Marketers: Just say NO to FOMO (sometimes)

By Renae Gregoire | Email marketing

Feb 20
Just say NO to FOMO

In a span of just four days, I had two emails pop into my inbox with an acronym in the subject line -- an acroynm I understood ONLY because I'm in marketing.

What's the acronym?

It's FOMO. Fear of missing out.

Lookie here, at the first instance:

Now, how many consumers are going to know what FOMO is?

I asked my husband, who owns a pest control company. He's not a marketer, but is Internet savvy. He said he'd never heard of FOMO.

I couldn't help but wonder why this happened, as I seriously doubted that most consumers on this brand's list would know what FOMO meant. I figured that someone, somewhere, came up with the "FOMO alert" strategy, and then told someone else to send this particular "FOMO alert" mailing.

So, understandably, that final someone in the chain wrote the subject line: "FOMO Alert!"

Now had that been the only instance of a company throwing FOMO at me, it would not have been a big deal, certainly nothing worth writing about.

Complain to the husband, delete, move on.

But then, just a few days later, I got ANOTHER email with FOMO in the subject line!

NOW the topic is worth writing about.

What's up with that?

Do marketers think consumers know what FOMO means?

DO consumers know what it means?

A quick poll

I took a quick, decidedly unscientific poll on my Facebook page because most of the people I'm friends with aren't in marketing.

The results?

Out of the 17 people who responded:

  • 9 people did NOT know what FOMO meant (52 percent)
  • 8 people did know what FOMO meant (47 percent)
  • Of the 8 who did know what FOMO meant, at least four are heavily involved in online marketing
The takeaway?

Are you okay with the possiblity that more than 50 percent of the people who receive your email may NOT understand what your subject line means?

If so, if you're okay with it, then by all means: Use FOMO in your subject lines.

If not, then tweak your subject lines. Or, pass this message along to those who create them.

I bet your bottom line will thank you.

Update: June 16, 2017

I spotted another usage of FOMO in my inbox recently, this time from Audible.

FOMO is not for everyone

This instance seems particularly egregious because the writer spelled out OOO -- out of the office -- but not FOMO.  

These FOMO goofs are a direct consequence of the curse of knowledge: the marketers are so steeped in their own world, and so familiar with their own jargon, that they miss the fact that readers might not get what they're saying.

These FOMO goofs are also a great reason why your firm should have a marketing editor on call; she'll catch these sorts of errors in your content before you publish. 



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About the Author

Renae Gregoire is a marketing writer, editor, critical thinker, obsessive questioner, and excellent-results deliverer. Although writing is her talent, empathy is her Super Power; she combines both into a potent formula for creating content experiences that lead more people to YES!

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(2) comments

Jodi October 20, 2017

I think FOMO isn’t as much of a marketing term as it is a younger generation acronym. Everyone I know who is younger than 30 uses FOMO on a daily basis… so, the lesson is more “know your audience.” If your customer is 24, FOMO makes sense. 54… not so much.

J

Reply
    Renae Gregoire October 30, 2017

    Point taken, know thy audience! Even so, my college-aged, net-savvy kids had no idea what FOMO meant. Also, according to Frommers, “Carnival estimates about 30% of passengers are under age 35, another 40% are between 35 and 55, and 30% are over age 55,” which means that they probably shouldn’t be using FOMO in the subject line of an email. Thanks for the comment!

    Reply
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