Sense of scarcity and urgency: the main motive for conversion

motivation for conversion

If I want to stay in a reputable hotel and see on that there is only one room available, I will book faster than if I can still choose from ten rooms. They know that, of course, at the world's most successful booking site, founded by Dutch student Geert-Jan Bruinsma. So they competently respond to my 'sense of scarcity and urgency'. After all, the feeling of scarcity and urgency is an important motive for conversion.

We invest a lot of time and money on the 'cosmetics' of our websites, the design elements and tricks to find out how we can turn viewers into buyers. Marketers and web builders love the so-called AB tests, which have to determine whether a red button works better than a blue one and whether the call to action above the photo provides faster conversion than below it. According to Qubit, a tech company based in London, founded by a few smart people who learned the trade at Google, we can save that effort.

Behavioral therapy or cosmetics? Looking for the motivation for conversion

The English specialist in personalized E-marketing analyzed 6,700 ecommerce business cases. This shows that the cosmetics, the aforementioned design-technical adjustments to your site, only have a very limited influence on your conversion and turnover. The message from London is: prefer to look in behavioral psychology if you want to seduce consumers and use that motivation for conversion from science for your webshop.

And what does behavioral therapy say according to the large-scale analysis? There are three motives that demonstrably increase turnover per visitor: scarcity, urgency and social proof. The drivers 'scarcity' and 'urgency' yield the highest score when it comes to improving conversion. The principle is simple: we want what we cannot or cannot get with difficulty. Scarcity makes greedy and is an important emotion in the Customer Journey, where everything revolves around the psychology of persuasion.

The old familiar 'op is op principle'

To return to the example of when I see that there is only one room available, my finger is hovering over the 'book now' button and I can hardly restrain myself. Even when I see that others are viewing the same room (if that is true, it is a different story), a sense of urgency creeps up on me. This drive for conversion influences my behavior.

This science is applicable to everything, both in the B2B and B2B sphere: the latest airline tickets, fashion offers with a time limit (the meter runs!), A limited stock of exclusive watches. If something is scarce and if all signals appeal to our sense of urgency, we will run faster. It is valuable that analyzes of Ecommerce practice demonstrate this, but at the same time I think: there is nothing new under the sun. The old-fashioned merchant from before our digital age also liked to apply this psychological trick. Who does not know them, advertisements and brochures with screaming texts such as: 'OP IS OP' and 'WHILE THE STOCK LASTS'.

The holy grail in Ecommerce?

We all hate to go wrong, to run after the facts. Take advantage of that. The sense of scarcity and urgency is the most powerful driver for conversion. If you know how to evoke that feeling on your website or in your store, the chance of more turnover is greater than if you continue to experiment with the color of your buttons or the position of your call to action.

The question of what does and does not work in Ecommerce is of course something like searching for the holy grail. Also with the analyzes of Qubit you do not get your hands on the magic cup, but they do provide a valuable source of inspiration. In an almost scientific paper, which you can download for free, you can read about the impact of various Ecommerce experiments: What works in ecommerce.


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