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Millennials: Why Your eCommerce Business Should Focus on Them

Millennials are now the biggest demographic with disposable income in the US today. This is the generation born between the 1980s and 1990s. Statistics show that Millenials will make up the majority of the US workforce by the year 2025, which also means that most of them still have their prime earning (and spending) years ahead of them. Thus,  eCommerce businesses with sound marketing strategies focused on this demographic should yield steady returns for the next few decades.

They are an Influence to be Reckoned With

There are about 80 million Millennials in the US today. Aside from being the biggest segment of the population, representing trillions in sales, they are also a force to be reckoned with in terms of influence on brands and what the next generation of shopping will be like.

Being the children of the technology age, Millennials are dependent on their gadgets. Not only are they constantly connected to their devices, they also influence the next generation’s use of these gadgets as well as their shopping habits. eCommerce marketers should recognize that when they target Millennials they are also targeting their as well.

It should also be emphasized that Millennials are very involved with the brands they like. They’re very active in searching for reviews, reading feedback and providing their own as well. They’re also open to giving positive and negative feedback on almost every product they use, as can be seen by their propensity to fill out surveys on customer experience, the products they want and the content they consume.

 

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Capturing the Interest of Millennial Consumers

It’s obvious that Millennials have a different approach to shopping. This is why online retailers must find a way to relate to them and capture their loyalty and their dollars. Since this generation has an active online presence, your business should be felt online too.

Using conventional marketing tactics won’t work here. It’s vital that you engage with them honestly and realistically. This means providing content with the same behavioral, emotional, and psychological benefits that turned them to social media. Place yourself in the running by providing high-quality images that provide ideas and inspiration and make sure they’re optimized for sharing and for mobile.

It’s also a good idea to make pricing a priority. Millennials are always looking for good deals. So pushing a marketing plan that incorporates promos, discounts and coupons are a good bet. Add some free shipping and you’ll be able to drive traffic to your site.

Simple UX Tips to Keep Your eCommerce Store from Losing Money

Shopping cart abandonment is a big problem that can lead to huge loses in revenue for your eCommerce business. However, there are various reasons why shoppers abandon their carts. Some customers might just want to browse your store items while others are simply not interested in what you have to offer. While some reasons for shopping cart abandonment are out of your control, improving the user experience of your online store will get more customers pass the checkout.

Understanding the Importance of UX

User experience, or UX for short, pertains to the overall feeling a customer has when interacting with your eCommerce store. How positive the UX is usually depends on how enjoyable and easy it was for the visitor to navigate the store, find what they were looking for, and place an order. Conversely, issues like unclear pricing, site errors, and insufficient payment methods can cause people to abandon their carts.

Companies might argue that loyal customers will put up with slight inconveniences. But these days, shoppers have numerous options for buying products and services online. Shopify.com alone has more than 500,000 merchants in about 175 countries. Regardless of how good your product or service is, there are competitors that offer something similar. And if they also provide a better user experience, well, it’s not hard to imagine where the customers would go.

Ways to Improve UX in Your eCommerce Store

A good UX can help attract new customers. More importantly, it helps online retailers retain existing customers and boost customer returns. If you want your clients to remain loyal and keep coming back, then you should look for ways to improve your store’s UX. Here are some suggestions:

1. Enhance Search Results

About 30 percent of your site’s visitors will be using the search tool. These guests know what they want and are very motivated to purchase it. So you should make it easier for these shoppers to find the product they want by enhancing your site’s search feature.

Consider where your search bar is located. Place it in a prominent location, like the page’s header. Look at how Amazon positioned theirs—at the top center of the page. Make sure your website’s search feature can be found on every page. This consistency will make your product catalog more accessible and browsing go more smoothly.

2. Use Good Photos and Improve Product Description

One disadvantage to online stores is that you can’t hold the product, and customers want to see and touch things they plan on buying. One way to counter this dilemma is to provide clear and captivating images of the product.

Online sellers have to make sure that they capture key product details in the photograph. Brands should ensure they display large product images and complement them with several alternative pictures and zoomed-in images. Don’t forget the product description. Add key information like available colors, size guides, weight, and other important specifications.

