Why Email Marketers Use Scarcity to Sell

Offers in email marketing often have a due date. They say that this offer is only good until a certain date, so act now. But if the offer is for a service or digital product, why is there scarcity? Can’t an unlimited number of digital files be downloaded?

There are two reasons why we use scarcity in email marketing. One reason is simply to put a limit on the free giveaways. If you’re a service provider and you run a special where you do a small job for free, you don’t want to spend the next few months doing nothing but free work. The cut-off date gives you the ability to say that the deal is over. The same goes for freebie products.

But there’s a deeper, more important reason why we use scarcity. Most of the time scarcity is totally artificial. There can’t be a limited number of copies of a computer file.

Scarcity has a psychological effect. If the deal is only good for the next few days, people feel like they have to act fast. For many who are sitting on the fence, they’ll jump off when they know the deal will be gone, especially if it’s a freebie where there’s no risk to them. So, by adding an element of scarcity, you get more of your subscribers to take action.

Many marketers use scarcity in a tricky way. There actually is no cut-off date or limited quantity. They just say this in order to get people to take action. For example, your sales page may say that the offer is only good today, so sign up fast. It always says ‘only today,’ even tomorrow!

The point is to urge visitors to take action. Of course, you want as many people as possible to sign up, so it makes no sense to limit quantity.

Put scarcity into your email messages and see if it makes a difference in your conversions.


January 14, 2014