How to Use Social Proof & FOMO Marketing for Monster Growth

Adding social proof and FOMO can increase your conversion rate. That’s why big brands like Amazon, WordPress, Mailchimp, and just about every other company, use social proof on their sites. In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to use social proof and FOMO to increase your conversions.

Table of Contents

What Is Social Proof?

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior.

What Is FOMO?

FOMO or “fear of missing out” is a type of social proof that acts as a psychological trigger humans can’t help responding to. It’s messaging that triggers your audience’s innate fear of missing out on something great in order to make them more likely to take action.

Marketers use social proof and FOMO as tactics for conversion rate optimization. Social proof works by easing the minds of worried customers while FOMO creates a sense of urgency.

Social Proof and FOMO in Marketing

There’s no denying the power of social proof. Studies show 92% of online consumers look at a product review prior to making a purchase.

More telling is the fact that product reviews are 12-times more trusted than product descriptions and sales copy from manufacturers.

In other words, consumers want proof from their peers and unbiased 3rd parties—not the brands selling the products.

social proof statistics

The best way to understand social proof is by looking at some real-life social proof examples that you encounter on a daily basis:

  • Restaurants often have limited space in reception areas so that people waiting for a table will be forced to wait outside. This shows people passing by that the restaurant is in high demand. As a result, a passerby is more likely to visit the restaurant in the future.
  • Stores will often post pictures of celebrities who have shopped on the premises in order to subconsciously tell customers that high authority figures approve of their products and services.
  • Country clubs often require people to join a waitlist in order to obtain memberships. While waitlists are sometimes needed to prevent too many members from joining, the reality is that they’re frequently implemented to make clubs seem more exclusive.

FOMO marketing campaigns are also wildly effective, especially with certain demographics.

A lot of data suggests that FOMO is most prevalent among millennials. Around 69% of millennials experience the phenomenon, and according to Strategy Online, 60% of millennials make reactive purchases because of FOMO. In other words, they’ll buy something just because they feel they might miss out.

However, it’s not just millennials who suffer from FOMO. According to other data, more than half of people using social networks suffer from FOMO.

fomo statistics

With more than 3 billion active social media users worldwide, according to We are Social, that’s a huge potential audience.

The bottom line: it’s essential to learn how to use FOMO in marketing, no matter what age group or location you’re targeting.

Social proof and FOMO marketing are all around you. And while you’re often subject to these tactics as a customer, it’s so important to use them on your own website. When used effectively, social proof and FOMO can drastically and swiftly improve online conversions.

Still not sure how these marketing tactics can help your business? Let’s take a look at the types of social proof and their benefits.

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Sources of Social Proof

There are 5 major sources of social proof. Start by leveraging the sources you already have, and then work to acquire more.

where does social proof come from

  1. Social proof from customers and users
  2. Social proof from friends and family
  3. Social proof from crowds
  4. Social proof from celebrities and influencers
  5. Social proof from experts
  6. Social proof from certifications and education

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Benefits of Social Proof

Overall, social proof benefits your business by showing visitors that other people trust you and your product. Here are some examples of the way you benefit from social proof.

Proof From Real People

Reviews and testimonials from people using your product are probably the best social proof you could have. This type of social proof shows that real people are using your brand and sharing their real opinions on the quality of your products.

Proof From Experts and Influencers

Getting endorsements from respected experts and influencers in your industry goes a long way to lend credibility to your brand.

Proof From Crowds

When you can show off support for your brand in large numbers, it makes your brand a whole lot more trustworthy. Plus, proof from crowds plays into FOMO quite nicely. You can use social proof from crowds to say, “everyone else is doing it, so why not you?”

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How to Use Social Proof in Your Marketing

The question isn’t whether or not social proof will help you increase conversions, but rather which social proof strategies will you use?

1. Customers & Users

Customers and users are the best sources of social proof. As we mentioned earlier, social proof from real people sharing real opinions is hard-hitting with potential customers.

What’s really awesome is that there are TONS of ways to get social proof from customers and users:

Ratings and Reviews

Did you know that product ratings and reviews can increase conversions by 270%?

