Make Buyers Burst With Anticipation by Putting Them in a Virtual Line
This simple system creates a rush with zero budget
This simple system creates a rush with zero budget
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series, Steal This Campaign, wherein we highlight creative, achievable, and unique ideas that you can steal or replicate parts of in your own marketing campaigns.
Foreplay is the anticipation of what’s about to happen. A slow journey towards your destination… one you know will be worth the wait.
With that metaphor established, foreplay in marketing terms is a waitlist, queue, or line.
In today's article, I’ll give you the exact copy and method I used to create hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue during an otherwise run-of-the-mill sale.
What Do I Mean by “Virtual Line”?
Essentially you’ll be manufacturing the feeling of waiting in line on your website. Make shoppers wait before they get to shop your sale or launch event.
This is how it works
Your customers click a link from your social media post or email blast, only to find themselves on a custom holding page. (eg. yourwebsite.com/next-in-line)
This holding page will have a timer. It will also remind them that they’re competing against fellow shoppers for the goods.
When the timer expires, they’ll be automatically reloaded to your product launch or sale event page. (eg. yourwebsite.com/huge-sale-event)
You’ve delayed the gratification of shopping, so customers are now more invested in making a purchase — and fast.
Their heart rate is up because with sale items especially, there are often very few units of each size, and what they ultimately want sells out quickly.
Making a Virtual Timer, the Easy Way
There are actually a lot of widgets out there that do this job for you.
I found Elfsight to have an easy and intuitive system for creating a website timer and it works with HTML5, Squarespace, Opencart, WordPress, Shopify, and more.
It even has a fun GUI to customize your timer with — and the best news is, you can set a redirect to URL option that automatically takes your customers to your launch or sale event page when the timer ends, saving you an extra step.
In my own campaign, I got a colleague to hardcode our timer in. It took him about 20 minutes to create a timer that starts when customers enter a page.
I’m sure Google will be rife with examples of such code, or you may have a member of staff who does this kind of thing for you.
If you decide to do it this way, instead of using Elfsight, you’ll have an extra step to complete: solving the problem of what happens when the timer ends.
(Hardcoders Only) Meta-Refresh Code
If you decide not to use a widget, you’ll need to code in the automatic redirect when the timer ends. This is something you may need your webmaster or technically-minded friend to do for you.
Add this line of code to the <head> tag of your countdown/holding page.
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="120;URL='https://www.geraintclarke.co.uk/sale-event'" />
The content = “120 means 120 seconds until the page refreshes, you can change this to increase or decrease the time, based on how long you want on your timer.
The URL = section should be changed to the URL you want the page to redirect to, once the timer ends. In this code, I’ve put my website as an example.
Make People Aware of When, Where, and Why
If you make a big deal of your sale event, your customers will see that extra effort and add their own importance to it too. Attention draws attention.
The day before the sale, I sent a simple text email with this title.
Followed by this copy:
Last year our Clearance Event was the most anticipated sale we held. It may have been the largest in Ellusionist history.
Our servers were taken down several times, so we’ve introduced a queuing system this year to help fix this. We’re hoping the servers don’t reach their limits.
Tomorrow at Midday EST, Clearance will go live. Take a day off work, ditch school… You NEED to be ready for this. First come, first serve.
The company has a predominantly young male audience, so it’s able to be more blunt and hyperbolic. For your own company, you can tone this down. Just let customers know where to be and when.
Launch Day — Don’t Waste Their Time
If you’re going to ask people to wait in a virtual line, it’s pointless making them read a big long email too. Respect their time.
On launch day I used the subject line: The BIG clearance — Save up to 90% Off.
The email had one line and a single button in — straight to the point.
By clicking the button, customers were taken to our countdown page which said:
<<timer counting down from 7 minutes>>
You’ve joined a very exclusive queue for your chance to get these insane discounts. Only a limited number of people will be allowed in at any one time.
We recommend adding items quickly and checking out even faster before someone else gets them. You’ll be automatically locked out and sent into your cart after just 15 minutes. (That is not a joke)
It’s like Supermarket sweep, but for things you actually care about.
There are NO quantity limitations, no restrictions. He/She who checks out with the item(s) FIRST, wins.
To the Victor go the Spoils.
Feel free to steal any of that for your own campaign. Up to 90% sounds so enticing, so don’t expect this to work if you’re only offering a blanket 10% off across the board.
Bonus: One Last Trick up Your Sleeve
Knowing how fun the meta-refresh code was, we added a little something extra to drive customers to checkout faster.
Instead of people getting into the sale event and adding to their cart from the category page, thus reserving the stock for later, we added that same line of meta-refresh code to the sale event category page — with a little tweak.
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="900;URL='https://www.ellusionist.com/cart'" />
After 15 minutes (900 seconds), this code will automatically redirect customers to their cart. Their time is up. They have to checkout or abandon.
Don’t forget: Change the website or the time to suit your own needs.
The Results: Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars
The sale event ran for an entire long weekend, racking-up hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. Because the information isn’t publicly accessible it would be rude of me to share the company’s exact numbers.
Our virtual line created so much hype, it even took down our servers, something we hinted at, but never thought would actually happen.
We sent this apology email the next day, which only added to the hype for our sale event.
Yesterday we launched our Big Clearance. Not launched… Unleashed!
Within minutes about 6,000 passionate bargain-hunters crashed the site at the exact same moment.
We apologise to all those that joined the event and couldn’t load the page. We’re moving to EVEN bigger servers now to cope with events like this.
Obviously we expect it to be great, but we’re constantly humbled by the number of you who support these initiatives. The sheer volume caught us off-guard.
If you missed out yesterday, you’ll get a chance to view it now by clicking the button below…
The button took new shoppers straight back into the virtual line — and the fun started all over again.