How Do You Build Urgency?

Like many of you, I’m on a lot of email lists… partly because I’m interested in a product or service, partly because I like to see what businesses are doing with their email campaigns.

Lately I’ve noticed a lot of attempts to build urgency in the subject line of emails, and I’m wondering what your experience has been – both as a sender and a receiver of email – with this tactic.

A Couple Examples

A few message subjects pulled out of my inbox over the past week:

My Impressions

As a subscriber, I liked the right-to-business nature of the first example — it tells me almost everything I need to know in just four words. The only thing it doesn’t say is how long that limited time is — but that got me to click through to find out!

Subject line urgency got me to open some emails, but not others… but why? And what works for you?

Subjects 2 and 3 imply that the offer will never come around again. I don’t buy it. I’ve been on both of those lists for months and regularly get similar offers, so this just doesn’t come across as credible. In fact, the vagueness of subject #3 made it even less believable for me — are they really never going to give me a chance to save again? Never ever? Please.

Three of these (and many others I didn’t share here) tell the discount percentage they’re offering. This makes my decision easier (Is 20% off enough to entice me? What about 25%?), and lets the sender split-test different discounts to maximize revenue.

(For the record, I opened the 1st and 4th emails when I got them, and didn’t open the 2nd or 3rd until I wrote this post.)

What Do You Think?

I don’t think all urgency-building has to be about giving discounts (though I think that’s where most of us are used to seeing urgency used as a marketing tactic). And I’m also just one subscriber — your own readers probably won’t all respond to urgency the exact same way that I did.

What are your thoughts and experiences when it comes to building urgency:

Any other thoughts on urgency are welcome, too :)

By:
Justin Premick is the former Director of Educational Products at AWeber.

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49 Comments

  1. I see the subject line as like the headline in a tabloid newspaper – it has to grab the attention. And given how little of it is seen in many email programmes, this needs to be done within 5 or 6 words of less – quite a challenge!

    Personally, the urgent discount offers don’t move me to action – 20% off what?!?

    8/7/2007 9:01 am
  2. For me it really depends on who the person is that is behind the e-mail. If it is someone that has made a credible offer in the past then I would readily open that e-mail. I recently got a sales letter that let me buy the product for whatever I thought it was worth. What a concept? If I do not buy from this person now I definitely will in the future.

    8/7/2007 9:55 am
  3. Ken,

    Discounts definitely don’t move everybody to action (at least not in and of themselves). And less specific subject lines can very well suppress response.

    (For what it’s worth, based on the sender and past emails I’d received from them, I knew right away what the 20% was off – but would that apply to newer subscribers? Maybe, maybe not.)

    Ambrose,

    I agree – credibility and reputation are something that businesses build over time… if an offer is marketed as a "last time" thing, part of whether I believe it will depend on whether that business has a history of making such claims (and sticking by them).

    8/7/2007 10:11 am | Follow me on Twitter
  4. marjort

    Urgency I will open them to see who is sending them and how many others are sending the same add. That is where I stop.

    8/7/2007 12:24 pm
  5. I have a tendency to ignore most "urgent" type of e-mails. I do not like impulse buying, nor being put in a position where I have to make a decision right away.

    However, with that said, I have clicked through on those types of subject lines in the past. Generally speaking, whether I click on it or not has more to do with whether I know the person sending the e-mail and/or do I respect that person.

    If I do not have respect for that individual as an "expert" in his/her field, I more then likely would not click through on the e-mail. I still do not like this tactic and will generally avoid them altogether. Even if I know the individual, more then likely I will not buy based on the fact that I do not like to "impulse" buy.

    If you have a list of 10k and you’re always sending them e-mails with "urgent" offers and they get burned by that offer because it wasn’t what they expected, regardless if there’s a "return policy" that person or organization will lose credibility quickly.

    If it’s a good product, there’s a price point which people will buy and if you offer benefits beyond the purchase, you’ll have a loyal customer. Stick ‘em for a quick buck here and there and you’ll lose that person as a customer quicker then you can post the latest and greatest one-time offer.

    Just my opinion.

    8/7/2007 12:49 pm
  6. Hi Justin!
    (excuse my english)

    Q. As a recipient, do you tend to respond when email marketers try to build urgency in subject lines?

    Humble opinion: It all depends on the relationship that I have with the marketer and the interest I have in the product.

