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FOMO in Marketing: Scarcity Sells

FOMO ‑ fear of missing out ‑ plays on human instincts to not miss out on opportunities. Learn how to use FOMO to drive your marketing efforts.

Capturing your audience’s attention is only half the battle; it’s what you do with their attention that drives more sales for your business. Effective marketing can evoke emotions, compelling your audience to take action.

Emotions are catalysts of decision-making, creating a sense of urgency or desire. By using these emotions, marketers can craft narratives that inspire consumers to engage, click a call to action (CTA), and invest. Fear, when used correctly, can be an influential driving force in shaping consumer behavior.

FOMO — fear of missing out — marketing plays on our human instincts to be a part of something and not miss out on opportunities. Keep reading to learn more about FOMO marketing and how you can use various tactics and strategies to make your audience take action.

FOMO marketing uses psychology to tap into consumers' emotional responses and triggers, making them want to act quickly to avoid missing out on an opportunity. FOMO marketing capitalizes on this powerful emotion, encouraging engagement, conversions, and sales by creating a sense of urgency, scarcity, and exclusivity.

This type of marketing is rooted in psychological principles ranging from social comparison to emotional triggers. Humans naturally compare themselves to others. FOMO marketing taps into the anxiety of being left out or falling behind.

Most people don’t like to lose out on something, making them motivated to take action. Items that are in short supply or perceived in such a way are viewed as more valuable while using emotions like anticipation and anxiety to stimulate a sense of urgency that can lead to more impulsive actions.

FOMO marketing examples

The essence of FOMO marketing is to make your target audience want to take action immediately. A few of the best FOMO marketing examples include:

  • Real-time user activity on websites: Real-time user activity notifications show actions taken by other website visitors on a site. For instance, on an e-commerce website, a popup might say, “Melody from California just purchased this item 5 minutes ago,” or “15 people are viewing this product right now.”
  • Flash sales on social media: Posting an attractive deal on social media with captions that state how long the sale will last encourages immediate action while incentivizing followers to regularly check their social media pages.
  • Exclusive member offers: Creating a members-only club where subscribers or customers receive special discounts, deals, and early access to products can encourage more individuals to sign up.

Why should you use FOMO marketing?

FOMO marketing leverages human emotions and desires to turn them into actions that drive business performance. By leveraging human and marketing psychology to drive desired behaviors and outcomes, FOMO marketing can enhance the customers’ decision-making process.

The benefits of FOMO in marketing include the following:

  • Creates a sense of urgency: FOMO in marketing creates a sense of urgency because consumers believe something is available to them for a limited time. This sense of urgency shortens the decision-making process, encouraging potential customers to make an immediate purchase.
  • Increases engagement: A FOMO marketing strategy can increase engagement. In our example above, we discussed how flash sales on social media encourage followers to keep checking their social media pages. Through limited-time promotions or exclusive offers, FOMO marketing can pique curiosity and generate buzz, leading to increased interactions.
  • Drives more sales: FOMO creates urgency, which forces consumers to make an immediate decision. When consumers are propelled into action by their fear of missing out, brands experience higher conversion rates.
  • Improves brand perception: Offering exclusive deals or access can position a brand as more valuable. When consumers feel like they’re getting something special or unique out of the relationship, it elevates the brand’s status.
  • Improves customer loyalty: Exclusive offers or early access for loyal customers can make them feel valued while encouraging loyalty. When consumers believe their loyalty has positive outcomes, they’re more likely to become brand advocates.
  • Effective social proof: FOMO campaigns that showcase how many others are buying or enjoying a product or service can act as valuable social proof that makes others not want to miss out.

FOMO marketing techniques blend urgency, exclusivity, scarcity, and social validation. When used effectively, they can create persuasive advertising campaigns that encourage audiences to take action.

Understanding FOMO is only the first step; knowing how to create FOMO in marketing is essential for a winning campaign. A few of the most used tactics used to create FOMO in a marketing strategy include the following:

Limited time offers

Limited-time offers put an end date on a particular deal or sale, creating a clear deadline that urges customers to make a purchase before they miss out. By emphasizing that the offer won’t be available forever, this FOMO marketing tactic can shorten the decision-making process and push customers to commit.

Flash sales

Flash sales are often unexpected and time-sensitive, offering substantial discounts or unique offers for only a short period of time. Because they’re spontaneous and offer significant savings, they can drive immediate sales while keeping customers on the lookout for future opportunities.

Exclusive access

Offering exclusive access makes your loyal customers feel special. This technique appeals to customers' desires to be ahead of the crowd as part of an exclusive group. It can also foster brand loyalty.

Influencer marketing

Using influencers to promote products or services can also tap into customers’ FOMO. When followers see an influencer they trust engaging with a product, it creates a sense of urgency to try it out before the trend disappears. The endorsement, combined with the fear of being left behind, can lead to higher engagement and conversions.

Social media teasers

Social media teasers are sneak peeks or previews of upcoming products, promotions, or events. By providing followers with just enough information to pique their interest without revealing too much, brands can build anticipation and curiosity. Then, when the full details or launch arrives, that excitement can lead to a rush of engagement.

Contests and giveaways

Contests and giveaways often have entry deadlines and limited prizes available. Encouraging your target audience to participate quickly or miss out on the potential rewards can drive engagement and increase brand visibility.

Additionally, this FOMO marketing technique can amplify the FOMO for those who didn’t participate because they'll see what others won, making them more likely to purchase your products or services.

Real-time updates

Sending real-time updates on product availability, remaining stock, or the number of people viewing a deal can increase the sense of urgency. Seeing an item with a low stock alert on an e-commerce site or seeing hundreds of viewers looking at the same hotel deal can compel users to act quickly before they lose out.

Measuring the success of a FOMO marketing campaign can help you determine when and where to make the necessary adjustments for future campaigns. Looking at various types of data can help you learn more about the campaign's success and identify areas of improvement.

A few strategies for measuring your FOMO marketing campaign success are:

Analyzing conversions and sales spikes

The most direct metric of success for most FOMO marketing campaigns is the increase in sales or conversions.

E-commerce businesses can look directly at their website metrics to find sales data during the FOMO campaign and compare it to previous periods. A noticeable increase suggests that the campaign was effective.

Monitoring social media engagement

Monitoring engagement for organic posts or advertisements can help you track the social media aspect of your FOMO marketing campaigns. Look for increases in engagement metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and retweets during the campaign.

You can also monitor hashtags and brand mentions to determine how much buzz your FOMO campaign generated. Pay attention to the sentiment of the comments and interactions for insights into the public’s perception of the campaign. This information can help you fine-tune strategies for next time.

Gather customer feedback

Direct feedback from customers can provide insights into their perceptions and the impact of the campaign. Asking customers what influenced their decision to make a purchase can help you determine if the FOMO aspect of the campaign had a significant influence.

In addition, your customers can help you identify and understand areas of improvement that can lead to more effective FOMO marketing campaigns in the future. Engaging customers in the feedback process also fosters trust and loyalty to ensure they feel valued.

Avoiding FOMO marketing risks

FOMO marketing can be a powerful tool to drive engagement and sales. However, it can backfire if it’s not handled responsibly, leading to consumer mistrust and negative brand perception. To avoid these potential pitfalls, you should always be transparent and honest in your messaging, provide clear information about the terms and conditions of your deals or promotions, and offer alternatives when stock runs out.

Balancing urgency with authenticity and transparency and considering your customers’ perspective ensures your FOMO marketing campaigns are effective.

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