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Taking a Look at Urgency in Email Design

Posted: October 31st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Taking a Look at Urgency in Email Design

Taking a Look at Urgency Emails

You say its urgent/So urgent, so oh oh urgent – “Urgent” by Foreigner (1981)

Discounting has slowly crept its way into nearly every email you receive from retailers.

If you check you email on Sunday you will find an incredible about of urgency.

Not only are retailers discounting everything they have in stock, they are bringing a sense of urgency to the situation. The classic short-term focus is getting people to make purchases right now even if the customers know that there will be another sale in a few days.

It’s a crazy trend in retail, but it must be working because nearly every retailer (except Amazon) is doing it. People are responding to these urgency emails so there is a reason to take a deeper look at the design and determine what retailers are doing to separate themselves from others with urgency emails.

Eventually it would seem that people would catch on to these urgency emails and if that happens the design would get even more important.

Here are five examples of what retailers are doing with urgency emails.

1. Focus Still on Percent Off for Eddie Bauer

Eddie Bauer Last Day 50% OFF Sale Email Design

Eddie Bauer still keeps things focused on the percent off in this email. Actually, there is a huge background of the fleece, which is kind of interesting. I like that as the viewer of the email you only get a tight shot of the product. That forces you to click through to see the rest of the item. That’s clever.

Otherwise, the “last day” at the top is apparent, but it’s not the main focus of the email. This is an urgent email that doesn’t overdo it too much. The focus is still on the discount and the product.


2. It’s a Limited Time Only Sale at the GapThe Gap 48 Hours Only Sale Email Design

Another trend that’s been creeping into the email world the last few years has been the short-term sale. Think back just a few years and sales would last about a week. Now, sales barely last more than a couple days. This example from Gap is exactly the kind of sale many retailers are running these days. It can be a huge sale over the weekend and the next week you’ll see the same thing.

Expect to see lots of this over the holidays. Every retailer is competing for attention and urgency will play a big role in the inbox wars.


3. LL Bean Ends the Sale on MondayLL Bean Sale Ends Monday Email Design

With these short-term sales in the past you’ve seen them last over the weekend with the sale ending on Sunday night. A new trend the last year or so has been companies ending the sale on Monday instead of Sunday night and that’s what LL Bean did with this email.

It seems like a good move because people are busy over the weekend. When you get them back in the office on Monday you can get their attention.

But there is a downside too. On Monday, people aren’t as emotionally tuned up to make purchases. Also, there is a ton of competition in the inbox on Monday versus Sunday so a retailer will need to be really interesting to win the game on Monday.


4. A Countdown Sale from Old Navy

Old Navy Countdown Email Design

Old Navy has never shied away from a sale. This type of sale has been slowly getting more attention. It’s an interesting concept. First, you give people the biggest discount for the same day sale. You really push that to get people to make the purchase. It’s all about urgency for these emails.

Next, you take away percentage points each of the next two days.

This email can go two ways.

First, people will freak out when the deadline approaches each day and they will make a purchase. That’s the urgency factor. Second, people will realize they can’t get the best discount anymore and they’ll just wait until the next week when Old Navy rolls out the next discount.


5. Now It’s About Inventory

Under Armour Outlet Event Email Design

Here is an interesting twist on the urgency game from Under Armour.

There is a big event going on at Under Armour. They’re kind of promoting a discount event although it’s more of a clearance or outlet event. They could be focusing on clearing out inventory to make sure they’re in a good place going into the holidays.

This is a different kind of promotion for emails. UA is focusing on the fact that the inventory will be running out fast and people need to act before it’s gone.

That’s another use of urgency and it’s effective.


Urgency is a big theme today in retail email.

Look for more companies to use urgency in a variety of ways heading into the fall and holiday season. In order to compete as a retailer you’ll need to focus on people’s emotions and one of those buying emotions is urgency.

Dayne Shuda is a contributing blogger for Fluttermail. He writes about the latest trends in email marketing on the Fluttermail blog. Fluttermail is an email provider for small businesses.

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