“Our typical reaction to scarcity hinders our ability to think.” — Robert B. Cialdini
Two of the single most important concepts in business are urgency and scarcity. How you interweave the two into your sales funnels might just make the difference between success and failure. Of course, you need to ensure you have a good hook, story and offer. But if you really want to exponentiate your results, you need to find ways to incorporate urgency and scarcity into your funnels.
However, you want to avoid fake urgency and fake scarcity. Most people know the difference. And by trying to trick or dupe your prospects, you’re not going to help your cause for increased sales and conversions. You’ll just end up wondering what’s wrong with your funnels and why they’re not converting. Alternatively, if you incorporate urgency and scarcity the right way, the sky really is the limit.
But before diving in headfirst, we need to define what urgency and scarcity really mean. At the end of the day, people often want what they can’t have, or possibly won’t be able to have in the near future. Think about this for a moment. When you see big giant sales flashing in store windows or online, aren’t you more compelled to buy? It’s the fear of missing out on that almost-too-good-to-be-true offer that spurs your desire to spend. That only happens through urgency and scarcity.
In the business world, there are many ways to incorporate urgency and scarcity into your sales funnels. However, at the end of the day, there are 5 that really count. Keep in mind that you’re not a brick-and-mortar store. Instead, you’re a virtual shop, enticing prospects to buy. It’s often an emotional response that solicits the purchase response, not a logical one. People don’t often buy what they need; they buy what they want in the moment.
What Is Urgency And Scarcity?
When a resource is scarce, it makes it more attractive in a prospect’s eyes. Think about diamonds for a moment. They’re a scarce resource and we all know that. Because of it, the price of diamonds are inherently high. However, when any other product is in short supply, the price often rises, along with the intimate desire to take action and purchase it. Think about an iPhone for example. When the quantities used to run out, there would be this clamor to buy on auction websites along with a rise in prices.
Scarcity, then, is simply the understanding that a product or service is in short supply or that it will become unavailable to purchase in the near future. That often solicits action on the part of prospects. They’re compelled to act when they know that whatever it is they’ve been contemplating buying is going to be unavailable in the very near future. Scarcity is a very big driver of sales, as long as it’s real scarcity and not an attempt to dupe prospects.
When you try to dupe prospects into thinking that something is scarce, you end up upsetting them more than you end up fueling sales. And that’s something you absolutely do not want to do. So be sure to bake things in the proper way. When you show that something is scarce because an offer is closing down or there are only so many spots left, ensure that it’s real and not just fake, because your audience can tell the difference.
Now, that’s not to say that you can’t incorporate a rotating or unique set of scarcity tactics that are cookie-based. You definitely can and you should. Just be sure that everything works properly and that you’re not promoting offers to your audience that you claimed to have shut down not too long ago without giving a valid reason for opening it back up again.
It’s clear that scarcity is important in any sales exchange. In fact, scarcity is so important that Robert Cialdini dubbed this as one of six pillars involved in our ability to influence. Why? Because, as supply drops, demand often rises. There’s a reason why people rush to grab something just before cart-close or before a sale is over or a deadline is almost reached. It’s within our innate human desire to have something we know we can’t have (or have at the same price) by a pre-defined deadline. It’s a major driver of action.
Now, when it comes to urgency, you often have more options. Urgency comes into play with things like countdown timers. When someone thinks that their time is about to expire to get involved in something, then the real magic happens. Urgency, then, is a perception of the amount of time someone has to complete something. If that urgency comes in the form of a countdown, then there’s a compelling reason to take action right away.
Understanding Consumer Psychology
Consumer psychology covers the underlying elements that impacts purchase decisions. This relates to things like emotions and colors and pricing strategies. Each of these components solicits a particular response from the prospect. Colors can induce buying patterns and strategic pricing can also impact sales. Essentially, consumer psychology is the analysis of why a person buys something, and the external stimuli that propels that behavior.
While there’s a lot to grasp here, understanding some of the underlying behavior that drives a prospect or lead to buy and to act fastest are the principles of urgency and scarcity. Those two forces are unmatched in consumer psychology. They will propel sales further and faster than any other strategy or tactic. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand the other components related to consumer psychology.
For example, one study discovered that the decoy effect, a pricing strategy that puts the middle-priced option very close to the highest-priced option, can quickly propel sales of the highest-priced option as opposed to either the middle-priced option or lowest-priced option. The sole purpose of the decoy is to effectively increase the sales of the targeted pricing option. It works by being a decoy, inducing sales of the desired option.
You’ve likely seen this pricing strategy on display at restaurants or movie theaters. Here’s how it works in a nutshell. Let’s just say that there are two pricing options for popcorn at a theater.
- Small popcorn is $3.00
- Large popcorn is $7.00
In this case, most people are going to go with the $3 option because of price sensitivity and that the price is far more reasonable. It makes sense, right? Why spend $7 on a large popcorn when you can get a small popcorn for $3. That’s more than double the price for the large from the small-sized popcorn. In this case, most people are going to opt for the less expensive option because it just makes more sense.
But what happens when you make a small addition by adding the decoy? What if you add a third option and price it at $6.50? How will that impact consumer behavior? If you watch the video, you’ll notice that most people turn to the small-sized popcorn before the third option is introduced. Once the third option was introduced (the decoy), the larger option became more appealing because it instantly became more valuable than the decoy. Thus, the target shifts to the higher-priced option.