You should absolutely be using ratings and reviews to increase conversions on your product pages, especially if you have an eCommerce store.

reviews

Case Studies

While more formal in nature, case studies are often used to provide high authority social proof. Also referred to as longform social proof, case studies leverage the idea that customers perceive long, in-depth reviews as being more reputable than brief excerpts.

At OptinMonster, we have a dedicated Case Studies section where we highlight the success stories of our customers.

Yoast OptinMonster Case Study

Shopify, a popular eCommerce software on the web, highlights their customer success stories as longform case studies.

Shopify Customer Success Stories

User-generated Content

User-generated content is a great way to use FOMO tactics by letting your users help. Using user-generated content (UGC) lets visitors and potential customers vicariously share in the experience of using your products and services, so they want to do it too.

After all, real proof from real people is going to be much more compelling than any of your FOMO advertising campaigns.

Here’s an example of UGC from Wayfair, under the #wayfairathome social media hashtag.

wayfair uses ugc as a fomo marketing tactic

Customer Showcase

People love to be featured, so why not feature your happy customers as social proof? With a customer showcase, you can show off your customer’s creations, styles, or whatever they have been able to create or do as the result of your product.

For example, Modcloth has a style gallery where they allow customers to post photos of themselves wearing the products.

modcloth style gallery

This is even more powerful than hiring professional models. After all, their clothes make real customers look this great, so surely they’ll look great on any visitor who happens by!

Customer Base

One extremely pervasive and effective social proof strategy is the use of client logos to prove positive adoption.

By showing users your existing customer base, you’re essentially telling them that your product offering is good enough for these successful companies to use—it must be good enough for them, too!

Basecamp did a great job of this by showing the number of companies that signed up last week along with the big companies that are using their platform.

Basecamp Stats

Now that they’re even more popular, Basecamp has moved to a sleek chart that shows how they’ve grown:

basecamp social proof

SendGrid, a popular email marketing service, displays the logos of their customers towards the footer of their home page with a link that visitors can click to learn more about SendGrid’s customers.

sendgrid social proof example

When you click the link, you’re taken to an entire page devoted to SendGrid’s social proof:

sendgrid's social proof page

Social Media Proof

Brands are using social media statuses as social proof by highlighting what their customers are saying about them. It doesn’t get more authentic than this.

Campaign Monitor, a popular email marketing service, displayed tweet testimonials in the footer of their site for a while.

Campaign Monitor Social

Use Social Proof with Photos

Just because your social proof is real doesn’t mean that people will believe it. So how do you convince them?

According to research, a good way to make people believe that your claims are true is by including photographs. We also know that people really like looking at human faces on the internet, and testimonials are more likely to be believed when they include a photograph of the person you are quoting.

Here’s an example from our testimonials page.

optinmonster's testimonials page snippet

2. Friends & Family

Friends and family are a special sector of your customers and users. These are people who love and use your product and want to share the good news with others.

Ambassadors

Ambassadors, top fans, or whatever you want to call them, are those who heavily promote your brand because they think it’s so great that everyone needs to know about it.

To better leverage your customer reviews, you can allow customers to create a profile and become ambassadors of your brand.

This shows prospects that your product is so good that customers not only love it, but they promote it as well.

Sweaty Betty, a fitness apparel company, calls out their ambassadors on each of their product pages under the “Product Reviews” section.

ambassador

3. Experts

Experts are credible and esteemed experts in your industry that exhibit the same behaviors that you want your visitors to. You can, of course, get expert social proof any way you choose, but we’ve found that customer testimonials and media mentions are the most powerful.

Customer Testimonials

Perhaps the most commonly used form of social proof is the customer testimonial. According to research done by Nielsen, 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.

That’s why almost all big brands show customer testimonials on their website.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, displays customer reviews and ratings on every product.

Amazon Testimonials

Freshbooks, a popular invoicing software for small businesses highlight why small businesses owners love their product. By doing this, they are targeting their testimonials directly at their audience:

Freshbooks Testimonials

On OptinMonster, aside from displaying testimonials throughout the site, we have a dedicated OptinMonster customer reviews page where we list our customers’ testimonials.

optinmonster's testimonials page snippet

Customer reviews and testimonials can be displayed in a number of different formats as long as they highlight the value of your product through the voices of satisfied customers. In fact, according to one study, testimonials can increase conversions on sales pages by as much as 34%. The key is setting in on the testimonial format that’s best for your website.

