FOMO Effect in Marketing: 5 Ethical Brain Hacks

The fear of missing out — or FOMO – is inherent to the human brain. 

No one likes feeling that they’ve been left behind. The desire to get ahead, fear of regret, and not wanting to miss out on amazing opportunities are mega-powerful behavior drivers. 

In fact, 69% of millennials report regularly experiencing FOMO and claim that it encourages them to show up and engage more with products and experiences. 

But what does this have to do with marketing? 

Creating FOMO in digital marketing can be an effective way to engage your audience and boost sales. 

BUT there’s a right and a wrong way to trigger FOMO (and you DEFINITELY want to do it right!)

In this blog post, I’m sharing my best tips on how to create FOMO in marketing WITHOUT being phony, damaging your brand reputation, and compromising your integrity. 

How to Use FOMO in Marketing Without Being Icky: 5 Clever Ideas

1. Show Demand

Showing that other people are investing in your products or services (AND getting results from them!) is key to triggering FOMO in your target audience. 

The truth is, people start wanting to buy if they see that other people are buying too.

The best part? This marketing strategy can (and absolutely should) be based on real numbers and achievements so you can improve your conversion rates without sacrificing your integrity. 

One way to show off demand is to include how many clients or customers you’ve served in the past, like in this example from Sabrina Phillip: 

Sabrina is a business coach and, after reading this, you know how many women she has coached in the past (100,000+). 

These three lines of copy boost your trust, make you want to be one of these women, and get you wondering: 

“If I don’t join, will I be able to build an intentional, manageable, and profitable business? Am I missing out on knowledge and tools?” 

In other words…FOMO! 

2. Emphasize Limited Availability

Creating a sense of urgency around your product or service can help drive conversions. 

Telling your leads that they have a limited time to take advantage of your offer encourages them to set aside their hesitations and act faster to avoid missing out. 

If they know that there are only 3 spots available or that the enrollment to your program closes at midnight, they’ll want to act faster to secure access to your product or service. 

Urgency can be an incredibly powerful tool, but it’s important to do it in a way that doesn’t come across as manipulative or unethical. 

The most important thing is to NOT LIE. 

(The more polite way of saying this would be “don’t create false urgency,” but we all know that “false urgency” is just code for…well, lying.) 

So — 

If your program has 10 open spots, don’t post on your social media that you only have only 2 spots available.

If your product is always available at the same rate, don’t advertise it as a “limited time offer.”

In short: be honest and only build urgency around things that are actually true. 

3. Share Client Wins and Testimonials 

Social proof is an incredibly powerful marketing tool and KEY to building up positive and ethical FOMO. 

Imagine you’re choosing between two restaurants. 

Let’s say that both of these restaurants serve Italian and their menu is at a similar price point, but restaurant #1 is full of people eating, drinking wine, and having a good time while restaurant #2 is…well, empty. Which restaurant would you choose? 

If you’re like most people, you’d go to restaurant #1 – and would potentially even be willing to pay more for their food and service, since they’re clearly doing something right

Why? Social proof. 

You saw that lots of people inside restaurant #1 were enjoying themselves and didn’t want to miss out. 

The same psychological principle applies to digital marketing. 

Use client transformations, case studies, and testimonials to show that your product or service brings real results and is loved by many so your audience realizes that they’ll regret not buying. 

This marketing strategy is completely ethical since the only thing you’re doing is telling true client or customer success stories! 

4. Explore New Marketing Channels 

Content is king and taking advantage of private or exclusive marketing channels can help you build a more engaged audience (which, in turn, will improve your conversion rates). 

While free and accessible marketing channels like social media and podcasts are important to build up brand awareness and grow your audience, you can also use the FOMO effect in marketing to nurture your leads or even monetize your content. 

Utilize the Power of Email Marketing

Advertising your email list as the place where you share your juiciest, most exclusive content will help you get more subscribers (because…FOMO!). 

When it comes to email marketing, the expected ROI for every $1 you spend is a whopping $40

Now, this is the AVERAGE. Imagine how much higher your ROI could be with a very engaged email list?! 

Tap Into Paid Channels 

Creating private groups or memberships to share exclusive content that your audience has to pay for is a great way to add a new revenue stream to your business. 

(Because, let’s be real…creating for free is getting kind of old, right?!) 

If your audience already enjoys your free content and knows that there’s a place where they can get access to even BETTER stuff, they wouldn’t want to miss out! 

Explore Influencer Marketing

If you’re running a product-based business, influencer marketing is a great opportunity for FOMO marketing campaigns. 

Influencers are well-known bloggers, celebrities, and other types of public figures that many people trust. Having them advertise your products can bring you a stream of engaged leads who’re thinking, “If XYZ is using this product, I want to do it too [because I don’t want to miss out on its benefits].” 

5. Offer Bonuses or Discounts

Incentivizing your audience to complete their purchase by giving them access to additional bonuses or a reduced price for a limited period of time is a great way to trigger FOMO. 

Knowing that they’ll be able to get special resources or pricing for a limited time only will make your leads feel that they have to act NOW or they’ll miss out on an awesome deal. 

Here are a few ideas for what you can do:

  • If you’re live launching a program or a course, offer early bid pricing or free resources to people who enroll by a certain date.
  • If you’re running a product-based business, take advantage of holidays or do a flash sale.
  • If you’re selling a service, experiment with offering an extra deliverable or sharing a paid resource for free. 

As always, stay honest and consistent with the incentives that you advertise. FOMO can make your leads complete the purchase, but what you deliver must satisfy their curiosity and make them feel that they got what they were promised. 

The Ultimate FOMO in Marketing Tip: Build Stronger Brand Messaging 

The last hack to using FOMO in marketing that I’m going to leave you with is this — 

Craft strong brand messaging that’ll immediately attract your target audience and make them feel that they can’t go another day missing out on what you have to offer. 

Investing in your brand messaging is a more long-term strategy than creating a flash sale, but it’ll also bring more sustainable and long-term results. 

Key to strong brand messaging? A good brand story. 

And if you have no idea where to start…

Take the storytelling quiz and discover your unique weapon in marketing! 

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We created this piece to be a reminder that, no matter what we're doing: our words matter. We can’t live a meaningful life or run a successful business without positive words. And the words we use can make or break us. So, grab a piece and allow yourself to be inspired and reminded that...your words matter.


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