Make 2020 the year you take your search marketing campaigns — and career — to new heights. Attend Search Marketing Expo – SMX West – for the actionable tactics you need to drive more awareness, traffic, conversions, and sales. Join us February 19-20 in San Jose!

The all-new agenda features 85 sessions organized into three lanes with no limits: SEO, SEM/PPC, and digital commerce marketing. Keep reading for the big (read: 3,000 words big!) preview of everything in store, choose your ideal pass, and book now to save up to $450 off on-site rates!

Kickoff Keynote: The Rise of Digital Commerce Marketing Is Reshaping Search Marketing

Digital commerce is hot and it’s being driven by advertising and organic optimization across third-party platforms like Amazon and Walmart, search engines Google and Bing, and social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Search Engine Land Editor-in-Chief, Ginny Marvin, and Dana Tan, Global SEO Manager at Under Armour will bring the digital commerce marketing landscape to life with presentations and data including:

  • Marketing Land’s Digital Commerce Advertising Survey that shows just how marketers are spending on platforms like Amazon. You’ll gain an invaluable overview of where we are now and actionable insights to prepare for what’s next.
  • The 2020 Periodic Table of Digital Commerce Marketing, a new tool from Search Engine Land that you’ll use to navigate the many elements of marketing products online. This must-have resource will empower you to create compelling digital commerce campaigns and optimize existing ones.
  • Explore the intersection of SEO, PPC, and social media to increase digital commerce results during this candid, fireside chat with Dana Tan, Global SEO Manager at Under Armour. Hear first-hand from a marketing leader who’s responsible for driving results at this iconic global brand.

Three Lanes, No Limits: SEO, SEM/PPC, & Digital Commerce Marketing

The Search Engine Land experts built this year’s agenda in three lanes: SEO, SEM/PPC, and digital commerce marketing (new!). All 85 sessions fit into one of these lanes. Customize your experience based on your learning objectives: Dive deep into one or cross-train on all three — it’s your choice, and there’s plenty to choose from with up to seven concurrent tracks running unique, expert-led sessions.

Take a look at all of the lanes and sessions in store…

Lane #1: SEO

There’s much more to effective SEO today than modifying H1s and meta tags. The advent and adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence, infinite algorithm updates, and no-click SERPs means you have to continuously train to stay ahead of the curve.

We’ve got you covered with tactic-rich SEO sessions that tackle everything from site speed to new NoFollow rules, JavaScript, Semantic HTML5, voice search, AnswerBox, Google My Business, and so much more:

  • Site Speed Is A Crucial Ranking Factor. Here’s What You Need To Know, with Jessica Bowman – Owner, SEO In-house, Editor at Large, Search Engine Land
  • Future-Proof Your Sites For Google Core Updates, with Mordy Oberstein – Rank Ranger, CMO and Lily Ray – Path Interactive, Director, SEO
  • In-house SEO Strategy: From Big Picture To Implementation, with Masaki Okazawa – AutoZone, SEO Specialist