Media Mentions

Has your product or brand ever been mentioned in the media? This includes magazine features, unsolicited reviews, TV segments, or podcast interviews. If possible, take excerpts from these media mentions and paste them on your website to establish authority.

This is what Freshbooks does on their homepage:

Freshbooks Media

Another example of quoting press mentions can be seen by Markhor, a maker of high-quality leather shoes.

Markhor Press Mentions

An even simpler and less-invasive strategy is to simply integrate the logos of media outlets you’ve been featured in.

Did you know: OptinMonster works on any website, but it’s also got the best WordPress popup plugin on the market. Learn all about the OptinMonster Effect and how we can help you get more subscribers and customers in 3 simple steps!

4. Celebrities & Influencers

Celebrities and other influencers are excellent allies to have when you want to boost social proof and FOMO.

Celebrity Endorsements

Celebrities and well-known industry experts are great resources when it comes to establishing authority and proving your value.

Depending on your brand, celebrity approval may come in the form of paid endorsements or even natural endorsements.

The former would refer to formal contracts where you pay a figure to represent your brand. This is what big corporation like Pepsi and Priceline do.

Pepsi Celebrity Ad

William Shatner earned $600 million by being a spokesperson of Priceline.

William Shatner Priceline

Natural celebrity endorsement refers to situations where an individual publicly approves of your brand/product of their own volition.

WPBeginner videos highlight industry experts who recommend free WordPress video training.

WPBeginner Celebrity Endorsement

Use Social Proof with the Halo Effect

A cognitive bias known as the halo effect says that an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand or product actually influences their feelings about that entity’s character or properties.

In other words, if a person has positive feelings about another person, those positive feelings can cause ambiguous or neutral traits to also be viewed positively. You might describe them as seeing the person through “rose-colored glasses.”

This phenomenon explains why influencers are so, well, influential! Since they have such a big reputation, people tend to assume that everything they say and associate themselves with must be trustworthy.

You can take advantage of this by getting influential people to say nice things about your brand or your product. Adding notable media mentions or big-name customers that you serve also uses the halo effect.

5. Crowds

Crowds are a source of social proof and FOMO involving large numbers of people who are using your product. An example: “300,000+ websites use OptinMonster lead generation software to get more email subscribers.”

As a FOMO tactic, crowds can be incredibly useful to show your visitors that other people are enjoying your brand and services. This includes things like real-time stats, showing off “best seller” items or “customers also bought,” and the number of orders, to name a few.

Real-Time Stats

Showing the real-time stats of how many people are currently viewing the page, or how many customers are currently purchasing is not only a great form of social proof but it adds fear of missing out (FOMO) into the mix as well.

A great tool to easily implement this is TrustPulse. This displays your most recent site activity in a small but attention-grabbing popup.

You can show purchases, registrations, signups, anything you want. You can even do these cool “on fire” notifications if something in your store is blowing up in popularity. These are great for leveraging FOMO on landing pages and checkouts.

trustpulse on fire notifications

Plus, TrustPulse takes less than 5 minutes to set up—from signup to live and running on your site. Not bad for social proof that’s proven to give you an instant increase to site conversions by up to 15%.

Just click here to get started with TrustPulse for free.

Related Content: How to Use a Recent Sales Popup to Boost Your Revenue

Social Share Count

One really simple form of social proof that you can display on your site is the raw number of social shares.

Social share counts are most often used to provide social proof on blog posts.

social shares

However, you can also add social share counts to any page on your website, including landing pages and product pages.

Subscriber/User/Customer Count

Your subscriber, user or customer count is another valuable statistic that brings credibility to your brand.

On their pricing page, WordPress.com highlights that WordPress powers 33% of the internet. How can you say no to using WordPress after that!

wordpress.com social proof example

Related Post on WPBeginner: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which is Better? (Comparison Chart)

Similarly, you can use any relevant statistics to get your point across.

Akismet, a popular comment spam filter for WordPress, highlights that they block over 7.5 million spam comments per hour.

Akismet Stats

Raw numbers simply convert!

Related Content: Social Proof Statistics: Powerful Facts That Will Help You Boost Your Brand

“Best Seller”

Simply showing customers which products are your “best sellers” works to increase conversions on those particular products.

A prospect who is thinking about purchasing may be on the fence, but when they see that it is a best seller then they will be much more likely to make the decision to purchase. That’s why Amazon calls out which products are their best sellers with an eye-catching “#1 Best Seller” banner.

best-seller

“Customers also bought…”

Similarly, you can show prospects similar products that your customers bought along with the product they are currently viewing.

customers also bought

This is not just a tactic for cross-selling your products—it’s a form of social proof which shows that other people are purchasing your products.

Customer Recommendations

A really powerful way to leverage your existing customers for social proof is by surveying them and then stating the percent of customers who would buy your product again.

NakedWines does this by asking customers who bought a bottle of wine to give it a rating and state whether they would buy it again and then calculating the overall percentage.

naked wines social proof example

Number of Orders

Simply sharing how many orders you’ve had, or how many times your product has been sold can make a huge difference in making even more sales.

Here’s an example from GoodReads. In the product description for this book by Dale Carnegie, they share that over 15 million copies have been sold.

copies sold

15 million people can’t be wrong, right?

Popular Posts/Products

Showing off your popular posts or products proves that other people are interested in them, so why not place those in a prominent place on your website?

Here at OptinMonster, we place our popular posts in the sidebar.

optinmonster popular posts

John Lewis used to stick their top sellers right on the homepage.

top-sellers

This is especially great for prospects who are looking to buy a gift for someone but aren’t sure exactly what to buy.

Use Social Proof with Similarity

According to the psychological principle of similarity, people tend to like other people who they perceive to be similar to themselves. Aristotle understood how similarity leads to liking and said in his Rhetoric:

“But since everything like and akin to oneself is pleasant, and since every man is himself more like and akin to himself than any one else is, it follows that all of us must be more or less fond of ourselves…That is why we are usually fond of our flatterers, [our lovers,] and honour; also of our children, for our children are our own work.”

So to increase the power of your social proof, use a source that is similar to your prospect. You can do this with your testimonials, case studies, and even your raw numbers. For example, “Join 10,000+ other marketers!”

Use Social Proof with Stories

According to psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, stories and examples are more trustworthy than statistics because they stick in people’s minds, whereas raw numbers do not.

Stories are also very persuasive because we tend to imagine ourselves in the stories we hear.

In your case studies and testimonials, ask customers to describe their situation before as well as after your product. Really paint the picture of their problem, why they chose you, and how you helped them.

6. Certifications & Education

Certifications show that a credible, 3rd party entity has proven you to be a knowledgeable, high-quality, or trustworthy source.

Trust Seals

By adding trust seals on your checkout page, you can significantly boost your sales. In a split test, Blue Fountain Media found that their conversions increased by 42%, just by adding a Verisign trust seal.

Blue Fountain Media Case Study

There are tons of security seals you can add on your site such as Norton, McAfee, Better Business Bureau, etc. Baymard Institute conducted a study that showed which seals customers trust more:

Use trust seals to show users that your website is safe and secure

Certifications and Badges

If your business has certain industry certifications or accreditations, you can proudly display these qualifications on your website.

Most certifying and accrediting organizations have badges or logos that can be freely displayed on your website. Some have even been shown to increase conversion rates by as much as 30 percent.

Pagely, a leading managed WordPress hosting provider, displays an Amazon Web Services Partner Badge proudly on their site.

pagely social proof example

Kristi Hines, a well-known freelance writer, displays all of her certifications on her home page.

kristi hines social proof example

Platform Integrations

If your product or service integrates with third-party services, then one of the best social proof you can add is the logos of your integration partners. By doing this, you ultimately put your product in the company of credible and familiar brands.

At OptinMonster, we do this by displaying all of our email marketing service and platform integrations:

OptinMonster Integrations

When someone shows up, they may not know who we are, but they’ve most definitely heard of Constant Contact, Mailchimp, AWeber, WordPress, Drip, Shopify, and the others, which adds credibility to our platform.