3. Improve the Checkout Process

A long and complicated checkout process is one of the main reasons for shopping cart abandonment. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make checking out go more smoothly. First, get rid of all unnecessary fields on the checkout form, like Gender or Birthday. Just stick to the information you really need.

It’s also a good idea to optimize your site for mobile checkout by using big fonts, larger input fields, and a clear call-to-action (CTA) button. There should also be an indication to the user that their order is being processed. The “loading spinner” can be useful at this point, and it’s something that users would expect to see.

4. Provide Good Customer Service and Positive Customer Interaction

There are a number of small, and often neglected, things that can lead to positive customer interaction. Ensuring that banners, CTA buttons, and photos link to the right product is one. Using area maps to link to a specific product when there’s more than one being shown in a photo is another. You don’t want to get your customer’s frustrated. Help them find what they’re looking for and give them a positive experience to remember.

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[Graphic via Wix.com]

Pay attention to customer reviews, comments, and emails. Make sure you respond to all your users on your different social media outlets. A live chat system is useful since it gives users the chance to contact you immediately, like when they’re about to order but have some questions before making a purchase.

A positive customer experience will do wonders for your store. Take advantage of the numerous tools and suggestions open to you on how to improve your site’s UX. But make sure you test it thoroughly.

Etsy Fails to Hit Quarterly Revenue Target, CEO Gets the Boot

E-commerce site Etsy had to cut its workforce by 8% and fired its CEO, Chad Dickerson, after failing to hit its first quarter revenue targets.

The statement on the first quarter earnings reported revenues of $96.9 million, just below the projected earnings of $98.4 million. A slowdown in consumer spending in February apparently dragged down the numbers, resulting in zero earnings per share for the first three months of 2017, which was below the 1% forecast.

In the same release, Dickerson expressed optimism for the strong business model of Etsy, which he believes will pull it through the challenging times and “drive long-term growth for all stakeholders.”

Dickerson, however, won’t get the opportunity to steer the company in the right direction as he was replaced by Josh Silverman, a former executive at eBay. John Allspaw, the chief technology officer, also left the company while 80 workers have been laid off in the company’s effort to streamline its personnel.

Silverman won’t be coming in blind, as he’s familiar with what ails the company, being a member of the Board of Directors since November 2016. Dickerson will also remain as an adviser until the end of this month.

Fred Wilson, who was named as the new chairperson of the Board of Directors, said appointing Silverman as the new CEO will make for an easy transition with the exit of Dickerson.

The company did not provide details on why spending in February was down. The press should also not expect a financial forecast anytime soon due to the change in management. Etsy reported losses of $421,000 in the first three months of this year against a $1.2 million earning for the same period last year.

 

Maxim Group analyst, Tom Forte, said Etsy’s decision to be cautious is “creating a level of uncertainty that the market’s uncomfortable with.” The CEO’s exit dragged down shares by 17% at closing.

Another issue pointed out is the poor web infrastructure of Etsy, which made it difficult for consumers to maximize its local search engine. This concern was aired by black-and-white art, which claims to own 2% of the e-commerce site.

The company said that as early as February, they have already instituted some measures to streamline their cost structure, while also looking for other ways to boost efficiency. “As a result of this process, we have identified savings that will be realized through a combination of headcount reductions and a reduction in internal program expenses,” the statement explained.

Shopify Makes it Even Easier for Merchants to Sell on Amazon

Shopify has been quite busy making things even better for their sellers this year. Much like its recent announcement about a marketplace integration with eBay, Shopify revealed a similar integration with Amazon.

The integration would allow US merchants to set up listings in seven new merchandise categories straight from Shopify. What’s more, it will also provide sellers support for the Amazon Brand Registry.

New Amazon Categories for Shopify

In the past, Shopify users were only allowed to list from their Shopify site to Amazon’s Clothing and Accessories group. With the new integration, users now have support for categories like Beauty and Personal Care, Health and Household, Home and Kitchen, Patio and Garden, Toys and Games, Sewing, Arts and Crafts, and Sports and Outdoors.

4 Ways to Make Free Shipping Profitable for Your eCommerce Business

One of the most crucial decisions an eCommerce business has to make is whether to offer free shipping. If the retailer does opt to provide free shipping, then other equally important decisions have to be made, like what kind of go-to-market process will be implemented.