    The New NoFollow And Snippet Rules, with Patrick Stox – IBM, SEO Specialist – Search Engine Land Contributor
  • Improving Relationships between SEO and Web Developers, with Jenny Jiang – Autodesk, SEO Developer
  • Behind The Scenes With Google Search Console And Bing Webmaster Tools, with Sandhya Guntreddy – Microsoft, Principal Program Manager and Daniel Waisberg – Google, Search Advocate
  • Google BERT: What SEOs and Marketers Need to Know, with Dawn Anderson – Move It Marketing / Manchester Metropolitan University, International SEO Consultant / Director / Lecturer
  • Solving Complex JavaScript Issues And Leveraging Semantic HTML5, with Russ Jeffery – Duda, Director of Strategic Integrations
  • Revisiting Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines, with Jennifer Slegg – The SEM Post, Editor
  • Optimizing For Voice Search: How Brands And Agencies Are Seeing Real Results, with Sathya Krishnamurthy – Milestone Inc., VP of Product and Sam Ruchlewicz – Warschawski, Vice President – Digital Strategy & Analytics
  • How Link Building Has Changed: What You Need To Do Now, with Jim Boykin – Internet Marketing Ninjas, CEO, SEO, and Founder
  • Leveraging Schema And Structured Data For Maximum Effect, with Cata Milos – Microsoft, Principal Program Manager
  • Ranking In AnswerBox/People Also Ask
  • What SEOs Need To Know About Changes To Its Crawling Directives And The New Evergreen GoogleBot, with Fabrice Canel – Bing, Principal Program Manager
  • UX And E-A-T, More Connected Than You Think, with Shari Thurow – Omni Marketing Interactive, Founder & SEO Director
  • Google My Business: Optimizing Images, Content And Q&A For Ranking Visibility And Engagement, with Greg Gifford – SearchLab Chicago, Vice President of Search and Niki Mosier – Two Octobers, Sr. SEO Manager and SEO Practice Lead
  • What’s Next For Maps? What Search Marketers Need To Know, with Damian Rollison – Brandify, VP Product Strategy and Conrad Saam – Mockingbird, President
  • Video And YouTube In Google Search: It’s A Really Big Deal, with Joey Daoud – New Territory Media, CEO and Aleyda Solis – Orainti, International SEO Consultant
  • What Does “Great” Content Really Mean? And How Do You Create It, with Stoney deGeyter – The Karcher Group , VP Search & Advertising and Ashley Segura – TopHatRank, VP of Operations

Bonus! These SEO track sessions were designed with collaborative, cross-departmental teams in mind:

  • SEO and SEM teams: Why Sharing Your Data Matters
  • Making Your Case For More Budget, New Tests: How To Communicate What Matters And Get Buy-In, with Khalid Saleh – Invesp, CEO
  • Experts Tips For Creating Killer Cross-Channel Reports, with Benu Aggarwal – Milestone, INC, President

Lane #2: SEM/PPC

The paid search landscape changes every day. Emergent platforms take center stage while others sunset. New ad formats roll out. Best practices evolve. SMX West features SEM and PPC sessions that deliver proven tactics that can help you succeed with Facebook campaign optimization, advanced LinkedIn Ads, writing compelling ad copy, and beyond:

  • Why And How To Run Top-Of-Funnel (Search) Campaigns: KPIs, Expectations, with Amy Bishop – Cultivative, LLC, Owner – Search Engine Land Contributor
  • The Art Of Structuring Campaigns, with Frederick Vallaeys – Optmyzr, Inc., CEO
  • Conversion Rate Optimization Tips From The Pros, with Stoney deGeyter – The Karcher Group, VP Search & Advertising and Jeremy Epperson – Conversion Guides, Growth Consultant and Startup Advisor
  • How To Optimize Facebook Campaigns That Deliver Qualified Leads, with Julia Vyse – Vizeum, Digital Media Manager
  • Ad Testing In An Automation World, with Michael Crimmins – Firmidable, Digital Manager
  • How To Manage And Optimize B2B PPC Accounts, with Robert Brady – Righteous Marketing, Founder and Tim Jensen – Clix Marketing, Campaign Manager
  • Genius-level Microsoft Ads, Google Ads Optimization, with Mark Irvine – WordStream, Senior Data Scientist, with Frederick Vallaeys – Optmyzr, Inc., CEO
  • LinkedIn Ads: Advanced Strategies and Tactics for B2B, with Michelle Morgan – Clix Marketing, Director of Client Services
  • How to Hack Your Customer Journey Through Behavioral Economics for the Customer Journey, with Justin Freid – CMI/Compas, EVP, Growth and Innovation
  • Deep Dive Into Data Flow, with Aaron Levy – Tinuiti, Director, SEM
  • Automation: How To Push Forward; When To Push Back, with Natalie Barreda – T-Mobile, Sr. Manager, Media and Andrew Goodman – Page Zero Media, President
  • Getting Reports Right, with Samantha Barnes – Bounteous, Inc, Associate Director of Data Analytics and Abigail Matchett – Bounteous, Manager, Analytics & Insight
  • Optimizing Your Day, Optimizing Your Month – Roadmap Of What You Look At When, with Robert Brady – Righteous Marketing, Founder
  • How To Understand and Beat Your Competitors, with Ayat Shukairy – Invesp, Co-founder, CCO and Purna Virji – Microsoft, Senior Manager, Global Engagement
  • Tactical Tips For Creating More Persuasive Ads, with Brad Geddes – AdAlysis Co-Founder – SMX Programming Team member
  • SEM/PPC Roundtable, with Robert Brady – Righteous Marketing, Founder, Aaron Levy – Tinuiti, Director, SEM, and Purna Virji – Microsoft, Senior Manager, Global Engagement
  • Entities: The Single Most Important Concept In Search, with Dave Davies – Beanstalk Internet Marketing, CEO