    For example. There was this marketer promoting a home study course on how to build a profitable newsletter (which i wanted). I’ve been reading her weekly newsletter for the past year and she only launched 145 copies of the home study course.

    When she emailed me with the subject line 7 Copies Left… I couldnt resist and purchased $1,475 on the spot.

    What caused the sale? The trust I had on that marketer and the 7 copies left. :)

    Q: How (if at all) do you build urgency in your own subject lines? What have you found to work — or not work? (If you’ve tested this we’d love to hear about your results.)

    HO: I use the same strategy as the marketer who sold me the home study course. But first i build a relationship with my readers and my clients AND I stay true to my word. If I say that the offer ends tonight, it does! My readers trust me in that sense and I make no exceptions with anyone. If its gone, its gone!

    Q:Do you think attempts to build urgency (in subject lines or elsewhere) detract from a marketer’s credibility (as I felt it did in the third example above)?

    HO: I don’t think the urgency detracts from a marketer’s credibility. But once again, it starts by building that credibility and doing what you say you are going to do.

    Justin, the third example is not specific. You mentioned that you have seen similar offers from that list. Is the product something you are interested in? If you are not, then it’s hard to measure effectiveness of that subject because you are not a prospect. Now if you were interested in the product been advertised. Then thats another story, i believe.

    Q: If so, what do you think determines whether credibility is damaged? How can a business use urgency in its email marketing campaigns without hurting its reputation?

    HO: Credibility is damaged when you have not taken the time to build a reputation with your prospects. When you say that an offer ends tonight and the offer is there the next day.

    In my opinion, you can use urgency only when you have prequalified your prospects. What I do is create a separate list. Have prequalified people subscribe to that specific list and then promote to them using a series of emails.

    That way I don’t promote to the ones who are not interested.

    Apologies for the long email and my English as a second language :)

    8/7/2007 3:18 pm
  7. I typically only open them to see if there’s good copy in the sales letter, which I then add to my swipe file. I know that most of the urgency is contrived.

    That said, I agree with the above comments about trust and the value of the 20% off and will give more thought to someone who took the time to build a relationship with me by providing worthwhile content.

    8/7/2007 3:32 pm
  8. Diana,

    Thanks for your detailed reply! (And your English is just fine.)

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – the urgency can’t be fabricated. The source of the urgency (deadlines, quantity limits, etc.) must be maintained – you can’t go breaking deadlines or miraculously finding more of a product to offer after you’ve said you only have "X" left.

    Further, I think you need to:

    * Make the offer clearly unique from others you’ve made in the past and will make in the future.

    * Provide some reasoning for the urgency – explain why action must be taken by a certain date, or why only so many of a product are available – rather than just assuming that people will accept it for "the way things are."

    In regards to your comment:

    Justin, the third example is not specific. You mentioned that you have seen similar offers from that list. Is the product something you are interested in? If you are not, then it’s hard to measure effectiveness of that subject because you are not a prospect. Now if you were interested in the product been advertised. Then thats another story, i believe.

    Perhaps I should clarify the third example. The email was from a company that sells essentially one product. I have purchased at least a dozen of that product from them in the past couple of years at a variety of price points. It’s a company that I’m very loyal to, and their poor use of urgency won’t likely keep me from purchasing in the future (would it for others? I can’t say for sure, but it seems plausible). But I get similar emails from them every couple weeks, and the idea of me never again being able to "save nationwide" with them is laughable, and so I disregarded the email.

    8/7/2007 3:51 pm | Follow me on Twitter
  9. Diana
    A quick question was the course worth the $1500.00 price tag? I am always leary about spending that kind of money and then getting burned. Would you have purchased the product if the urgency of only 7 copies left was not there?

    8/7/2007 5:02 pm
  10. Justin,

    When I send out broadcast emails to our MVP Club members (our email list), I tend to stay away from the urgency tactic. I join several lists just as you do to see how other marketers try to entice me and when I see the urgency in the subject line, I know they are trying to get my credit card out of my wallet.

    Instead, at out company, we try to use humor a bit more as that tends to relate to our customers much better. Our customers will learn to enjoy reading our emails because they make them laugh and when we have a great offer, our customers will want to open the email because of the relationship we’ve established using humor.

    The emails I read the most are the ones from marketers that I have developed some sort of relationship with, and those who have written me back when I’ve had a question. That really gets someone on my good side…if they have respect for their customers and can be reached easily if I have a question or concern.

    This was a very interesting topic, Justin. Thanks!

