how effective is fake sense of urgency?

42 replies
"limited time" .. "5 left" .. "50% off if you buy now.. 20 minutes left!"

I see this in some stores too when they have "50% off today!" everyday

Did it help with your conversion?
#effective #fake #sense #urgency
  • Profile picture of the author JaredRhodenizer
    It works the best when you have legitimate reasons for the time remaining. Usually limited quantity works pretty well. Instead of just saying, "50% off today!", have a reason that it's only 50% off today. Good example may be something like, I ordered wayyyy too many of these things and I've got to get rid of them. I've already sold a whole bunch and made some good money. I'm not that selfish of a person so I'm going to give the rest away at 50% but they're probably all going to be gone tomorrow".
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    • Profile picture of the author MyNewMama
      These days, nothing "fake" is effective.

      Honesty is the number one rule in business. Consumers are more cautious than ever before, so be "real" with potential customers and your current customers.

      They will respect you more and your integrity is not compromised to make a quick buck.

      Just always put yourself in the potential customer's shoes. How would you want to be treated? Or how would an offer like that come off to you if you found out later that it was "fake"?
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    • Profile picture of the author Steve B
      Mister K,

      I think most people that have been around IM for awhile see right through the fake urgency claims. That's not to say that some such claims aren't real and truthful, it's just an acknowledgment that the tactic is overused, abused, and often far from the truth.

      Marketers wouldn't use it if it didn't work, at least in the past. But there is so much marketing taking place nowadays that urgency seems to be tacked on to nearly every IM offer. If the urgency is real . . . then fine . . . use it. If it's not, don't lie about it. Some customers will check to see if your offer page was actually taken down at midnight like your promised! If it wasn't . . . your reputation could suffer big time.

      The best to you,

      Steve
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      • Profile picture of the author CondorIM
        Originally Posted by Steve B View Post

        Mister K,

        I think most people that have been around IM for awhile see right through the fake urgency claims. That's not to say that some such claims aren't real and truthful, it's just an acknowledgment that the tactic is overused, abused, and often far from the truth.

        Marketers wouldn't use it if it didn't work, at least in the past. But there is so much marketing taking place nowadays that urgency seems to be tacked on to nearly every IM offer. If the urgency is real . . . then fine . . . use it. If it's not, don't lie about it. Some customers will check to see if your offer page was actually taken down at midnight like your promised! If it wasn't . . . your reputation could suffer big time.

        The best to you,

        Steve

        This is so true - people are much more savvy nowadays and check whether the claims are true. If they're not, it reflects badly on everyone.
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  • Profile picture of the author artflair
    It is simple human psychology... trying to avoid scaresity! 'This is the last one' is probably the best working hard selling technique... The question is if you really want to sell this way?
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarevok
    I agree with Mama.

    Is it ever okay to lie?
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  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Banned
    Originally Posted by misterkailo View Post

    "limited time" .. "5 left" .. "50% off if you buy now.. 20 minutes left!"
    Fake urgency and fake scarcity are two different things.

    But one thing they have in common is that they lose both sales and serious affiliates. To a pro-affiliate, these things on sales pages are a huge "no-no", and/because potential customers see through them.

    I think one of the very worst is "9 copies remaining" (of a PDF!). People can, and will, and do, return and see the number unchanged over the days/weeks. CB affiliates can see the gravity changing and the numbers of "last remaining copies" remaining the same. Who wants to promote a liar's products?! :confused:

    These things look scammy to customers: they look like the vendor's probably lying. I don't know about you, but when I'm trying to sell something to someone, the last thing I want them to imagine is that I'm a liar.

    Originally Posted by misterkailo View Post

    I see this in some stores too when they have "50% off today!" everyday
    It varies from country to country: some countries, wisely, have strict laws about this kind of thing, and large numbers of Trading Standards officers to investigate and enforce them, if the sales notices appear to be potentially misleading to the public.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim Franklin
    Truth its what most of us would like to have, I have to say its has to be the Golden Rule of Internet Marketing, so many marketers seem to have this problem with honesty.

    I suspect most Internet Marketers would have difficulty passing a psychometric examination.
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
      Banned
      Serious clients don't like this fake shit, they would think what else you gonna fake?

