How do you motivate a procrastinator? You can kick start response in any channel by adding urgency to your marketing message. Building urgency is an effective response-driver when it's used appropriately and provides real value.
Here are some urgency-building tips for writers of email, direct mail, landing pages, websites and mobile advertising:
1. Create a window of opportunity.
Establish a hard deadline. Specifics are always more convincing. Examples: Monday, November 25, 2013 or Midnight 11/25/13.
2. Promote it.
Put your deadline in the subject line or make it part of your outer envelope teaser: 3 days 'til Thanksgiving — SAVE 35% NOW! Don't be shy about where you place it or how many times you repeat it. You never know where a scanner's eye will land first.
3. Include a benefit.
Build credibility and customer satisfaction by providing a benefit for taking action. Example: FREE SHIPPING when you order by midnight or ORDER NOW & SAVE — prices increase January 1, 2014.
4. Give it a name.
"Early Bird" deadlines reward those who act quickly with discounts or premiums. Pre-release deals do the same. In both cases, you are providing fence-sitters with a reason to get off the fence and act now instead of waiting until later.
5. Test how you say it.
Because a deadline is so powerful, it pays to test how you package it:
- Respond in 10 days
- First 50 to respond receive a free ________
- Please respond by next Thursday
- Act now - respond by November 25, 2013
- Offer ends 11/25/13
- Preferred Customer discount good thru December 31, 2013.
- Time-Sensitive: Please reply by 11/25/13
6. What have I got to lose?
Link your deadline to an appealing free bonus: Respond by November 1st — receive a Surprise FREE Gift ($10 value).
7. Increase demand, promote scarcity.
Create urgency with limited offers: limited time, limited edition, limited seating, limited quantities. This technique has been used to sell everything from Honeybell fruit to airline seating, sterling silver jewelry, reproduction art, and more.
8. Capitalize on email's in-the-moment urgency.
Here's a classic email example [I used the gigantic repository of email campaigns, at Who's Mailing What!, and simply used the search terms, "3 hours only"] with singular focus from Banana Republic.
Subject line: Take a power lunch: 3 hours only: 30% off online only.
Or how about the Banana Republic email I found waiting in my IN box at 6:30 this morning. It was sent at 2:23 AM with the subject line: Save 40% now until the break of dawn.
Opened, the email revealed: 40% off your purchase now until 9 AM - After 9 AM, Save 35%. Exclusively Online. Today Only, 10/15. No Code Needed.
9. Call it a close-out.
Are you closing out a store, department or product line? A close-out sale implies the ultimate in urgency. When inventory is gone, it's gone for good.
10. Some deadlines are inherent ...
Take holidays, for example. Check your marketing calendar and create offers punctuated by appropriate holidays.
11. Issue an ultimatum.
Catalogers have long used the LAST CHANCE mantra to encourage inactive customers to buy now or forever lose their right to receive another catalog. A word of caution — never tell a reader this is his or her last chance unless you really mean it.
12. Offer words of encouragement.
Build momentum and encourage action by using words and phrases such as hurry, don't wait, act now, don't delay, please respond promptly, today is the final day, this offer can't be repeated ... you get the idea.
13. Create faux urgency.
It's no surprise that it's best to provide genuine reasons for your reader to take prompt action. As with any relationship, your customers don't like to feel fooled.
14. Tell 'em it's "Sold out!"
MYHABIT.com is a master at creating urgency by placing the two words SOLD OUT over items no longer available. SOLD OUT reinforces that others are actively shopping the MYHABIT sales event and if you see something you like, you'd better buy it now. I speak from experience.
Pat Friesen is the author of the best-selling Direct Marketing IQ report, "The Cross-Channel Copywriting Handbook." She writes for direct mail, email, blogs, catalogs, the Web, and other direct response media. She's also a sought-after copy coach, workshop presenter and columnist for Target Marketing magazine. Contact Pat at 913.341.1211 and Pat@PatFriesen.com.