It is undeniable that social media has been dramatically developing nowadays. According to Global Digital Report 2018, nearly half of the world population is active social media users with around 13% increase year-on-year. Therefore, companies have increasingly leveraged on this trend to enhance their sales. One of the most important tactics they have been using is inspired from the Fear of Missing Out psychological effect.
What is Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and why is it helpful?
Have you bought something just because everyone else was having it? If yes, it is likely that you were experiencing the Fear of Missing Out. It is considered a psychological trigger of your desirability to make purchases (Confluex, 2018). To be more specific, if an item is enjoyed by other people especially those in your network, you will feel that you have to have it as well. The root of this feeling may stem from the worry that your experience will not be as good as your friends’ and colleagues’. Therefore, the exclusivity and limited accessibility will be able to drive psychological buying decisions even harder. It would be an effective tactic to increase sales and help companies grow more quickly.
The effectiveness of FOMO stems from its popularity in young people communities. According to a research conducted in the United States by Harris Poll from Eventbrite, around 69% millennials have FOMO. It has turned from a cultural phenomenon to a more serious epidemic. Additionally, in a survey focusing on the millennial group by Citizen Relations Canada, 64% of the 1,000 participants admitted to experience FOMO, and more than half of them are from 18 to 30 years old.
The habit of continuously scrolling down the newsfeed has become increasingly popular: nearly 50% of social media users have admitted being afraid that they will miss out something important or exciting if they do not actively keep their eyes on different platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. This leads to the fact that 60% of young consumers have made a purchase within 24 hours after experiencing social media FOMO. Moreover, a lot of parents are also found to be influenced by this effect when seeing the positive impacts of purchase experience on their families.
On the other hand, the more people making buying decisions, the more things become difficult to get. In fact, the unavailability has been found to even strengthen the desirability of things. According to Dr. Michael Lynn from Cornell University, there are three main reasons behind this statement. Firstly, acquiring scarce items makes us feel exclusive and special compared to those who are not able to get access to them. For example, airlines business class tickets are not achievable for everyone; hence, a lot of people have the desire to try business class one time in their lives. Secondly, rare things appear to be more valuable. This can be simply understood that the high demand and low supply of an item will lead to an increase in its price. You may have heard of someone who are willing to wait for years and pay thousands of dollars just to buy a limited Birkin bag. Thirdly, getting access to something other people want but cannot have brings out the power that everyone desires for.
How to leverage FOMO experience?
There are a number of marketing techniques to activate FOMO psychological effect.
- Stress the exclusivity of things: There is no doubt that your customers’ FOMO feeling directly depends on the exclusivity degree of your products. The more unique they are, the higher people’s ambition of getting them is. Therefore, you should always make sure that your offerings demonstrate exclusivity. Your visitors should feel that they are the only ones being qualified for those items and it would be a pity if they do not take this offer. For instance, a 15% discount code is only applied for those who are members of your Facebook groups, or only VIP customers have the right to pre-order new premium products. In short, customers should be able to feel that your offers are only made for them, not for others.
- Create urgency: In addition to the uniqueness of your products, a tight timeliness would become a motivation for customers to make buying decision. In order to avoid the regret that a good deal is gone, your audiences will be tempted to grab it as quickly as they can. Hence, setting a deadline for your offers is a good way to leverage the FOMO effect. However, despite the benefit of this marketing tactic, you should avoid the intention to bring those limited offers back soon. If your customers know that your items will come back later, their FOMO experience will be less powerful.
- Use viewer statistics to drive competition: Another way to strengthen the FOMO feeling within your customers is to generate a competitive atmosphere among them. By showcasing the number of people who are looking at the same products or your stock level, your visitors will be able to feel the urge of making their decisions. If they do not get it now, they will lose it to other customers’ hands.
- Create social pressure: As mentioned before, social media plays an important role in millennials’ life. Their habit of sharing on different social platforms would bring an excellent opportunity for companies to create social pressure. For instance, you can ask customers to share your products on their Facebook in exchange for useful content or resources. According to Ogilvy Cannes Study, 74% of customers identify word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions. The more the social proof from families and friends there is, the more purchases people make.
- Promote an experience over a product: Experiences are valued more than actual products in the millennial community. Therefore, in case you are not selling a service or experience but a physical item, you should focus more on generating a great experience that goes along with your products. Then, let your customers share about their own experience by asking about their feelings, reviews, recommendations or even favorite products of their choice. By sharing those positive feedbacks on social media, you will be able to get more audiences who also want to have similar experience.
Types of FOMO tactics
Acknowledging the marketing effect of FOMO, companies would want to take the best out of it in order to grow their sales or attain more customers. Below are some suggestions for them.