      Talking from a business perspective, not some crappy eBook that go's for half the price for a limited time.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        In Adam Sandler's comedy movie "You Don't Mess With the Zohan", there's an electronics store name "Going Out of Business". It's funny because it has a bit of truth to it.

        There are many reasons why a retailer might have a scarcity play. Some digital products, like PLR packages, use scarcity to retain value. Which PLR package would you rather buy? One which only nine other people have, knowing that most of them won't do more than download them? Or one which has sold hundreds of times and is being resold on a disc on eBay for 99 cents and spread on countless "blog networks" for backlinks?

        Of course, if the seller pulls a Joe Kumar and promises only ten will be sold and then sells 100, then that seller deserves whatever consequences (and bad karma) befall him.
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  • Profile picture of the author Volcano
    Originally Posted by misterkailo View Post

    how effective is fake sense of urgency?
    I'd say it's pretty much the most effective thing there is, if you really want to p*ss of your customers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    If you feel the need to exercise a fake sense or urgency or scarcity, your product or service is worthless. Get a conscience and do something authentic.

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author wolfe655
    I always pass on these. How stupid does someone have to be to believe that their is only 9 copies of an ebook left
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  • Profile picture of the author royljestr
    It works. However I absolutely hate it when people do that and so I would guess that most people do to.

    It's a better strategy to think through how YOU want to be sold to and go after those methods than these "tricks" that make people feel icky.
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  • Profile picture of the author Johnny12345
    Contrary to popular opinion, customers aren't stupid. In this age of skepticism, they've learned to see through the lies.

    In truth, the worst thing you can do is to make a false claim. If you say the price is going up in 24 hours, but it doesn't, you've PROVEN that you're a liar and can't be trusted. And, since people commonly return multiple times before purchasing, you're very likely to get caught.

    Often, when people buy, it'll be in spite of the fake scarcity tactics -- NOT because of them.

    Even worse, once you've told one lie, EVERYTHING you say will be assumed to be a lie. That means every time you introduce a new product, your reputation will follow you and work against you.

    That's why you should never use "fake" scarcity. If you use scarcity or urgency... it MUST be real.

    John
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  • Profile picture of the author JamesBorg
    Many of the problems that products are designed to solve have their own legitimate urgency -- the debt that must be paid off by Tuesday, the pounds that must drop before the upcoming reunion, the zit that must disappear before wedding day, etc. I think good copy can drive home this legitimate urgency, along with legitimate costs of inaction.

    As for false urgency/scarcity, a ton of Internet marketers use it even when selling to other Internet marketers, so if nothing else, a ton of people think it's effective in even the most comical situations. And hardly anyone really calls these marketers out on the BS as the praise comes rolling in, so you know...
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  • Profile picture of the author goindeep
    Originally Posted by misterkailo View Post

    "limited time" .. "5 left" .. "50% off if you buy now.. 20 minutes left!"

    I see this in some stores too when they have "50% off today!" everyday

    Did it help with your conversion?
    Dont know what any of you dudes are on about, if its fake its fake.

    There is no such thing as urgency if it is fake, that's just called a lie. And lying gets you showering with a bunch of hardened criminals for a few years
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  • Profile picture of the author Hartmann
    I've bought stuff on fake urgency in the past but you do feel like a chump when you see the sales page a few weeks later to see the same "times running out message". If the vendor is only selling one product I guess it's a good conversion tactic but if they are building a relationship to sell multiple products it could leave a sour taste in the mouth. Ultimately it depends on the product I guess, if the product is good, people may forget that a sneaky tactic was used to get them over the line...

    Same might be said for affiliates of those products...if the commission is good/ product sells....I imagine they might cut them some slack
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  • Profile picture of the author HeadStartSEO
    As effective as a real sense of urgency.

    2 seconds! 2 minutes! Real quick! Just a moment...
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  • Profile picture of the author misterkailo
    oops yea I meant to say scarcity

    I like the timer ones because everytime you hit refresh, it starts back in the beginning
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  • Profile picture of the author John_3771
    I use scarcity and it works for me, but it is honest. I hate that when people fake it, it is so obvious and people don't like it. I think that if you're going to use it, you better be honest about it.
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
      Your question implies a deep skepticism as well as a willingness to promote fake scarcity if it might benefit your pocketbook. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's insulting.

