Making effective use of countdown timers

Everyone loves a countdown! Once we put a time limit on something, we increase the excitement. A ticking clock means there’s going to be a scramble, and some one could miss out: in one word, drama.

Adding a countdown timer to your marketing emails can be a powerful way to increase sales, create urgency and cut through to your audience. So how does it work and how can timers be used to best effect?

Why urgency is important in marketing

Being laidback is not a good idea in marketing. You want prospective customers to know that your product is so good, they need to snap it up. If you imply there’s an unlimited supply, they might think they should wait until tomorrow, or next week, or next year to buy. They might think they should compare you to your competitors or do a little research before taking action.

Urgency is about ensuring you close the deal and convert customers. Anything with an air of exclusivity or a time limit makes people think they should buy now or risk missing out.

A countdown timer is a clock which shows the time remaining for an offer, in the body of your email. Including a clock showing those dwindling seconds gives a sense of urgency like nothing else.

However, if you use a countdown clock in a contrived way, you won’t seem genuine and you will damage customer trust. This means your offer has to be a real offer, which represents good value and is of actual interest to the email recipient. This device should be used sparingly to ensure you don’t irritate your audience.

Language in the email should echo the sense of urgency communicated by that ticking timer, with phrases that stress the urgency such as ‘only a few hours left’ or ‘limited edition’ to underscore the message. The CTA (call to action) should be very clear, so the sense of urgency points readers in the direction you wish.

How do you use a countdown timer effectively in an email? Here are a few examples.

Countdown to a special event

If your Black Friday sale begins tomorrow, tell the world! A countdown timer helps to bookmark an event that will happen in the future, building excitement and increasing the number of customers who will be poised, ready to buy. Be clear about the deals or offers customers can expect, for example by stating the percentage reductions to be applied.

VIP access

Email marketing works well when you make your readers feel special – as if they are in your secret gang. A special offer for subscribers makes the most of this effect. For example, tell customers that they have an extra 25% off sale prices before your sale opens – with a countdown timer to show time left in the offer.

Hours left to end of an offer

Create major FOMO in customers by telling them they only have a certain amount of time left before an offer ends. They’ll want to snap up bargains before the clock hits zero.

Complete your purchase offers

Items left in shopping baskets are 100% not what online retailers want to see. If a customer leaves an item in a shopping basket without completing the sale, sending an email with an additional, time-limited discount and a countdown timer can give the extra push they need to complete the sale.

Goodwill freebies

Often, you may have content that you are happy to share but just whacking it on your site for all and sundry to use seems a bit much. A useful alternative is to give customers exclusive access for a limited period using a special code. This might be a guide or white paper, a webinar or a video. Include a countdown timer showing time left until the offer expires.

Put a bomb under your marketing

Can you afford to wait before deploying countdown timers in your email marketing?  Ramp things up by inserting a timer in your email offering.

If you want to see how you can do this with Instiller, all you need to do is get in touch and we’ll set you up with a free and unlimited 14 day trial.

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