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The Psychology of Urgency: How to Create It, Fuel It, and Profit From It


Picture this. You’ve been shopping online for a couch for weeks and you finally find the perfect one. You immediately add the couch to your cart only to find the words “Act now! Only 2 left!” alongside your dream sofa. So what do you do next? Do you turn off your computer and walk away, or do you frantically enter in your credit card number and click “Place Order” before someone else beats you to the punch? Chances are, you snatched that puppy right up without hesitation.

There’s a psychological reason behind why we do what we do in situations such as this. It’s a key feature of the human brain and it’s called urgency. Urgency one of the most powerful forces of human brain because it prompts us to make decisions and to act quickly. So why does urgency matter when it comes to digital marketing?

The answer is simple. Marketers and business owners who create a strong sense of urgency on their website and landing pages prompt their customers to take action. Websites that implement smart strategies relating to the psychology of urgency tend to have conversion rates that speak for themselves. There are several simple ways that marketers can prompt and accelerate their customers decision-making process. Keep reading to find out how.

3 Ways to Create a Sense of Urgency for Your Customers

To demonstrate how you can easily create a sense of urgency for your customers, let’s use the couch example again. Meet my dream couch, found on the discount furniture and home decor website, Joss & Main.

After my recent shopping experience on the Joss & Main website, I can confidently say they’ve mastered the art of urgency by utilizing principles of scarcity, a ticking clock or deadline, and the smart use of time-related words.

1. Make Your Product Scarce

We all want what we we can’t have, right? This is due to the principle of scarcity. When a customer thinks that something is about to run out, it makes them want it more. This feeling of scarcity is something you can easily create by limiting the amount of products available.

Using the example of Joss & Main, they not only inform their customers of their limited product quantities, they also keep images of “sold out” products on their website.

This is their polite way of saying, “Hey! If you find something you like, you better act fast or it will sell out too!” They even take this one step further by placing a deadline on the amount of time you have to take action. Speaking of which…

2. Create a Deadline

Tick, tock. Tick, tock! A timer on any website creates a sense of urgency in it’s visitors. The truth is, nothing makes someone feel more pressured to act than a limited timeframe. If you remind your customers that time is passing and the clock is ticking, it will likely spur them to act.

Joss and Main executes this principle by limiting the amount of time you have to purchase every item on their website. They remind their customers of this by placing a countdown on every product and event page on their website. They even go so far to remind you of how many more days you have of free shipping.
Essentially, the principle of urgency has everything to do with time. Not only do timers raise customer anxiety and desperation, they’re particularly powerful because they are specific. Compared to vague statements like “limited time offer,” countdowns specify a firm timeframe for taking action.

In the case of Joss & Main, they take their deadlines very seriously. When I checked back on my “dream couch” the next day, it was no longer available.

It’s a good thing I did exactly what they told me to and ordered the dang couch immediately after finding it, which brings me to the next point…

3. Use Time-Related Words

You may have noticed the frequent use of time-related words throughout this case study such as, “Today” or “Shop Now!”

This is because time-related words cause us to think urgently and make us more likely to take action. Despite the fact that is was 2 AM when I found my dream couch, I was still so convinced that I just had to have it. Urgency is a real thing.

Some other examples of time-related trigger words include:


Now pair those words up with words like “eventually” and “later” and see how they perform… Our point exactly!


One essential characteristic of a successful marketer is an understanding of how and why customers think and act the way that they do. One key psychology principle that ties into marketing is urgency. Incorporating principles of scarcity, a ticking clock, and the use of time-related words will create and fuel a sense of urgency that your customers simply can’t refuse.

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