      I long ago got out of the IMers-selling-to-other-IMers racket. I never really did get into it, but it's very incestuous and promotes this very thing. (I moved to the offline model, which I love.)

      As others have said, treat others the way you want to be treated. Be honest. Look for ways to inject REAL, authentic scarcity into your promotions. You can't honestly and ethically say "Only 5 copies left!" if you're selling a PDF. But you CAN offer a physical item as a bonus and THEN say "Only 5 copies left!" -- or offer a 1-on-1 coaching session and say "Only 5 left!" (because your time is limited).

      Even if it IS effective, it will only be effective for a short period of time. Customers catch on quickly and that promotion will die a quick death. And the marketer's reputation will take a hit. You don't want to be that guy when that happens. That's not the way to build a real, sustainable business.

      I'm always amazed at Warriors coming here asking questions like these. These are time-wasting questions. Maybe you're just procrastinating?

      Stop looking so much at everything else around you! If you can see it's dishonest in any way, then ignore it and put it out of your mind. It's not worth studying or emulating.

      Now get back to work!

      Michelle
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  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    Scarcity is proven to work if used properly.

    If you use false scarcity though it can have the opposite effect as the next time you try and use scarcity on that same customer, they will never believe you.

    Use scarcity. Use it properly. If you limit something then limit it.
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Here's the real takeaway from this thread...

      Using scarcity/urgency tactics are ethical and effective if they are real.

      The best way to "prove" the scarcity, make it more believable, is to provide a credible reason why the item is going to be scarce. I say this because, if you check the folks defending the idea, all of them have some explanation for the scarcity or deadline.
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      • Profile picture of the author WillR
        Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

        Here's the real takeaway from this thread...

        Using scarcity/urgency tactics are ethical and effective if they are real.

        The best way to "prove" the scarcity, make it more believable, is to provide a credible reason why the item is going to be scarce. I say this because, if you check the folks defending the idea, all of them have some explanation for the scarcity or deadline.
        Yep, John has made a very important point there.

        Every piece of scarcity you use should include a logical reason why. If you are only selling 100 copies, then tell people why that is so. Maybe it takes a lot of your time to deal with customers and so you can only handle 100 at a time. Maybe the technique is something you do not want too many people to be using and thus you want to limit the quantity. Whatever the reason, make sure you use that reason in your scarcity. Just telling people you are limiting something or discounting it for no reason will never be as powerful or believable.
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
      Banned
      Originally Posted by WillR View Post

      Scarcity is proven to work if used properly.

      If you use false scarcity though it can have the opposite effect as the next time you try and use scarcity on that same customer, they will never believe you.

      Use scarcity. Use it properly. If you limit something then limit it.
      Cool way of using your signature image link
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  • Profile picture of the author zdebx
    It's simple and it works, especially for digital products, where people don't usually come back to the main site after purchasing.

    On the other hand, if there's a shop that you go past every day in your local area and their "sale" never ends, that makes you suspicious...
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  • Profile picture of the author jedsonack2
    Fake Urgency may work some time. But we have to keep in mind that is there anybody is getting hurt with it.
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    • Profile picture of the author Phuoc
      Originally Posted by jedsonack2 View Post

      Fake Urgency may work some time. But we have to keep in mind that is there anybody is getting hurt with it.
      Nobody gets hurt. Its a very effective call to action technique and the buyer will be happy for the special deal.

      Its a win win.
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  • Profile picture of the author DeborahDera
    The only time I consider an urgency claim is if I've just sat through a class or webinar and the person claims the attendees are getting a special deal until x-date, at which point it opens to the public at a different price. I consider the legitimacy of what I've just heard compared to what I've been offered; and there are still times I wait because being careful is more important than spending a little bit less and feeling screwed over.


    Originally Posted by misterkailo View Post

    "limited time" .. "5 left" .. "50% off if you buy now.. 20 minutes left!"