    8/7/2007 5:10 pm
  11. Hi Ambrose!

    Yes! It was worth it!

    Would i have purchased if the urgency was not there?

    She didnt come up with that first urgency email. She built up the offer and kept promoting it every week mentioning how many copies were left.

    This the sequence she used:

    Day 1: Weekly newsletter with first time offer
    Day 2: Offer alone
    day 7 Weekly newsletter (told people how many copies were left)
    day 14: Weekly newsletter (told again hwo many copies were left)
    Day 17: Offer alone, how many copies were left

    And then as the copies got shorter, she launched a series of solo emails.

    10 copies left…
    7 copies left…
    3 copies left…

    Now keep in mind this is someone who has built the credibility from day 1. For a year with me! The testimonials were powerful! The credibility was there. She just needed to push me and those offers made the trick.

    Will it work for everyone? I don’t think so. Depends on the product and the market. But just like Avi Rasowsky said. Its the relationship building that works. The clients its used to her humor. People connect to her. Trust and credibility are built there way BEFORE an offer is made.

    Should Avi try using urgency? She won’t know until she tries. Maybe an urgency should push sales or maybe it wont. But we wont know until someone tries it.

    Apologies for my long comment, once again!

    8/8/2007 9:49 am
  12. Hi Everyone,

    It all depends on the relationships senders have built with me and I open all emails coming from some senders no matter if the message seems urgent or not so urgent.

    I feel "urged" more from the content of its message than more from the subject. For example, price is rising in the "next 36 hrs".

    I personally NEVER use punctuations like !, and sales toned subject titled like FREE or Today! in the subjects. Not that I have tested the results of both cases, I just choose not to use certain phrases.

    Now when I send urgent messages out, I keep my writing style the same as other non-urgent ones — I attempt to keep my urgent emotions unattached because I don’t want to come across like I am try to sell too hard.

    I do send a quite few promotional emails out for affiliate products, but my unsubscribe ratio is extremely low so it seems working for me .

    8/8/2007 12:43 pm
  13. It will be tough to respond without this coming across like a pitch… namely because I just released the BuyNowReport where I discussed the same topics.

    In fact, one example I included was of a well established marketer who sent an email telling me his particular offer was being pulled from the shelves.

    About a month later, I received another email from him… not only was the product back on the market but I was being given a discount coupon because I didn’t purchase originally.

    That being said… urgency is important. But it needs to be done right.

    8/8/2007 8:55 pm
  14. This has been an awesome learning experience for me. I would like to thank everyone for their responses. As a fairly new marketer this has given me a definite direction for my email campaigns.

    8/9/2007 7:22 am
  15. From the comments here it seems like the consensus is that urgency is effective if it’s backed by trust… the same appeal to urgency may work quite well for someone who has put in the time and effort to establish credibility with us, but bomb for someone who hasn’t.

    27am,

    The shame is that examples like that just make the rest of us more skeptical as consumers (not that we weren’t skeptical already!) and make it more difficult for those who want to use urgency responsibly.

    8/9/2007 9:01 am | Follow me on Twitter
  16. Justin
    I totally agree with your analysis. What I learned (through everyone’s examples) is that you need to build a relationship with your customer and then urgency will work. So above all.
    BUILD A RELATIONSHIP
    Now perhaps a thread on how to build that relationship?

    8/9/2007 9:33 am
  17. I’ve tried it both ways, and I can’t say I’ve noticed a big difference when offering "urgent" e-mails in past campaigns.

    However, that was with a previous e-mail list company, and I didn’t have the great autoresponder abilities I now have with aweber.

    So, we’ll see how it goes now that we’re able to send out a dozen or so e-mails over time. I’ve also just added a list where I e-mail subscribers an exam question a day for 30 days (we create and sell IT Certification exam computer based training). So we’ll be able to keep in contact with our subscribers daily for 30-days straight, reinforcing the strength of our products.

    I like the idea of using humor as well.. we use it in our actual training, and it’s gotten rave reviews because of it. People like to laugh, and when you make them feel good, they come back for more.

    8/9/2007 11:34 am
  18. Ambrose, please contact me at cdrees@palaestratraining.com

    My company creates and sells an Internet Safety Training series (computer based training) that is designed specifically for parents. There may be an opportunity to partner.

    Also, just an FYI, the link on the last page of your free report appears to be broken (I got a 404 error when clicking on it).

    Thanks (sorry for posting here, didn’t know how else to contact you).