An online retailer’s free shipping policy can boost conversions, but it can also add to expenses. Luckily, there are several strategies open to a company.

Here are four ways that can make free shipping profitable for your business:

Image result for flat rate shipping1. Offer Your Clients a Flat Rate

One of the best ways to make good use of free shipping is to offer a flat rate for all packages, or flat rates for total orders and weight ranges.

However, this method requires intensive planning and preparation. The company has to figure out the average cost of shipping. This is to ensure that they do not overcharge or undercharge clients. When they do come up with the right cost, the price will likely be a little over or under the actual shipping cost. But this discrepancy would even out eventually.

Retailers considering a flat rate should be aware that they would need to conduct several tests to see which would work better – pricing by weight range or order totals.

2. Add Shipping Cost to the Product Price

Integrating the shipping cost to the product price will also work in the company’s favor. Consider the following options:

  • Offer 1: $50 for the product + $5 for shipping
  • Offer 2: $55 with free shipping

The majority of consumers would undoubtedly favor the second option. Studies have shown that the conversion numbers for the second offer were double that of the first offer. This method also works very well for unique products and items that are hard to find.

So how does one incorporate the cost of shipping into the product’s price? One way is to change the price of items below the free shipping threshold so that it would include part of the expected shipping cost. For instance, you can add 13% of the expected shipping cost to items priced at $10. So from $10, the product will now cost $11.30. With this strategy, you get to offer free shipping while recouping part of the cost.

Image result for ground shipping3. Substitute Service Types

Thousands of online retailers have found that ground shipping is the most affordable option, so this is the most common type used in free shipping. But retailers should make it clear to customers that this is not overnight shipping and that an additional fee will be charged if they want to expedite the process.

Ground shipping can actually reduce your shipping expenses by as much as 50% and most can easily meet 2-day expedited shipping requirements. If the product is to be delivered somewhere near the office or distribution center, then you can use the cheapest ground option available, meet the delivery window, and save money.

Don’t be afraid that your clients will be put-off by the 2-day wait. Nearly all online buyers are willing to wait longer for a product as long as shipping is free.

4. Exclude Specific Products From Free Shipping

Another way to reduce the negative impact of free shipping is to exclude specific products from the service. Companies can exclude large and heavy items with high shipping cost and products with low margins from free shipping. They can also just offer the free service exclusively to high volume products with low shipping costs.

Do not look at free shipping as a financial black hole. Savvy retailers can utilize free shipping as leverage to boost conversions and average orders while reducing any negative impact it might have on revenue.

Why Your eCommerce Business Should Not Ignore Mobile Marketing in 2018

Mobile devices were named the leading digital platform in 2014, overtaking laptops and desktops. Since then, use of these gadgets just kept increasing. And even though some studies show the amount of time spent on mobile devices has gone down somewhat, non-voice mobile use in 2017 was still ahead of laptop and desktop use.

Reasons eCommerce Companies Should Focus on Mobile

Even though people are on mobile devices more often, companies didn’t put too much stock into using them to make sales. After all, most data showed that while people used their smartphones to check out products, most purchases were done on desktops, laptops, or tablets.

However, the tide is now changing, as last year’s Cyber Monday saw $2 billion in sales on mobile devices. Retail visits accounted for 37.6% of sales while 21% of sales were done on smartphones. Conversion rates on these devices were pegged to have increased by about 10% since the previous year.

Retailers have even more reasons to focus on mobile in 2018. Smartphones are expected to dominate this year, with about 36% of people around the world owning one. A large number of millennials are also foregoing computers and just using their smartphones to access the internet.

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[Graphic via Hostadvice.com]

Companies are also expected to come out with better retailer apps that are designed to encourage more consumers to purchase. The rise in popularity of PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Wallet for mobile will also introduce fast and seamless transactions.

3 Ways to Boost Mobile Sales

Now that mobile shopping is on the rise, at last, retailers have to decide whether they are really going to focus on this trend or not. Retailers that don’t want to miss out on the growing sales opportunities of mobile devices, will first need to find the best ways to boost mobile sales. Here are some suggestions on how to go about it:

1. Improve Mobile App Designs

 Even though most retailers have their own mobile apps, they often have bugs or are not designed for wide-scale consumer use. Because of problems with the interface and functionality, the apps have low conversion rates. Consumers also are not inclined to keep using them. One study revealed that more than 50% of retail apps are used less than 10 times and that 15% of consumers don’t even use shopping apps.

