4 ways to convey urgency in your next email

McKenzie Gregory


Chances are, your subscribers don’t love making decisions (to buy, to attend an event, to try out a new restaurant, etc.) on the fly. And that isn’t too surprising – who does? We all love mulling things over, debating options, making lists of the pros and cons… basically, delaying the decision-making process as long as humanly possible.

But marketers are a naturally impatient species – we all want our audience to do what we’re asking them to do right away. After all, a delayed conversion is oftentimes a lost conversion, so it’s important that you get them to act now rather than later.

That’s why you need to convey a sense of urgency in your emails. Your subscribers are busy, distracted, and faced with an endless amount of options, so it’s important to light a fire under them they can only put out if they act right away (figuratively speaking, of course). Here are four elements of your email you can inject with a sense of urgency to ignite your audience into action.



Your subject lines

Used sparingly and in the right context, subject lines packed with urgency can do wonders for getting your audience to open your emails. A couple of methods you should consider trying:

1. Pick a deadline. Urgency relies on the sense that time is running out, so deadlines are the perfect way to increase the urgency of whatever special offer you're promoting. Times, dates, and phrases like “hours left” and “ending soon” do the trick. In this subject line, for instance, Minted makes great use of the phrase “expires tonight!” to compel subscribers to make use of a limited-time discount offer.



2. Use words that invoke (some) anxiety. Think “hurry,” “now,” “go,” and “final.” We’re programed to get stressed out when faced with this sort of language; it tells us that we need to do a task right away and that waiting around isn’t an option. And setting apart each word with a period (like in this example from Ann Taylor) amps up the urgency even more.





Your CTA

This one might seem obvious, especially since the purpose of a call to action is... well, to call your audience to act. But you should pay special attention to the copy you use in your CTAs. Many marketers still turn to phrases like the dreaded “Click here.” (Remember: Over half of your audience won’t be clicking anything, they’ll be tapping on their phones.) Instead, keep your copy urgent and specific, like in these CTA examples from OrderUp and Loft.






Your email copy

The body of your email is a great place to include all sorts of urgent phrases – “final hours,” “ending soon,” “last chance,” and so on. Make those phrases the star of the show, and keep the supplemental copy to a minimum. It’ll take focus away from what you’re trying to get your audience to do and potentially distract them from taking action. That’s why in these examples, Express and West Elm keep the focus on big, bold phrases like “Final hours!” and “Gone in a flash.”






Your imagery and design

GIFs are a great way to inspire action – after all, we all feel a little itch when we look at a countdown timer or a ticking clock. Images speak louder than words, so allowing your audience to see the time slip away right before their eyes is one of the most effective ways to convey an overwhelming sense of urgency to them. We’re big fans of the stress-inducing GIFs utilized in these emails from Snow + Rock, Ann Taylor, and Boden – just looking at them had us wanting to act immediately!







What strategies have helped you inspire action from your subscribers? Let us know in the comments!


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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