How to Increase Sales Using Urgency

Michael Folling|November 16, 2015

Marketing your tour and activity business can be hard. While there’s no silver bullet when it comes to marketing there is one powerful strategy that has been used successfully for decades, urgency.

This simple concept can be incredibly effective when incorporated into your overall marketing strategy.

In this week’s blog post I’ll show you how you can increase sales for your business using urgency. We’ll also discuss:

  • The science behind why urgency is a powerful tool for increasing sales

  • The difference between real urgency and implied urgency

  • Specific examples of how you can apply this concept to increase your sales

Are you ready to learn how urgency can increase sales for your tour and activity business? Let’s get started.

The science behind why urgency is so powerful

The quote above came to be known as the Eisenhower Principle, a way for the president to prioritize his workload. While most of us don’t have the same workload as the President of the United States, many of us (including your customers) still prioritize urgent matters the same way.

In general, something that is urgent takes priority because it demands our immediate attention and the consequence of not dealing with them are also immediate. So as human beings, we are more inclined to respond to things that are urgent.

Urgency, when applied to sales and marketing, can grab your customer’s attention and force them to listen to what you have to say which will ultimately help you sell more products.

While that might sound like hard selling, let me explain further.

By positioning your products on your website in a way that creates a sense of urgency you reduce the amount of time your customers spend deliberating before they make a purchase decision.

Neil Patel explains this further in an article he wrote called “9 Ways to Use Urgency Psychology to Improve Conversions.”

In this article he goes on to explain that “urgency causes people to act quickly. Many of the problems that affect conversions are issues of cognitive friction–people think too hard, wait too long, or simply don’t respond to our calls-to-action. Raising the urgency level cuts through a lot of this delay to create a significant improvement to conversion rates.”

Be careful though, the simple act of creating a sense of urgency might not be a powerful enough driver to get your customers to make a decision.

In Help Scout’s blog post on consumer behavior they discuss some scientific research which was done with two groups who received brochures on the health effects of tetanus.

While both groups understood the urgent need to get a tetanus vaccination, the second group, who had clear instructions on how to get a vaccination, were 25% more likely to actually get vaccinated.

Their takeaway from this study was that while urgency is an effective motivator for people, it can be less effective if used incorrectly.

Ultimately, if you are using urgency to increase your sales, you should “tell people exactly what to do when the time comes and don’t be afraid to drive them toward specific actions.”

Before I discuss how to take advantage of the concept of urgency, let’s take a look at the two types of urgency you can create for your customers so that you can use this strategy effectively.

Real urgency versus implied urgency. What’s the difference?

Real urgency suggests to your customers a strong sense to act immediately considering there are deadlines involved. For example, you are offering discounts for your tours at 50%, and the offer will expire within 12 hours. After that, the offer will be gone forever.

Implied urgency on the other hand pushes you to take action by using words that suggest urgency. For example, the words “now” and “today” suggests a need to act now rather than later. No true urgency is involved because there aren’t deadlines or consequences involved, but the need to take immediate action is implied.

In general, real urgency works better than implied urgency because the thing that they are missing out on is more tangible. There’s a threat that they may lose something of value when they don’t make a decision quickly.

So which should you use? According to the ConversionXL, a popular blog on conversion rate optimization, “it’s hard to authentically implement real urgency into everything you do.” So in the scenario where real urgency doesn’t seem authentic they suggest making use of implied urgency.

Specific examples of how you can apply this concept to increase your sales

  1. Create Scarcity

  2. This is the easiest and most obvious way to imply a sense of urgency for your customers.

    This strategy can be implemented by imposing deadlines or displaying limited inventory. As long as you somehow make your product or service difficult to acquire, or position it as being finite, more people will make a purchase.

    Why does creating scarcity work so well? Mainly because most people suffer from a “fear of missing out.” This phenomenon means that consumers would rather have the assurance that they made a purchase than take the risk of missing out on an experience.

    In ActivityRez, creating scarcity is easy. By default customers booking on your website will always see a message similar to the one below if there are 5 or less tickets available for your tour or activity.

