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Create a Sense of Urgency by Presenting Real-Time Notifications of Shoppers’ Activity on Your Site

Why should you create a sense of urgency?

Urgency is the sense of a pressing, high priority matter that requires a quick action. The sense of urgency is extremely effective in shifting customers’ decisions towards making a purchase.

Why? Let’s return for a moment to our behavioral decision making class in university…

Dual Process Theory of the Mind

This is one of the most well-known theories, in which customers are are described to have two different systems of thinking.

System 1 utilizes intuition, impulsiveness, and emotion and makes decisions in an automatic, effortless and fast manner. On the other hand system 2 utilizes reasoning, analysis and logic and makes decisions in a controlled, deliberate, effortful and slow manner.

While we often use a combination of the systems, system 2 is dominant when we make high-cost, big decisions. 

However, when urgency is prevalent, our minds shift and we predominantly use system 1 rather than system 2. Our cognitive efforts drop and our immediate, impulsive thinking takes charge.

Therefore, when urgency takes place we take action quickly – an action we may have not made if urgency was not a part of the equation.

Fogg’s Behavioral Model

This model also helps in understanding why urgency induces purchases. The model defines three things that must take place for a target behavior (making a purchase) to occur.

The first is high motivation, the second is high ability and the third is a trigger (a push to purchase the item). There are three types of triggers – facilitator, which shows the customer what to do, signal, which shows the customer how to proceed, and spark, which encourages and entices a purchase. 

Urgency is a type of a spark trigger as it pushes the customer into making the target behavior.

To read more about the model as well as about strategies to increase customers’ motivations and abilities, refer to the cart abandonment prevention guide.

When we desire an item, although we have the motivation and ability to purchase it, we may still hesitate and may not make a purchase. Once we feel the sense of urgency, we use system 1 to make an automatic, fast decision and we are stimulated by the spark trigger to make the ‘target behavior’.

As a result, when we sense urgency we often do make a purchase and do so quickly.


How do the shoppers’ activity notifications induce urgency?

The real-time notifications present information that create a sense of urgency. This information can be about competition (other shoppers), scarcity of items (low inventory) or time-sensitivity. In this article we are focusing on competition.

Being aware that others are viewing or buying the same product, creates a sense of urgency as the customer becomes aware that she is not in an isolated environment rather she has ‘competition’ over the item.

This leads customers to make quick purchasing decisions, thereby increasing conversion rates.

Examples of notifications:

– “X people are looking at this product right now”
– “X shoppers have this item in their shopping cart”
– “The last purchase of this product was from NYC 12 minutes ago”
– “This product is the number two best seller in the category”


So how effective are the notifications, really?

If you combine notifications of shoppers’ activity with notifications of scarcity of items, the sense of urgency intensifies. Furthermore, the notifications also increase conversions by providing transparency and social proof, which raise confidence that the company and product are of high value.

Ultimately, according to Barilliance’s Co-Founder, Nir Ben-Dor, in just 6 months of implementing these notifications, sites experienced an increase in their conversion rates.

Implementing real-time notifications

Start utilizing this technique and implement such strategy with Barilliance’s Live! software, which allows you to create dynamic, personalized and customized real-time notifications. The software includes an automatic conversion optimization tested against a control group, to present the optimal messages to each customer. Read more to learn about the feature and how it creates social proof.

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