Article first published March 2016, updated April 2019
Do your emails compel subscribers to act? If your emails create a sense of urgency for conversions, you’re more likely to convert subscribers into paying customers.
When subscribers feel a sense of urgency in email, they’re more likely to make decisions quickly. It’s not just a marketing tactic; it’s actually supported by human psychology. Urgent situations force the human brain to make decisions instantly, which can be extremely helpful when a subscriber reads your email.
How to Create a Sense of Urgency for Conversions in Email Right Now
How do you create a sense of urgency in your email marketing? It’s all about how you present information to your subscribers. Read on for a walkthrough of the process as well as examples for your email copy, subject lines, preheader text, and calls to action.
Create a sense of urgency in your email copy
Here are three ways to create a sense of urgency for conversions in the body of your emails:
Set a deadline
One of the most common ways to create a sense of urgency in your email copy is to set a deadline. Whether you’re offering a hot deal, giving away tickets to an event, or asking subscribers to RSVP for a webinar, you’ll get more conversions by setting a deadline.
Your copy should reward subscribers for taking advantage of the offer within the allotted time. For example, give subscribers an extra 10% off if they make a purchase within 24 hours, or offer a discount on event tickets like SXSW does in the example below:
SXSW set a deadline for discounted tickets and sent subscribers a reminder email on the day the deadline was about to expire.
Don’t make the deadline too long. A week-long sale may not create the sense of urgency you’re looking for. You may want to try a 2-day sale, a 24-hour period like SXSW did, or a flash sale that only lasts for a few hours.
Solve an unpleasant problem
When you’re facing a problem, you want a solution fast. If your brand can offer a solution to a common problem, a subscriber’s need to find resolution kicks in and urgency takes over.
For example, imagine your company offers a relationship management course for corporate employees.
Here’s what a potential email could say: “Tired of fighting with unproductive employees? Stop bickering and start communicating today. Our 1-day relationship management course will mend your relationship and increase your bottom line.”
After reading this, any subscriber with a broken business relationship is going to feel a sense of urgency to take this course.
Try pitching your product or service as a solution to a problem to urge your subscribers to act quickly.
Offer something scarce
If your subscribers have the opportunity to get their hands on something scarce, they’ll act. Have a limited quantity of a popular video game? Is a hot item back in stock? Are you selling a limited-edition item?
If you’re offering an item that’s scarce or hard to get, use that to create a sense of urgency for conversions. Birchbox offered its members a limited-edition beauty box and made sure the words “Limited Edition” were in the body of the email.
Tell customers how difficult it is to get the product in your copy. Say something like, “These won’t last long,” “We only have 10 left in stock” or “Act now before they sell out again.”
Create a sense of urgency for conversions in subject lines and preheaders
Every component of your email should have a sense of urgency, and that includes your subject line and preheader. The secret to creating a sense of urgency here is word choice. Here’s the rule of thumb to follow:
Use urgent language to promote what’s inside
Use urgent language to promote what’s inside your email.
You likely used one of the urgent techniques mentioned above, so mimic those tactics in your subject line and preheader with urgent words.
For example, if your email focuses on a flash sale that offers subscribers a great deal on a pair of shoes, your subject line and preheader should tease the reader with that information.
A subject line could read, “Time-sensitive offer on our hottest shoes.” The preheader could read, “Act fast and save 20% on sneakers.” Both the subject line and the preheader use urgent words like “time-sensitive,” “act,” and “fast.”
Here’s an example of a Leap Year offer from Birchbox. Both the subject line and preheader have urgent wording. Notice the words “Hurry” in the subject line and the word “Limited-time” in the preheader.
Here’s a list of urgent words you can add to your subject line or preheader to create a sense of urgency:
· Act Now
· Limited-time offer
· Instant savings
· Save today
· Deadline approaching
· Limited number available
· Time sensitive
· Don’t miss this
Also, check out this post of 80+ words to improve your email campaigns.
Create a sense of urgency in your CTA
Pair an active and urgent word
Words like “Shop” and “Act” are examples of active words that motivate subscribers. Pair that active word with an urgent one. For example, “Show Now” or “Act Fast.”
You can use more than two words, but make sure you use a combination of active and urgent words for your call to action.
Here’s a list of active/urgent CTAs that you can use:
· Claim your coupon now
· Book today
· Quick! Reserve your seat
· Start saving today
· Save now
· Book your appointment now
· Enter now
· See your offer now
· Buy [product name] now
· See what’s on sale instantly
· Reveal your offer today
5 examples of campaigns that create urgency in an email
To truly learn how to create a sense of urgency for conversions, you have to look over a few examples of brands that get it right.
1. Subject Line: Be alert against fraud this tax season
Huntington Bank knows how to create urgency in marketing emails. They get started right away in the subject line, instructing subscribers to be alert this tax season.
They also create urgency in the email body copy by reminding readers that tax season is the perfect time for identity theft and fraud: two hot topics that evoke emotions right away.
2. Subject Line: 💀 Suicidal Tendencies LAST CALL
BAMP Project always does a great job of using language that encourages subscribers to act fast. The subject line is effective because it differs from the usual “buy now” urgency in an email you see from other ticket vendors.
To create a sense of urgency for conversions in the body copy, BAMP Project lets readers know that the Maui show is already sold out, so subscribers on Oahu better act fast before they miss the boat. Even the button contains urgent copy telling subscribers it’s their “last chance to get tickets.”
3. Subject Line: FINAL HOURS: 40% off is almost over!
In the body copy, Lucky Brand reminds readers again that this is the last day of this huge sale. To persuade subscribers to click through, the email informs them that the discount applies to “almost everything.” This is a great tactic for answering immediate concerns because readers might see “40% off” and assume this only applies to a few products.
4. Subject Line: Re: Central African Republic emergency
UNICEF grabs attention right away by using “Re:” at the beginning of their subject line to make the campaign feel like a conversation between two friends. Using a conversational tone in your email helps get rid of the salesy tone that plagues so many email campaigns with urgent language.
Once you open the email, you’re presented with a statistic that gets straight to the point and doubles as a hyperlink to donate. UNICEF also uses emotional wording to create a sense of urgency throughout the copy (ex: children are counting on you).
5. Subject Line: ★Fantastic news! You now have access to a FREE MONTH of Hulu!
Hulu’s subject line containing “fantastic news!” builds anticipation right away, while the second half uses words like “free” and “now.”
Although this is technically a “please be our customer again” campaign, it doesn’t feel desperate. Hulu lets readers know what they’re missing and lists popular shows. They also know how to create urgency in marketing by peppering some urgent CTAs in the email. The only improvement would be to use personalized suggestions based on the reader’s watch history instead of choosing generic shows.
As you craft your email, go through and reread it. Look for areas where you can change or enhance your wording to create a sense of urgency. Take the time to go through each component: the body, subject line, preheader, and CTA. Once you’re happy with your urgent email, send it to your target audience and see what kind of response you get.
Looking for a little more information about writing copy that converts? Check out this article about writing persuasive copy without sounding salesy.