How Big Brands Use Urgency to Drive Conversions During the Holidays
What’s worse than not being able to find the perfect Christmas gift for someone you love?
How about finding it, then realizing it’s sold out? Sold out.
The thought alone is enough to cause a pre-Christmas meltdown, but while we’re all fretting over the perfect gift, big-brand retailers and ecommerce site owners are off singing carols, waiting for the dollars to roll in. But how do they do it? How do they make us want to buy so feverishly every year? It’s not as if holiday marketing differs significantly from one year to the next.
Holiday marketing is — and always has been — all about urgency, about creating a real (or at least semi-real) timeframe in which people need to act, or they’ll miss out.
In this post, we’re going to look at how brands including Apple, Toys R’ Us, Target and Starbucks use the power of the ‘limited time only’ offer, to turn browsers into customers, who combined will spend billions of dollars online and in-store over the holidays. Then, we’re going to show you how to apply those same principles to your landing pages, so that you can create high-converting offers in time for the Christmas sales.
Urgency: Nothing new at Target
If anyone knows when these Target ads are from, please drop a comment below. They certainly predate the internet, but look at the copy; it wouldn’t look out of place on landing page made today.
The ad features a catchy headline with a clear CTA (“Charge it!”), a descriptive subheader (“Open to midnight! Every weeknight till Christmas.”) and a few simple visuals to show the reader exactly what to expect.
It might be a print ad from the 1950s or 60s, but this Christmas ad from Target has almost everything a great landing page needs. Let’s examine it a bit more closely.
We talk about headers and headlines a lot at Unbounce. They’re the first port of call for visitors to your landing page, and if you’re not pitching something worth their time, they’re going to bounce.
Your headline creates intrigue, suggests benefits and, especially in the case of holiday campaigns, creates urgency.
Target’s “Be gifty, be thrifty” approach is cutesy and memorable, but also totally appropriate for introducing a holiday sale — it’s about gifts and savings. But “Be gifty, be thrifty” isn’t strong enough on its own. Adding ‘but hurry!’ turns the appreciative smile that comes with a good rhyme, toward a sense of urgency. Better hurry, this ad says, or all the best deals will be gone. It’s a technique that’s been used since cavemen first scratched ads for saber-toothed tiger skins onto the walls of their caves, and it works every time.
Show ’em what you’ve got
Here’s something else we see on modern landing pages — show the people what you’ve got. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an ad, a landing page or an overlay, it’s a pitch. You’re showing people what you’ve got, and at Christmas time, the best way to show people what you’ve got, is to literally show them what you’ve got.
Make it easy
There’s another key tactic at play here: Make it easy. That means, make it clear that shopping with you is going to be simple and straightforward (more so than if you were to shop with the competition). Time is short, and you need gifts — we’re here to help. Target makes it easy by telling its customers that their Dayton’s credit cards are good there.
Apply it: Target’s four simple rules for creating urgency
- Create an attention-grabbing headline which mentions gifts, savings and timeframe.
- Ramp up the urgency by getting specific about limited availability.
- Show the people what you’ve got.
- Suggest to the people how easy the shopping experience can be.
Buy one get one free at Starbucks
For Starbucks lovers, the BOGOF on holiday drinks offer is legendary. And so is the three-hour window in which you can redeem that offer. You’ll rally your friends, you’ll take a half day if need be, but you’re getting to Starbucks between the hours of 2:00 and 5:00.
The variety of holiday drinks on offer is actually secondary in this ad. The focus here in on getting you into the store at a very specific time (between 2:00 and 5:00, when Starbucks is likely to be less busy because everyone’s at work.)
Where’s the urgency? It’s unlikely that they’ll sell out of your favorite, unless they run out of gingerbread syrup. The urgency lies in getting in before the offer closes. You can always come back tomorrow, but Starbucks has us by the brain and we want it now.
The BOGOF offer is so effective, and not just on Starbucks holiday drinks, it almost doesn’t matter what you’re giving away, because one of them is free. That’s evidenced here by the headline and subheader, which are literally a statement of the what/when/where of the offer — no frills required!
Use images that resonate
You go to Starbucks for one reason and one reason only — coffee. Starbucks creates urgency with its visuals by showing customers what they want to see — red cups.
Apply It: Create urgency using limited time offers
Whether it’s a countdown, an end date or a specific timeframe during which people can redeem your offer, or sign up for your webinar, create urgency on your landing page by guiding visitors towards not only what they can get, but also when. Making your countdown highly visible, with either a static image or an animated countdown, only adds to the sense of urgency, too.
Super crazy Christmas cracker bonanza!
If it looks urgent, it’ll make people feel urgent. Most of us are highly receptive to design elements such as color, font, font size and the shape of various elements. Seeing lots of different sized fonts on an ad can be distracting, but it can also create a sense of urgency and liveliness. Look at this example from Toys R’ Us:
Most of this is just branding — it’s the way Toys R’ Us does its thing — but around the holidays, the mixing of lower and upper case letters, the bouncy font and the enlarging of certain words has the effect of creating a sort of… hysteria. That’s perhaps not the right way to describe it, but you get the idea, right? It’s all SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! THOUSANDS! TOYS! SHOP EARLY! BIGGEST EVER! QUANTITIES ARE LIMITED!
Apply it: No holds barred
Let’s just go ahead and list every bit of urgency and sale-related copy in this ad:
- Biggest Cyber Monday Sale Ever!
- Online only!
- Save up to 60% on THOUSANDS of items!
- Quantities are limited, so SHOP EARLY!
- Shop now
Liberal use of the exclamation mark, capital letters in the middle of sentences and restrictions on when and where you can shop, turn this ad into an assault on your sense of urgency. You know what they say: Go big, or go home. When you’ve got product to move, and if you’ve got the confidence to shout about it from the rooftops, then you go all in.
Stuff, stuff stuff: Shop now for some stuff
What was true fifty years ago is true now; people love stuff, and if you show it to them in a thoughtful way, they’ll buy it.
This ad from Apple is actually for the Black Friday sales, but it works just as well as a Christmas sales ad. Remember in our first vintage Target ad where they showed us what was on offer? Apple doesn’t just show us what’s on offer, they base their entire design on it.
Normally, it’d be pretty crude (and difficult) to sneak your logo into the same ad five times, but don’t forget, when it comes to Christmas sales and ecommerce, as with your landing page, those who dare, win.
Ready. Set. Shop.
How many times do we need to say this? There’s nothing subtle about creating urgency in Christmas sales ads. Apple’s “Ready. Set. Shop.” headline pulls no punches. This is a race, son, and if you’re not quick, all the best stuff will be gone, gone, gone before grandpa nods off after his second cup of eggnog.
And, like old-school Target wanted you to know that your Drayton’s credit card was ok with them. Apple wants you to know that you can shop online or in-store, it’s totally your choice.
Apply It: Leverage your products
There’s a theme running through most of these Christmas ads, and it’s that your product is your greatest asset when it comes to creating urgency.
There will be people who want what you’ve got, and those people are your target audience. The Christmas sales are not a time to pitch for new customers, necessarily. What they are, is a chance to ride the wave of urgency and raise both awareness and revenue. If that means pushing your product more than usual, now is the time to do it.
As quick as a kiss underneath the mistletoe
There certainly is plenty of room for festive cheer, and we encourage you to Christmas up your landing pages as much as possible. But the fact is, people respond to urgency, we don’t want to miss out. It’s why the same techniques work year upon year, and why creating a high-converting holiday landing page really isn’t so complicated.
Still not sure how to build high-converting holiday landing pages?