How to Skyrocket Conversions With Countdown Timers In Emails

Here’s a question we get asked a lot…

What are some of the low-hanging fruit in email marketing?

In other words: what are some easy strategies that email marketers can implement to significantly boost the effectiveness of their campaigns?

Well, one of our FAVORITE strategies is to utilize countdown timers in emails.

These are super easy to integrate into your emails, and they drive amazing results.

Here, we’ll break it down for you…

Countdown timers create scarcity, because they basically tell your readers: hey, if you don’t take us up on our offer before the countdown ends, the deal is off the table.

From here, it’s pretty straightforward:

Scarcity = Urgency.

Urgency = ↑ Demand.

For those of you who want to start experimenting with using countdown timers in emails, we’ve put together a handy guide that tells you all you need to know.

Ready? Let’s jump right in!

The Power of Countdown Timers

When used appropriately, countdown timers can be CRAZY powerful.

Check it out…

By featuring a countdown timer in their Black Friday email, eCommerce stores have seen increases in their conversion rate by a mind-boggling 400%.

Now, you might be wondering:

When is using countdown timers a good fit? What counts as “appropriate”?

Basically, you want to use these timers in conjunction with your best promotions, or your largest-scale events.

Also, use these sparingly, so your contacts won’t become “immune” to them!

Here’s an analogy:

Say, as a kid, your parents would make blueberry pancakes for you every Christmas morning.

Assuming this happens only once a year, you’d probably look forward to those blueberry pancakes all year long, and get SUPER excited once Christmas rolls around.

Now, imagine that this wasn’t an annual thing, and your parents made you blueberry pancakes every single day, for breakfast.

Would you still look forward to those pancakes, and stuff yourself silly with them?

Probably not. They’re available ALL THE TIME, so even if those are the most delicious pancakes in the world we’re talking about, you’d get sick of them sooner or later.

When it comes to countdown timers, the same thing goes.

If you use them sparingly, the effect that they have on your audience is HUGE.

But if you use them all the time, your contacts will come to see this as a cheap trick, and they won’t bite.

Keep that in mind!

Do Email Clients Actually Support Countdown Timers?

Countdown timers are basically animated GIFs, so what we’re really asking here is… do email clients support GIFs?

Good news: the vast majority of them do, except a small group of users who are still running Outlook ’07, ’10 & ’13. 

Now, here’s the question: should you be worried about your Outlook contacts missing out?

We’d say – nope!

Gmail, Android, Apple Mail and iPhone dominate the market, and you probably only have a handful of contacts using Outlook.

Don’t let this stop you… go ahead and experiment any way! 

How Do You Create an Email Countdown Timer?

Alright, there are two ways of doing this.

If you know how to code, you can build your own timer using HTML.

If you don’t, you can use tools such as Sendtric to create your timer.

With Sendtric, for instance, you simply:

  • Choose your time zone
  • Specify when your timer ends
  • Choose your language
  • Choose the colors you want to utilize on your timer

 That’s it. Super simple, right?

3 Countdown Timer Examples to Inspire You

Need some inspiration? We’ve rounded up 3 of our favorite email countdown timer examples – check them out below!

First up, there’s this email by Printed.com, which uses an email countdown timer to advertise their latest sale. 

The email copy here is straightforward, but impactful.

If you want to take your discount email to the next level, try something like “Redeem your discount” on your Call To Action button, instead of going with something generic like “Shop now” or “Buy now”.

Next, there’s this email by BlueMercury: 

Here, BlueMercury uses a timer to promote an exclusive, early release product.

Again, this ties back into the idea of scarcity. BlueMercury cleverly notes in the email that the product won’t be available till 6 April – and this gives their audience an even larger incentive to purchase immediately. 

Alright, moving on!

While countdown timers are most commonly used to promote sales events, but you can also use these to reduce cart abandonment.

Here’s an example: 

Pretty powerful, right?

Now, you can frame your abandoned cart email like this, with a limited-time discount on free shipping. OR you could skip the discount and simply add some text along the lines of: 

Whoops, we can’t guarantee that your items won’t be snapped up by another shopper once the timer hits zero. Quick, come back and claim your stuff! 

Either way, a countdown timer is a great way to push contacts to make a decision quickly!

BONUS: Using Countdown Timers in Non-eCommerce Emails

Even if you’re not in the eCommerce industry, you can still use countdown timers to supercharge your emails.

Here’s how Neil Patel does it:

The countdown timer itself is pretty straightforward, but note how Neil Patel includes a screenshot of his landing page in his sign-off.

Here, he tells his readers that they’ll no longer be able to access the offer if they click on the link after the timer hits zero.

This is a great way of showing your audience that you’re not bullshitting – and that the offer REALLY goes away within a limited period of time.

If you’re marketing to a particularly savvy audience, this is a great tactic to use.

A Final Word on The Power of Countdown Timers in Emails

Humans are highly irrational creatures – that much is obvious.

If something is easily available, and we can get our hands on it anytime we want, chances are that we won’t find it particularly desirable.

But if something is limited-edition, exclusive, or available only for a limited period of time?

It suddenly becomes a HIGHLY coveted item.

Bearing this in mind, make sure that you remind your customers that your sales and promotions aren’t infinite, and that they only run for a short period of time.

You’ll see your conversions skyrocketing in no time! 😉 

Kristen Dahlberg

Content Manager at Sendlane
As a member of the Sendlane content marketing team, Kristen focuses on everything from organization to content curation and process improvement. She enjoys variety and the challenge of learning the best way to accomplish each new goal.

Outside of work, Kristen spends as much time as possible at the beach, soaking up the San Diego sunshine!
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