The Power of Email Countdown Timers

6 Min. Read

Email marketing is the most powerful digital marketing channel, and using a count down timer for email can amplify your marketing campaign engagement rates. This article looks at how you can harness the power of an email countdown timer, to motivate your email subscribers into clicking your call-to-action button and act proactively. 

Countdown timers are often associated with conversion rate optimization (CRO) and improving ROI, making countdown timers one of the favorite arsenals of email developers. It helps boost the conversion rates for your emails (which is highest among all digital marketing channels) but you should use it moderately.

Let us have a look at this article to see how you can use the email countdown timer to instill a sense of urgency and combine them with access to limited period offers and events. Dive in deeper to know more.

Learn about Email Countdown Timers

Countdown Emails
Source - Shopify

What Are Countdown Timers for Email ?

Countdown timers bring two cognitive biases into action. It combines FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and Loss Aversion to strongly motivate your subscribers to take action. Coming up with a time-bound offer makes your product availability scarce for the given price. This gives your business the much-needed customer attention by instilling a sense of urgency to grab the opportunity. FOMO ensures that your subscribers will at least look at the offer while Loss Aversion convinces them not to let go of the offer, or they will be paying a higher price for the same item in the future. They have helped many ecommerce stores improve their sales by upto 400%

You can also add personalized offers to further intensify your persuasive tone and complement the instant gratification arising out of FOMO. The following email clients support countdown timers:

You can embed them in your HTML email templates for sending time-sensitive offers and access to events like webinars. You can use two types of countdown timers. The first one is a static countdown timer where an offer stands valid till a fixed date and time for all probable beneficiaries. On the other hand, a dynamic countdown timer allows your subscribers to benefit from your offer until a fixed time period from opening your email. You can use them for the following types of messages:

  • Promotional Offers
  • Coupons
  • End Of Season Sales
  • Seasonal Events
  • Cart Abandonment
  • Contests
  • Early Bird Discount
promotional messages preference

A significant portion of your subscribers join your mailing list for receiving promotional offers and thus, you can implement this strategy for various types of campaigns. 

You can easily club it with the ones mentioned above but don’t use timers consistently for the same type of offers. 

Also focus one deal at a time as too many items contradict with the idea of scarcity. This is applicable if you are sending the images of the item but if you are hosting a sale, it is better to include the sale as an event instead of listing out the products.

Let us have a look at best practices for using countdowns in email marketing:

Stick To Your Word Regarding The Offer And Timeline

As all spheres of life, honesty is the best policy for countdown timer-based emails too. These offers are taken seriously by your engaged subscribers, and misleading any of them will consume the goodwill you built over a period of time. 

We strongly recommend sticking to your word when it comes to the discount value and the timeline. Even if you don’t get the expected reception, you shouldn’t play with the discount value or extend your offer. It will only dent your trustworthiness. 

In this below email from Vodafone, nobody would expect them to move back on this offer as Vodafone is an established brand, but the same laws apply to each and every business:

The below infographic provides insights into preferred mailing frequency for promotional messages as shared by respondents in a survey:

email frequency preferences
Image Credits: Marketingsherpa

Use Countdown Timers For Good Deals Only

When you overdo any marketing activity, however great it may be, it starts losing on its charm. When you start sending promotional offers with countdown timers, make sure that you are using them only in cream deals for your customers. 


…because if there’s nothing special about the offer, they are hardly going to pay any attention. 

This means you would also not be able to use countdowns until a few weeks, if not months. Especially if you are sending out coupons, you would like to use timers as people may download your coupons, but they would hardly remember making any purchase, ending up with expired coupons a few weeks later. 

Scarcity is an essential part of its success and sending such messages over and over again dilutes their value.

Place The Countdown Timers In Accessible Positions

Make sure that you put down your countdown timer at an accessible position, preferably in the upper fold, where any reader can easily find it. Having it at the top lets your subscribers know that this is an important announcement, and they need to pay attention right away. Also, keep the countdown font size significantly large as if it were typography. This is an important trait for all countdown timers sent over emails. Place the copy below the timer without making your reader find out details regarding the offer. Here’s an example of good placement:

Backfriday countdown timer

Make CTA Button Stand Out Equally

Now, this is an important aspect of using countdown timers: Don’t forget your CTA. I recommend keeping your CTA button equally accessible so that your subscribers can easily take action after going through the offer. 

Maintaining close proximity with the email copy as well as the timer is a great way of leading the reader’s attention logically towards the prompted action, so make sure that your CTA button stands out equally. 

I have observed that most of the successful countdown timer-based emails use contrasting colors for the timer and the CTA. This works like a charm in channelizing the reader’s attention. Have a look at this simple yet powerful email template design from NordVPN:

Leveraging Data

In the introduction of this article the term ‘moderate’ was used in relation to usage of email marketing.  Nobody wants irrelevant emails to be delivered, not the sender, and not the receiver, simply because it’s bad for both parties.  

Keep your promotional activities relevant to every subscriber by segmenting your eCommerce/Shopify customer base into highly targeted groups, perhaps along the lines of personas, age groups, geographical location or even by psychographic data such as purchase history.

Leverage Conversific to build your highly targeted eCommerce email lists either on Shopify or WooCommerce to increase conversion rates and reduce your unsubscribe rates. 

Just simply export your filtered lists and import into Uplers.

Summing Up

Making your products time scarce is a highly effective way of increasing demand. FOMO is arguably the biggest driving force behind the success of social media platforms and email marketers can too, benefit from this time-tested strategy. You can either create your own timer in HTML or use the third-party tools.

Just ensure that your servers have PHP support and you are all set to use timers inside your HTML email templates. It can improve your revenue even by 9%, making it a game-changer for any business. If you follow the best practices mentioned above, you will definitely witness an increase in your CRO and make the most out of countdown timers.

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Kevin George

Kevin George is the head of marketing at Email Uplers, that specializes in crafting Professional Email Templates, PSD to Email conversion, and Mailchimp Email Templates. Kevin loves gadgets, bikes & jazz, and he breathes email marketing. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts on email marketing best practices on email marketing blog.

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