Baremetrics does it right in their footer by stating that they’re an analytics and insights platform for the popular payment platform Stripe.

baremetrics social proof

Adding third-party platform integration logos is one of the easiest ways to borrow social credibility.

Test Scores

Test scores from an independent, 3rd party source can be really helpful for easing a customer’s concerns.

For example, Google’s “Trusted Store” card provides a score based on criteria that are really important to shoppers in advance of making a purchase.

google-trust-test-results

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Benefits of FOMO Marketing

FOMO is a marketing tactic that helps you AND your customers. We all know how hard it can be to make a purchasing decision. When you use FOMO in your marketing, you give your shoppers a little push toward making that decision. Here’s how it works:

Create a Sense of Urgency

FOMO marketing is great at showing off demand for your brand and product. If a visitor is on your site, they’re interested. FOMO can be the little push that takes them from site visitor to paying customer.

When leads believe that something is in limited supply or available only for a limited time, they’re inspired to act quickly so they don’t miss out!

A word of caution: don’t fake limited supply or limited-time offers. Your visitors will figure it out if the exact same limited-time offer comes back time and time again and your reputation for being honest and trustworthy will suffer.

Hint at Exclusivity

Along the same line as limited-supply and limited-time offers, you can create a feeling of exclusivity to trigger FOMO. Here’s how:

  • Make sure visitors know just how exclusive the offer is.
  • Create sales and other opportunities that are only available to a specific segment (like email subscribers or folks who follow you on social media).
  • Create content for just 1 person (to make them feel like they’re the only one).
  • Use rewards or a loyalty program that gives perks to customers/subscribers.

Increase Social Pressure

Put a bit of social pressure on your visitors by highlighting how many others are taking advantage of the great things you’re offering.

Like peer pressure! Except without the negative connotations. 😉

Inspire Competition

A little competition is great for triggering FOMO. This isn’t a head-to-head battle, though. What you’re doing is showing off stats: how many people are looking, buying, subscribing, etc.

This is particularly useful when you combine it with scarcity. For instance, when you’ve got a low-stock item, show that! When visitors see a product they like but there are only a few more in stock it’s a big FOMO trigger.

These visitors see themselves as competing with all of your other visitors for that product. And that means they have to act fast!

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How to Create—and Use!—FOMO

So far, you’ve gotten a lot of useful information that will help you add social proof and FOMO to your marketing strategy.

In this section, we’re going to spend a little time on powerful ways to create and use the “fear of missing out” marketing strategy, specifically.

Use Social Proof with Urgency

No mo’ FOMO!

The concept of FOMO or the “fear of missing out” basically says that people are more likely to convert when they feel like they’re on the verge of missing out on a good deal or opportunity.

In terms of web design, this may look like incorporating a countdown ticker in your shopping cart feature or listing the number of remaining units you have left in stock.

amazon urgency

Groupon uses FOMO marketing really well in their listing. Here’s an example of one:

groupon time-based urgency

We’ve also used urgency by adding a dynamic countdown timer to our pricing pages on several of our web properties. This has increased our conversions a ton.

Floating bar hacks - OptinMonster Timer on WPForms

Want a similar countdown timer for your website? Start using OptinMonster to convert website visitors into subscribers and customers.

You could combine a countdown timer like this with social proof, and see your conversions go through the roof!

Combining urgency with social proof is a win-win. See our article on how to use urgency to hack your conversion rate.

Create FOMO Campaigns With OptinMonster

At OptinMonster, we’re all about increasing your conversions.

When you use our lead generation software, you gain instant access to features like exit-intent technology, A/B split testing, page-level targeting, and built-in analytics—all of which can help you turn meandering visitors into engaged customers.

We know the value of social proof and you can easily add social proof inside your OptinMonster popups to increase authority and leverage FOMO.

Here’s an excellent example from our co-founder, Syed Balkhi: “From Zero to 330 Million—How I built one of the most popular YouTube channels in the world!”

social proof popup

Get started with OptinMonster and increase your conversions today.

Show That People are Buying

Some of the most effective examples of FOMO trigger the feeling without even making a sales pitch.

These days, it’s not unusual to see live information on sales when you visit a website, as in this example from SeedProd:

This shows the first name and location of a recent purchaser, so it’s clear it’s a real person. If visitors to your site know other people are buying, then they’ll want to buy, too.

SeedProd is using TrustPulse social proof notifications to create these popups.

trustpulse homepage

Be sure to check out our guides on the best WooCommerce plugins and best Shopify apps for more useful tools like this.

Related Content: How to Use a Recent Sales Popup to Boost Your Revenue

Highlight Missed Opportunities in your Messaging

One site that’s great at using these tactics is Booking.com, which has multiple examples of FOMO on every page. In this tip, we’re focusing on ramping up FOMO by showing that visitors have actually missed out on a great deal.

Booking.com shows this with messaging showing when the property you’re looking at is sold out in big red letters:

FOMO marketing tactics - bookingcom sold out

As you’ll see, Booking.com also uses some of the other FOMO marketing examples we’ll share in this article.

Show Stock Levels

Scarcity is a big component of FOMO marketing because if something’s about to run out, there’s a huge incentive to get it now. There are many ways to highlight scarcity.

For example, if you’re running an online store, you can show stock levels, as Amazon does:

fomo marketing tactics - amazon stock levels

Or, if you’re in the travel business, you could show the number of spaces left, as Booking.com does:

fomo marketing - booking 2 rooms left

And you can ramp up the FOMO advertising with “while stocks last” messaging, that suggests that your product or service is about to run out or disappear:

fomo - while stocks last

For more inspiration, check out our article on scarcity examples.

Make Your Visitors Watch the Clock

When thinking about how to create FOMO, you can also look into urgency in marketing. It’s another tactic that triggers loss aversion—a fancy term for FOMO. If your visitors think they’ll miss out by running out of time, they’re more likely to reach for their virtual wallets and commit to a purchase.

You can do this with messaging about when deals end, like in this FOMO marketing example on Amazon:

fomo - amazon lightning deals

Or by offering different discount levels on different days, like the Chemical Guys:

chemical-guys-beat-the-clock

Or by creating a countdown popup like this one:

black-friday-holiday-marketing-1

Read How to Create Urgency in Marketing for more help with implementing this tactic.

Stir Their Competitive Spirit

Not only do we not like missing out, but we hate the thought that others might get something great before we do. That’s why good FOMO campaigns play on this feeling to inspire action. Here are a couple of examples.

Booking.com shows how many people are viewing a property. The underlying message is that if you don’t move fast, you’ll end up missing out:

bookingcom-people-looking

Or you could show the number of people who’ve already taken a deal, as Amazon does:

fomo tactics amazon deal claimed

If you’re in the software business, you could even show the number of users. Software companies often use FOMO with beta trials, where accepting limited numbers makes those few spaces seem very desirable.

nexus2cee_Mate-9-Oreo-Beta-Test

Offer a One-Shot Deal with Exit-Intent®

OptinMonster’s Exit-Intent Technology® is a great way to deliver FOMO marketing campaigns. This powerful feature detects when people are about to leave your site, and triggers a campaign just before they do.

It’s proven to work:

  • Rich Page used exit-intent to boost conversions by 316%
  • Ryan Robinson engineered a 500% increase in subscribers with exit-intent
  • Podcast Insights combined exit-intent with our onsite retargeting feature to get a 1099% boost in conversions

To use an exit-intent popup for FOMO marketing, follow our instructions for creating your first campaign, and create your discount offer. Enable exit-intent in the display rules section of the OptinMonster campaign builder:

Enable an additional display rule to specify which visitors should see the campaign. For example, you can show the campaign only to visitors on certain pages with page-level targeting.

currently url path exactly matches display rule

Limit Free Shipping

Did you know that around 90% of shoppers list free shipping as their prime incentive for buying online? That’s one reason why FOMO marketing campaigns that limit free shipping can be really effective.

C’mon, we’ve all bought something extra on Amazon so we can get free delivery, haven’t we? If people feel they’ll miss out on free shipping by not making a purchase, they’ll likely make it, especially if the additional expenditure is relatively small.