- Small popcorn is $3.00
- Medium popcorn (decoy) is $6.50
- Large popcorn is $7.00
Clearly, influencing a consumer’s behavior doesn’t just involve urgency and scarcity. This is one simple example of where a particular pricing strategy can largely impact behavior through the price-comparison model (aka the decoy effect). Next time you go to a restaurant, a movie theater, or even an ice cream shop, look out for this strategy.
Using Urgency And Scarcity
Considering that we can impact the consumer’s behavior with simple pricing strategies and get them to pick one option over another, we can also compel the consumer to act by using urgency and scarcity tactics. When it comes to the underlying mechanics of how a consumer behaves, urgency and scarcity are driving forces in getting that person to buy from you.
Now, that’s not to say that you can’t use other strategies when building your landing pages and funnels. You can. But those strategies simply set the stage while urgency and scarcity are like the final act. Sure, you should be using micro-commitments along the way and building rapport through a solid email sequence. Still, it’s urgency and scarcity that will seal the deal for you.
So let’s look at some ways that you can incorporate urgency and scarcity into your sales funnels, easily and effectively. While there are likely hundreds of small ways you can do this, the following 5 ways:
1. Use urgency words and phrases in your titles, headlines and text
Certain words compel people to act. That’s the urgency factor. However, you should follow up any urgency with instructions on how to act. Without that, you’ll negate the urgency in the prospect’s mind. For example, if you were to say ‘Hurry! Act Now!’ it should be followed by something like click here to sign up now before the deadline. When you follow up with instructions, say at the end of a sales letter or a long-form blog post, it solidifies the necessity to take action.
You can use other words. By using a word like instant, you create urgency by displaying how quickly a prospect gets access to something. You can use these in button text, headlines and titles on the page. For example, you could say ‘Get Free Instant Access’ on a button that invites prospects to check out a free PDF or checklist or cheat sheet or some other form of bait that you’re dangling in front of them.
Here are some other examples of urgency words and phrases:
- Closing soon
- Offer ends on …
- Today only
- Limited time offer
- Don’t miss out
- Price goes up on …
2. Use the loss aversion technique to induce pain
People have a tendency to act when they know they’re going to lose out on something. The truth is that people will do more to avoid pain than they will to gain pleasure. So, sometimes you have to flip the script by inducing that pain through the loss aversion technique. How does this work to create urgency? Well, you’ve likely seen it before. In fact, this works for both urgency and scarcity by compelling people to act.
Here’s how you invoke the loss aversion technique in your prospects’ eyes. You say something like: ‘This offer is toast in 24 hours’ meaning that the offer expires very soon if they don’t take action. You can frame almost any offer in terms of the fear of loss and making it risky. Robert Collier says that “When you want to inspire fear, be definite! Be specific!” In fact, this has been a powerful marketing technique since the 1930’s.
Here are some other 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!
Can you see how this instills a fear of loss in the prospect? You compel action when you know a prospect wants something, and you refine the marketing towards loss aversion. Combine this with countdown timers and re-targeting through Facebook pixels, and you could craft yourself a winner ad-offer combination.
3. Place and display limitations
Here’s the truth. When there’s plenty of something, no one wants it. When there are very few of those same things, everyone wants it. That’s the power of scarcity. People desire resources that are scarce, making them more expensive and sought after than anything available in abundance. Everyone knows that. But how can you use this to compel your prospects to act? You can do it by first placing and displaying a limitation on whatever it is that you’re offering.
For example, let’s just say you’re only accepting a certain number of people into a certain coaching program or group intensive or even a seminar. All you have to do is place a limit on the number of spots that are remaining. Let’s just say you’ve sold half the spots, you can then tweak your marketing to say ‘Only 6 spots left!’ You can also create both urgency and scarcity if you add something like ‘Hurry up and act now before all the spots are gone!’
Stores do this with inventory. You see it online all the time. Something like ‘Only 8 books left! Order before stocks run dry!’ Amazon and other online stores use this tactic all the time and combine it with countdown timers. You can also use the tactic of saying ‘Limit 2 per customer’, which invokes scarcity by stating that there are likely only limited quantities in stock of whatever product is being sold.
4. Use a deadline with a timer
Some of the best ways to induce both urgency and scarcity is to use a countdown timer and a deadline. That tells the prospect that the offer is ending very soon. This could be categorized as either urgency or scarcity depending on how it’s spun. However, at its essence, this is an urgency tactic when employing countdown timers. But it needs to be real urgency and not manufactured. If the offer is expiring, it really has to expire.
You can do this today on ClickFunnels very easily. You can also use different apps to do this as well. However, countdown timers are highly potent when they’re cookie based. That means that a person will see the offer actually expire and not reopen again, in terms of say an automated webinar. If you’re running a live cart, then you have to have an actual cart close if you want there to be some urgency invoking here.
Place the countdown timer somewhere very big and large in order to invoke that sense of urgency. Couple that with the proper text that helps to 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. This way, you don’t lose the trust of your prospects.
5. Create flash sales
Another great way to use urgency and scarcity in your sales funnels is to create flash sales. Flash sales are limited time sales for any product or service. It compels the prospect to act by knowing that a particular sale is only good for a very brief period. You have to do this the right way without looking too manufactured. If there was a good bit of demand for a product or service, and you know that a segment of your prospects are interested, marketing a flash sale to them makes sense.
However, if you’re manufacturing flash sales out of the blue to target cold traffic, it might not work as well. You also have to use precision when displaying the regular price versus the flash sale price. Add a countdown timer to the flash sale to give it more credence and display when that offer is actually going to expire on. Again, countdown timers are a fantastic way you can add a sense of urgency into any aspect of your sales funnels.