There are several factors that consumers find off-putting with retailer apps. One is the limited visibility they have when checking product images. Push notifications also tend to interrupt shopping time and many apps crash or freeze when the user gets a phone call or text message.

2. Optimize Websites for Mobiles

Companies that have not optimized their websites for mobile viewing miss out on sales opportunities. Consider the fact that 87% of shoppers would first look for the product online before going to the store. About 79% of shoppers actually check a product online while on the store’s premises and 35% after leaving the store. This is an issue that companies should take seriously, particularly as mobile traffic is expected to overtake desktop traffic in the first quarter of 2018.

Therefore, companies should make sure that their websites are optimized for mobile devices. One important factor that should be considered is the site’s layout and how it reacts to various screen sizes. Retailers should also take steps to minimize customer frustrations and mistakes. For example, offering alternative ways to input choices, like drop-down lists or tick boxes, will make for a more fun mobile shopping experience.

3. Offer More Payment Options

Giving consumers more payment options will also help boost mobile sales. Countries like China have already embraced mobile wallets and payments, and companies who want to tap into such a rich market should make sure they offer that particular payment option.

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The increasing popularity of mobile payment apps like Android Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal is also expected to result in people relying solely on their smartphones when they go shopping. Offering customers various payment options can also expand a company’s reach to the millions of shoppers who use alternative payment systems.

5 Ways to Boost eCommerce Sales with Product Recommendations

Businesses know that acquiring new customers is more difficult and costlier than selling new products to existing customers. This is why eCommerce businesses prefer to invest in a good loyalty program. And product recommendations is one of the best marketing tools that a retailer can have in its arsenal. After all, the right recommendation helps sell more products to existing customers.

Simply put, recommendations are suggestions made by the retailer on various things that the customer might also be interested in. But in order to do this, the company has to know its customers and what they want. This is to avoid scenarios like recommending red stilettos to a client who prefers white trainers.

The question now is how to successfully use recommendations to improve eCommerce sales. Here are five suggestions:

1. Generate Personalized Product Recommendations

Personalized recommendations are carefully calculated and chosen products that are offered with the customer’s shopping behavior and history taken into consideration.

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[Image via Amazon.com]

Amazon is a prime example of personalized recommendations. First-time site visitors will initially see some generic suggestions that are either crowdsourced bestsellers or what other visitors are checking. But once a purchase has been made, they’ll see recommendations based on items they’ve bought or searched for recently. These suggestions are found in the product description of the item a customer is currently checking or on the homepage that they’re logged into.

2. Have Well-Timed Customized Email Recommendations

Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing strategies. It’s affordable, practical, and can boost conversions. But to have a more robust customer engagement, personalized email recommendations are the way forward. After all, the more relevant the email’s content is, the higher the rate of emails opened, website visits and sales.

Amazon is again a good example of this strategy. The company’s AI sends well-timed emails that recommend products that the customer has just browsed on the site. The emails are also sent as soon as the customer leaves the site, thereby ensuring that they’re still receptive to recommendations.

3. Make Product Pages More Appealing With Relevant Suggestions

The product page is one area where you can make more recommendations. However, it’s important that you find the best way to showcase your items because at this stage, you’ll either push your client towards the checkout process or drive them away altogether. Data-backed recommendations can provide shoppers with more choices at this key stage. By putting together selections based on the customer’s interest, the odds of conversions can increase by as much as 411%.

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[Image via Shopify.com]

Brands can boost conversions by suggesting complementary items. For instance, if the shopper is looking for shoes, they can cross-sell by suggesting a shoe rack. Product recommendations can also be based on the shopping patterns of other shoppers. For example, if previous shoppers also bought a necklace after buying a blouse, then the product page would recommend what “people who bought this product also bought.”

4. Don’t Stop at a Confirmed Order

A successful order confirmation doesn’t mean you have to stop making recommendations. This stage of the shopping process can still be a good arena for recommending items that the customer could buy. Think of it as a last chance to add more products to the deal.