Lane #3: Digital Commerce Marketing (new!)

Marketers who sell or promote products online are increasingly turning to Amazon, Esty, Shopify, and Jet, in addition to Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Pinterest, to reach new customers. But leveraging these platforms is only half the battle: The key to driving remarkable revenue growth in this dynamic online retail environment is digital commerce marketing. Join industry experts for two days of in-depth digital commerce marketing sessions, including:

  • Shopping Actions, Structure, Bids & Formats: How To Get The Most From Google Shopping Ads, with Kirk Williams – ZATO, Owner
  • Driving Profitable Sales With Amazon Search Ads, with Kaitlin McGrew – PMG Digital Agency, Senior SEM Manager
  • Optimizing for Seasonality: How to Sell More in Your Peak Periods, with Michelle Stinson Ross – Apogee Results, Marketing Operations Director
  • SEO For E-commerce Category, Product Detail Pages, with Jill Kocher Brown – JumpFly, Director of SEO and Tony Verre – The Integer Group, VP of eCommerce
  • Selling With Video, with Joe Martinez – Clix Marketing, Director of Client Strategy
  • Tackling Rising CPAs On Facebook And Instagram, with Madeline Fitzgerald – 3Q Digital, Sr. Strategy Development Manager
  • Social Commerce Beyond Facebook: Drive Sales With Snap, Pinterest And Other Channels, with Duane Brown – Take Some Risk Inc., Founder & Head of Strategy
  • When Your Inventory Changes: SEO Tips For Changing Product Pages, with Arsen Rabinovich – LLC, Director of SEO / Founder and Aleyda Solis – Orainti, International SEO Consultant
  • Multi-Channel Attribution And Reporting For Digital Commerce, with Tom Affinito – Kenshoo, Vice President, Corporate Development and Colleen Harris – CDK Global, Product Manager for Business Intelligence
  • Future-Forward Tactics For Digital Commerce
  • Scaling Google’s Latest Discovery Ad Formats
  • How Brands Can Stand Out And Sell More

Need Answers? Attend The Clinics

Bring your burning questions to a panel of experts ready with answers and advice. These 100% Q&A clinics are your chance to speak directly and openly with the experts you know and trust. No presentations. No PowerPoints. No agenda other than to answer your case-by-case questions. So raise your hand, take the mic, and ask away. Our panelists will take turns sharing their opinions and advice. Here are the clinic topics coming to SMX West:

  • SEO Site Clinic
  • Amazon SEO Clinic
  • Google Analytics Clinic
  • Technical SEO For Digital Commerce Clinic
  • SEM/PPC Clinic
  • Content Marketing & Optimization Clinic
  • Landing Page Clinic

Solutions Track, SMX Theater, & Expo Hall

All of the sessions you’ve read about so far are “editorial sessions,” created by the experts at Search Engine Land. Speakers are hand-selected because of their authority on a given topic. No one bought their way onto a panel.

But sponsors and exhibitors — like LongtailUX, Instapage, Bruce Clay Inc., Page One Power, ClickCease, Internet Marketing Ninjas, and Exults — have great information to share. That’s why we provide three places for you to learn from them: the Solutions Track, the SMX Theater, and the Expo Hall.

The Solutions Track features full-length sessions including client case studies, actionable tactics, and practical advice; the SMX Theater is home to bite-sized presentations like product demos and tutorials. Presenting sponsors know they’re competing with our editorial sessions for your attention, so they’re highly motivated to deliver valuable information and insights. And of course, the Expo Hall is your one-stop-shop to quickly and efficiently evaluate products and solutions that can help streamline your marketing efforts.