- Flash content: Generating a content that will only last for a short period of time is an effective way to create a sense of urgency. The tactic even works better when an upper limit on the number people being able to make purchase or download the content is set. Another good tip is to insert a widget demonstrating the remaining time or the number of available download times left.
Below is how Old Navy attracts its customers by different offers using FOMO marketing tactics. Those offers are exclusive for only card-members or online shoppers on particular days:
Content upgrade: Content upgrade is a bonus content that your audiences can get in exchange for nothing other than their email addresses. Therefore, companies might want to offer content upgrades at the end of a short content in order to expand the discussed topics as well as grow their email list. These gated content drives the feeling of scarcity which makes users feel exclusive to own, especially when your content is helpful enough. Some examples of a content upgrade are a set of tools and resources, guides, podcasts, transcripts, a downloadable asset or access to another source.
There are a few notes on making a great content upgrade:
- Keep it short, engaging and valuable
- It is recommended that you make the design of the content as perfect as possible
- Add the ability to share upgraded content so it can be spread out easily
- Add in a call to action
RazorSocial is an online training provider aiming to help companies use social media and content marketing to build a profitable marketing engine. They have created content upgrade at the end of several blog post offering a PDF download of that post. This tactic has raised its conversion rate by more than 520%.
Showing that people are buying: As mentioned before, FOMO is activated when your audiences see a lot of people are buying your products. Hence, if you show that other customers are buying your products, visitors to your sites are more tempted to purchase. This is what MonsterInsights has done on its website in which the first name and location of recent purchasers are indicated clearly. As a result, the one who is feeling hesitated will be more triggered to make his or her decision.
Highlight Missed Opportunities in your Messaging: Once a good deal has just been sold out or running out of stock, customers might feel rushed in looking for other alternatives and quickly making their decision. This tactic has been used by many airline websites and Bamboo Airways is one of them.
Show stock levels: One of the most effective demonstrations of scarcity is definitely the stock level. In this case, FOMO plays as a psychological incentive to make purchases quickly, otherwise, they are going to disappear. Therefore, highlighting stock levels is also a good marketing tactic. For instance, this is how Amazon did it:
J. Crew has also managed to show customers the scarcity of its products which are on sale. They would better make a purchase promptly.
Make your visitors watch the clock: We have talked about the urgency in marketing which will be able to trigger loss aversion. If buyers notice about the ending time of the deal, they will seemingly be rushed to commit to a purchasing decision. Hence, the first tactic is to put a deal clock into your description.
Another way is to offer different discount levels on each day as what Chemical Guys did:
Countdown popup clock is also a great idea:
Stir visitors’ competitive spirit: The fact is that we not only hate the feeling of missing something out but also want to avoid to lose it in others’ hands. Therefore, showing how harsh the competition is would be a great tactic to spice up FOMO effect.
For instance, on Jetstar airlines’ webpage, customers are notified about the number of people looking at the flight of their choice:
Those who are looking for accommodation on Hostelworld can also better assess their chosen hostel by its recent booking frequency.
In other cases, software companies often manifest their number of users. They can use FOMO tactic with limited beta trials which will even make their software more desirable.
Free shipping for limited items: according to the Walker Sands Future of Retail 2016 report, 90% of frequent online shoppers consider free shipping as their biggest motivation. Online retailers can also use another tactic of putting an upper limit for free shipping orders. However, it is advised to let your visitors know how much they have to spend to get free shipping by showing the condition notably at your page’s top banner. For instance, in addition to offering different interesting offers, Old Navy has not forgotten to engage their customers in free shipping option for orders over $50:
Another example would be Evo who uses FOMO tactic by both offering 30% off code and free shipping for orders above $50 as well:
In a nutshell, FOMO would be able to become an effective growth hack which can help companies gain more customers’ attention and increase their sales. There are various types of FOMO that should be applied flexibly in order to reach the highest efficiency.
If you have any other interesting ideas related to this topic, do not hesitate to share your voice here in the comment section.
Case study: How Booking.com has leveraged on FOMO to drive visitor action
Booking.com is one of the most popular accommodation booking sites around the world. It has used a number of FOMO marketing tactics in order to urge its visitors to make a purchasing decision.
When customers type in their criteria of traveling location and dates, they will be led to a number of different options. Some of them are good deals that have just been sold out or are about to run out of stock. The information is specifically highlighted in a bold red font. By using this tactic, customers may feel more rushed in finding other alternatives.
Another helpful tip has been applied is the demonstration of remaining spots as well as the recent booking frequency. It is a good way to emphasize the accommodation’s value and how desirable it is. These highlighted red bold notes successfully catch visitors’ attention.
As mentioned before, the FOMO effect is not only leveraged on the possibility of losing a good deal but also letting it in others’ cart. Booking.com has managed to stir the competitive spirit on their booking site. To be more specific, the number of people who are looking at the same property as you do is illustrated right next to the reservation button.
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