Have you ever wanted to add a countdown timer to your email? This can be incredibly useful in a sales context, as it motivates your recipient to take action.
In this guide, I’ll discuss the functionality of email countdown timers in marketing emails, and cover the steps to add them to your emails.
Table of Contents
- What Is an Email Countdown Timer?
- Why Use a Countdown Timer in Your Email?
- Creating Email Countdown Timers With HTML in 5 Easy Steps
- Adding an Email Countdown Timer in Gmail
What Is an Email Countdown Timer?
An email countdown timer is like any other countdown timer, but it’s applied to an email. Consumers see a row of numbers, with the final column of numbers counting down in seconds. This timer represents the total amount of time remaining for a given waiting period; for example, you might count down a full month until Halloween, or a few hours before a major company announcement.
The timer provides an interesting psychological effect. We’ll explore these effects and uses in the next section.
Why Use a Countdown Timer in Your Email?
Why would you include a countdown timer in your email?
There are several potential benefits:
Imply a sense of urgency.
Procrastination is a major problem for businesses hoping to sell to consumers; a potential customer may have a need for your product, and may be willing to buy it, but if they delay their decision, they may never take action. The countdown timer gives people a sense of urgency, motivating them to take action rather than delaying the decision. This is especially useful if you’re ticking down the final moments of an important sale.
Evoke fear of missing out (FOMO).
You can also use a countdown timer to instill a healthy fear of missing out (FOMO). If you’re implying that there’s a sale or event that’s about to end, people will rush to take advantage of it before it’s too late. If you’re teasing an upcoming announcement or release, people will do whatever they can to avoid the big moment coming in the future.
Increase click through rate (CTR).
Research shows that the inclusion of a countdown timer can also increase your click through rate (CTR). In other words, you’ll get a greater percentage of your email recipients clicking through to your website.
Increase conversion rate.
There’s also a good chance for you to increase your conversion rate with the help of an email countdown timer. The unique visuals and compelling urgency often drive people to make decisions—and go through with purchases.
Provide users with more information.
Countdown timers are also a useful way to provide people with more information—and present it in a visual way. Rather than giving people a basic date and time for an event, you can provide them with an interactive, ever-changing countdown timer. This often makes your message more effective and more memorable. Plus, any time a customer wants to verify the date and time for the rollout, they can take a glance at the timer.
Tease something amazing.
Timers are also useful for building a sense of anticipation. They’re commonly used in applications that require some degree of preexisting hype. Use them to tease something amazing that’s coming up, whether it’s a brand new product or a holiday.
Email countdown timers are used for a variety of purposes, such as counting down to:
- Sales. Keep customers looking forward to your next major sale, and give them time to speculate about what they’re going to buy. You can also host a sale for a specific period of time, giving customers a limited period in which they can act.
- Events. You can also use countdown timers to tease upcoming events, such as seminars or conventions.
- Releases. Is there a new movie coming out, or a new product you’re going to unveil? Use a countdown timer to build anticipation for the release.
- Announcements. You can even use a countdown timer to tease an upcoming announcement. Tech brands do this all the time, leading into the announcement for a new phone model or video game console.
Creating Email Countdown Timers With HTML in 5 Easy Steps
The best way to add an email countdown timer is to create a fully functional countdown timer with HTML code, then build that code into the body of your email. ‘
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There are alternative options as well; for example, you can use a looping gif if you’re only interested in the appearance of a countdown timer. Here’s how to add a gif to an email. However, the HTML-built countdown timer will provide you with the most robust functionality, especially if you’re already relying on HTML-based templates.
Here’s how to add an email countdown timer:
1. Choose an email countdown timer tool.
First, you’ll need a tool to help you code a timer using HTML. You can build a countdown timer from scratch, but it’s much easier to just use an existing tool. MailTimers is one of the best options, allowing you to design the perfect email countdown timer from scratch for practically any platform and any device. You could also try a tool like Sendtric, MotionMail, NiftyImages, EmailTimers, or CountdownMail. As long as it gives you the tools and templates you need to design an email timer from scratch, it can work.
2. Choose a time zone and a specific time.
Next, you’ll choose your time zone and set a specific time. This is what your countdown timer will be counting down to; this should be the time, date, and location of your big reveal.
3. Customize the aesthetics.
After getting the foundation of your countdown timer in place, you’ll want to customize the aesthetics. Change the font, the positioning, the colors, and other aspects to make sure the timer fits with the design of the rest of your email.
4. Generate a code snippet.
Using your tool of choice, generate a code snippet that represents your countdown timer. Copy that code.
5. Paste your code into a template.
Finally, paste your copied HTML code into your email of choice. You may have to make some tweaks to ensure it fits with the rest of your formatting.
Note that some email marketing tools allow you to create and build countdown timers into your email directly, via WYSIWYG editors.
Adding an Email Countdown Timer in Gmail
What if you want to add a countdown timer to Gmail?
One option is to follow all the steps in the previous section, generating an HTML code snippet that you need for the timer. From there, you can display the full page of your HTML-based email code in a web browser. Select all, copy, and paste into your compose window. Double check to ensure it’s loading correctly.
You can also follow these steps:
- Create a countdown timer with a link. Use one of the tools you found in the previous set of instructions and generate a countdown timer that’s linkable (usually in gif format).
- Insert a photo. From there, open a Compose window in Gmail and click “Insert photo.”
- Click Web Address (URL). Click the “Web Address (URL)” bar.
- Paste the countdown timer link. Then, copy and paste the link to the countdown timer. You’ll be able to see a preview before applying the link to your email. You may need to tweak things to make them fit.
- Finish the email. Finish up your email and make sure to proofread before sending.
That’s it! Now that you know how to add an email countdown timer, are you interested in getting more value out of your Gmail account? Or are you just interested in increasing your email productivity?
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Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.