    8/9/2007 11:41 am
  19. Hi Christopher,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with urgency! I certainly hope you see better results (urgency or not) using AWeber.

    Coincidentally, just today an interesting conversation about humor popped up over at Copyblogger – you might want to check it out!

    8/9/2007 12:19 pm | Follow me on Twitter
  20. Over the time I have recognized that the majority of urgent offers I have got, have not been worth my time.

    Many reasons for that. At first in most cases I simply don’t need the advertised product right now or probably won’t need it at all. Unless you are writing reviews about each and every product in the market, there is no need to fall a pray to this marketing technique. A tactic that is abused a lot by the way.

    To become successful in internet business (publisher, vendor, affiliate, blogger, …) you don’t need buy everything. What you really need to do is working! Working, working, … on the business of your own. You have your plan Stick with it. After a short while you have figured out anyway, whose offers are interesting, honest, and fit into your plan. Even with 90% discount, it might be a waste of time and money, if you read about or buy something that you don’t need, now.

    As a buyer I am turned off by this urgency tactic a lot. It does not work with me. Many lists made me unsubscribe that way very quickly. I don’t care about the occasional valuable message that I might miss as a result.

    My email client filters all newsletter that I am subscribed to and I usually open each one of them regardless of the subject line. I recognize the sender. I only keep subscribed to lists that are sending valuable information most of the time. Yes, I have reduced the number of list I receive from, but I think that I have sorted out the crap and get all info I need for now and the future of my business.

    Adios, John

    P.S.: Of course, limited offers have their legitimate place in marketing, but you need to stick with the terms! When it’s over, it’s over. Take the offer offline.

    8/9/2007 5:21 pm
  21. A lot of good comments. In the retail space you definitely need to create urgency sometimes to spur people to action. I did a study in June on subject lines, looking at nearly 2,000 subject lines from emails from 94 major online retailers that were sent during February, March and April (http://retailemail.blogspot.com/2007/06/reportlet-retail-email-subject-line.html).

    I flagged those subject lines with phrases like “today only,” “ends today,” “this weekend only,” “limited time,” “through Sunday” and “last chance.” What I found was that 19% of the subject lines in the study included urgency to help spur the subscriber to action. And more than 72% of retailers used urgency in at least one email sent during the three-month time period.

    In the retail space at least, creating urgency in subject lines is a major tactic.

    8/10/2007 4:30 pm
  22. What an interesting topic and so many excellent replies.

    I have used special offers in my business and have definitely benefited from using them. However I do use them sparingly and make a habit of informing my list the date when the last special offer made to reiterate that I am not in a habit of offering specials on a regular basis.

    As John mentioned, sticking to the terms and taking the offer away after the posted time is essential if you wish to build credibility. I have to say, I personally get annoyed when I see the special offers reappearing within a week or so. I do tend to unsubscribe to a list if I feel that their offers were not genuine but a marketing ploy.

    8/10/2007 5:11 pm
  23. Credibility and respect are paramount in my mind. I personally do not like the "hard sell" and can’t tolerate being "closed".

    But the fact remains that if I don’t market in my newsletters, I don’t eat.

    Creating urgency is one of those approaches that should be handled with care in my estimation.

    For me, I find it effective to mix things up quite a bit in terms of limited time offers. I also make them relevant to what is going on lately in the business and pertinent to the value-added content I provide.

    The "deadlines" I put in place on offers are generally in line with when the next newsletter comes out (and a different offer), so they are logistically credible.

    Most importantly, any "urgency" has to make sense or it will shoot holes in your logic and therefore your credibility. For example, when I see "I’m only releasing 250 copies" of an electronic product, I just laugh.

    8/11/2007 1:27 pm
  24. I just love these guys that make global, vague statements in the subject line. They save me a great deal of time, as it GUARANTEES that I will not open it.

    Examples 1 and 4 would have enticed me enough for a click though.

    In an earlier blog entry you guys covered using first name in the subject line, and in fact recommended against it, and I agree entirely.

    How often do you write to a friend or an associate and place their first name in the subject? Probably never.

    Subject lines are indeed an area of difficulty for me, in particular the verification email subject line. I lose more people there than in all other areas combined.

    8/11/2007 7:22 pm
  25. Thank you Justin Premick

    I fell that How to build urgency is a good in road for a person to us , because it peeks a persons intrest when this is applied. But I also think if it is your intention to get your message open and not ignored, Some people don’t think to make it personal when they have modern tecknowledge, or lack of interest in the person that is to receive there product.

