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How To Effectively Use Countdown Timers In Your Email Templates

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If you want your customers to act fast, you have to create a sense of urgency in your emails. Time-bound offers and one-time offers were effective to compel the users to take immediate action. However, over the past few years, email subscribers have become accustomed to disregard such offers. Today, email marketers use countdown timers to use non-verbal cues to inform their customers about exclusive offers.  

What is an email countdown timer?

The name is self-explanatory; it is a live timer that counts down to zero. The countdown timer is used to set a psychological deadline that persuades the customer to take immediate action. Websites use countdown timers on their pages to create a time-based scarcity. They are either placed at the top of the landing pages or in the middle. The same principles can be followed while inserting a countdown timer in your email marketing template. 

How many types of email countdowns are there?

There are two types of email countdown timers:

  • HTML countdown timers

You can use HTML scripts to embed countdown timers in your emails. These timers are most effective as they will count down to the specific date, second-by-second. To integrate HTML countdown timers in your email template, you should approach an email marketing agency that offers these services. If there is an error with the HTML code you are entering, the spam filter might mark it as malicious and send it directly to your subscriber’s spam box. 

  • GIF countdown timers

On the other hand, you can use GIF countdown timers to imitate the urgency of a real timer. Unlike the HTML timers, GIF timers will show the same timer whenever they are opened. GIF timers are not real countdown timers but can create the intended effect of urgency if placed strategically. 

Therefore, if you have the resources to spare, you should opt for HTML timers. 

What are the best practices to follow while inserting a countdown timer in your emails? 

  • Placement of the timer

Like any other crucial piece of information, the countdown timer should be placed above the fold area. It is the area that your subscribers see first when they open your email. Placement of the timer in this area allows you to highlight the importance of your deadline. If the customer has to scroll to find the deadline, they might get confused and may disregard the significance of the timer. The top of your email template is arguably one of the best places to display your timer.

Casper used their email timer to inform their customers about the expiry of their best offer for the labor day weekend. They have also placed their timer in the header area. The timer is surrounded by a contrasting color that makes it stand out from the rest of the email. 

  • Position of the CTA with respect to the timer

You should know that the countdown timer is not multi-functional. The timer can only create a sense of urgency. The effectiveness of your email finally comes down to your CTA. Therefore, to increase the efficiency of your email, you should try to place your CTA closer to your countdown timer. 

The email by Segment regarding their Synapse event has a well-placed timer along with the CTA button. The reader can see when to act and where to act one after another. It also helps the customer with their decision-making. Their overall template can be improved to make it even more effective. Replacing the sentence “ half off the full ticket price” with a simple “50% off” is considered to be a better marketing tactic. Additionally, the promo code could have been integrated into their CTA button to make the template more streamlined.

  • Refrain from overusing the countdown timer

A countdown timer is an effective tool to increase your sales when used in moderation. If you start to use a countdown timer in every other email, your customer will look at these as a marketing gimmick. Once your customer gets accustomed to this technique, you will see a steep decline in the effectiveness of your countdown emails.

  • Be honest about your timelines and offer 

It helps if you are honest about the deadlines while setting your countdown timer. If you are using your timer to create fake deadlines to boost your sales, your brand might eventually lose its credibility. Additionally, you should be crystal clear about the offer for which you are setting the timer. You can also combine the timer with another offer to incentivize your customers to click on the CTA button. Again, do not go overboard with the offers as it might confuse your customers. 

This reMarkable email is well designed in this regard. From their header, the reader can easily understand that the email timer is regarding the Black Friday Sale. They have also mentioned a discount offer to incentivize their customers to click on the CTA button.


With great power comes great responsibility. Hence, you should use the timer in moderation to get the best results. In addition to that, a countdown timer is a versatile tool that can be used to launch events, coupons, live events, sales events, and the expiry of discount offers. When coupled with segmentation and other email marketing strategies, the countdown timer becomes one of the most effective tools an email marketing agency can have in its arsenal.

Author: Kevin George is the head of marketing at Email Uplers, that specializes in crafting Professional Email Templates, PSD to Email conversion, and Mailchimp 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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