What is FOMO - FOMO in eCommerce Marketing

Chance Nguyen avatar
Chance Updated: 2020-06-01

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What is FOMO - FOMO in eCommerce Marketing

During quarantine times like this, I cannot count how many times I have looked out the window and imagine all the fun of the outside world. It takes me back to when I was a child, being locked inside my room and feeling bummed because my friends are all playing under the sun. And looking at Instagram for the thirteen times doesn’t help either. Because that left-out feeling is really hard to be shaken off.

It has a name, which is FOMO - Fear of Missing Out. I’m sure you must have heard of it one or two times before. Oh, you haven’t? Then you are out of date and should update yourself right now. See, I already applied a little FOMO on you for not knowing what I know. In an era of “attention scarcity”, people’s (and your) desire to not looping out is even more burning.

Aside from being a psychological phenomenon, FOMO is also a marketing tactic that can benefit e-businesses heavily. Like a hot topic that everyone wants to keep updated, your brand can take advantage of FOMO and see people jumping on any opportunity that you provide.

If that makes you want to continue reading, then do it, because you don’t want to miss this. Here is the guide you need to use FOMO in eCommerce marketing and skyrocket your online store’s customer number, social attention, and sales. Let’s get started!

Table of contents:

What is FOMO?

The Fear of Missing Out
The Fear of Missing Out

The Fear of Missing Out is a psychological phenomenon that triggers when you feel like you are let slip an amazing opportunity. This leaves you anxious, regretful, and motivated to take actions because you don’t want to miss it. This is a common feeling that almost everyone has experienced, whether actively or inactively.

The “inactively” part is when you are somewhat forced to feel FOMO because of the things you encounter. Like when you see your friends uploading stories about a party on Instagram and you are not invited. Or when you see a flash sale item online and you want to buy it even though you don’t need it. Or when you travel just because the flight ticket price dropped. We’ve all been there.

That should give you a picture of FOMO and its usage in eCommerce marketing. As humans, we strongly desire to grasp good opportunities, this dates back to when we were savages and had to collect everything we can to live. We also needed to belong in groups to increase the chance of survival. Whether buyers realize it or not, FOMO exists naturally and affects many decisions of purchasing.

With that in mind, let’s see all the reasons that make FOMO valuable to eCommerce businesses.

Why is FOMO valuable to eCommerce businesses?

FOMO in eCommerce marketing
FOMO in eCommerce marketing

The sense of urgency and pushing people to take action is what makes FOMO so effective in eCommerce marketing. Imagine an invisible force that makes buyers run to purchase your products together, now who wouldn’t want that? There are three main ways that FOMO affect buyers:

  • They spend money due to social pressure, they don’t want to be left out of what everyone else is experiencing.
  • They make purchases because they fear missing out on a great deal.
  • They are regretful of missing out on the opportunity and decide to take action, such as subscribing to keep updated.

Either way, FOMO is an incredibly useful tool to increase loyalty, gain new customers, and earn more sales. And don’t just take my words for it, here are the numbers from recent research by Trustpulse:

  • 56% of social media users claimed to have experienced FOMO, most of them are millennials (22 - 37 years old)
  • 40% of people spend money on some items once a year just to post it on social media.
  • 48% of millennials spends money they don’t have to keep up with friends
  • 60% of people actively purchases just because of FOMO, mostly within 24 hours
  • 41% of people agree to spend because they worry about not being invited in the future

As you can see, one age group that is heavily influenced by FOMO is Millennials. With new social platforms that keep users addicted to finding new experiences, the generation seems to can’t control their purchase just to not be left out. eCommerce businesses take different approaches to this information, which we will cover in the next section.

For now, understand that FOMO is a powerful tool for eCommerce marketing that you should definitely use to gain many more potential customers. Now, let’s take a look at how to use FOMO in eCommerce marketing successfully.

How to use FOMO in eCommerce marketing

Actually, the technique of FOMO has been used in marketing for years. You’ve probably seen it a million times too. Every viral campaign has been attributed to triggering FOMO among customers. When buyers see everyone around them buying a product, they would want to join in the action as well. Much like why people are stocking toilet paper.

With that in mind, here are the effective methods to apply FOMO in eCommerce marketing:

1. Online marketing using FOMO

Since you are an e-business owner, naturally we will look at how to use FOMO in online presence. You will see how to add FOMO elements to your website, social media, advertising, and email.

Website

On your website, FOMO is used to push prospects to take action and move further down the funnel. So you can make them check out a product, purchase it, stop abandoning carts, and recommend your business to others. Sounds pretty powerful, huh? Let’s go page by page, starting with the homefront of your website.

Show social proof
Show social proof

Show social proof: If your product has a high demand, don’t mind showing it right the way. Let customers know that people are buying right at the moment in real time. It feels much more confident to shop with a store that attracts many customers. One way to do it is using an app such as Proofo - a social proof app specially designed for eCommerce to display a small notification when someone purchases an item (see the image above). Best of all, the app is free!