Stay tuned for a closer look at the companies exhibiting and presenting in San Jose!

Meet Others Just Like You

SMX West brings together some of the most accomplished marketers in the world. You’ll share stories, exchange advice, and talk shop during meals, refreshment breaks, and the Expo Hall Reception. Growing your professional network has never been easier! And don’t forget to submit a request to join our SMX Facebook Group once you register. You’ll be able to chat with fellow attendees before, during, and after the conference.

SMX Highlights: 30 Ideas In 30 Minutes

Wrap things up with a recap of some of the most fascinating takeaways from SMX West. This entertaining and highly-informative closing session features a handful of our speakers sharing their top ideas, tips, and techniques to remember as you return to the office and implement the knowledge you gained at the show.

What’s Better Than All That Search Marketing? MORE Search Marketing

Hungry for more? SMX Workshops were designed for overachievers like you. Tack an extra day of learning onto your itinerary and attend one of six full-day workshops on Friday, February 21. These expert-led training seminars are the perfect way to drill down into a specific search marketing topic and round out an exceptional few days of learning. Topics include:

Workshops include breakfast, hot lunch, and refreshments. Bundle your workshop with an All Access pass for maximum value and enjoy $450 off on-site rates.

Don’t Take Our Word For It…

You’ve just read more than 2,000 words on what you’ll get at SMX West and why it’s a worthy investment for your company and your career. Now, check out what some of our past attendees have to say about their SMX experiences:

“Great speakers. I would say every speaker had at least 3 great take-aways; usually many more than that. Great location in Downtown San Jose, too.” – Natalie Kirkland, FriendFinder Networks Inc.

“The speakers are insightful and well-prepared, the hotel is a sigh of relief, and the after-hours events are thoughtfully planned.” – Heather Shipe, Dollar Tree

“The conference is very well organized and the speakers/content are top notch. I got many actionable take-aways and ideas from the sessions that I can take back and implement in my client accounts. Also love having a hearty breakfast, delicious lunches and fun networking activities… All-around great event.” – Robert Brady, Righteous Marketing

Pick Your Ideal Pass & Register Now

SMX West kicks off next month but Early Bird rates expire next week. Choose your pass based on your goals and budget and register by Saturday, January 18 to enjoy up to $450 off on-site rates!

  • All Access Pass: The complete conference experience — all sessions, keynotes, clinics, networking events, and amenities, including WiFi, speaker presentations downloads, breakfasts, lunches, refreshments, and the SMX Mobile App.
  • All Access Workshop Pass (best value!): Maximize your time by adding a full-day post-conference workshop to your agenda.
  • Expo Pass: Perfect for meeting marketers and connecting with vendors. This free pass gets you the Expo Hall, Solutions Track Sessions, SMX Theater presentations, Q&A Clinics, select networking, WiFi, the mobile app, refreshments, and more.
  • Team Rates: Striving to get your department on the same page? Send them to SMX for an unforgettable team-building experience. You’ll conquer the agenda, forge new bonds, and unlock special group savings while you’re at it!

I hope you’ve found this preview useful and that you’ll be joining your search marketing community in San Jose next month!

About The Author

Lauren Donovan has worked in online marketing since 2006, specializing in content generation, organic social media, community management, real-time journalism, and holistic social befriending. She currently serves as the Content Marketing Manager at Third Door Media, parent company to Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, MarTech Today, SMX, and The MarTech Conference.


About The Author

Suzanne Scacca is a former WordPress implementer, trainer and agency manager who now works as a freelance copywriter. She specializes in crafting marketing, web …
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You may have heard that FOMO is harmful for consumers. There’s even research that supports it. That said, what if we removed “fear” from the “fear of missing out” and put the good parts of this marketing strategy to use in web and app design? It’s possible to do and this article will unpack four ways you can more delicately and ethically use (F)OMO when designing digital experiences.

