You are not immune to FOMO.
Whether it’s your friend posting a photo of themselves at the beach without you, or someone talking about a great movie you haven’t seen, missing out on things can make you feel bad. And that’s exactly what FOMO is: the fear of missing out.
I’m not here to talk about movies or beach days, but how you can leverage this feeling in your email marketing campaigns.
The sense of urgency we feel when we see a limited-time discount or a limited-edition product can easily push us to make a purchase we may not otherwise have considered.
This only increases when we’re told that this is our last chance to buy. Who wants to live with the regret of passing up a great deal or seeing other people with a product that’s no longer available?
One of the most effective ways you can increase your sales with scarcity marketing is through your emails. And it all comes down to crafting the perfect, urgency-generating, FOMO-inducing subject line.
It’s time to go beyond the generic “Last chance” and “Don’t miss out” lines and try out some that are a little more creative and persuasive.
Fortunately, there are a few e-commerce brands that already have this technique down to an art. I’ve collected seven of the best last chance subject line examples and analyzed exactly why they work so well so that you can use them as inspiration for your own campaigns.
Table of Contents
1. Fat Face
Think how many times the following has happened to you: You see an email in your inbox with a subject line telling you to check out a sale or an offer, but it’s pretty vague.
So you think, “Yeah, sure, I’ll take a look later…” Later never happens and you forget about the whole thing in 30 seconds.
This is what happens to emails that don’t specify how limited their limited-time deals are. Numbers are crucial for helping us understand and act on urgency by lending credibility to a claim.
Take this example from Fat Face:
At a glance, this subject line tells their subscribers that they have exactly two hours, and nothing more, to act and take advantage of the company’s time-limited offer. There’s no putting it off until that unspecified “later” time, it’s the next two hours or never.
This technique is effective with longer, but specific deadlines too, like “12 hours” or “one day”. It may even work to your advantage to send slightly earlier reminders, given that not all of your potential customers may have the time to shop at that moment, but are still drawn in by the urgency of your subject line.
2. Nasty Gal
In a similar vein of specificity to Fat Face, this subject line from Nasty Gal gives you a clear-cut deadline to act on its deal:
Rather than give their subscribers a length of time to make a purchase, the company tells them exactly when the sale will end. The urgency creates FOMO, which makes them more likely to buy.
The other reason why I love this subject line is that it truly channels the feeling of FOMO. The regret you may feel if you don’t act by midnight and miss out on Nasty Gal’s offer might leave you saying “Damn”.
This subject line works particularly well for Nasty Gal because the company often makes a point of being informal and edgy. They let their potential customers know that this is their last chance to buy in a way that fits perfectly with their brand voice and conveys the FOMO vibe in style.
It’s impossible to fit everything you want to say to your subscribers into one short, catchy subject line.
If you can’t let them know when your sale is ending, which products are on sale, and anything else that might get them to click through to your email, why even try?
What if you didn’t? Instead of going the maximalist route, try a little minimalism instead.
Leaving some mystery in your subject lines creates an information gap—the disconnect or “gap” between what we know and what we want to know. This leads to curiosity since we want to find out what information we’re missing out on and close that gap.
A good example of this in action is this subject line from Firebox:
This subject line definitely hits home the urgency of Firebox’s sale, but not with numbers. Instead, it stirs up a huge amount of curiosity about the sale and what subscribers are about to miss out on.
What exactly is about to be “gone”? When exactly is it “going”? The only way to find out is to open the email. That’s why it’s so important that, if you use this technique for yourself, you answer the questions you’ve created in your email body. No one wants to be left hanging.
Maybe you’re fed up of hearing me talk about it at this point, but if you’re not personalizing at least some of your marketing emails by now, you probably should be.
Putting your subscriber’s name in the subject line is an immediate eye-catcher, and the data proves it. Personalized emails have 29 percent higher open rates and an amazing 41 percent higher click-through rate than their generic counterparts.
So what happens when you pair the power of personalization with urgency? Just take a look at this example by Brooklinen:
The answer is that you create something unstoppable. Having her name in the subject line instantly makes Rikke more likely to open this email, and that response is only multiplied by the mystery that the rest of this subject line creates.
The song reference is a nice touch but, in reality, it’s the information gap that is the driving force of this one. And Brooklinen knows it—that’s why they added the ellipsis to the end of the subject line. You just can’t resist clicking.
5. Tuft & Needle
While leveraging fear-based marketing techniques in your subject lines won’t likely cause your subscribers any real distress, perhaps you want to take a slightly different, more reassuring approach in how you let them know about their last chance to buy.
With this subject line, Tuft & Needle buoy their subscribers’ hopes of snagging a great deal by letting them know that’s still some time left on their offer:
When you read this, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You thought you missed the sale and had resigned yourself to the fact that you wouldn’t buy something from them after all. But you can relax—there’s still time.
This kind of subject line indicates to your subscribers that you’re on their side. It’s a friendly reminder that uses urgency in good faith without any kind of guilt or regret creeping in.
It may not be as immediately powerful or attention-grabbing as the other examples in this list, but it maintains the all-important positive relationship between your brand and your potential customers.
I can’t believe that I’ve come this far in this article without mentioning the most organic and, arguably, easiest way to keep your last chance subject lines from sounding generic: Add your brand’s personality to your copy.
BarkBox does a great job of this:
This subject line is fun and cheeky without being too obscene, making BarkBox seem friendly and trustworthy as a brand.
The company follows its emoji by telling you that your dog, not you, is about to miss out on an amazing six free toys. Just imagine the FOMO that a dog could feel from that. Heartbreaking.
This entire subject line is playing on the emotions of BarkBox’s subscribers. If your subject line reads as though it was written by a real person, with real people behind your brand, your subscribers will notice and feel more emotionally connected.
If your brand voice isn’t as cheeky or informal, you don’t have to start now, especially if you don’t think your subscribers would appreciate that. The key is to feel genuine, whatever that looks like to you.
This might come as a surprise, given the previous example, but this subject line may be my most controversial pick in this post.
AYR’s last chance subject line is incredibly short and sweet:
So, let me tell you why I included this one in my top picks. Its simplicity is exactly what makes it stand out from the sea of marketing emails in a crowded inbox.
Remember that information gap I mentioned earlier? AYR takes this technique into overdrive by using one simple but very ambiguous word.
Are they saying goodbye, or am I? What are we saying goodbye to? When is it happening? I have to find out, which means that I have to click through to the email.
Of course, this could very easily backfire on AYR. There’s no specificity, no personalization, or mention of products. There’s not even that much urgency in this subject line. Yet, I still believe that it works as an eye-catching way to let subscribers know that something, be it a limited-time offer or a product, is going away very soon.
If you like this idea, just be sure to use it sparingly. You can’t keep your subscribers in the dark with mystery and intrigue all the time—they’ll most likely just get bored and move on.
All of these last chance subject line examples and the techniques they apply are based on the psychology of the subscribers reading them.
The trick is to capture subscribers’ attention, make your offers sound irresistible, and get people to click. Easy, right?
However, the key is to keep experimenting. Use these as jumping-off points and find what works for your brand.
As long as you’re genuine with how you use urgency and FOMO in your email marketing, you can’t go far wrong.