There’s almost no aspect of life that isn’t tied to time in some way.
Working in the office? You’re on the clock. Doing chores at home? Time ticks away. Even if you’re relaxing, time is still passing.
There’s something about the numerical authority of a ticking timer that makes us more efficient. We realize there’s only so much of it left. It could be the will to use our remaining seconds or minutes most effectively—or simply the thought of how negative it is to waste time—that motivates us.
Whatever it is, timers are a great tool for keeping people on track and getting them moving. When you’re in marketing, your job is about nudging people toward a desired action—which could be anything from getting them to respond to an email to having them make a purchase.
When you’re creating content for inboxes, an email countdown timer is one of the most creative tools you can use. Timers can function in many ways, and they can be useful across a variety of industries.
What’s an email countdown timer and how does it work?
An email countdown timer is a clock that counts down to zero. It’s programmed to end at a set time, so it will be accurate no matter when your reader opens the email containing it.
Companies like Liveclicker can provide you with countdown timers to integrate right into your content. And, you can program it with the specific timeframe you want.
By combining the elements of animations and personalization, you get an active and engaging tool that’s very useful.
5 reasons to add email countdown timers
It pays to know how to use email countdown timers and why they’re valuable. Here are five reasons you should consider this tool for your email marketing.
1. They create a sense of urgency
When you want readers to act, there’s no better way to convince them than by letting them know the opportunity won’t always be there.
In this email, the timer would be active and ticking down to show the amount of time remaining in an active sale. Rather than just showing a static date, this approach creates a greater sense of urgency.
The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a proven way to get people to act. Time sensitivity helps people work harder on projects to make deadlines.
The same thing happens when you include an email countdown timer for a sale or deal. People who may have otherwise passed on your offer may be swayed by the sight of time ticking slowly away. Every second they don’t act is a missed opportunity, so the realization of what they’re missing out on is much more apparent.
In a test involving static versus animated Facebook ads, the latter were shown to be more effective. Though we’re talking about two different channels, the fact remains that animations are often more engaging than static images.
2. They make contests more exciting
Businesses constantly offer discounts and specials. But when you’re promoting a deal, you’re trying to get a customer to pay for something. Contests are a little different.
A contest is something that gives people a chance to win, often without requiring anything from them. However, this also presents a problem. Those who have the opportunity to get something for nothing often feel the deal is too good to be true.
Combined with the worry that they’re statistically unlikely to win, many may pass on the offer. If you want to get people to take a chance on the contest, bring FOMO back into the equation.
Source: Really Good Emails
The thought of a giveaway raises questions. Putting an email countdown timer adds a degree of certainty. It lets people know the timeframe they have to possibly win won’t be there forever. This can be enough to overpower their reservations.
Giveaways are a great way to keep your subscribers engaged, learn what they like, and show them you care. If you use a timer, it’s much easier to accomplish your giveaway goals.
3. They’re helpful for nonprofit marketing
Keeping with the subject of marketing efforts that don’t involve sales, nonprofits are in a unique position with their promotional efforts.
Nonprofits know all about the fundamentals of marketing. Conveying a sense of urgency and engaging with the viewers' emotions are core aspects of marketing—whether you’re making sales or collecting donations.
Since raising awareness is so important to nonprofits, it pays to talk about the timeframe in which efforts are based. Whether you’re collecting donations to meet a goal or hold an event to get people involved in a particular cause, a timeframe is a great tool.
Consider the following email and imagine how much more effective it would be with an integrated timer.
Source: Really Good Emails
Especially given that the copy conveys a sense of urgency, a timer would’ve been a perfect fit. If an email is talking about a specific goal that you’re aiming for, a timer works even better. People may even be more incentivized to contribute if they see the clock is winding down and they feel their contribution could make a real difference.
4. They help restaurants promote specials
Restaurants, catering companies, and other businesses in the food industry have one major thing in common: They almost all focus on promoting specials at various points. These specials can help bring in big revenue numbers (if promoted properly).
One of the most popular restaurant marketing techniques involves assessing your audience and goals, and then getting those goals in line with your budget. If one of your goals involves promoting a special, you should consider integrating an email countdown timer.
Source: Really Good Emails
Emails like this are designed to advertise a special menu item. Especially if you’re talking about something that’s just come back or is available for a reduced price, you should always consider using a timer.
If a dish has returned on the menu, it becomes more alluring if it’s back for “a limited time only.” If it’s available at a discounted price, people may be more inclined to go out and try it if they know the price will increase soon.
Seeing a clock tick down and knowing the food will return to its regular price (or disappear completely) when the clock strikes zero makes people more likely to act.
5. They fit perfectly with fitness emails
Fitness is all about numbers—think scales, calorie content, fat percentages (the list goes on). There are endless numbers to keep track of if someone’s improving their physical fitness.
The good news for you as an email marketer is that your audience is already used to seeing numbers. A countdown timer works in this industry because it feels natural. Maybe your customers count down the minutes left in their run. Or maybe they count out the calories they have left in their daily regimen.
Whether you’re promoting the time remaining on a membership discount or the sale of certain health products, you can let email countdown timers work in your favor.
Think about an email like this:
Source: Really Good Emails
Strava used numbers in this email as a part of their appeal—so a timer would have been a great fit. If you send emails like these on a regular basis, you can easily work in a timer. And when a timer feels natural, it’s more likely to get engagement.
The takeaway with email countdown timers
An email countdown timer may seem like a relatively homogenous tool. But the more you use it, the more you’re likely to find natural places for it in your marketing.
Limited-time sales, short-term product offers, and time-sensitive events are just a few of the ways you can integrate a timer into your content. You’re not only grabbing people’s attention, but you’re also conveying a sense of urgency. More importantly, you’re removing the guesswork.
It comes back to the benefits of specificity in content. “Click here,” is not as appealing as “click here to get a free quote.”
Likewise: “This offer is ending soon,” is not nearly as impactful as “this offer ends in 10 hours, 11 minutes, and 19 seconds.”
Email countdown timers have three great qualities: They’re personal, in that they can be adapted to any timeframe. They’re animated, so you don’t have to settle for something static. And they’re versatile, so they can be used across various industries. Remember:
Use them when you need a sense of urgency
Consider them when you want to push past a reader’s reservations about engaging
Find how countdown timers fit in your specific industry
Feel like your marketing campaigns aren’t getting enough engagement? Check out this article and try segmenting your list.
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