Engage Web logo - horizontal-resized



Why should you use deadlines?


Why should you use deadlines?

To some, the word might create a feeling of dread, and for others who thrive on time pressure, anticipation. Whether good or bad, and in whatever context – be that an exam, work presentation, application form or product discount – deadlines create a sense of urgency within us.

One of the most powerful triggers in a human’s psychology is urgency, according to behavioural psychologists. This is because urgency plays on our inherent fear of missing out, or, as it is known in the modern digital age, FOMO. FOMO triggers a form of social anxiety that makes us think we aren’t experiencing something exciting, fun or valuable that others are. It’s a term that’s been coined with the rise of social media, and FOMO can be used when advertising a product or service to try and drive sales. How? By using deadlines to generate urgency.

Urgency = incentive

By providing a sense of urgency, you provide the customer with an incentive to buy immediately, else they miss out, be that on a deal, discount or on stock itself. This links into the Buyer’s Journey, which comes in three stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision.

Once a customer comes across your product, they pass the Awareness stage and move into the Consideration stage, whether they will deliberate on whether they need your product. With no time-sensitive incentive to purchase straight away, a customer is more likely to stay in the Consideration stage. I know that I’ve been guilty of this myself – browsing through clothes websites, saving a few items to my shopping bag, and then deciding at the end to leave it and return to the clothes at a later date to ensure I really like them and want them. This is what I tell myself anyway, to avoid facing the fact I’ve spent two hours online shopping for no reason.

A study by Barilliance uncovered that in 2019, the online shopping cart abandonment rate in the UK was 76.01%. That means less than a quarter of customers who put a product into their cart actually followed through with the purchase – in other words, a lot of missed out sales and revenue.

Using deadlines is one way you can try to combat cart abandonment and encourage customers to follow through with a purchase. Let’s return to me clothes shopping, and say I was looking at a dress, and a message popped up saying “only two remaining – buy now!” I would feel a sense of urgency – if I don’t buy the dress now, it will go out of stock and I’ll miss out.

This could also apply to a discount message, such as “50% off all dresses for 24 hours!” If I don’t buy today, I’ll miss out on the discount and will have to pay full price. These two examples try (and most of the time, succeed) in fast-tracking me from the Consideration stage of the Buyer’s Journey to the Decision stage: I need the product now. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I have definitely been a sucker for these sneaky urgency tactics in the past, and I’m sure you have too.

Short and snappy

Deadlines can be used in all forms of advertising. They can feature on your product’s page on your website, your social media ads and in your marketing emails. They can even be used as a pop-up box on your website to really hit the customer with the time urgency. The key to effectively using deadlines is in the wording.

Not so long ago I wrote about calls to action (CTAs). CTAs and deadlines go hand in hand, and are commonly used together. As with CTAs, when writing about deadlines, you should aim for short, snappy and attention-grabbing content. Some common examples include:





In all of these examples, the incentive is clear, as is the sense of urgency. A customer who comes across such a message will feel more compelled to buy and not miss out on the offer, savings or discount.

These examples are also all in capitals. This is a common technique used to increase urgency and emphasise the exciting aspect of the deal, playing into the FOMO of customers. You should consider the tone and the appropriability for your particular product or service, however. For example, if you’re a funeral director and running a discount on your services, using exciting caps and exclamations probably isn’t the best tone to use.

To summarise, deadlines create a sense of urgency and FOMO, which in return results in increased conversion levels. A diverse persuasive tool that can be used across all advertising channels, it’s time-tested and proven to drive success. If you need help in creating persuasive content to drive your sales, get in touch with Engage Web today.

Emily Jones

Get in touch

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Book a consultation with Engage Web

Sorry to interrupt, but would you like to download our FREE Social Media Calendars?

Social Media Calendar Product Mock Up for web

 You can use them to plan your social media and content in advance, saving you time and getting better results. When you use our social media calendars, you'll always know what's trending and what to post about for your business.