Quick Wins: Using countdown timers to inject urgency into your email marketing campaigns

Published 15 th February 2021

Quick Wins: Using countdown timers to inject urgency into your email marketing campaigns

There are a few classic ways of generating urgency in email campaign messaging – whether that be “Last Chance” or “Don’t Miss Out”, but none of these create quite as much visual impact as an animated countdown timer.

Countdown timers are a quick win for freshening up content and adding that sense of urgency or excitement to your email creative. They are simple to add, create more impact than static imagery and the ticking nature plays on the psychology of “Act now before it is too late!”

This article will explain the various uses and benefits of countdown timers, give a range of considerations when designing a timer or choosing a platform, and show 3 best practice examples of timers for inspiration.

What is a countdown timer?

Countdown timers in emails are animated GIFs that countdown in seconds to how long is left until something happens, for example, until a promotion ends, time till an event, or any other date you may be promoting. 

Every time the email is opened, the time changes automatically. 

Why use countdown timers?

Countdown timers are effective because they are a tool that stems out of persuasion psychology. The two principles that drive it are the human triggers of scarcity and fear of missing out (FOMO).

It is part of the human makeup to feel that if something is going to become scarce, it is more desirable. You only have to look at the recent launch of the new audio social network Clubhouse where restricting access to invite only has created that fear of missing out to actually stimulate demand.

Even if the product is always in stock, countdown timers of a lowered price trigger that same psychological response in people who have an interest in the product, even if it’s only vague.

In addition, because they are not static as is the rest of the email content, the brain takes notice of it; the animation catches the eye to get their attention.

All in all, a timer creates urgency and when used strategically, increases conversions to give marketers a quick win.

And the reason why they are a quick win is because they are super simple to add to emails, and doesn’t need an HTML pro to do it.

How to create countdown timers in Reignite

In Reignite, you get to design how you want your timer to look, with your own custom fonts, colours, and graphics, and then set the end time. Once you’re done with all that, simply drop the image tag into your email template, and voila! Done.

In this video you can see just how easy the Reignite platform makes it to add countdown timers to your emails.

Ideas for how timers can be used in emails

Timers are traditionally used for time till the end of a promotion, but they can also be effective in other creative ways. Here’s some inspiration:

Time till next day delivery

Add in an email a timer that reminds customers that they can have an item tomorrow if they buy before today’s cut-off time.

Time till holiday departure

Travel brands can use timers to generate excitement for the forthcoming holiday.

Time till event

Event organisers can use timers to create anticipation of an upcoming event.

Count up timer

Timers can go up as well as down! They are a great way of reminding customers how long it is since they last did something.

Tips for using countdown timers to maximise impact


Don’t fake urgency 

Timers work best when there is genuinely only a short time left.

Timezones

If you have international customers, make sure the platform you choose supports different timezones so you can end promotions at the right time in the customer’s home timezone.

Font and customisation

Be mindful of font and customisation when choosing a timer platform. It should be able to support your own brand fonts and any other custom colours or imagery. Many platforms offer limited customisation so you have to adapt your email to fit the limited designs they offer. Look for one which offers what you require.

End image

What kind of end image will work best? When the promotion ends, by default most timers will show “00:00:00” but with Reignite, for example, you have the option of showing a different image such as, ‘Sorry. You’ve missed out’.

Dynamic end time

For triggered email messages, dynamic end time timers are sent at different times for different customers depending on triggers. You may also want to include a countdown timer in the graphic; in that case, make sure the countdown timer platform supports the ability to add a custom end time based upon when the email is sent.

Inspiration! 3 examples of how other marketers used Reignite countdown timers


JewelleryMaker Deal of the Day

On every daily deal, TV shopping channel JewelleryMaker uses a countdown timer to remind customers of the price of an item “for today only”.

Cruising Excursions time till departure

Cruising Excursions use a timer to count down the customer’s sail date, encouraging them to book tours.

Easyfundraising count-up timer

Easyfundraising uses count-up timers to remind their charity supporters of when last they made a donation, and the timer acts as a prompter to give again.

In summary, countdown timers are a quick-win solution to drive urgency, and they are easy to use on a specialist platform like Reignite.

What would you like to do now? 

1. Download our “Quick Wins for Marketers” whitepaper which goes into detail about how to include quick wins into your email creative, or

2. Request a demo to find out more about Reignite’s platform and how it simplifies the use of countdown timers in marketing emails.

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