    I see this in some stores too when they have "50% off today!" everyday

    Did it help with your conversion?
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  • Profile picture of the author AlexGeorge
    I've tested this a few times on some of my products and they do boost conversions. I'll usually put something like "2 Hours left" or "X" number available for the current price. People want the best deal possible, so having a certain number of copies reduced has worked magic for me in the past.
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  • Bring a gun to the meeting. 100% of the time, it works EVERY time.
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  • Profile picture of the author jasondinner
    Ask everyone who uses it
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
      Originally Posted by jasondinner View Post

      Ask everyone who uses it
      Not much point in doing that, Jason. They're doing it without having tested it, because they assume that "it must work, otherwise people wouldn't be doing it". That's how so many decisions are made in internet marketing: things become self-perpetuating without often being tested by the people gullible enough to use them. It's as if they expect their prospective customers to be as gullible as they are, themselves. :p

      There are also some people who have tested it - but unsurprisingly they tend to be the ones not still using it.
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      • Profile picture of the author jasondinner
        Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

        No point in doing that, Jason. They're doing it without having tested it, because they assume that "it must work, otherwise people wouldn't be doing it". That's how so many decisions are made in internet marketing: things become self-perpetuating without often being tested by the people gullible enough to use them. :p

        There are also some people who have tested it - but they tend to be the ones not still using it.
        Classic case of the blind leading the blind

        The people I know who do test it use it because it works when used properly.

        It is used a ton though in all spaces - not just in the WSO section and by Gurus on their sales pages and during launches.

        Its extremely prevalent in infomercials.

        I'm pretty sure the Home Shopping Network tested it though. They use a lot of scarcity and urgency elements. At least you would hope they tested it.

        Countdown timer, unit countdown, how many bought, etc. They use it all
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        • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
          Banned
          Originally Posted by jasondinner View Post

          I'm pretty sure the Home Shopping Network tested it though. They use a lot of scarcity and urgency elements. At least you would hope they tested it.
          I'd hope and trust they didn't, Jason. You seem - in your enthusiasm to criticize and cast aspersions - to be confusing "urgency" with "fake urgency". One is legitimate and effective. The other's deceptive and illegal. This thread (as you can perhaps see from its title) is about the "fake" kind.
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          • Profile picture of the author Lucian Lada
            It doesn't matter if it works or not, as long as it's fake. I'm genuinely appalled by seeing so many people on this board being so open about using it, and even recommending using it to others, under the excuse that it makes more money.

            Another ridiculous thing I see thrown around the forum when such discussions arise is to "put your marketer's hat on, and stop thinking like a customer". WTF is that supposed to mean? To try finding mischievous ways to extract money from them as opposed to finding what customers like and agree with?

            Using the above techniques will probably help you in the short-run, and since most marketers (or people, in general) have a myopic view, they believe it helps. But since it's easier to sell to someone who has already bought from you, and in the long run one stands to make more money from repeat sales, it's not a solution.

            Of course, like most things in life, few people will ever figure this out.
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          • Profile picture of the author jasondinner
            Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

            I'd hope and trust they didn't, Jason. You seem - in your enthusiasm to criticize and cast aspersions - to be confusing "urgency" with "fake urgency". One is legitimate and effective. The other's deceptive and illegal. This thread (as you can perhaps see from its title) is about the "fake" kind.
            I'm not confused. I know the difference. Just talking about urgency and scarcity in general as this thread did touch on both.

            Back to "fake" -

            I'll bet I can call HSN and order whatever they had on tv after the countdown timer expired, I would get it for the same price.

            It's like that with all the infomercials, even the "legit" companies like Beach Body. It's all in how the words are used.
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          • Profile picture of the author jasondinner
            Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

            cast aspersions
            Alexa please...

            Can you keep your language at about a 3rd grade level so everyone here can understand you? lol
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        • Originally Posted by jasondinner View Post

          I'm pretty sure the Home Shopping Network tested it though. They use a lot of scarcity and urgency elements.
          I agree with Jason.

          The shopping channel, late night TV infomercials and the such represent a multi-billion industry world-wide, and I'm sure they've tested their pricing formulas to oblivion. Well, they all say stuff like "the next 50 calls will receive an instant X% discount". I'm sure we all realize that there's no real 50-call counter, right? That's, therefore, as FAKE scarcity/urgency as it gets.

          So, regardless of the moral debate, it's obvious that fake scarcity does work for them... and yes, they've been testing all this stuff for decades and for billions of dollars worth of TV ad budgeting.
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