How to Use Scarcity and Urgency to Increase Sales

March 22, 2022

Scarcity and urgency are valuable concepts in business, and how you incorporate them into your campaigns could be the difference between success and failure.

Scarcity is the understanding that a product or service is in short supply or that it will become unavailable to purchase in the near future. This often encourages action. For example, when there's a hot, new toy out on the market, parents race out to ensure they get one for their child.

Urgency is the understanding that a sale or offer will expire. It's more about the amount of time someone has to complete something.

Think about it for a moment… When you see big sales flashing in a store or online, doesn’t that “almost-too-good-to-be-true” offer tempt you to spend more? Having a limited-time sale is a great way to create a sense of urgency.

However, faking urgency or scarcity can lead to customer distrust. Your audience can usually tell the difference between what’s real and fake. That's why it's crucial to use them wisely so you're able to boost sales, without alienating your audience.

5 Ways to Leverage Urgency and Scarcity

When it comes to the underlying mechanics of why people buy, urgency and scarcity are strong driving forces. While there are likely hundreds of small ways to include urgency and scarcity into your marketing campaigns or sales funnels, here are the top 5 ways:

1. Include urgency in your messaging

There are certain words that compel people to act, which creates a sense of urgency. Including these words and phrases will drive more sales by encouraging action.

It’s important to remember, however, that these magic words should always be followed by instructions for how to act. For example, if you were to say "Hurry Act Now!," it should be followed by a clear directive, such as "Visit us at..." or "Enter your email below."

Here are some examples of urgency words and phrases:

  • Deadline
  • Closing soon
  • Offer ends on ______
  • Today only
  • Limited time offer
  • Don’t miss out
  • Price goes up on ______

2. Utilize the loss aversion technique

People are often driven to act when they think they’re going to lose out on something. Sometimes it works better to flip the script and focus on what they could lose versus what they could gain.

Also known as "FOMO" (fear of missing out), you can frame almost any offer in terms that imparts a fear of loss and increases urgency. When you try this method, it’s best to be as specific as possible.

Here are some examples of the loss aversion technique:
  • Your spot is reserved! Don’t miss your chance to learn!
  • Hot rental alert! We predict that this home will rent in 3 days!
  • Inventory running low! Buy now before supplies are gone!

3. Place limitations on your offer

Putting restrictions on your offer makes it seem that demand is greater than supply so customers are more likely to buy because they don't want to lose out. That's the power of scarcity.

The way to use this is to first limit whatever you’re selling. Stores do this with inventory online all the time. You’ll often see something like "Only 8 left!" You can also create scarcity by saying, “Limit 2 per customer,” which indicates there's a limited quantity.

4. Create a deadline and set a timer

Some of the best ways to induce both urgency and scarcity are to use a countdown timer and a deadline. This lets the prospects know that the offer is ending very soon.

Make the countdown timer large and place it in a prominent location in order to invoke that sense of urgency. Pair it with the proper copy to help convey the right message and not look manufactured.

It’s okay to reopen an offer at a later date as long as you actually close it down for a period of time. By ensuring that you do this, you won’t lose the trust of your prospects.

5. Set up a flash sale

Flash sales are limited-time sales for any product or service and they’re a great way to create urgency and scarcity. These types of sales are quick and compel people to take action knowing it will be brief. For these sales, you can employ the countdown timer, mentioned above, as well as several of the other methods in this article.

However, if you’re manufacturing flash sales out of the blue to target cold traffic (people who don’t know you or your product/service), it might not work as well. That’s because they often don’t know the real value associated with your product or service and might perceive this as just a stunt.

Turn Up Your Marketing Results

From landscapers to software companies, any type of business can leverage urgency and scarcity in their marketing to increase sales. However, it's vital not to overdo these tactics as they'll lose their effectiveness and turn off your audience. If your marketing isn't driving the results you want to see, then your marketing system might be broken. 

Get a free 30-minute consultation with Sales & Marketing Technologies to explore solutions that generate sales!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

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