Consumers are motivated by need and desire. And sometimes, just sometimes, they’re motivated by FOMO. That’s right: we can now add the ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ to the list of drivers that get consumers onto our websites and into our apps.

With that said, when we take a closer look at what FOMO really means and the negative impact it can have on consumers, is it something we really want to be encouraging as we build digital experiences for them? My answer to that is:

Yes, but you must use FOMO responsibly.

FOMO can be a really effective tool to add to a marketing and sales strategy. As a web designer, though, you need to find ethical ways to appeal to your users’ fear of missing out. Today, I’m going to show you some options for doing this.

A More Ethical Way To Design with FOMO

FOMO stands for “fear of missing out”, and while it might seem like some innocuous acronym like YOLO or LMAO, this isn’t a cute way of saying “Wish I were there!”.

The fear part of FOMO is all too real.

A 2013 study titled “Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out” defined FOMO as:

A pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, FoMO is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.

One of the conclusions from the report was that “FoMO was associated with lower need satisfaction, mood, and life satisfaction.”

It’s not just scientists taking note of the negative effects of FOMO in marketing, social media or otherwise. The Competition and Markets Authority went after hotel booking sites for using misleadingly urgent and deceptive discount marketing messages to increase sales.

Even without the fear of retribution from some standards authority, you really need to think about how your web and mobile apps leave your users feeling. A little bit of envy might be fine, but once the general sentiment trickles over to jealousy, disappointment or stress, it’s time to reassess what you’re doing and why.

Let’s take a look at some ways you can leverage the underlying concept of “missing out” and strip away the fear elements.

Quick note: All of the examples below are from mobile apps, however, you can use these design principles on websites and PWAs as well.

Gently Remind Visitors About Limited Availability

There’s nothing wrong with presenting limits to your users on what’s available or for how long it will remain available. It only becomes a problem when how you convey this sense of urgency or limitation causes stressful decision-making.

This is something I talked about in a recent post, “How to Stop Analysis Paralysis with Web Design”.

Basically, when you induce stress in your visitors or consumers, it makes the decision-making process more difficult and can lead to regretful purchases or no purchases at all. In that last article, the focus was on the drawbacks of presenting customers with too many choices.

However, the same kind of response (i.e. dissatisfaction and overwhelm) can happen when you put pressure on them to make a choice on the spot.

So, instead of displaying a large timer counting down the minutes left to buy items in their shopping cart or a bright red banner that screams “24-Hour Sale!”, use more gentle reminders around the site or app.

Best Buy has an entire section on its product pages dedicated to in-store and online availability:

Best Buy out of stock
Best Buy lets customers know when products are out of stock in store and online. (Source: Best Buy) (Large preview)

Now, if this were a product with only one color or memory option, I’d suggest removing it from the online inventory altogether. If you can’t provide a date when the product will become available again or put customers on a waitlist, don’t bother teasing them with an out-of-stock listing.

That said, this item has multiple variations, which makes the “sold out” notice quite potent.

Paul Messinger, a professor of business and researcher at the University of Alberta, commented on this phenomenon:

Sold-out products create a sense of immediacy for customers; they feel that if one product is gone, the next item could also sell out. Our research shows there’s also an information cascade, where people infer that if a product is sold out, it must have been good and therefore a similar available product will also be desirable.

What’s also nice about displaying sold-out products is that it reduces the number of choices consumers have to make. Granted, some may be unhappy because the silver phone they wanted is unavailable, but, as Messinger says, this limitation on what they can buy might encourage them to try another variation of the product.

One of my absolute favorite examples of gently nudging consumers to use or buy your products is Hulu:

Hulu app expiring content
The Hulu app has an entire tab dedicated to “Expiring” content. (Source: Hulu) (Large preview)

There is an entire tab in the app that lets users know which content is about to expire.

For those of you who stream content like a maniac (like myself), you know how easy it is to lose track of shows and movies you’ve added to your list. You also know how hard it can be to find the perfect thing to watch when you have dozens of options sitting in your queue, especially if you use more than one streaming service.

That’s why this “Expiring” tab is brilliant. The second I see it, I think, “Either use it or lose it, Suzanne” — which is incredibly motivating. Also, the fact that I have a much shorter list to work with helps me get to a decision more quickly.