Limited free shipping
Limited free shipping

Limited free shipping: Free shipping is a big reason why people buy online. So if you offer free shipping for a limited time, prospects will feel like they are missing out on an amazing product just because of the small shipping fee, therefore, they will take action.

Use a countdown timer
Use a countdown timer

Use a countdown timer: Urgency is commonly used to create scarcity and urge audiences to act quickly. If they see a good deal is coming to an end soon with a clock ticking, FOMO is triggered in a powerful way. You can display the timer right at the front page.

User testimonials
User testimonials

Add user testimonials: Now, at the product page, you can convince visitors that they are missing out on a good product by showing the satisfaction of previous buyers. Highlight the positive reviews, but keep some negative comments around to show honesty.

Stock number
Stock number

Show stock number: If a product is limited in number, FOMO can be triggered as well. Just add a small line of “Only 5 left in stock” like on Amazon, you can see people would want to purchase much more. It shows people are buying the item too. Or on Ebay, you can show how many items have been sold and there are only a limited number of items left.

Have some competition
Have some competition

Stir some competition: Not only do we fear missing out, we also fear someone may get an awesome thing before us. Which is why you can have some competition by showing who is looking at the deal to show if they don’t act fast, it will end up in someone else’s hands.

Exit-intent pop up
Exit-intent pop up

Have an exit-intent pop up: If a customer is leaving your page or removing items from the shopping cart, you can offer a better deal so they will keep purchasing. For smaller commitments, you can simply ask for an email.

Social media

Millennials are affected by FOMO the most, so guess where they often hang out and get exposed to the psychological trigger? That is right, social media! And not only the young generation, everyone seems to be hooked on their phones nowadays. In fact, 45% of people of all ages who experience FOMO can’t hold longer than 12 hours without checking any social media.

People breathe and live on social media, so it is essential to incorporate fear of missing out elements in your social media marketing campaign to maximize the result. Here are some ways to do it:

Limited giveaways
Limited giveaways

Host a limited giveaway: When you want to promote your new products or attract new customers, hosting a giveaway can really help. People know that they can get freebies in a limited amount of time, so the fear of missing out will encourage them to make action. To be the most effective, you should have a teaser, limit stock items, add countdown timers, and send reminder messages to give more boost.

Exclusive group
Exclusive group

Create an exclusive group: People always want to belong, so if there is a secret group that only a few people can join, they would immediately question why they are not in it. You can create a Facebook group or a loyalty reward program for customers. The more actively they engage with the brand, the more benefits they can get.

Social proof
Social proof

Include social proof: Same with the website, show that people are buying and using your product satisfyingly. Customers can write reviews on Facebook, leave testimonials on Instagram, or comment on your Twitter post. This shows not only people are buying, they are engaging with your brand like a friend too.

Pick of the day photo contest
Pick of the day photo contest

Launch a user-generated content contest: Social media promotes experience, so you can do that too. Let customers post their own video, pictures, posts about your company or product in exchange for prizes. This tactic can broaden your follower base since more are sharing and competing.

Use hashtags
Use hashtags

Use hashtags: To manage your user-generated content contest, hashtags are necessary. They let you track your post engagements and measure the number of people talking about your brand on social media. You can use hashtags to show that your company is a part of a trending movement.

Instagram stories
Instagram stories

Make use of expiring content: Recently made popular by Snapchat or Instagram, expiring content called Stories often disappear after 24 hours. You can create offers that only last that long or available exclusively for the viewers. This keeps your fans eagerly checking your social profiles often to see if any new deals appear as well.

Facebook live broadcast
Facebook live broadcast

Go live: Live broadcast is a new way to connect with customers, you can receive questions, do giveaways, and interact with viewers. They won’t want to miss your broadcasts with all fun activities. If you have offline events, you can showcase the cool parts and encourage people to join in.

Advertising

Advertising
Advertising

For advertising, the approaches are quite simple. You can run Facebook ads or Google ads that trigger FOMO in viewers. They can include timer, social proof, or personalized details to urge prospects to take an action. Even if the audience doesn’t know about your company, showing that many people enjoy your products can pique their curiosity.

Another effective way to advertise with FOMO in eCommerce marketing is using influencers. You can have celebrities or industry experts sharing their positive opinions about your products, or simply taking pictures of themselves using your promotion items. Their followers who are outside of your target customers can gain interest and check out your company, which is a bonus.

Email

Email
Email

Email is still really effective to connect with customers. Since subscribers are already interested in your company or products, you can use emails to trigger FOMO and convince them to act.

Some examples of using FOMO in email marketing are:

  • Send special code or discounts for their wish list items
  • Let them know their save items are running out of stock.
  • Remind them of items left in the cart
  • Offer special discounts or rewards because they are subscribers

That should cover all the tactics you can use FOMO in eCommerce online marketing. Now, we will unplug for a bit and see how to use FOMO in offline marketing.

