Timers embody scarcity. As such, they are very powerful — an email silver bullet that announces “going-going-gone.” This provides busy subscribers immediate information about your promotion. It also increases sales in the process.
But using timers too often has the opposite effect because it erodes trust. The store’s urgency takes on a hollow ring, and timers go from motivating to irritating faster than the seconds dial races to zero.
Why Countdown Timers?
Over 90 percent of the information that is processed by the brain is visual. This is useful to know when depicting scarcity. For example, one study notes that a UK jeweller achieved a 171% higher click-to-open rate and a 400% higher conversion rate when using a countdown timer during a Black Friday promotion.
Countdown timers are a clear, visual announcement which reminds customers that quick action is an offer requirement. And failure to act becomes an action in itself, because the offer becomes increasingly less available.
The goal in using a countdown timer is to leverage the fear of missing out (FOMO) associated with scarcity. This generates a sense of urgency. Creating a sense of urgency can push customers into faster purchase decisions.
3 tips when using countdown timers:
- ⚠ Be honest
Urgency is an efficient tactic but it has to be used sincerely or you risk irritating your customers.
- ⚠ Don’t overdo it
A countdown timer shouldn’t be overused, or the customer will begin to lose trust in the information you are providing. If everything is urgent than nothing is.
- ⚠ Give useful information
Timers are not just gimmicks. To participate in a sale, it’s important to know the deadline, and countdown timers present this information clearly and precisely.
However, clear digits is no substitute for clearly explaining the timer’s role in the promotion.
While the purpose of the timer is clearly stated in the illustration above, the example below merely tacks on a timer with no explanation. Tests show that unexplained timers like this tend to drive less engagement.
Standard & Perpetual Countdown Timers
A standard timer is the basic time most often utilized in email campaigns. You set the end time of your sale and format it with colors, fonts and other design elements.
A perpetual timer is something you would use in your Flows (automated sequences).
E.g. Cart Abandon flows often include a discount for 48 hours. This event happens every time someone abandons a cart, a daily occurrence, which means standard timers are inadequate.
In this case, perpetual timers, which work like GIFs, will start counting down from 48:00:00 when the recipient opens the email.
Countdown Timer Sourcing
Some of the most popular countdown apps include: