Trust, Urgency, Action: How They Increase Conversions

Want to increase your conversion rates? From button color to pricing, there is a plethora—almost an infinite array—of tweaks and adjustments you could make and split-test in order to fully optimize your conversion rates.

Conversion rate optimization is easily a full-time job and then some. However, some of the most effective marketing strategies stem from psychology and a deep-seated understanding of how people think and what makes them tick.

Regarding the principles and functions of the human brain and our emotional drives, three essential ingredients stand out among the cocktail of elements that go into effective conversion rate optimization. And they are straight-up trust, urgency, and action.

Without these three components, your offers will not convert.
So how can you implement trust, urgency, and action into your offers and marketing strategies? Let’s find out.

How to Foster Trust and Establish Credibility

Given the number of companies trying to sell online and the vast amount of information that exists, establishing a solid sense of trust and credibility within your brand is critical to your success. If there’s any doubt about your company’s legitimacy or any hint of spam or shady dealings, customers will pull a 180 on conducting business with you faster than you can say the infomercial classic, “But wait! There’s more!”

Don’t be that business.

Establish trust and credibility, first of all, by actually being trustworthy and credible. Second, highlight your reputable standing through things like social proof, testimonials, and strong guarantees, for starters.

Here Are the Top 6 Ways to Instill Brand Confidence in Your Customers:

1. Social Proof

You can demonstrate social proof via an active social media presence, case studies, and customer testimonials, which can occur in either print or video form. Testimonials should be strategically placed close to “stress points” for your customers, which include contact forms and during the checkout process. You should never create a separate page just for testimonials, however, as customers rarely visit these types of pages.

2. Clear Contact Information

Clearly showing your contact information—a phone number, address, or live-chat option—indicates that you are in fact “real” and you are ready to answer any questions or concerns that your customers may have.

3. Strong Guarantees

Offering a money-back guarantee helps eliminate any apprehensions your customers may have about purchasing your product or service. Plus, it provides customers with a sense of security that you are not going to just take their money and run. Typically, offering longer guarantees—one year or more as opposed to 30 days—will yield even higher conversion rates.

4. Reviews

Your company’s reviews are not going to be found on your website; they are going to be located on external websites that have no affiliation with your own. Accordingly, positive reviews found on an independent source can carry a lot of weight in terms of facilitating conversions.

Consider Yelp, for example. How many times have you perused Yelp reviews before deciding which restaurant or bar to go to? Reviews are powerful and the potential impact they can have on your customers is tremendous.

Of course, you can’t tell people what to write about you. But you can encourage customers to write reviews if they had a positive experience and respond to any negative reviews by offering to remedy any less than stellar transactions.

5. Endorsements

Are there any well-known people in your city or town whom you could contact, perhaps via Twitter or Facebook? If so, get in touch and ask them about endorsing your company or offer. Affixing a celebrity or public figure to your business enhances both brand recognition and your credibility—if Mr. Hot-Shot or Miss Big-Wig uses it, then it must be good. According to FosterWebMarketing, “Video endorsements are best, followed by a print endorsement next to their picture.”

6. Local News Outlets

If you or your company has ever been featured or talked about on T.V. or in print, you should include the logos of the news outlets that highlighted you on your website. Doing so is like an instant shot of credibility, as it positions you as an expert within your industry.


One Company’s Success with Signaling Trust

Avangate, a digital commerce company, devised a series of tests in order to assess which elements would not only increase its client’s conversion rates but also “communicate value, reduce risk, and elicit trust from customers most effectively.”

Shannon Macleod: “To move the needle on revenue for [Avangate client] Movavi, and find out the truth about what builds trust, we tested three different ways to show value, reduce risk, and foster trust in Movavi’s cart.

  • Greater emphasis on customer support, to show dedication in helping customers derive value from the product
  • A money-back guarantee, to “reverse risk” and give customers a chance to verify value for themselves
  • A Norton Secured icon, to show trustworthiness

We tested three combinations of the methods over the course of three weeks.

Variation 1: Customer support information and money-back guarantee:

Variation 2: Norton Secured icon with customer support information:

Variation 3: Norton Secured icon with the money-back guarantee:


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What Do You Think Would Have the Greatest Effect on Conversions?

If you answered Variation 3, you’re right. The combination of a Norton Security icon and a money-back guarantee provided the most significant uplift to conversion rates: an impressive 5.5% with 95% statistical confidence.

Variation 1 also showed an improvement over the Control (4%). Variation 2 reduced conversion rates by 1.9%, a surprising result that reinforces the value of split testing instead of just “trying a new idea.”

The winning combination provided a 7.4% uplift in revenue per visitor, and the combination of conversion improvement and annual revenue uplift is expected to generate a 3.8X ROI on the cost of a 6-month CRO program—all from one simple test.

Such substantial results show the significant value of making small tweaks to enhance the trustworthiness of your cart. If you care enough to signal trust, your customers will care enough to make a purchase. It’s all about finding the best ways to do that.”

How to Create a Sense of Urgency

“Urgency is one of the most powerful aspects of human psychology…Urgent situations cause us to suspend deliberate thought and to act quickly,” states Neil Patel of MarketingLand.

Consequently, if you can instill a strong sense of this key brain feature on your website and with your offers, you can incentivize your customers to do what you want and to do it quickly.

“Many of the problems that affect conversions are issues of cognitive friction,” Patel continues. Analysis paralysis sets in. People hesitate. Call-to-actions flatline. But stoking the urgency flame limits the hemming and hawing and as a result, improves conversion rates.

Award-winning entrepreneur Marcus Taylor was able to increase the conversion rate of his “Groupon deal for musicians” from 2.5% to 10.8% thanks mostly to the infusion of urgency and scarcity.

Marcus Taylor: “Below are two variations that I A/B tested on the offer’s landing page. As you’ll notice, the only difference is that one communicates urgency and how many packages have been bought, where the other does not.

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This is one of the most impactful A/B tests I’ve ever run. The conversion rate of variation B was almost 3X that of variation A.

Here’s what happened to our conversion rate as we gradually rolled out variation B to all users. Our conversion rate went from ~3.5% to ~10%.

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Since running this campaign two years ago, I’ve become fascinated by the power of urgency, and have found ways to utilize its power in many aspects of my strategy.”

Different Types of Urgency

Generally speaking, urgency comes in two primary forms: real and implied. Real urgency occurs when an offer has either limited stock or an expiration date, after which point it ceases to exist. Groupon is a prime example of a website that relies almost exclusively on real urgency to sell products and services, as evinced by the countdown clock appearing next to offers indicating that only a limited amount of time remains before the deal is gone.


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Implied urgency, on the other hand, is more of a suggestion or a gentle nudge to prompt customers to take action. Implied urgency occurs when marketers use words like ‘today’ and ‘now,’ suggesting that customers should make haste on an offer, but in actuality, the urgency is contrived; it isn’t real.


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As you probably could have guessed, implied urgency typically isn’t as effective as real urgency. But it doesn’t always make sense to use real urgency with your offers, as it may feel inauthentic or forced, but that’s when implied urgency can be useful.

Here Are the Top 10 Time-Related Words to Increase Urgency:

  1. Now
  2. Quick
  3. Fast
  4. Never
  5. Seconds
  6. Again
  7. Instant
  8. Over
  9. Rapidly
  10. Approaching

Pepper your copy with these urgency-inducing words and see what kind of effect they have on your conversion rates.

6 Ways You Can Implement Real and Implied Urgency

1. Real Stock Urgency

Stock urgency is often seen with flight and hotel comparison websites, such as Kayak and, but other types of companies also use it as a means to compel customers to act fast before it’s too late.

When it comes to shopping for clothes online, I personally have been incited to act on more than one occasion thanks to real stock urgency. One of my favorite stores, Express, lets me know when an item in my shopping cart is running low. And nothing gets me to whip out my credit card faster than seeing only one left in stock of my size or color preference—knowing an item is running low can actually make me want it even more.

Amazon is another company that lets users know when their favorite items are running low. Take this adorable kittens and puppies wall calendar, for example.


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Using stock urgency can be a highly effective technique, as it taps into people’s fear of missing out, also known as loss aversion. Plus, it fosters a sense of credibility in a product or offer by highlighting its popularity as a sought-after and limited commodity.

2. Real Time-Countdown Urgency

Used especially with time-sensitive offers, including vacation packages and event access, time-countdown urgency pins customers against a ticking clock, forcing them to focus on taking action sooner rather than later.

TicketMaster is an example of a company that uses real time-countdown urgency in order to raise anxiety levels—the clock is ticking—and encourage customers to act fast as they’re shopping for tickets.


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3. Implied Urgency in Headlines

When people view your emails, blog posts, and advertisements, what’s the first thing they see? The headline.
Consequently, infusing a sense of urgency into your headlines can be an effective technique, and Marcus Taylor of Venture Harbour would agree.

Five years ago, the head of PPC challenged Marcus to come up with an AdWords ad headline that performed better than his own. And despite Marcus’ lack of experience, the headline that he created had a higher click-through rate than the department head’s—and all it took was one simple tweak: He changed the word ‘today’ to ‘now.’

Marcus Taylor: “Since that fluke victory, I’ve repeated this implied urgency experiment dozens of times, thanks to a handy WordPress title A/B testing plugin. The results show a predictable pattern.


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As you can see, the ‘control’ headline with no urgency has a click-through rate of 0.77%.

Adding the word ‘today’ at the end of the headline increases the CRT to 3.94. Unsurprisingly, reducing the urgency of this word to ‘this week’ or ‘this month’ reduces the CTR. But strangely, increasing the urgency in this case also reduces the CTR. What gives?

It turns out, that the right amount of urgency depends on the context. Very few people want to reduce their bounce rate right now – but they would rather do it today than next week.

However, when it comes to something a bit more emotionally provocative, such as this post on how to start a blog that attracts 100,000s of readers, suddenly people would rather know how to do it now, rather than later.


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I’d love to give you a rule for using ‘now’ vs ‘today,’ but the reality is that it’s extremely dependent on the context. In hindsight, common sense usually prevails, but the keyword is that sense is usually i.e. not always.”
Check WordPress for plugins that can help you decide which option is best for you.

4. Implied Urgency in Call-To-Actions

As with headlines, adding implied urgency to your transaction-based call-to-actions—your ‘buy it now’ buttons—can significantly improve conversion rates.

In one case study, changing the call-to-action from ‘download this contract’ to ‘download this contract now’ resulted in a 147% increase in conversions. A little bit of “now” can go a long way.

5. Implied Urgency and the Responsiveness Instinct:

neil patelNeil Patel: “’Act now!’ It’s one of the most often-repeated phrases in marketing literature.

In my opinion, it’s overused. It does, however, point to a very important urgency-inducing reality: If you tell people, “You’re a prompt and responsive person,” they will think “Yes. I am.” This subtle push towards urgency causes them to act quickly than they normally would.

The ‘early bird specials’ offered by some restaurants or bars also cater to this tendency. People like to think of themselves as prompt and responsive. They act in a way that reinforces this belief.”

6. Real and Implied Urgency Using Color

In the United States, along with many other Western countries, you’re taught as a child to associate the color red with urgency and importance (stop signs, fire trucks, ambulances). Accordingly, marketers often transpose this association into their design elements by using red signs to indicate flash sales, for example.

As with anything conversion-related, however, color choices need to be split-test. Just don’t be surprised if the red option garners the highest conversion rate.

How to Compel People to Take Action

Getting your visitors to take action is one of the most important components of increasing your conversion rates. No action means no conversions. But in order to compel people to take action, you also need to foster trust and create a sense of urgency. It’s a package deal.

The most obvious way to compel people to do what you want is through a call-to-action, which can involve adding a product to a customer’s shopping cart, downloading a product or software, or requesting a free trial or additional information.

Here Are 4 Techniques To Create An Effective Call-To-Action

1. Lay Out the Benefits

Users are always wondering what’s in it for them so you need to lay the groundwork by identifying a problem, presenting a solution, and communicating the benefits that users would achieve by taking action.

Skype is a good example of a company that’s doing this well. Placed above the call-to-action download button, visitors see the following message, clearly explaining the benefits of downloading and using Skype:

“Make calls from your computer—free to other people on Skype and cheap to phones and mobiles around the world.”skype

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2. Sweeten the Deal

A little extra can go a long way. Offering incentives, such as an automatic contest entry or a free gift, can be very effective at inciting visitors to take action. Plus, there can be something for you in it, too.

For example, you could create a call-to-action that lets visitors know if they spend $75 or more, as a gift, you’ll send them a free tote bag, which could include your company’s name, logo, and website, thus turning your customers into walking advertisements for your business!

3. Use the Active Voice

If you want users to take action, you have to convey action with your words. Here is a brief list of active words you might consider including in your call-to-action:

  • Register
  • Call
  • Buy
  • Donate
  • Subscribe

4. Have a Small Number of Clear-Cut Actions 

Your call-to-actions need to have laser-like focus as well as the utmost precision regarding what you want visitors to do next. Too many steps and people will get overwhelmed. Not enough clarity and people will get confused and give up.

Therefore, you need to limit the number of choices and steps users need to make in order to reduce the amount of mental bandwidth it takes—not that your visitors are unintelligent; they are very intelligent. But the rest of their day—their work, their families, their hobbies—already command so much of their attention that they want—nay, they expect—their online transactions to be simple and straightforward.

paul_boagPaul Boag: “By limiting the number of choices a user has to make we reduce the amount of mental effort. Effectively you guide the user around the site step by step.

The number of appropriate actions will vary from site to site. However, it is not so much the number of actions as the distinctiveness of each.

Take, for example, They have three calls to action:

  • Create a wiki
  • View Demo
  • Buy now

Although three is not an unacceptable number, there is not a clear distinction between ‘create a wiki’ and ‘buy now.’ What should I do first—buy a wiki or create one? I am confused. A better approach would be to push the buy option later in the process once the user has committed to building a wiki.”


A multitude of factors go into increasing conversion rates and each campaign is different depending on the traffic source, offer, and audience. But fostering a sense of trust, urgency, and action into everything you do and all the campaigns you run lays the foundation for increased conversions. So the next time you go to set up a landing page, craft a newsletter, or create a PPC ad, consider how you can incorporate the trifecta of trust, urgency, and action.

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