This would be useful for e-commerce websites, for sure. If you have products that are low in inventory, give them a dedicated space for shoppers to peruse — kind of like a bargain bin without the bargain.

If your website runs a number of offers simultaneously, you could use a similar approach as well. Create a page for “Offers” or “Rewards” and break out a separate tab that shows users all the offers that are about to expire.

Call Attention to Rewards

When selling something online — be it a subscription to a repository of plugins or a store full of products — don’t forget to enable account registration. Sure, it’s a nice touch for users that want the convenience of saving account details so they don’t have to input them with each new purchase. There’s another reason to encourage your users to register though:

So you have a way to call attention to their spendable rewards.

FOMO isn’t always the fear of missing out on what others are doing. Sometimes it’s just a fear of missing the chance to get a really good deal. Promoting attractive sales offers (“75% off everything in store!”) is one way to do that, but, again, you have to recognize that that’s only going to stir up issues caused by the paradox of choice.

A softer but still effective way to compel users to buy sooner rather than later is to show off their rewards totals or expiration dates.

As a Gap customer, this is one of my favorite things about shopping with them. Whether I’m in store, on the app, shopping through the website or looking through my email, I receive these kinds of reminders:

Gap rewards reminder
Gap reminds logged in users when they have rewards to spend. (Source: Gap) (Large preview)

The “Redeem your Super Cash” reminder is the first thing I see when I log in. Even if I’ve gone to the app with the intention of just window browsing, that rewards reminder (and the impending expiration) almost always motivates me to buy something so I don’t lose my member perks.

Unlike sales banners that promote generic offers, this approach works really well because you’re appealing to loyal customers — the ones who’ve already signed up for an account and have a history of buying from you.

And if you’re worried about a banner of that size taking up too much space in your app or mobile website, think again:

Gap pulsing blue rewards reminder
Gap uses a pulsing blue ticker in the top-left corner to remind users about unspent rewards. (Source: Gap) (Large preview)

Gap doesn’t continually show the rewards reminder.

See the icon in the top left corner with the circle over it? That circle is pulsing. It’s there to let customers know that there’s something to look at before they check out. And that something are the rewards they need to spend before they lose them., on the other hand, dedicates an entire page to rewards: Rewards tab users can access their free night rewards on the “Rewards” tab. (Source: (Large preview)

It’s similar to that urge people feel to log into social media just to check on what’s going on and to make sure they’re not missing anything. This “Rewards” tab should send a similar vibe: “Hmmm… I wonder how close I am to my free night?”

Although you can’t see it here, has a policy about how long customers can hold onto these earned nights before they lose them. (It’s just below this section.) By gently reminding users about this stipulation, it likely encourages its rewards members to book more trips so they can get their free night.

Encourage Sharing with Friends and Family

One of the problems with building FOMO into a website — much like any marketing you do for business — is that it’s coming from you. Until you’ve earned the trust of visitors and users, how are they supposed to believe a product marked as a “Top Seller” really is what you claim it to be? Social proof is supposed to help mitigate these kinds of concerns, but even that can be faked.

You know what I think is a more effective way to generate FOMO? Let your customers and clients do it for you.

Here’s how Airbnb does it:

Airbnb 'Invite friends' feature
Airbnb rewards its users for inviting friends. (Source: Airbnb) (Large preview)

The “Invite friends” feature encourages users to let their friends, family and colleagues know about how awesome the Airbnb experience is.

Hey, I just booked this awesome apartment in Montreal for Christmas. You’ve got to check this out! Oh yeah, you also get $40 off your first booking!

Even the headline on the landing page encourages them to share the experience; not just do it to get free travel credit (though that’s a nice incentive, too):

Airbnb referral program
Airbnb encourages its users to share their love of travel by rewarding them and their referrals with travel credits. (Source: Airbnb) (Large preview)

Imagine that friend who’s busy running a business and in dire need of a vacation. They receive this offer from you — a person they know and trust. Of course, their reaction is going to be, “I need to do that, too!” And with a discount code in hand, that’s a pretty strong source of motivation to get in the app and make a purchase.