2. Offline marketing using FOMO

Even though you are an eCommerce business, don’t limit your sales to just online platforms, you can have offline evans as well to attract participants and gain more followers. Offline marketing is a great way to connect with customers, receive feedback, and diversify your brand.

Here are some ways you can create FOMO in eCommerce marketing in offline events:

Event teaser
Event teaser

Have a teaser: Instead of saying what you are going to show in your event, have a teaser to pique curiosity. You can have a mystery special guest, secret gifts, or unknown activities to keep people hooked.

Limited attendees
Limited attendees

Limit the number of attendees: If there is one thing we learn so far, then scarcity really helps triggering FOMO in customers. When you say there are only a certain number of seats available, people tend to sign up faster and reserve their slots. You can do this with loyal customers too, such as an exclusive event for only users that have used your service for more than a year.

Early bird offer
Early bird offer

Early bird offers: “Early birds get the worms” - Give special prices, seats, or gifts to those who sign up early. Your strategy can change during time to attract more sign up or tickets.

Last minute tickets and pre order ticket price
Last minute tickets and pre order ticket price

Last minute offers: Combined with early bird offers, this is to make sure you can lure in everyone interested. When the clock is ticking and the slots have run out, a last-minute supply of tickets can urge people to grab it before it is too late.

Photo booth at an event
Photo booth at an event

Create picture-worthy moments: Once your event starts, you can still create FOMO for future events. Encourage people to take pictures, go live, and share about the event on social media. You can help them out with photo booths, pop-up displays, photo walls, giveaways, or celebrity appearances.

Say no to FOMO
Say no to FOMO

Say no to FOMO: If your company promotes sincere connections, you can create events that prohibit the use of mobile phones. Many people are more aware of the negative effects that FOMO brings nowadays, so they turn to companies that don’t try to manipulate them with psychological triggers. This gives your brand a better image and increases loyalty among customers.

Success stories of FOMO in eCommerce marketing

Proactive business always uses FOMO to their advantage. Despite the industry or product, FOMO is undoubtedly a powerful marketing tool for every company. How you use it is entirely up to you, but here are some successful examples for inspiration:

Basecamp

Basecamp's website
Basecamp's website

Basecamp uses social proofs heavily on their website to trigger FOMO among visitors. They provide software for project management, so all the nice testimonials from Shopify CEO, University of Miami member, or NASA employee make every other company wonder what they have missed.

There are hundreds of testimonials on a page, and at the end, you can find a simple chart that shows how much they have grown over the years. From 45 accounts to 3,3 million accounts, they have come a long way. And that credibility makes businesses want to collaborate with them even more.

Lesson: If you want to use FOMO in eCommerce marketing, a simple way is to be honest and show all the good things you have done for customers. People won’t trigger FOMO because you are trying to manipulate them, but because you are genuinely good and they don’t want to miss that.

Brighter White

Brighter White's Instagram
Brighter White's Instagram

Getting popular recently, Brighter White has mastered social media marketing to trigger FOMO in their audience. They bring in celebrities to use their products, have a hashtag campaign that any customer can join to show results, and do frequent giveaways for their followers.

Not only that, the Instagram account of Brighter White also connects with the audience through funny texts like Twitter posts. Their users are mostly millennials, so it is a good approach to make the brand friendly and humorous. Instagram users wouldn’t mind hit the follow button for that.

Lesson: Make your brand a friend that your users would love to hang out with. Have wisdom, humour, and sociality to connect with prospects on social media. No one wants to miss a cool buddy like that, so be one!

Airbnb

Airbnb accommodations page
Airbnb accommodations page

One of the most successful names in startup, Airbnb sure knows how to make their users stay longer. They use star reviews with testimonials to make the accommodation more appealing. The fields to review include Location, Communication, Check-in, Cleanliness, Accuracy, and Value.

Through this, they create an enjoyable experience that users can’t find on other booking platforms. The site also adds tags like Rare find or New lower price to let users know they are looking at a good deal. For hosts, they can get a badge of Super host to attract viewers more with their credibility.

Lesson: If you provide online services, the user experience is really important. Make that an exceptional feature that people wouldn’t want to miss. You do this by providing a good interface, best deals, and a helpful community.

Conclusion

Using FOMO in eCommerce marketing is not new, yet it is a hard aspect to master for every online business. If you overdo it, the psychological trigger may backfire and turn the customers away. With our guide, you can have a clear understanding of the best method to apply FOMO in your campaigns.

Remember, there are good and bad sides of everything, so use FOMO wisely and you can drive more sales while remaining a good image in customers’ eyes. Feel free to share your experience in the comments section below, I’m always happy to read. And as always, best of luck on your eCommerce journey!

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Chance Nguyen
Chance Nguyen
Chance is a content executive at Mageplaza, whose goal is to never write a boring article. His enthusiast for eCommerce has spanned over two years of writing - making him an expert in the field. He also enjoys drinking tea and playing Exploding Kittens.

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