There are two good ways to make the most of order confirmations. One would be to have recommendation popups. Aside from thanking your customers for their latest purchase, include messages that suggest “you might be interested in this product.” The second way would be to integrate recommended products in the order confirmation email. Make your offer more compelling with the promise of freebies or discounts in their next purchase.

5. Making Friendly Referrals

As already mentioned, recommendations shouldn’t stop just because a purchase has been made. Recommendations can be used as a referral tool, one that can push a brand further, generate traffic, and boost more sales.

Brands can do this by asking customers to share the news of their latest purchase with their friends via social media. Bear in mind that people are more likely to buy or use the same brand that a trusted friend has used and recommended. To make this easier for your customer, integrate a “Share This” button on the customer’s order confirmation page.

There’s no question that recommendations have positive results. It’s a marketing strategy that eCommerce businesses can easily adopt. So this year, put more emphasis on recommendations and see your sales numbers grow.

Shopify’s ‘Ping’ App Streamlines Customer Conversations for Merchants

As an entrepreneur, time is your most valuable resource, especially when you’re in a highly competitive market. Shopify is now helping businesses maximize their time with a new app that manages customer conversations across multiple messaging platforms.

The company recently rolled out ‘Ping,’ for iOS devices. The standalone app can streamline customer interactions from SMS, Facebook Messenger, or a company website.

Shopify is putting more focus on mobile solutions for businesses as half of its estimated 600,000 retailers are already using its mobile application. Most of these merchants currently use the shopping platform to process their business needs and handle their payment system.

Communicating with Ping

The Ping app will enable retailers to communicate directly with clients and respond quickly to their requests. All conversations a company has with their clients on any messaging app can be accessed using Ping.

The fast response time is a great way to assist companies in delivering excellent customer service and building better relationships with clients.

Shopify explained in its blog that the company developed Ping as another means for online merchants to run their company. With the app, retailers “can spend less time shuffling between separate tools” and spend more time on essential things like serving clients and expanding their business.

What Can Kit Do

Ping comes with a built-in virtual assistant dubbed Kit. This little helper can help you conceptualize, develop, launch, and manage your marketing plans. Shopify explained that Kit is designed to run your Instagram and Facebook ads, manage your email marketing campaign, retarget clients, and more depending on the information collected from customer messages.

Kit can also implement complicated workflows, like touching up product images and searching for new products to expand your inventory.

The marketing bot was purchased by Shopify in 2016 and an upgraded Kit Skills API is slated to be released later this year. Some improvements expected to be introduced is a natural language processing system that will provide business owners with more insights and the capacity to represent their company in a chat environment. The built-in assistant will be able to respond to frequently asked questions and shipping inquiries. Of course, there will still be instances when human intervention is needed, like when dealing with a large order from a client.

The Ping app and Kit will also be able to do other AI processes like flag conversations that could lead to big deals or alert the owner of a customer complaint regarding an order.

Retailers big and small can now download Ping for free on iOS. However, it’s not clear just when the app will become available to Android users.

Amazon and Google are Starting to Look More and More Alike

The eCommerce landscape is in constant flux, with Amazon becoming more like a search-ads platform aside from being an eCommerce venture while Google seems to be doing the opposite. That’s one of the key takeaways from Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report.

Meeker recently presented her report at Recode’s Code Conference. Among the highlights of the talk was her observation that Amazon and Google are starting to evolve and converge.

While this convergence might seem strange to some, it’s inevitable that companies evolve as eCommerce continues to grow steadily every year.

Amazon the Search Engine

There’s no question that Amazon is lording it over in online sales. The company had a 28% share in gross merchandise volume (GMV) in 2017, a big jump from its 20% share in 2013.

The past few years has also seen Amazon becoming the start-off point for more product searches than Google. A reported 49% of shoppers begin their product search on Amazon while 36% opt for other search engines. What’s more, Amazon shoppers are a loyal group. A PricewaterhouseCooper’s survey revealed that 14% of shoppers use this site exclusively. The company is also perfectly suited to take advantage of these searches with key features like one-click purchasing, which allows customers to purchase from Amazon once they find the results they want.