You’ll find another great example of generating FOMO through your users from the 23andMe website:

23andMe 'Share your Ancestry'
The home page for 23andMe invites users to ‘Share your Ancestry’. (Source: 23andMe) (Large preview)

For those of you who haven’t signed up for one of these genetic testing services, it’s actually pretty cool. You submit a saliva sample and they tell you what your ancestral background is (as well as how it can affect your health). But it’s more than just, “Your maternal family originates from Turkey.” It gets super-specific on what parts of the world your ancestors are from.

Notice that banner in the screenshot above that says “Share your Ancestry”? That’s where users find auto-generated social posts that are designed to be share-worthy (they look like Facebook and Instagram Story cards):

23andMe social sharing
23andMe auto-generates social posts users can share with their friends and followers. (Source: 23andMe) (Large preview)

This is my ancestral breakdown according to 23andMe. So, let’s say I want to joke about how boringly anti-nomadic my ancestors were on Twitter. I could edit the banner or share it as is. And guess what? That’s free advertising for 23andMe, even if I chose to ditch the logo they placed at the bottom of the file.

As those posts reach social media connections — those that know the user or those that are only acquainted with them online — FOMO starts to rear its head. “Oooh! I really want one of these! Where’d you find this out?”

With this kind of FOMO marketing on your site or app, you can stop relying so much on heavily-discounted sales events and other urgency-inducing tactics (which will cost you more in the long run). Instead, let your users generate that intensified interest.

Use More Grounded Photos and Designs

You’ve no doubt heard about lifestyle influencers using shady promotional tactics to increase sales.

One of the most well-known examples of this is the Fyre Festival, which created a bunch of buzz on social media thanks to promotional videos of celebrities and supermodels partying it up in the Caribbean. The people behind this failed festival didn’t care about the experience. They focused solely on the image of it and consumers ate it up with a spoon — until they realized that image was a lie once they got there.

Then, you have micro-influencers who try to make money from affiliate sales. However, all is usually not what it seems as Jordan Bunker explained to The Guardian:

All isn’t how it is perceived on Instagram. People assume I have a great life and everything is handed to me. I live with my parents and I work from a desk in my room; it’s not like I have a separate working space or office.

That’s not the only deception. Influencers often make their luxurious lives seem like something that’s easy to achieve. The reality, however, is that many of them have to work really hard to stage their life, every second of every day, hoping to get the perfect shot that will make consumers want to follow them or buy the stuff they promote.

But as Lucie Greene, an analyst who specializes in consumer behavior, pointed out:

We’re seeing a rising awareness of how social media use and influencer culture affects mental health, from Fomo (Fear of Missing Out) to driving compulsive, addictive consumption, to feelings of isolation.

Granted, the messages alone that influencers send to followers are often problematic. But so, too, are the images. So, as you design your website and integrate photos from your clients or from stock photo sites, think about what message you’re really sending.

Sephora, for instance, promotes its products with photos of the actual products. You might see a model or two on the top of the home page. For the most part, though, the focus is on the products.

That said, cosmetics and other beauty products can be used to convey a certain image and lifestyle — one that consumers desperately want. So, is Sephora missing out on an opportunity to create a “Sephora Lifestyle” by not photographing models using its products?

Sephora Inspire community
Sephora lets its users’ photos inspire the right kind of FOMO. (Source: Sephora) (Large preview)

Unlike many other retailers who might share photos of models living their lives in some far-off, exotic locale while wearing their products, Sephora doesn’t do that. The only time you really see photos of its cosmetics and products in action is here, in its “Inspire” community.

So, rather than leave its customers pining for some life that they may unconsciously associate with the red lipstick they were thinking of picking up, real customers get the chance to paint a more realistic portrait of its products.

Sephora Inspire gallery
A gallery of product photos from the Sephora Inspire page. (Source: Sephora) (Large preview)

As consumers grow weary of artificially enhanced photos and scenarios, you’re going to find it harder to make them feel like they’re missing out. However, by allowing your customers to provide a real look at what your products can do (and this goes for any kind of product, physical or digital), that’s where you’ll start to see consumers responding to feelings of missing out.

