FOMO notifications are small pop-ups or dynamic labels that show when an offer is running out. Displaying this information prompts visitors to make decisions sooner, in order to avoid missing out on a deal. Leading brands like Monsoon, Ebay, and Expedia use carefully-crafted notifications to squeeze more sales from hesitant shoppers. However, a new generation of Social Proof apps make it possible for any website to take advantage of FOMO.
11 Examples of Powerful FOMO Notifications Used by Leading Websites
- What is FOMO?
- How Do FOMO Notifications Work?
- 11 Examples of Powerful FOMO Notifications
- Sales Counter and Pageview Notifications – Argos
- Order Today Special Offer – Vovly
- Page Views/Hour Notification – Ebay
- “One Left” Notification – Booking
- Sale Countdown Top Bar
- Offer Claimed/Remaining Notification – Amazon
- Add-To-Bag Counter – Monsoon
- Free Next-Day Delivery Deadline – Fabandgo
- Exclusive Offer Notification – Expedia
- “Offer Ends” Countdown Bar – AppSumo
- Number of Baskets Notification – BeGlad
- How NOT To Use FOMO In eCommerce
Automated notifications are an important part of FOMO marketing because they display genuine information in real-time. That makes low-stock messages and countdown timers more believable. Using FOMO notifications in the right way can increase your conversion rate and reduce the number of people who abandon their basket.
FOMO, or “Fear of Missing Out” is the feeling of regret and anxiety we experience when we are aware of a missed opportunity. With the growth of Social Media and online shopping, FOMO has become a common experience. See: What is FOMO?
Leading websites use the “Fear of Missing Out” in two main ways:
- To promote a brand. FOMO is a powerful influence on consumer choices, because people use the things they buy to express their identity. When a product becomes very popular (like the 2018-2020 Korean craze for Canada Goose clothing) people buy it in order to fit in.
- To speed up the purchase cycle. FOMO can be used to create deadlines and build urgency. Setting time limits or displaying low-stock notifications encourages customers to complete their purchase faster, in order to avoid missing out.
When used properly, FOMO notifications are a powerful way to promote products and speed up sales. And, because the world of eCommerce is a “winner-takes-all” environment, even small advantages add up over time.
Some web developers code their own notifications. One of the major downsides of this approach is that the data isn’t verified by an outside source. Fortunately, a new generation of Social Proof and FOMO apps provide verified notifications without any coding. These are some of the most popular apps for Shopify stores, and some of the best-reviewed plugins for WordPress/WooCommerce.
In order to display real, up-to-date visitor activity, the app needs a some kind of data feed. Certain types of data are easy to collect (for example, page views and form completions), whilst others require an integration with another app. Once you have customised your messages and set up the data feed, your notifications appear automatically.
Notifications can have very different effects depending on how they are applied. These examples are taken from some of the most profitable websites in the world, showing how powerful FOMO can be when it is used right.
Argos is one of the largest eCommerce platforms in the UK, spending over $10,000 per month maintaining and optimising its website. All the platform’s notifications use the same format (dark blue text on a light blue background), which adds credibility to the real-time FOMO notifications.
In the real world, Argos operates a unique order-and-collect system where the customer must check an item is in stock before they can buy it. These notifications create the same kind of scarcity effect, encouraging customers to complete their order as quickly as possible.
Vovly is one of the fastest growing stores on Shopify, selling vegan and organic beauty products. This Discount Nudge creates positive FOMO, encouraging customers to complete their purchase in order to receive a discount. The “Apply” button is particularly effective because it creates a foot-in-the-door commitment for potential customers.
Alongside the Discount Nudge, Vovly uses Low Stock Nudges to show when an item is nearly sold out. Together, these two FOMO notifications give visitors a strong incentive to make their mind up sooner.
Ebay attracts over 100 million visitors each month, meaning even small increases in sales-per-visitor have a big impact. In 2019, the platform achieved annual revenue of $10.8 billion, thanks to an impressive conversion rate.
This unusual Popularity notification (which shows “3 viewed per hour”) is less concrete than the usual past-tense message. Even so, it creates a strong sense of urgency because it complements the sales counter.