Let your customers know how much more they have to spend to get free shipping, or simply place a banner at the top of your page, showing what the threshold is for obtaining that benefit. You can easily do this with one of OptinMonster’s floating bar campaigns.

optinmonster_DigitalMarketer_floatingbar_trafficconversion

Be Explicit about FOMO

You don’t have to hide the fact that you’re using FOMO marketing. You can come right out and say it, as Rue La La does in this campaign:

ruelala fomo marketing examplesImage Source

This works because the explicit FOMO messaging resonates with the brand’s key audience of millennials.

Let Your Content Expire

As a business, a lot of your content marketing strategy is about creating content that’ll stick around so you can use it to build authority, get inbound links, improve your search ranking, and win customers.

But there’s another way to pique visitors’ interest by using a FOMO marketing tactic: expiring content. Expiring content mixes urgency, scarcity, and exclusivity to ramp up that FOMO vibe.

Snapchat is the ultimate example of expiring content. One of the reasons Snapchat is so successful – and why teenagers can never leave their phones – is because if you don’t see the content while it’s there, you’ll lose your chance forever.

And here’s a thought: those early Snapchat users (the site launched in 2011) will soon be in their 20s and they’ve grown up with this FOMO mindset.

Software companies use this same principle when they’re about to change their pricing plans, giving users an option to lock in the old price before it’s too late. Here’s an example from Iconica:

fomo beta testing

Use a Content Upgrade

While we’re on the subject of content, an opt-in content upgrade is a great FOMO marketing content. That’s because gating content means there’s scarcity, in our minds at least, and scarcity triggers FOMO.

You can use OptinMonster to gate content with our Content Lock feature, so you can make visitors want your content upgrades.

OptinMonster customers have used content upgrades to boost conversions by 150% and increase customer retention 72%.

KindlePreneur_MonsterLink_AuthorPageChecklist

To put this into practice, use your blog posts as content upgrades or try one of these content upgrade ideas.

Trigger FOMO with Images

People respond to visuals, so when creating FOMO marketing campaigns, it’s essential to get the images right. A good example of this comes from Express, which is offering a rewards program.

As Stephan Brady points out, along with the “don’t miss out” messaging, the background image suggests that opting in will ensure you have a great time, which means you’re missing the party if you don’t opt-in.

Express-Dont-Miss-Out

To find the right images for your FOMO marketing campaigns, check out our guide to finding free images online.

Make Your Offer Exclusive

There’s nothing to trigger FOMO like exclusivity. As human beings, we love the thought of getting our hands on an opportunity very few people have. Don’t believe us? Check out any airport boarding gate and see how happy the people with priority access are.

Or think about how many people have signed up for Amazon Prime (more than 100 million!) so they can get deals other Amazon shoppers can’t get.

While those are great FOMO marketing examples, you can also use exclusivity by creating a limited edition product or service. In the example below, Heinz combines this with time-based scarcity to make a compelling FOMO marketing offer:

heniz fomo

Show Social Proof

As you know by now, social proof is an extremely effective marketing tactic, and not just for FOMO marketing campaigns. In addition to the FOMO factor, social proof ties into our need to be part of a group.

If other people like us are sharing, engaging, or buying, we want to do it too, so we’ll feel a sense of belonging and won’t miss out.

As we’ve mentioned, the best way to leverage the power of social proof is by using TrustPulse. TrustPulse is a social proof software that can instantly increase site conversions by up to 15% by showing off real-time, verified customer activity right on your page in a little popup bubble:

trustpulse homepage showing notification

And don’t forget, TrustPulse also lets you show “On Fire” notifications that are great for leveraging FOMO on landing pages and checkouts:

trustpulse on fire notifications

Get Started for FREE: You can get started with TrustPulse for free!

You can also use social proof by showing the number of reviews a product has:

fomo bestbuy review numbers

Or by showing huge numbers of people you’ve helped, as we used to on our own site:

om by the numbers - fomo

Promote Experiences

Another way to use FOMO tactics is to let your users help. Using user-generated content (UGC) lets visitors and potential customers vicariously share in the experience of using your products and services, so they want to do it too. After all, real proof from real people is going to be much more compelling than any of your FOMO advertising campaigns.

