Whether it’s vacation photos, new outfits, stylish home decor or exclusive gatherings — our social media feeds are filled with experiences to be had, items to be bought and trends to be part of.
This innate human emotion can be summed up as the fear of missing out, or more commonly known as FOMO.
When used strategically in marketing, FOMO can be a powerful way to encourage customers to take action and spread brand awareness. In this post, we’ll cover how you can use FOMO to drive customers to buy and boost sales.
What is FOMO marketing?
FOMO isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, it’s been part of marketing strategies for decades. Think back to the 1990s with Disney’s limited release VHS collections or the craze to collect every Beanie Baby made.
But now, FOMO is more relevant than ever.
This is largely due to social media, with over half of users (56%) experiencing FOMO.
And it’s directly tied to consumers, as 60% of people made purchases because of FOMO, mostly within 24 hours.
FOMO marketing involves techniques and strategies to leverage a customer’s desires so that they take advantage of every opportunity and don’t miss out.
Here are effective FOMO marketing techniques to use for your ecommerce site:
1. Create urgency
No one wants to miss out on a good deal.
If customers know that the deal, offer or product won’t be there forever, they’re more compelled to buy right away. Creating a sense of urgency will drive customers to act fast or they’ll risk missing out completely.
With the clock ticking, customers are under pressure to buy before the deadline, which makes them more likely to impulsively buy on the spot. Be sure to follow-through with set time-limits, customers don’t like feeling duped.
How many times have you bought something extra just to hit the free shipping threshold? You’re not alone, 90% of shoppers said free shipping is the top incentive for them to buy online more. Offering free shipping can be just the thing that takes them from browsing to buying.
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Shopping online is a convenience, but waiting for your order to arrive is not. Knowing when they will get their order prompts customers to buy, especially if they need something right away or by a certain date.
Low stock bar and messages
Scarcity pushes customers to act quickly. If there are only 2 products left, they know to click the button to buy or risk the product being out-of-stock when they come back later.
Setting a cart reservation timer increases urgency even more. It shows that the product is available for the customer to buy, but if they wait too long, they could lose it.
2. Use exclusivity
FOMO and exclusivity go hand in hand.
We are naturally drawn to exclusivity and love the idea of having access to something that others don’t. This is why luxury brands make one-of-a-kind products, restaurants have month-long waiting lists and nightclubs have lines around the block.
Providing customers with something “exclusive” will not only make them feel special but also offer more interest and intrigue for buying your product.
This can be done through benefits like:
- Offers and products only available for members
- Priority for new product releases and waitlists
- Extra discounts (like 10% off or free shipping for members)
- Early access to sales and promotions
- Status symbols (like loyalty cards or gifts)
Amazon is one notable example, with Prime members having exclusive benefits like free rush shipping, Prime entertainment, early access to daily deals and additional savings at Whole Foods market.
You can also create a sense of exclusivity with how your benefits are communicated.
For example, sending a personalised email with exclusive perks inside — this increases the value of the offer, as not everyone can have it.
Consider partnering with influencers — using services like Tapfiliate, influencers can share referral links and discount codes exclusively to their audiences. Followers will feel an instant connection to your brand and be more inclined to take advantage of the offer, especially if it is not available anywhere else.
3. Leverage social proof
Show why people shouldn’t miss out. When we see what other people have, we want it too — especially if they only have great things to say.
Highlight what other customers are interested in, what they are buying and what they are saying about it.
Products that are top-selling or highly rated are more desirable, and this stamp of approval gives extra incentive to buy. If a lot of people are buying it, then it must be good.
Find ways to promote these top products within your site. This could be adding a “Most Popular” product category or displaying these items as “Customer Favorites”.
For new customers who are just browsing, it draws their attention to certain items. And for those customers on the fence, it gives reassurance when they see that others have also taken an interest.
Customer reviews can be extremely influential. When customers see that other customers are happy, they won’t want to miss out on having the same experience.
A great example of this comes from retailer Marks and Spencer. Each product page on their site features reviews, star-ratings and whether the customer recommends. The reviews from customers have become priceless promotions, with comments like “Need it in every colour” or “I hope they restock soon” or “I have gotten so many compliments”.
Testimonials from big-name brands and high-profile clients carry a lot of weight.
The mentality is: if they are using it, then I need to too.
For example, mega-celeb Oprah shared her excitement about the Amazon Kindle saying, “I’m telling you, it’s absolutely my new favourite thing in the world.” That very same day, there was a 479% bump in search traffic for the word “kindle”.
Display testimonials on your site, in blogs, on social media and in other promotional materials. Use photos and logos alongside — and as we mentioned the more recognizable, the better.
4. Set trends
Popular trends can trigger FOMO. No one wants to miss out on the cool, new thing.
Be part of the trends, or even set the trends yourself.
Social media has transformed how brands can be part of the trendsetting process. Before trends would typically start with celebrities who wore a certain style or ate a particular diet, then it would be published in magazines and consumers would follow.
Now, thanks to social media, most trends come from user-generated content (UGC). This can include:
- Viral videos
- Social Initiatives
- and Memes
For example, Calvin Klein featured campaigns of celebrities in their undergarments with the #MyCalvins. From there the hashtag spread to Instagram with influencers, then on to everyday users. Now, the hashtag has over 750k posts. This trend not only convinced customers they needed to buy $28 briefs, but it also provided immense brand exposure.
Some brands, like the example above, are able to set their own trends. For other brands — particularly smaller, up-and-coming ecommerce stores — this could be more challenging.
In that case, find ways to leverage what is already out there and become part of existing trends.
An example of this is Revolve, an online clothing store that has invested heavily in the FOMO-event of the year, Coachella. The store features a dedicated “Festival Looks” section, partners with influencers to post-festival outfits on Instagram and even throws an exclusive pre-festival party.
The power of FOMO has become a key part of their strategy, with Revolve executives acknowledging that the festival brings strong sales, “Coachella has become this global event that everyone knows about, so it’s really played to our advantage; there are so many influencers from around the world that want to come and want this opportunity to be part of the brand”.
However, keep in mind that the world moves fast, and social media moves faster. For trends and FOMO, timing matters.
As the saying goes, the FOMO is real.
By applying these strategies, you can make your site something that customers can’t miss out on. FOMO marketing customers will stay active and engaged, all while driving sales and increasing conversions.
Following degrees in journalism and intercultural communication, I left the US for a new adventure in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Luckily enough, I found my sweet spot as a Content Marketer for Tapfiliate.com. Now, my days are spent writing marketing content, embracing the cultural diversity of our international team and mispronouncing nearly every word in the Dutch language.
If you’d like to learn more about setting up your own online shop, read on for more insights into running your own online business here.