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FOMO campaigns: How to overcome mental blocks with ticking clocks

8 Minute Read

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The fear of missing out, FOMO, is what we call the experience of anxiety due to the belief that we are missing out on an opportunity, an event, or a social experience. While it can be uncomfortable, FOMO can also be useful — it can encourage us to engage in experiences that enrich our lives and that we otherwise might not do.

Marketing teams have long recognized the power of FOMO for motivating purchases. We often use it unconsciously by creating a sense of urgency, scarcity, and exclusivity in marketing campaigns to drive sales.

In this article, we present a number of campaign ideas that help marketers thoughtfully draw on elements of FOMO to help customers see the value of your product and services.

Deconstructing mental blocks

FOMO works in marketing because it helps break down the mental blocks that make potential customers hesitant to complete a purchase. These blocks can come in the form of doubts, fears, or indecisiveness. Some common mental blocks that consumers may experience when making a purchase include:

  • Fear of regret: Will I regret this purchase later? What if I make the wrong decision?
  • Fear of waste: Is this purchase worth it? Will I get enough use out of it?
  • Limited time or resources: Do I have enough time or money for this purchase?
  • Decision fatigue: There are so many options, how do I choose the right one?
  • Lack of trust: Will this product work? Am I being scammed?

Some of these are easier for marketers to overcome. For example, marketers can engage in referral marketing — soliciting referrals from happy customers — to encourage trust in a product. FOMO is just another tool that marketers can use to overcome these mental blocks.

FOMO basics: urgency vs. scarcity vs. exclusivity

At its core, the fear of missing out has three core factors: urgency, scarcity, and exclusivity.

  • Urgency is a sense of limited time. A sense of urgency makes consumers feel like they need to act fast before the time runs out on an opportunity.
  • Scarcity is a sense of limited quantity. Emphasizing a limited quantity of a product can also drive a sense of urgency and make the consumer feel like they need to act fast before there are no more products left.
  • Exclusivity is a sense of limited access. Exclusivity can appeal to the consumer’s desire to be a part of a select group or to own something that not everyone else has.

Each of these factors can be targeted by specific marketing campaigns.

Urgency campaigns

An urgency campaign is a marketing strategy that creates a sense of urgency in the minds of consumers, encouraging them to take immediate action. The goal of an urgency campaign is to persuade the consumer to make a purchase or take some other desired action before the opportunity expires.

Here are some campaigns you can use to create a sense of urgency:

  • Get it while you can: Include statements in your marketing materials encouraging the consumer to act fast. You can accomplish this with language like “limited-time offer” or “offer ends soon.”
  • Limited introductory offer: Offer customers an introductory promotion that is only available for a limited time after they join your subscription or mailing list.
  • Order by ___ for next-day free delivery: Offer customers the benefit of free delivery if they make a purchase before a deadline that you set.
  • Seasonal product offerings: Offer a product or service to customers only during a specific season. For example, Starbucks makes pumpkin spice lattes available only during the fall.
  • Pricing tiers based on registration date: Create urgency to purchase a product by making the price lower for earlier purchases — a practice that’s ubiquitous among conferences and trade show events.
  • Countdown timers: Display a visual countdown of the remaining time until an event or offer ends.
  • Your X will be held Y amount of time before being released: Limit the time customers can hold an item in their cart before it’s released to other customers to create an urgency to complete the transaction.

Scarcity campaigns

A scarcity campaign is a marketing strategy that uses tactics to create a sense of scarcity or limited availability in the minds of consumers. The goal of a scarcity campaign is to encourage the consumer to take action and make a purchase before the opportunity runs out or there are no products left.

Some scarcity campaign tactics include:

  • Limited bonus: Offer customers a bonus item or service when they make a purchase, but only while supplies last.
  • Low in stock: Include a statement indicating that there is a low quantity of a product available. For example, display that there are only four seats left on a flight.
  • Back in stock, but not for long: Include a statement indicating that a previously sold-out product is now available again, but that quantities are limited.
  • Limited edition: Offer customers a version of a product or service that is a one-time or limited release. For example, limited edition collectibles or a limited quantity of books signed by the author.

Exclusivity campaigns

Exclusivity campaigns in marketing are strategies that use tactics to create a sense of exclusivity to a select group of people. The goal of an exclusivity campaign is to persuade the consumer to take immediate action, such as making a purchase, because they feel like they will be part of an exclusive or elite group if they do. Exclusivity campaigns can be effective because they tap into the consumer’s desire to feel special.

Some examples of exclusivity campaigns include:

  • Members only: Provide a promotion or offer that is only available to subscribers, members of a loyalty program, or another exclusive group.
  • Exclusive pre-sale: Organize a pre-sale event that is only available to a select group of people. Use language like “exclusive access” or “for members only.”
  • VIP experience: Offer a promotion or sale that includes special perks or benefits, like sales or events, reserved for select members.
  • Offer based on loyalty tier status: Provide discounts or promotions to customers based on their tier in your customer loyalty program, such as gold, silver, or platinum level members.
  • Exclusive offers for a particular channel: Offer promotions only to consumers who access the offer through a specific channel, such as a mobile app, or who are on your email list.

FOMO campaigns with blended tactics

Finally, you can power up your campaigns and better overcome psychological blocks by creating campaigns that are targeted at more than one FOMO factor. Some examples of such blended tactics include:

  • X people have placed Y in their shopping cart: Include a statement on your website that indicates how many others are looking at purchasing a limited product. This taps into both urgency and scarcity (and also provides social proof).
  • Black Friday sales: Black Fridays sales create a limited-time sale where customers also know that there will be an overwhelming demand for products. These create both urgency and scarcity.
  • Amazon’s Prime Day: Amazon’s Prime Day is a time-limited event that offers exclusive deals and discounts to Amazon Prime members. The sale generates both feelings of urgency and exclusivity because it’s just for members.
  • Online auctions: Online auction websites, like eBay, offer unique items for auction, which creates scarcity. They also include a time limit to offer bids, which creates urgency.
  • Exclusive ticket presale: Many ticket vendors offer a limited set of tickets in a presale to fan club members for a limited time (think Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour tickets presale). This strategy generates urgency, scarcity, and exclusivity.

How to scale FOMO campaigns with real-time, personalized messaging

FOMO campaigns can be extremely effective, but they typically only work when the consumer is already interested in the product or service and just needs a little extra push to make the purchase. On the other hand, if the campaign is perceived as overly aggressive or manipulative, it may backfire and turn off potential customers.

That’s why personalization can give FOMO campaigns an added boost — it can help you ensure that the right message is aimed at the right customer at the right time. Here are some ways you can embed personalization into your campaigns:

  1. Target favorite items: Use your customers’ purchase history to identify favorite items, and make those items the subject of your FOMO campaigns. For example, send a trigger message alerting customers when their favorite item is low in stock.
  2. Target browse abandonment: Use customer browsing history to send trigger messages when prices drop on items they were browsing.
  3. Target locations: Use location data to invite customers to exclusive local events or limited-time sales at stores close to them.
  4. Target churned customers: Send a win-back trigger email reminding previous customers what they are missing by having canceled a subscription.
  5. Leverage contextual data: Use external data, like the season or weather, to send customers exclusive deals or highlight products that may be especially high in demand.
  6. Target loyal customers: Use customer loyalty program data to invite your most engaged customers to exclusive local events, pre-sales, or new product launches.

More on Cordial:

Cordial helps you leverage your data to send personalized messages that fuel engagement. It can help you maximize the effectiveness of your FOMO campaigns and help your customers get over the mental blocks to make a purchase.

Want to see how it works? Request a demo.