How to Use Countdown Timer in Your Emails to Grow Profits
Step by step guide: necessary tools, common mistakes, examples
Introducing countdown email timers is one of the fastest and most effective measures to make your promotional offers more urgent. Whether it is a limited discount, special promotion, or holiday message, a neatly integrated clock can be an effective addition.
For those who would like to go a step further than a simple written call to action, there are several methods of doing so. I’ll cover the most used ones — GIF, and HTML email timers — plus give you suggestions for which services are best to use. But first, let’s go over the fundamentals and the purposes they serve.
What Is an Email Countdown Timer?
A countdown email contains a dynamic digital timer defined by an event. It can be set and adjusted to count down to a specific time, like concert tickets going on sale or the end of a discount.
The main premise behind an email countdown timer is to convince someone that they should act faster. This is done by literally showcasing that there is little time left. Depending on your particular campaign, it’s possible to adjust it to accomplish other goals as well.
One thing you should remember about countdown mail is that it should be attention-grabbing. Be it eye-catching colors, large fonts, or other elements, it should visually stand out; otherwise, it negates the entire purpose.
Different Ways You Can Use a Countdown Timer
As I’ve mentioned, a countdown in an email persuades the receiver to purchase immediately. For instance, when they learn that an offer is only relevant for a short period, they are less likely to postpone the purchase.
Another approach is to build anticipation and enthusiasm leading up to something. This prepares the groundwork, since even thinking about a purchase brings them closer to finalizing it.
Let’s look at the possible ways of using timers:
- Limited-time discount coupons attract new customers:
- A product, service, or event tickets are going on sale:
- A reminder that something is going out of stock or an offer is coming to an end:
- Encouragement to subscribe to an event, like a company launch:
Types of Email Timers
Generally speaking, there are two approaches for creating and integrating countdown email timers: a simple animated GIF image and a third-party service that creates a dynamically generated GIF image.
GIF Countdown Timers
A GIF timer is an animated sequence that is activated every time the email is opened. The process of creating a countdown email shouldn’t cause any problems — since they are image files, similar to PNGs and JPEGs, so you can insert them into the image block of the template.
You don’t necessarily have to use custom GIFs — just do a simple Google search or scroll through websites like Giphy, Pinterest, or Tumblr. It might cause some difficulties when you’re tied to a specific time. The GIF will show the same values every time, so the email will lack accuracy. But your goal may be to generate a bit of FOMO in general, and there is no risk of messing up the dates and confusing the subscriber.
If the countdown timer in an email needs to be recalculated each time, ready-made GIFs won’t do. For these instances, the timer must take into account when the subscriber opens the message and how it relates to predefined expiry.
HTML Countdown Timers
A more flexible approach is using a script and generating an email timer by the server in real time. Every time the image is requested, i.e., when a subscriber opens the email, they will see an updated image.
The code for this usually looks something along these lines:
<img src=”http://timerexample.com/countdown/nxzpxc4w44" alt=”Countdown” style=”display: block; margin: 0 auto” />
It may seem like the code only contains an image link and a display style of the email countdown timer. In fact, the link leads to a dynamically generated image according to the timer parameters you set. These define the time and date that you’re counting down to as well as other conditions.
Email Clients Supporting Countdown Timers
When a user receives a countdown email in their inbox, it should be displayed as a dynamic image. For most email clients, this is not a problem. However, with Microsoft Outlook 07/10/13/17, a user will only see the first static frame of a GIF timer.
One important point to mention is how providers display images. Some email services and clients won’t display images by default or from untrusted senders. Bear in mind that “+” in the “image display” column doesn’t mean 100% of receivers will see your timer.
Also, some email providers may cache all images. This means the counter will reset right after being opened, making it irrelevant. Let’s put it this way. When the email is opened for the first time, the timer shows: “5 hours : 35 minutes : 15 seconds.” Because the provider cashes the contents, it will then display the same time again on every time the email is opened — “5 hours : 35 minutes : 15 seconds.”
Before sending it to subscribers, verify that the timer generating system you’re using can avoid this problem.
As for responsiveness, such timers automatically adjust to different devices and screens. Generally, this shouldn’t be a problem as long as you embed it correctly.
How to Create an HTML Countdown Timer
If you wish to integrate an email countdown timer, you have to take advantage of specialized tools that create the timer for you (see the tools further in the article). For a general understanding, let’s quickly outline the steps involved in the process:
- Set a valid end date specifying an exact time and a time zone and how it should adjust depending on the user’s location.
- Choose an easily digestible format, such as days, hours, minutes, and seconds.
- Change the design, palette, background to fit your branding
- Click “Generate code” or something along these lines (varies by the tool) to produce a short code snippet.
- Copy the code from the creator and add a countdown timer to email at the desired place.
Double-check whether the clock stops when it reaches zero, and it estimates the remaining time correctly — i.e., find the amount of time in between the current time and the end time.
Before you send out the email, test it out across your team members, preferably to those in remote locations. For example, if you’re launching a new product in stores at 12 pm, the countdown should finish earlier on the East Coast than on the West Coast. This, of course, applies only to situations when the task is time zone-sensitive.
Best Countdown Timer Tools
There are tons of services that can be helpful in designing a countdown email. Luckily, you can quickly check whether they work properly by sending emails with timers to your co-workers. Below you can find five tools to help get you started.
Sendric — Best for free essential functions, intuitive interface, and clues on how certain functions should be used when hovering over the buttons.
Nifty Images — Best personalized images, custom fonts, and add-ons such as rule sets, click tracking, and so on.
Motion Mail — Best for simplicity as the tool is dedicated solely to this function.
Mail Timers — Best for the well-thought-out UI & UX builder and exceptional quality.
Zembula — Best for the easy set up, free capabilities, and a variety of other interactive email tools.
Liveclicker — Best for a wide range of applications, including not only time-targeted solutions but also geo- and device-targeted ones.
Email countdown timers can be used in any type of email campaign, but it’s best not to use them more often than every three months. Annoying subscribers with daily reminders will get you more unsubscribes rather than sales. For the best effect, reserve the timer for the final call and place it at the top. To reinforce the message, combine it with a CTA and some text explaining the terms of the offer.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your email marketing, reach out to EmailSoldiers. We will make additions to your newsletters and show you many other creative techniques to communicate with your target audience.