Before I wrap up here, I want to point out that this isn’t just for companies that sell affordable products.

The Inner Circle, for example, is an exclusive dating app. In order to join, users must first be prescreened and approved.

Now, you might think that a luxury brand like that would want to use influencer-like photos to show users how much they’re missing out by not dating in their “class”. But they don’t.

The Inner Circle dating app with bar photo
The Inner Circle luxury dating app doesn’t focus on the luxurious side of dating. (Source: The Inner Circle) (Large preview)

In this first example from the app’s signup page, you can see that the focus is on finding a popular spot to hang out and meet people. While the black-and-white filter does give it a swankier vibe, there’s nothing about the people in the photo that necessarily screams “Exclusive!”

The same thing goes for this photo:

The Inner Circle dating app with date in the park photo
The Inner Circle paints dating in a positive and natural light. (Source: The Inner Circle) (Large preview)

This is the kind of date most people would go on: a date in the park. The people in the photo aren’t all glammed up or wearing clothes made by high-end luxury designers.

These photos feel accessible. They let users know that, at the end of the day, they’re using this app to make real-life connections. There’s nothing exclusive about that.

And if a luxury brand like The Inner Circle can send that kind of message to its users with photos, then any brand should be able to do the same and be successful with it. Just be honest in what you’re portraying, whether it’s a photo of someone cooking with your products or a look inside the real (not illustrated) dashboard of your SaaS.

If you want to give prospects the feeling that they’re about to miss out on something worthwhile, just be real with them.

Wrapping Up

Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but deceptive FOMO tactics will eventually catch up with you when customers start to realize they were misled by inflated numbers, exaggerated scenarios or seemingly time-sensitive or exclusive offers.

Remember: the websites and apps you build for clients shouldn’t just attract and convert customers. They also need to help your clients retain that business and loyalty over the long term. By being more responsible with the messages you’re sending, you can help them accomplish that.

Smashing Editorial(ra, yk, il)


Despite the fact mobile devices are now the dominant way that consumers browse and search the internet, mobile ad clicks and conversions are less valuable than those on the desktop. That’s according to an analysis of 10 million ad clicks across 100 accounts by digital marketing agency AccuraCast.

Mobile conversions growing but less valuable. But while mobile conversions grew a significant 10 points from 2018 to 2019 (39% to 49%), the majority of conversions still come from the desktop. AccuraCast said, “overall, desktop visitors convert 60% more than mobile visitors, and conversions from a desktop device are worth 93% more than mobile conversions, on average. (For B2C companies, conversion value was calculated as the average order value, and for B2B it was calculated as the lead value and propensity to buy.)”

Historically AOV for desktop transactions has been higher than on mobile devices. This is backed up by multiple other studies and reports. As a generalization, consumers browse on mobile devices and tend to buy on the desktop — although that is changing.

A year’s worth of data analyzed. The firm looked at mobile and desktop ad clicks between August 2018 and and August 2019. Mobile impressions, clicks and conversions (e-commerce or lead capture) grew during the 12-month period.

Low quality apps/sites that drive traffic but not conversions.
  • Poor performing landing pages that aren’t transaction friendly.
  • Ad formats that generate accidental clicks.
  • AccuraCast implies that latent conversions on different devices (mobile ad exposure with a later desktop conversion) may thwart tracking — and potentially distort the data to some degree. That issue isn’t really discussed in the report, except that AccuraCast recommends retargeting non-converting mobile users on the desktop, where they’re more likely to buy.

    Why we should care. For years consultants and industry experts have advised retailers and others to speed up and simplify the mobile user experience. Heeding that advice has clearly borne fruit in the form of conversion and revenue growth on mobile devices.

    What the AccuraCast report indicates is that there’s still some distance to go. However, retailers and other sellers should not see the desktop and mobile as mutually exclusive channels. Most shoppers are using multiple devices to make buying decisions, depending on the level of purchase consideration. One exception may be younger users who are less engaged with PCs and tend to favor mobile devices and physical stores over traditional e-commerce.

    About The Author

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