[Graphic via MediaPost]

Amazon is also aggressively growing its advertising side. More marketers are investing in the company’s paid search products, with 82% of Amazon Marketing Services users purchasing sponsored products while 65% buy headline search and product display ads.

Google as an eCommerce Platform

Google and Facebook continue to dominate ad revenues; Amazon is currently in fifth place. But with Jeff Bezos nipping at their heels, the Alphabet group is not resting on its laurels and has started to develop ways to ensure shoppers remain onsite. The company’s new AdWords feature – Shopping Actions – will ensure that happens.

Shopping Actions essentially turns Google Assistant and Google Search into marketplaces that retailers can tap into while also allowing users to make direct purchases. Shoppers can add what they find in their search to a common shopping cart and easily check out using payment data already filed with Google. What’s more, the program works across various devices. This can provide Google a major advantage, given the increasing popularity of voice search.

Home Depot, Target, Ulta, and Walmart are just some of Google’s retail partners. However, these partner retailers would have to sacrifice some of their sales and control of their customer’s online shopping experience to Google, it’s a small price to pay for being able to utilize the company’s vast resources, technology, and millions of potential customers.

5 Ways to Use FoMO in Your Online Marketing Strategy

It’s human nature to want to be “connected” or “in the know.” In the past, not knowing where new water and food sources are could result in death. The situation now isn’t as dire as it was before, but the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is causing people to become afraid of missing out on the latest trends, products, and ideas.

Why FoMO Works as a Marketing Strategy

While FoMO was only included in the Oxford dictionary in 2013, the idea has been around for a long time. Every generation, from Baby Boomers to Gen Xers, has always had the desire to be in the loop, but it could be argued that the rise of social media has taken this fear to new levels. According to a MyLife research, 56 percent of social media users are afraid that if they’re not active, they’ll miss out on the latest news, upgrades, events, and status updates.

Marketers can, and have been, leveraging this fear and incorporating it into their strategies. This makes particular sense considering that studies have shown that 69% of millennials experience FoMO and more than half have made reactive purchases because of it. In short, these consumers have bought something just because they’re afraid of missing out.

5 Ways to Use FoMO in Your Online Marketing Strategy

Knowing how to utilize FoMO is an effective tactic for marketing your product or service. Luckily, there are several tried and tested techniques that can create a FoMO effect. Here are five examples:

1. Have Flash Sales

The flash sale is a very common FoMO marketing campaign. The idea of limited stocks and/or a limited time period naturally creates a sense of urgency. It also creates the feeling of scarcity when it comes to products. This leads to a major boost in conversions, as seen during Black Friday sales, end of season sales or anniversary offers.

2. Organize Limited-Time Events

Event organizers have also taken advantage of FoMO by limiting the number of seats or participants allowed in specific events. Some even offer exclusive seats and bank on the idea of a limited special offer to push people to purchase tickets. While this has been proven effective in music shows or conferences, a lot of businesses are now incorporating this idea to drum up excitement and interest in their podcasts or marketing webinars.

3. Introduce Loyalty Reward Programs

Loyalty programs are another sure-fire way to ensure long-term customer retention. By giving customers timely rewards and the odd special prizes, companies create a FoMo effect among those who are not customers or loyal members yet. This fear of missing out on special gifts and freebies will result in more people joining a company’s loyalty program scheme.

4. Promote User Experience

Letting your users or customers help is another good FoMO strategy. Some companies utilize user-generated content (UGC) to let site visitors and potential customers see and experience how “real people” use their products and services. This, in turn, leads to others wanting to experience and share their experiences too. Examples of these are marketing campaigns where consumers submit their photos or use certain hashtags.

5. Give Rewards to Early Purchasers

Giving away free products is undoubtedly a great way to attract customers. But you can make it even more compelling by limiting the freebies you give away. This is why some brick-and-mortar stores only offer a special discount or give a free gift to the first 200 customers. This then forces thousands of people to line up for the product.

The fear of missing out runs deep in most consumers. However, the desire for instant gratification and the popularity of social media has given this fear an added dimension. No matter how you decide to use FoMO, you should incorporate it in some of your marketing campaigns in order to generate more sales and keep your brand relevant.