July 9, 2019

9 Clever Ways to Use FOMO Marketing to Boost Your Ecommerce Sales

How many times have you followed a crowd or line of people somewhere because you just assumed that they were leading you in the right direction?

I know I have.

Thanks to the herd mentality — which is the human tendency to do something simply because other people are doing it — this type of behavior is quite common.

It helps explain why fads like yoga, meditation, high-waisted jeans, and the paleo diet have become so popular in recent years. It’s why nobody wants to eat at an empty restaurant and everybody wants to eat at the restaurant where there’s a line out the door.

People have a natural fear of missing out (FOMO) on what others are experiencing. FOMO is nothing new, but it has certainly intensified with the rise of social media, especially amongst millennials. One study found that almost 7 in 10 millennials experience FOMO.

As an ecommerce marketer, you can use FOMO to your advantage.

So without further ado, here are 9 ways that you can use FOMO marketing to boost the sales of your ecommerce store.

FOMO Marketing Tip #1: Show Real-Time Activity

Showing real-time activity on your site is one simple but powerful way of inciting FOMO. Take a look at how Expedia does it here:

Fomo Marketing Strategy Show Real-Time Activity

Looking at that page, it’s almost impossible not to feel some sort of urgency to book. Wouldn’t you agree?

When it comes to your ecommerce store, you could show real-time activity via the FOMO app, which integrates with a variety of platforms, including Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento. The FOMO plugin tells your shoppers what other people are buying, where they are purchasing it from, and when they are buying it. And the best part? It takes almost no work on your end to do. All you have to do is implement and monitor it.

FOMO Marketing Tip #2: Mention Missed Opportunities

You know when you place an order at a restaurant and then the server informs you, “Oh sorry, we’re all out of that today”? If you’re anything like me, suddenly that dish becomes even more appetizing. Knowing that you can’t have it makes you want it even more.

Am I right?

For that reason, mentioning missed opportunities can be a very effective way of increasing shopper FOMO.

Tell your visitors about all the sold-out products that they’re missing out on. Except, rather than having them arrive on the individual product page and then find out that the product is out of stock, tell them which products are sold out on the main category page, like Chubbies does:

Fomo Marketing Sold Out Notifications

And instead of turning your shoppers away with a simple “Out of Stock” or “Sold Out” message, you could encourage them to leave their email address and then notify them when the product is back in stock. At the very least, you could refer them to similar products that they might be interested in.

FOMO Marketing Tip #3: Offer Limited-Time Products

The pumpkin spice latte is one of the most popular drinks at Starbucks — but it’s only available during the holiday season. Without a doubt, part of the reason why this beverage is so popular is because it’s only available a few months out of the year.

Not convinced? Research has actually shown that when a product is scarce or limited in supply, it becomes more desirable.

Take a page out of Starbucks’ book and offer seasonal products or products that are only for sale during certain periods of the month or year. The ecommerce watch store, The 5th, sells a selection of watches that are only available on the fifth of each month — hence the name of the store. They even have a countdown on their homepage that counts down the time until the watches will become available.

Fomo Marketing with Limited Products

Speaking of which…

FOMO Marketing Tip #4: Have a Countdown

At one time, I was a pretty fanatical eBay shopper but I would never purchase items via the “Buy it Now” option. Instead, I would bid on products.

I preferred bidding because I felt more in control of the price and I felt like there was a greater opportunity to snag a good deal.

I’ll admit that a part of me also enjoyed the thrill that I got out of bidding. I mean, how can you not? eBay makes shopping exciting; the countdown timer and the very act of competing with other buyers ignite a feeling of urgency.

eBay is proof that when used sparingly, countdown timers can prove very effective in getting people to make a purchase. But you don’t have to have a bidding website like eBay to take advantage of timers. You could, for example, create limited promotions or offers and hold a countdown until that offer is no longer valid.

Or follow in Amazon’s footsteps and remind your visitors when they need to order by in order to be eligible for one-day shipping:

Fomo Marketing Coutdown TImer

FOMO Marketing Tip #5: Offer Limited-Quantity Products

Both limited-time products and limited-quantity products create a feeling of urgency but limited-quantity products rely more on the scarcity principle, which is the idea that the more scarce something is in supply, the more desirable it becomes.

Here’s an example: Several years ago, the author and marketer, Seth Godin, published a book — but not just any book — this book had only 2,400 copies available for purchase. And it came with a not-so-modest price tag of $400.

