5 Ways to Add a Sense of Urgency to Your Emails

urgency emails

The main goal of employing a sense of urgency in your emails is to encourage your recipients to take action. There is a science behind this — psychological studies have shown that a sense of urgency in your emails or on your website can significantly increase sales. There are a number of ways you can add a sense of urgency to your emails, from subject lines to calls to action to countdown timers. Below, I’ll outline five ways you can add a sense of urgency to just about any email.

1. Highlight Scarcity

Convincing your subscribers that an item will sell out if they don’t act quickly is one way to add a sense of urgency to your emails. This works well for new product releases and sale emails. Tap into your subscribers’ FOMO (fear of missing out) by stressing the possibility that they might not get a chance to purchase your coveted products. Here are a few phrases you can use to foster a sense of scarcity:

  • While supplies last
  • Only # left in stock
  • Limited product release (if you don’t expect you will get an item back in stock if you sell out)
  • Items in cart may sell out (for abandoned cart emails)

This practice works well for restock emails, too. If you sold out of a product before, be sure to leverage this fact in your restock emails to encourage subscribers to make the leap to purchase.

2. Put an Expiration Date in the Subject Line

For sale emails especially, including an expiration date along with the discount you’re offering is a great way to add a sense of urgency. By putting a concrete time limit on your deal, you give email recipients a deadline that they should purchase by. This, in turn, makes them feel as though they are procrastinating if they might like to purchase but aren’t acting quickly. There are a few ways you can go about adding a purchase deadline to your emails:

  • Offer ends on MM/DD/YYYY at 12:00 am
  • Offer ends in 48 hours
  • Offer expires in 1 week
  • You have 2 days to redeem this offer

Adding an expiration date to the subject line of your email will impact your open rate, but this date should be reflected in the body of your email, too. Furthermore, you can include expiration dates in your flow emails as well — you may include a coupon code in your welcome series that will expire after 2 days, for example. They key is to give your subscribers a deadline that they must purchase by in order to reap some special benefit from you.

3. Use a Countdown Timer

Including a countdown timer in your emails is a visual counterpart to including an expiration date in the subject line. To learn more about countdown timers and how to create them visit this post, or if you’d like to dive right in and create one, try using this handy tool.

4. Send a Sequence of Emails

For sale emails especially, sending a series of emails in the time leading up to the actual day of the sale creates a sense of build up and urgency. This is similar to a countdown timer in that you are manually counting down to a specific day (the day of the sale) using emails. You don’t want to bombard your subscribers, so make sure you aren’t sending more than three emails in this sequence. To learn more about how many sale emails you should send and when to send them, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Sale Emails post.

5. Leverage Holidays or Changes in Season

This is the “Get this product in time for X” approach. This works well right before the holidays, since many people will likely be trying to fit in some last-minute shopping and would like to make sure they get their items in time.

Depending on the products you sell, you can also use this approach during changes in season. For example, if you sell swimsuits, consider sending an email that says “Summer is coming, get your swimsuit in time for the first beach day!” In this respect, you’re not creating a sense of urgency so much as you are leveraging an existing one.

A Note: Don’t Overdo it

One thing to keep in mind is that you should not push a sense of urgency too far. For example, using all-caps subject lines like “DISCOUNT FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY” could trigger spam filters.


Adding a sense of urgency to your emails is an incredibly effective method of getting your subscribers to act quickly, so you should consider using one or more of these tips if you don’t already. Most of these methods are very versatile and can be used to enhance a number of different types of emails.

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