is an efficient solution to trigger urgency to get.

Researchers in a 2006 study discovered that shorter time limits develop a greater sense of urgency which result in higher purchase intentions.

Setting deadlines can be an easy solution to implement this plan. A few examples include:

  • setting a deadline for next-day delivery
  • sending deals with a collection deadline
  • promoting the date or time your sale ends

2# Using countdown timers to flag deadlines

Having set deadlines, try adding a countdown timer to make sure your visitors notice them.

Counting right down to a deadline prompts action. Because the hours, minutes, and seconds tick by, the urgency to get builds.

Neuroscience Marketing reported on a test where adding a countdown timer (showing just how much time was left for next-day delivery) increased revenue by 9 percent.

Here are seven methods to use countdown timers if you want some inspiration with regards to implementing this plan.


3# Highlighting potential price increases

The risk of spending more tomorrow, prompts visitors to buy today.

Displaying just how many items are left at the advertised price is an efficient method of playing on people’s concern with paying more should they delay their purchase.

This works particularly well in travel. Try adding alerts that display just how many rooms left at “x price” or just how many “economy seats” left on a flight.


4# Showing scarcity

Scarcity is really a persuasive solution to make customers need it now.

A 2016 study notes that under perceived scarcity conditions consumers exhibit urgency to get. What’s more, scarcity triggers a reply so primal that in-store shoppers will attempt to cover up items so that they don’t lose out!

You can demonstrate scarcity online by highlighting when items are lower in stock.

You may take this a step further by establishing triggered emails to let customers understand that items they’ve recently browsed are running low.


5# Using real-time behaviour as social proof

Showing the real-time behavior of other shoppers is really a powerful solution to create urgency to get. For instance, showing just how many folks are viewing something as customers browse.

Psychologically, this plan works on two levels. Firstly, it’s a kind of social proof, and social proof drives sales. A 2013 study discovered that displaying social recommendations delivered near a 13 percent upsurge in revenue.

Secondly, it triggers FOMO. People hate the theory they may lose out on something their peers already have.

This is specially effective in travel where you can find limited amounts of resort rooms and flights can be found on any given day.


6# Writing time-related copy to prompt action

Well-written copy is powerful. Words are a significant solution to change behaviour.

Optimize your copy for urgency utilizing the right language. Time-related content are fundamental.

You don’t have to re-invent the wheel here. Getting too clever together with your copy will often reduce its impact. Tried-and-tested phrases will be the strategy to use. For instance:

  • don’t delay
  • don’t miss out
  • offer expires
  • ends soon
  • hurry
  • save today
  • buy now
  • one day only
  • last chance

Used together with attractive offers, these content highlight what customers could overlook should they don’t buy now.

Copy framed around avoiding loss taps in to the psychological principle of loss aversion. People would rather avoid losses than acquire gains.

7# Notifying individuals who carts will expire

Sometimes shoppers get distracted through the checkout process. Travel or events brands can counter this with the addition of a countdown timer that puts a period limit on ticket checkout.

Retailers can truly add a feeling of urgency to cart abandonment emails by letting customers know items is only going to be held for a restricted time.

This tactic hooks in to the proven fact that customers have previously invested time selecting items and putting them within their cart. They’ll lose this time around if their cart expires. And folks hate losing time.

A 2009 article reported on a report that found losing time is commonly more painful to people than losing profits. The best researcher, Professor Mogliner, noted that “time is really a more scarce resource — once it’s gone, it’s gone — and for that reason it’s more meaningful to us”.

The prospect of losing time committed to filling their cart can help get shoppers on the pain of spending. This can help push them on the line.

8# Having flash sales

Having a flash sale is an efficient solution to build urgency, boosting conversions as well as your important thing.

Flash sales are urgency gold. They utilize three of the main element psychological principles we’ve already explored:

  • loss aversion
  • scarcity
  • limited time

Use a countdown timer on your own website and in your emails to crank up the urgency through the entire flash sale.

9) Showing when items are out of stock

The most eCommerce businesses hideout of stock items on the category pages. Surprisingly, going from this could boost conversions.

Showing sold-out items can motivate people to buy other related items. That said, it’s important to get a balance.

Showing plenty of items which can’t be purchased could cause frustration. But showing just a couple may trigger FOMO and for that reason urgency to get.



Urgency to get is not a fresh concept, but it’s the one that many companies are not using with their full advantage.

Strategic usage of urgency can significantly impact your conversions. Implementing the tactics explored in this article is an excellent place to begin.

Want to understand the secrets behind high converting eCommerce websites? Have a look at Pure360’s Guide to eCommerce Revenue Growth.

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional

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