5 Ways to Get Your Audience to Act on Limited-Time Offers

by Today's Eggspert

Last updated on July 27th, 2017

You already know that limited-time offers are a powerful marketing tool. Consumers have a burning desire to jump on the exclusivity bandwagon and get their hands on something special before they miss out.

When HubSpot performed an A/B test using a control page and a limited-time offer page, the limited-time offer outperformed the control by 8%.

But you can’t just promise a time-constraining offer and leave it at that. You have to captivate your audience with your copy and convince them to say “yes.”

Use these 5 writing tricks to get your audience to act on limited-time offers.

1. Draw Attention to New Experiences

People want to try new things. That’s why the “experience economy” is booming. In fact, 78% of millennials say they’d rather spend money on experiences than physical products.

Even if your brand falls into the “product” category, you can still draw appeal by focusing on the new experiences your product will provide.

Ask yourself, “What makes this deal different?”

Is it the first time you’ve made this offer? Is it a once-in-a-lifetime deal? Does it come with an exclusive limited-edition gift? If so, highlight it!

Let’s look at an example. Shutterfly, a retailer of custom photo gifts, often features free photo prints, free 8 x 8 photo books, and free shipping on orders over $39. Since these deals are common, it makes them less valuable to their customers over time.

However, deals like free cards make for a new customer experience.

save the date

Let’s look at another example from retail giant Walmart.


Notice how Walmart draws attention to their “best offer ever” in this ad? Doesn’t it make you want to “learn more” (by clicking on the red call-to-action button) before you miss out on the chance to save an extra $35?

By defining what makes this offer different from others and what new experience customers will get from it, Walmart has created an enticing ad that will get people to act fast.

2. Define Your Offer Dates

When you see limited-time offers, you also often see “Act Now” or “While Supplies Last.”

Unfortunately, these calls-to-action aren’t as strong as other alternatives. Without a clear timeline, your audience may think – or hope – your offer will still be available tomorrow or next week when they check back.

The problem is that the whole point of limited-time offers is to get people to act fast. You don’t want your audience abandoning your offer; some won’t ever make it back to take advantage of it.

Instead, draw attention to the offer’s deadline with copy like this:

  • Ends Friday at Midnight
  • Last Day
  • Today Only

These types of phrases create a higher level of urgency to get your audience to buy now.

Let’s look at a poor example. In the offer below, Amazon advertises limited-time Kindle discounts. However, there’s no clear deadline.


The offer leaves me with this question: Is the deal good only through Christmas, or does it last through New Year’s? If I wanted to buy myself a Kindle, I’d be contemplating whether to take the deal or wait until after Christmas to see if someone gives me a Kindle as a gift.

Even when I click on the offer, there’s still no deadline, which makes me think I still have time to act.

If the ad said “Ends December 24,” I might jump on the offer before Christmas.

On the other hand, Amazon does a great job of highlighting limited-time offers with their deal of the day. Here, they show a countdown so you know just how much time you have to act:

deal of the day

With only 15 hours left, don’t you feel compelled to buy right away before the deal runs out?

Light in the Box also cleverly uses a countdown clock to draw attention to their offer time frame.

last chance deals

This technique works great when there are only a few hours left.

3. Use a Benefit-Based Call-to-Action

Call Now! Act Fast! Shop Offers! These are all action-centric calls-to-action. They work well, but what if I told you that you could create more excitement by calling attention to the benefits?

Ask yourself what your audience will get by acting on your offer, and then tell them what it is:

  • Get 50% Off Now
  • Claim Your Free Handbag
  • Sign Up for Savings

Take this example from Tipsy Elves: Order Now and Receive by Friday!

tipsy elves

Notice how they don’t just say “Order Now.” Their call-to-action fulfills a benefit by telling customers they’ll get fast shipping. That adds value to the offer, and when coupled with a “Today Only” deadline, it gets people to act quickly.

Anne Murphy reports on Optimizely that when Kapost tested their calls-to-action, they found that out of the top 15, 10 of them used the term “get” and 9 of them used the term “your.”

This suggests that the phrase “Get Your [Benefit]” performs better with consumers. This phrase is worth testing on your own limited-time offers.

4. Keep Your Offer Simple and Brief

Your offer should highlight the most important points that will get your audience to act – like the benefit and the deadline.

There’s no need to get overly complicated in naming your offer or trying to shove every detail into your marketing material.

Victoria’s Secret does a wonderful job of this.

victorias secret

Notice how there’s a link to “Details” so people can learn more if they want to? Victoria’s Secret doesn’t try to cram all the details into their ad, which keeps the most important points upfront without stressing out buyers.

Kohl’s, on the other hand, gets too complicated in this ad:


There are so many numbers, it’s hard for people to decide which one to pay attention to. When the offer includes “this, this, or this, or this,” it overwhelms the customer. Sure, they want the deal, but are they willing to jump through hoops or try to understand your system in order to get it?

Start by designing a simple offer, and then write the offer in the simplest terms you can. Make it easy for people to take advantage of your offer without too much effort on their part.

5. Be Honest

For people to take action, they have to trust your offer.

For example, limited-time offers coupled with limited inventory drives huge interest.

However, you have to be honest about your supply.

If visitors return a week later to find there’s still “Only 6 in stock!” your business and your offer will lose credibility. Shoppers may wait even longer to act, suspecting there will still be “6 left in stock” the next week too.

Furthermore, this degrades the credibility of future offers. The next time they see a limited-stock availability from you, they may wait around knowing that it’s unlikely you’ll run out.

The same goes with the timing of your offer. If you say your offer ends at midnight, it should end at midnight. Otherwise, your audience won’t act as fast the next time because they will expect the offer to last longer.

Honesty also comes into play in how you describe your offer to differentiate it from others. Don’t call it your “best offer ever” if it isn’t. In one of our first examples, we saw that Walmart is offering a $35 savings to customers who open a Walmart credit card and spend $75. They are calling it their “best offer ever.”

If Walmart had offered a $45 savings last year, this offer would lose value. Chances are, some customers would wait around to see if a better deal might come along because they wouldn’t trust the claim that this one is the “best.”

Likewise, if you say everything is on sale, then everything better be on sale.

If there are exclusions, customers will quickly become frustrated trying to figure out what they can get on sale and what they can’t. Many will abandon the shopping trip altogether out of frustration.

American Eagle made this grave mistake in this past holiday season. Here, they advertise “All Sale Everything.” But wait! That doesn’t include jeans, new arrivals, Aerie merchandise, and a whole range of other items.

american eagle

When they advertised this on their Facebook page with the description, “All Sale. Everything 40% Off In Stores & Online!” customers were not happy!

facebook comments

You certainly don’t want your limited-time offer to blow up like this! That’s why honesty is so crucial in advertising and why you shouldn’t use false claims in limited-time offers to create a sense of urgency in customers.


Limited-time offers are a smart marketing move. People will jump on them like there’s no tomorrow. But it’s not the time-constraint alone that entices conversions and sales. The way you write your ad will affect your success rate. Use the tips above to write limited-time offer copy that will convince customers to act fast.

Are you the kind of person who takes advantage of limited-time offers? What types of offers have you acted on recently, and what was it about the ad that convinced you to buy?

About the Author: Mike Wallagher is a chief-editor on HostingFacts.com where he tests, analyzes, and reviews different web-hosting providers based on page load speed, system uptime, and price. When he is not behind his laptop, he is probably traveling across the globe from London to Sydney discovering new cultures and people. You can reach him via Twitter @startblog101.

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