    I think that if a person put their self in to doing quality work and really searching out the best for the custumer the way they veiw your work says alot about the business.

    So this is the best way that I have found to be in a persons mind is to be real and care about how you do what you do and whos business is this that you want .

    8/11/2007 8:58 pm
  26. Discounts are a reasonably silly way to increase urgency. There’s a whole article on how urgency is completely unrelated to price.

    http://www.psychotactics.com/arturg.htm

    8/12/2007 2:11 pm
  27. Chad,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    I agree that retailers are in a unique position that does drive them toward using urgency more (to clear out old inventory to make room for what’s new, for example). And while most of us recognize the nature of the retail industry and have come to accept urgency as common practice within it, I think you’ll agree that the points brought up by our readers regarding credibility are valuable ones for retailers, too – one can definitely abuse urgency to the point where it’s ineffective, and I think retailers are particularly susceptible to that.

    It would be interesting to work with businesses such as the ones from your study and track changes in their response rates as they upped their use of urgency, to see: at what point does urgency stop working?

    8/13/2007 8:39 am | Follow me on Twitter
  28. Scot,

    That’s a good idea for using urgency credibly – if people are used to getting a newsletter from you weekly, and you tell them that an offer is good until the next newsletter, then they know exactly how long they have.

    I wonder if (or to what extent) similarity between offers, especially those that appear in a relatively short period of time (say, 1-4 newsletters apart) might affect response rates? Meaning, if you have a discount or special offer on product X, and then make an offer on a similar product a couple newsletters down the line, will people start to play "hard to get" and wait for the next (possibly better) deal on future products you offer?

    Maria,

    Another quality idea for establishing (or reinforcing) credibility with your offers, along the same line as Scot’s tactic. If you can make an offer distinct from the others your readers are getting (not just from you, but from everyone else, too!) then the urgency will be heightened (after all, it’s not every day this kind of offer comes along!).

    Sean,

    Great thoughts on urgency – I like the PS2 example. And you’re right, it’s not always about discounts (and if you can create urgency other ways, your margins are that much higher :))

    8/13/2007 8:53 am | Follow me on Twitter
  29. I find so many people selling the same products that if you just wait you will get the product at the price you are willing to pay. I follow information products specifically and I agree with Scott about only releasing "250 copies". I even saw one site that advertised they were only going to take 500 subscribers, but you know what once they got close to 500 the number suddenly changed to a 1000. So much for the urgency theory.

    8/13/2007 11:01 am
  30. When I receive these types of email offers, they seem to scream, "desperate!" Who wants to conduct business with a company that is potentially on the fast track to Chapter 13?

    On the other hand, if it is a company I have done business with before and they have an offer that sounds legitimate, not cheesy, I may consider opening it up and taking a peek.

    8/13/2007 7:00 pm
  31. In our testing (and testing that I have done in different ways throughout the past several decades) we find that urgency is created best not through discounts, but through actual limited quantities, special offers that are truly special (not price, but again, a special object, opportunity or service that is only offered at for a limited time or to a limited number of people. The most important aspect for return consumers has always been the reality of the offer. Is it "for real"? If not, we loose the trust of our consumers, and they turn off to not only the offer of the moment but also they lump us with offers that aren’t of the caliber of ours… anyway, we have always found that honesty that makes sure that people understand how this particular offer is different and urgent or special, etc. is the way to build customer trust and indeed urgency when that is the truth.

    8/13/2007 10:30 pm
  32. Just an update. Over half the e-mails I opened today had an urgency to them of one sort or another. You know what I didn’t buy any of it. ha ha

    8/13/2007 11:14 pm
  33. Ed Rushlow

    Thank you! Thank you very much! What an educational experience reading all your comments and replies. I’m a newbie attempting to get started earning an income on the internet. I must admit that I am somewhat perplexed by the variety of offers received in my inbox. However, I am begining to catch on as to which offers are most helpful to me, as opposed to those that are just trying to push material of questionable value.

    I wish I had found this page a couple months ago. I could have saved boucoup bucks.

    Thanks again!

    8/14/2007 4:13 am
  34. Hi Ron Davies,

    You said
    "In an earlier blog entry you guys covered using first name in the subject line, and in fact recommended against it, and I agree entirely."

    Can you please point me to that blog entry?