In September 2019, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority issued a fierce rebuke to travel booking sites such as Expedia, Hotels.com and Booking. The websites were accused of showing misleading data, like fake page views and scarcity. Despite the incident, Booking continues to use FOMO and urgency notifications (this time with real data) to encourage earlier bookings.
Real-time sales data has a significant impact on the travel industry, since the capacity of a hotel or a flight is often limited. Because of that, FOMO notifications give travel websites a huge advantage over competitors who don’t use them.
Eightsleep is another leading Shopify store, selling a unique cooling mattress together with add-ons. The countdown timer embedded in the store’s top bar gives customers a reason to complete their purchase quickly.
The luxury mattress market is highly competitive, so sales triggers help to prevent customers from procrastinating and potentially choosing an alternative option.
Amazon has an exceptionally high conversion rate, especially from Prime members. Because Prime is an account-based subscription service, there are clear incentives to make regular purchases. To increase the platform’s average order value, and encourage impulse buys, Amazon provides daily special offers on a dedicated page.
The “Claimed” bar adds a sense of scarcity to the time-limited offer. Together with the use of anchor pricing (the list price) and Social Proof, this is a highly-effective sales widget.
A SaleCycle survey from March 2020 found that cart abandonment rates for fashion stores were around 90.68%. With that in mind, it makes sense to create FOMO with “add to bag” activity. In reality, this notification does not suggest that that the item will sell out soon (it is likely to have been bought once for every 10 times it was added to a bag). However, the metaphor of the shopping bag makes this notification highly persuasive.
Monsoon have previously experimented with a range of alternative FOMO notifications. In 2014, an A/B test involving a low-stock notification on the website’s product pages identified a 10% uplift with the notification.
Fabandgo is built around a unique speed-of-purchase value proposition. Not only does the top bar encourage customers to order before 4pm, but the shopping cart is only reserved for 15 minutes.
The urgency created by the store’s shipping policy is applied from the moment a visitor reaches the home page. One of the standard carousel blocks summarises it like this:
Premium womenswear shop, offering next day shipping if you act fast enough.
Displaying an offer that a visitor can’t choose is a risky strategy. On one hand, it takes up valuable space but, on the other, it adds credibility to low-stock and FOMO notifications. Some booking websites show offers that are no longer available, putting pressure on customers to choose one of the remaining options. Similarly, Expedia displays the availability of reduced prices for site members, to encourage new sign-ups.
Because notifications allow you to display extra information without cluttering up a page or confusing users, they are a helpful way to promote membership offers.
AppSumo is a third-party selling platform for discounted SaaS products. One of the reasons it is so effective is that it makes software products feel like concrete purchases. Most of the listings are for life-long use, rather than monthly subscriptions, and they are presented in the same way that an eCommerce store might display physical items.
Because third-party listings (unlike regular SaaS offers) often have limited availability, FOMO can be used to encourage faster purchases. AppSumo uses a range of labels to show when an offer is ending soon.
BeGlad is another fast-growing Shopify store, using a variety of Social Proof and FOMO notifications to convert more visitors into customers. Like Monsoon, BeGlad displays the number of items that have been added to a visitors’ basket. Unlike Monsoon, this notification displays an image of the item, increasing the potential for cross-selling.
Placing this kind of notification on the right pages allows BeGlad to highlight extras for customers to include in their order. That means it increases order values as well as conversions.
One month after the CMA warned travel websites against using misleading data to encourage sales, a flight booking website called OneTravel was discovered doing exactly that. A visitor inspected the code for one of the website’s offer pages and found that random-numbers were being used to create notifications. The screenshot was uploaded and has since been shared on Twitter over 5000 times.
Like other forms of Social Proof notification, FOMO relies on credibility. Because of that, using fake data is entirely self-defeating.
Similarly, any deadlines or stock limits you set should be real and organic; customers will quickly realise if you’re using arbitrary deadlines to create artificial sales pressure.
One problem with showing product scarcity is that customers might think the item is being discontinued due to a lack of demand. Or, for items that are ordered in bulk, customers may assume that there is not enough remaining for a full bulk order.
The management specialist Christopher Tang highlighted these issues in a recent study on the use of scarcity messages across different industries and product categories. However, rather than avoiding FOMO notifications, Tang suggests using additional notifications to neutralise these effects. Displaying customer reviews and ratings alongside your low-stock notifications ensures that customers want the items that are running out.