  3. Use Time-Related Words
  4. There are plenty of words you can add to your offer that will help create a sense of urgency. Words like “now”, “fast”, “quick”, and “hurry” can make your customers feel an implied sense of urgency thus, increasing the likelihood they will make a purchase.

    How can you apply time-related words to your business? Use them in your booking buttons instead of using the same old, tired call-to-actions like “Book” or “Purchase.”

    Here’s one example of how you can use a time-related word in your call-to-action:

    Image source

  5. Let them know about the competition
  6. According to Infinite Conversions, “once people realize that they are competing with other people for limited quantities of (something), their desire to win escalates. That translates into extreme urgency.”

    For example, it helps to display how many people are viewing an offer at the same time.

    By doing so, your customers will understand that they are not the only ones shopping for the same product. This increases their urge to buy because they know that other people are considering making the same purchase and if they wait too long it might not be available.

    In this example shows you the last time a particular hotel was booked. By doing so, they’re creating a feeling of competition among consumers:

  7. Remind customers of the pain of not buying
  8. People buy because there is a certain type of need that should be met, or pain that must be eased. Generally, pain is a better motivator than pleasure. This concept is known as loss aversion. For example, some people buy food because they want to avoid the pain of feeling hungry. Others purchase the newest iPhone because of the “fear of missing out” and having out-dated technology.

    The trick here is to remind people of how unsettling it is to live with these problems, and how their problems can be solved by making a purchase.

    In this example Terminix does this by showing you what could happen if you don’t use their extermination services:

    Image Source

  9. Raise your customer’s fear of a price increase
  10. Price is a major factor when people make a purchase. By clearly communicating to your customers that the current price is only available for a limited time you’ll create urgency because of everyone’s desire to save money.

    One Australian retailer does this by slowly raising the price of their products every second. The longer you wait, the higher the price:

    Image Source

  11. Present it as a rare opportunity
  12. When something is positioned as rare, it’s value instantly increases and therefore the urgency to buy increases. A great example of this in the tour and activity industry is whale watching season.

    Since whales migrate to different locations throughout the year, the ability to see them in a particular location while someone is on vacation could be considered a rare opportunity.

    In this example, notice how one tour company demonstrates that whale watching season is only available for a few months out of the year, thereby presenting this as a rare opportunity for their potential customers:

  13. Use promotions
  14. Another effective way to create urgency is through the use of promotions. Promotions give your customers the sense that they are spending money wisely because they are purchasing something of greater value for a lesser price.

    Retailers like Wal-Mart are famous for using this strategy during their Black Friday sales. In fact, they work so well that their customers have been known to camp out in front of their stores for days at a time just to make a purchase.

    In the example below see how Best Buy conveys a sense of urgency for their black friday sale by telling their customers that the price is only available for a limited time:

  15. Show how much time is left before the offer expires

Creating a deadline is another effective way of communicating urgency to your potential customers. The great thing about about deadlines, according to this blog post from CrazyEgg, is that “when a marketing message attached to a time, our urgency level automatically goes up.”

Online retailer, Amazon, does a great job of creating urgency using deadlines. In the following screenshot you’ll notice how they communicate to their customers shipping deadlines and the desired action the customer needs to take if they want to get their product shipped to them by a certain date:


As humans we tend to give higher priority to urgent matters because many of us have a fear of missing out. While urgency can be a great way to increase sales of your tours and activities, it’s important that you implement it correctly in order to get the maximum benefit from this strategy.

When deciding how you will create urgency for your customers I recommend asking yourself the question, “why do my customers need to take action now?”

Asking yourself this question will help you determine whether it’s better to convey real or implied urgency to your customers and the most effective way  to encourage your customers to take action immediately.

Do you think creating a sense of urgency will increase sales for your business too? If so, I recommend taking a look at your website to see how you can use the strategies I’ve mentioned above to sell more tours and activities.

Michael is part of the marketing team at ActivityRez. He enjoys coming up with creative ways to help travel companies grow their business.

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