    8/16/2007 12:40 pm
  35. Hi Arindam,

    I don’t believe we have a post stating that, as far as Justin and I can recall and find in our archives. If we did, I would happily stand corrected.

    What we’d recommend now is that you test and test some more to see what works for your subscribers and your campaign.

    We have heard people in the past state how much disdain they have for pop-ups only to follow saying that despite that, by implementing them they saw drastic increases in sign ups. Sometimes testing is the only way to get objective, empirical results.

    8/16/2007 3:17 pm
  36. I think the consensus seems to be this…

    1.) Build a list and a relationship with your list.
    2.) If you use urgency as a marketing tactic, stick with your commitments.

    I think most are stating that they would tend to respond to urgency if they had respect for the individual that sent the urgent e-mail (someone they trust and know).

    The other key element is to stick to your guns and cut it off when you say you will and make sure that the offer "truly" never happens again.

    I understand that there’s now some software that some folks are using to coincide with this type of marketing that helps to keep your promise of a deadline and never seeing the offer again. I would think, if this software really can do that, that this would be a smart thing to do. Make it dummy proof.

    Like anything, I think it’s all about the "tact", in your "tactics". If you wouldn’t respond to your own marketing, why would they?

    8/16/2007 5:21 pm
  37. Hello Arindam and Marc!

    I remembered from the top of my head that I was reading something about names in the subject line on AWeber. I found a News Headline from two years ago.

    http://www.aweber.com/news/newsletter_statistics_for_best_open_clickthru_and_delivery_rates_1250.htm

    It says 19% of the emails had the first name in the subject line. It also said that the full name in the subject line decreases the open rate. I am not sure, if I was reading this one or another.

    Anyway, I just looked in the folder, where I keep my received newsletters from the internet marketing fellows.

    I scanned about 1000 messages and found that 43% use the first name in the subject line. In almost any case it is the first word. Some use it in each and every message.

    I have the personal feeling that the top guys with salesmanship are the ones that don’t use the first name in the subject frequently or don’t use it at all.

    It’s late and I am too lazy to dig any further.

    8/16/2007 8:10 pm
  38. Hi John,

    I won’t speak for Ron, but that could very well be the article he was referring to. Thanks very much for digging it up.

    My take on these numbers is that using a subscribers first *and* last name produces the reverse of the desired effect in the mind of the subscriber. Instead of feeling like they’re being written to personally, they feel as if they’re being sent a form letter and disregard it like they would form letters they get through snail mail.

    You’ll notice, however, that messages using only a subscriber’s first name in the subject line achieved a very respectable 40.9% open rate.
    Meanwhile, "[n]ewsletters sent without personalization of any type in the subject line generated average open rates of 28.9%."

    There is an art to writing messages… Urgency is a great tool *if its used tastefully and appropriately*. We seem to agree on this.

    Subject line personalization *can be* very effective — as you can see from these numbers — if its done right.

    We use personalization in some of our messages for our campaigns with this in mind.

    8/17/2007 10:07 am
  39. Hi Justin;

    I enjoyed reading the feedback on applying urgency to your subject lines.

    Sure there may be 20% off but is it 20% off the price it was selling for last week or 20% off the 40% inflated price.

    I have found most to be untruthful ploys just to get someone like the person that bought the home study course for $1495.00.

    I really can’t imagine anything about writing a newsletter worth that much money nor can I believe the seller would limit a $1494.00 product to 145 subscribers. I guess I’ve been around too long and seen too many scams to believe that which doesn’t sound right.

    Everyone has been to the sites stating, "to guarantee this price you must purchase before the date below." The date always show the date of today and if you look at the html part of the page you will find a timer that changes the date every night at midnight and if you visit the same site 6 months from now, it will still be saying the same thing, only the date has changed.

    When I get those urgency letters I delete them and most of the time I unsubscribe.

    I guess I’m a little old fashon, I believe in telling the truth even if I don’t make a sale today because sooner or later untruths will catch up with the marketer that thinks a sale is worth lying to get and then where will he/she be?

    You can delete this if you wish but you asked for comments and I thought I’d offer mine.

    8/17/2007 5:43 pm
  40. Hi Delton,

    Your comments are quite welcome here!

    I had an experience this past weekend that I think relates to what you’re saying about never-ending discounts (i.e. when is a sale really over?).

    I went to a retail store to purchase something on Saturday and they claimed they were having a one-day sale… big red tags on products, banners draped from the ceiling, etc.