Remember that #wayfairathome social media hashtag we talked about earlier? User-generated content is AMAZING for fear of missing out.

wayfair uses ugc as a fomo marketing tactic

Offer Rewards for Early Decisions

Giving a freebie is a good way to attract customers. However, you can make it even more effective by limiting that freebie. Offline, you see this tactic when stores offer a gift or special discount to the first 100 customers, and that usually makes hundreds of people line up.

Online, you can follow the example of Huawei, and offer a gift for the first 100 purchasers:

fomo ecommerce exampleImage Source

Boost FOMO Marketing with Email

Email marketing remains a great way to reach your customers. Our email marketing statistics roundup shows around 90% of people over the age of 15 use it. So it’s a great tool for FOMO marketing campaigns.

You can use email marketing effectively with any of the other FOMO marketing examples we’ve listed here. For example, you can send emails to:

  • Let subscribers know about exclusive deals or rewards
  • Tell them when items they’ve saved are about to run out
  • Remind them about items in their shopping cart with cart abandonment messages

You can also combine FOMO email messaging with onsite retargeting, to offer subscribers who follow a link a special deal via a popup marketing campaign.

Here’s how you can enable onsite behavioral retargeting with OptinMonster.

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Negative Social Proof

Negative social proof is when you warn prospects about the dangers of missing out on your product and supporting those claims with evidence of others who have also missed out.

Here are some examples of negative social proof:

  • “This year Americans will produce more litter and pollution than ever before.”
  • “Your heritage is being vandalized every day by theft losses of petrified wood of 14 tons a year.”
  • “4 Years ago, over 22 million single women did not vote.”

According to a study by psychologists Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin, this type of social proof does not work. In fact, it actually has the opposite effect.

The psychologists tested 3 different signs posted in the Arizona Petrified Forest to prevent theft of the petrified wood in the park. One sign used negative social proof. It read, “Many past visitors have removed the petrified wood from the park, destroying the natural state of the Petrified Forest.”

What they found was that this sign not only failed to reduce theft but actually tripled the amount of theft! Apparently, providing evidence that many other people were already stealing just made them more confident that stealing was “okay”.

So, don’t use negative social proof. It may be true, but it doesn’t work.

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Is No Proof Better Than Low Proof?

If you only have a very low amount of social proof, it may be a good idea to eliminate it entirely.

The Visual Website Optimizer blog examined the use of social media buttons with low social share counts. After performing an A/B split test, they found that removing the buttons significantly increased conversions. Their theory is that low social proof actually hurts conversions because it makes your stuff (your blog posts, in this case) look unpopular.

Rand Fishkin also talks about the varying effectiveness of social proof. However, he points out that even small numbers can work if you get really specific about the source of those numbers, using the principle of similarity that we discussed back in trick #2.

The example he gives is “141 restaurants in Portland, Oregon use GetListed to manage their online listings and SEO.” Even though 141 restaurants isn’t a huge number, “restaurants in Portland, Oregon” is very specific. So if you are a restaurant in Portland, Oregon, then this specificity could be even more effective than a generic, “40,000 small businesses use GetListed.org” (despite the much larger number).

Still, you may be worried about sharing generic forms of social proof (like social shares on your blog posts), especially in the beginning when you don’t have large numbers to boast about yet. Well, one way that I’ve found to get the best of both worlds is with the Social Warfare WordPress plugin.

social-warfare

This plugin will allow you to use social sharing buttons on your site, but only show the actual social share counts after they reach a minimum number that you specify. Problem solved!

Wrapping Up

It’s your turn. After reading this ultimate guide to social proof and FOMO marketing, you’re ready to use these tactics on your site to boost your conversions. And don’t forget to check out our picks for the best social proof software tools. These tools can make it so much easier to add—and manage—your social proof.

Now, do us (and yourself) a favor… Choose one of the social proof or FOMO examples above and add it to your site right now. Remember to track your conversion rates before and after, so you can do a case study of your own.

Jacinda Santora
Jacinda Santora is a writer specializing in ecommerce and growth marketing. She prides herself on her ability to make complicated things easier. When she isn't writing you can find her daydreaming about campervans, drinking coffee, and listening to podcasts.

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