But Godin recognized that it was a lot to spend on a book; so he wrote a blog post, titled “Could a book be worth $400?” which addressed and countered any hesitations people might have about buying it (like the price).

In the end, Godin sold every single one of the copies.

The lesson learned here? When it comes to your ecommerce store, try selling some products in limited amounts. If the product has a high price tag, then justify that price to your customers like Seth Godin did, and tell your customers how your product is unique and will add value to their lives.

FOMO Marketing Tip #6: Display Stock Levels

About to sell out of a certain product? Tell your customers about it! But don’t be vague about it. Some stores state things like, “Only a few left in stock!” to get those FOMO feelings bubbling.

If you share your stock levels with your visitors, then you should be as specific as possible. Your customers aren’t stupid, they know that “only a few left” doesn’t mean much of anything (especially if you say this all the time). Either state the exact number of items left or don’t mention anything about it at all.

Also, note the advantage of showing the product sizes and colors upfront (as opposed to making users hunt for them via a dropdown menu). This way, if your shoppers see that certain sizes or colors are sold out, they’ll be more inclined to purchase one of the items that are remaining.

FOMO Marketing Tip #7: Show User-Generated Content

There’s no denying the power of social proof: Studies have found that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend.

User-generated content harnesses the power of social proof by letting your customers create and post content that’s related to your brand. And that’s exactly how the beauty and skincare company, Glossier, got started. From the very beginning, the brand has encouraged its customers to post pictures with their products to Instagram.

For example, one of their brand hashtags is #nofilterjustglossier. Then the top Instagram photos using that hashtag are featured in Glossier’s newsletter.

But it doesn’t stop there. On the main homepage of the website, several customers share how Glossier products fit into their everyday routines:

User Generated Content for Fomo Marketing

Even if you don’t have a super large following like Glossier does, there are still things that you can do to get user-generated content. For example, you could start a hashtag campaign, where you create a unique hashtag that’s related to your brand, then use that hashtag in your posts and encourage your fans to follow suit.

Alternatively, you could hold a contest or giveaway, whereby customers who post a photo with your product will have the chance to win one of your products.

To increase the likelihood of your customers posting pictures with your products, it’s probably a good idea to invest in some beautiful, thoughtful, and photo-worthy packaging. You could also personalize your orders with pack-ins, like handwritten thank-you cards or discount coupons, to stand out.

Need a little help creating and implementing a user-generated content campaign? eScale, an ecommerce marketing, and web design agency, offers a variety of ecommerce marketing services that can help you with this.

FOMO Marketing Tip #8: Rush Your Shoppers to Checkout

Imagine this: You’re shopping online, add a few items to your cart, and then suddenly receive this pop-up notification:

Fomo Marketing Tactic Rush Shoppers to Checkout

How would you feel?

Now, I work in marketing, I know that this is just a marketing ploy, and somehow I still get a little stressed seeing messages like that. So I can only imagine how the typical buyer feels.

Just one word of caution here: While these sorts of pop-up notifications can be an effective way to get people to buy immediately, rushing people to checkout will possibly come at the cost of a lower average order value.

FOMO Marketing Tip #9: Showcase Your Popular Items

Whenever I’m at a restaurant and not sure what I want to eat, I ask the server what the most popular items on the menu are. After all, if those dishes are popular, then they must be good, right?

Again, this goes back to the herd mentality: People want to have what everyone else wants (or has). To that end, tell your shoppers what your other customers are interested in. You could, for example, put a “best-seller” tag next to your highly desired items, like the clothing company, Forever 21, does:

Fomo Marketing Showcase Popular Items

What about those items that sold out and are now back in stock? Tell your customers about that too!


FOMO is nothing new, but the feeling has only intensified with the rise of social media. If you take advantage of FOMO marketing in your ecommerce marketing strategy, you’ll be in a much better position to attract buyers and increase your sales.

To recap, here are 9 ways that you can use FOMO marketing to boost your ecommerce sales:

  1. Show real-time activity
  2. Mention missed opportunities
  3. Offer limited-time products
  4. Have a countdown
  5. Offer limited-quantity products
  6. Display stock levels
  7. Show user-generated content
  8. Rush your shoppers to checkout
  9. Showcase your popular items

Just don’t use all of these tactics too much or you run the risk of diluting their effects and losing your customers’ trust. Like with everything else in life, moderation is key.

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