    Partly because I was curious, and partly because I still didn’t like the price of the product I’d come to look at, I left and then went back Sunday. Voilà! Not only was the product still on sale, but the price had actually decreased further, and I bought it then. Sure, technically it was a different sale (the tags had changed) but from my perspective as a buyer, a sale is a sale no matter how you dress it up — I was just interested in the price.

    The difference between that offline experience and the online equivalent, for me, is the cost associated with coming back later. To run my little experiment, I had to spend my time and fuel to drive to the store twice. That’s a cost with trying to bargain-hunt offline, and for many, that cost will prevent them from finding out that the price went down the next day, and from that urgency backfiring on the retailer.

    Online, those "bargain-hunting costs" decrease significantly. The likelihood of someone holding out longer, shopping around more and finding out about further price drops (post-sale) increases, and the odds of an urgency tactic backfiring on a seller do too.

    8/20/2007 9:27 am | Follow me on Twitter
  41. I think going for such urgency headlines too often can really hurt credibility. You can do it here and there, but have to chose when, why and how often wisely. Telling a price may go up soon for example should also have a price rise implemented in truth. I once used urgency too flat out I think and the unsubscribes triggerd by this mailout had been considerable.

    8/27/2007 6:14 am
  42. I have found that it is very important to stick to your deadlines. If I offer a bonus vacation (and I have), I make sure to discontinue the offer by the deadline I state. This "order now, before I change my mind" nonsense, impresses no one.

    9/19/2007 7:52 pm
  43. Urgency is actually left up to the interpretation of the one receiving the Email. The same goes for visiting a web site.

    If something is news worthy and there’s already a degree of rapport, credibility, and trust developed between you and the person you’re sending your email to; you can get right to the point early on.

    That said, it’s not like you’re putting an irresistible carrot under someone’s nose or doing anything that would indicate they would be foolish to ignore or turn down your offer.

    That would be totally non-professional, and also rude.

    There are legitimate reasons for creating a sense of urgency, and there are those that are simply hype. A good rule of thumb is to know your email audience. Recognize what you already have in common with them and what status your relationship is with them.

    When things are genuinely time sensitive then do your best to give your recipients ample time to review and to make a non-pressured informed decision. Respect them by not sending minute by minute or hour by hour countdowns that pressure them. That just looks like a typical mainstream desperate hard sell tactic.

    Treat people you don’t have a genuine relationship with respectfully and take time to get to know one another and especially their personal wants and needs before you start sharing urgency flavored messages. Unless of course you do have something unique and special that you already have a good idea that they would most likely be interested in based on the type of lead and what they were looking for originally would make sense from their perspective.

    The reason I would read all the emails regardless of the subject lines that I get from AWeber; is simply because there’s a trust factor and it’s clear that AWeber has both or our best interests in mind for a long term mutually beneficial relationship.

    4/22/2008 10:31 am
  44. Just a little input from a semi-impulse buyer.

    This is what I respond to:
    First the product had to be something I am already interested in. I may have signed up for a freebie or to test a product. They email me offering a healthy discount but give me a couple of weeks to think about it (this takes the pressure off and gives me time to ask any questions I may have). I may buy then but may want time to think it over. In my busy life and maze of emails I do need a reminder. I sit on it for a while and then get an email two days before the offer ends and I have the fresh reminder to take action. I know by then if I really want it and either buy or I don’t but often I have.

    So what if my queries are not answered in time? I don’t buy and get rather sceptical about the quality of service if I had. In a word (or five) “They loose me for good”

    I don’t like or respond to repetitive countdowns and usually end up deleting all emails I see from this person before I read them. As for the html web page countdowns – my first response to one of those was “this is dodgy!” To me they shout ‘liar’.

    4/27/2008 6:28 am
  45. Justin -

    What you and I think is an attractive subject line may not coincide with what is actually an effective subject line.

    I’d rather see conclusions drawn from good data and not speculation, opinions and anecdotal evidence.

    I did like your post and found a lot of value here.

    Conclusions from empirical studies would be greatly appreciated.

    12/30/2009 1:12 pm
  46. The subject line has to be appealing to your subscribers.
    It shouldn’t just be the typical subject heading that everyone is used to seeing.
    Urgency certainly helps.
    Like with all things it is a case of trialling what works with your subscribers.
    Good luck everyone in continuing the success of your online endeavours. :O)

    1/1/2010 5:40 am