How To Encourage More Sales With Email Countdown Timers
Written by Franco Varriano.
The one thing you want from your readers, above all else, is for them to take action.
To check out your offer. To click-through to your store. To make more sales.
Marketing emails which don’t make any sales are missed opportunities.
In this article, we’ll talk about a major persuasion tactic which you can integrate into your email campaigns. It will add urgency to any message you send and drive your readers to take action. We are of course talking about email countdown timers. Lest we waste time, let’s jump right in.
Why Optimizing Your Email Marketing Is Essential
Here at Rare.io we’re big believers in growing your business with email campaigns. For the unconverted, we’ve gone into detail in this article why email marketing is the single best marketing channel (with data!).
But consider this. There have been 17 changes to Facebook’s NewsFeed algorithm in the past year. (Between January 2017 and at the time of writing)
Three big ones which affected publishers between now and January 2017 were:
- Links to Low-Quality Sites to Be Diminished in News Feed
- “Engagement Bait” Posts Demoted in News Feed
- Video Prioritized in News Feed Based on Completion Rate
And that’s just in the past year alone. Just think of the uncertainty you’d feel if the main source of traffic to your ecommerce store was from Facebook’s NewsFeed. Every post their NewsFeed team published would give you a massive dose of anxiety, with you analyzing your business with a fine tooth comb to see if you’re affected.
Your doctor would probably not recommend the strain on your heart.
Let’s look at advertising. Hochman Consultants used a benchmark of 50 advertisers to track the average cost-per-click (CPC) of Google Adwords since its inception.
In 2011, the average CPC was $1.04
In 2016, this same average was $2.14
Over five years, if you’d been advertising with Google AdWords, your advertising budget would have more than doubled.
The same trends can be seen with Facebook Ads, another advertising platform preferred by ecommerce stores.
Why are we talking about all of this? Because it’s simple: Email Marketing is the one marketing channel that you are fully in control of.
Email has been around for 47 years, and little has fundamentally changed. It’ll be around for a few decades more.
We could have talked about adding a sense of urgency to your landing pages, or to your adverts, but since email is your most important marketing channel, we figured it’ll be best to focus on that. And if it’s your most important marketing channel, experimenting and tweaking with this channel can lead to dramatic results.
You’re aware of split testing, and how a single tweak in a headline or a subject line can lead to dramatically increased conversions and click-through rates.
What about if a single tweak in your emails could dramatically increase click-through rates? What about if you could introduce a widget which played on a well-established persuasion trigger which could dramatically increase your sales?
We’re guessing you’d think that would be great.
We’ll get to how to do that in a minute, but before we do, it’s worth taking a minute to talk about one of our favorite authors and researchers, Dr. Robert Cialdini.
The Science of Persuasion
People who are masters of the art of persuasion have always been looked up to, and have always gone far in life. They are sought after in sales departments and are often found in the upper echelons of political movements.
It was often thought that the power of persuasion was just something you were born with, a gift you either had or you didn’t. Dr. Robert Cialdini came along and challenged this notion.
Cialdini, as part of his research into persuasion and behavioral science, spent 3 years “undercover” applying and training for jobs in used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, real-estate sales, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasions. In 1984 he published a seminal book that changed the field of marketing called, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
In this book, Cialdini established that persuasion was not an art, but a science. Calling on case studies and the latest research in behavioral science, he established six key principles of influence and persuasion.
In ethology, the study of animals, it’s been well established that animals follow fixed-action patterns, which are sequences of behavior triggered by certain events and stimuli. A turkey only activates it’s maternal instincts when young turkey chicks emit their “cheep-cheep” sound. Nothing else activates this, not their smell, touch or appearance. The reliance on maternal turkeys on this sound is such that M.W. Fox carried out an experiment with stuffed polecats that emitted this same sound.
To turkeys, polecats are the enemy, greeted with squawking, pecking, clawing rage. Even a stuffed polecat triggers turkeys to carry out an immediate attack. However, when this same stuffed polecat emits the “cheep-cheep” sound of a young turkey chick, the mother turkey accepts this polecat and even gathers it underneath her like she would her young. The moment the sound stops playing? The turkey resumes its attack.
We may laugh at how foolish turkeys are, but it seems humans have fixed-action patterns. Specifically, fixed-action patterns which result in us saying “yes” to requests. These form Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion.
The subject of Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion are outside the scope of this article, however, we wanted to focus on one: scarcity.
The Magic Of Adding Scarcity
We’ve all faced it: a store is having a closing down sale and we just have to buy those jeans we’d been eyeing over the past few weeks.
Or when you’re told “only two tickets left!” to some event you’d been mildly intrigued by. Suddenly your mild interest turns into a rush to buy.
Scarcity is an effective persuasion technique. Simply put, people want more of those things that there are less of. If there’s a limited time in which we can take action, we see the opportunity as scarce. It seems we have a shortcut in our brains which goes “if there’s less of it, it must be more valuable.”
Perhaps you don’t believe this works. Do you remember Concorde? When British Airways announced they would no longer be running the twice-daily Concorde route from London to New York, because it had become uneconomic, sales took off the very next day.
Objectively nothing had changed. The flights took off and landed at the same time, there were no extra frills, it had simply become scarce, people wanted it more.
So how could you use this in your email marketing?
How To Integrate An Email Countdown Timer
It’s simple: introduce a countdown clock into your email.
Specifically, introduce an email countdown timer. Check out how digital services company Malooka incorporates it into their emails:
These email countdown timers are animated gifs which counts down to a particular event.
That could be the end of your time-limited offer, a countdown to launch, or a countdown to a specific event.
Think about it. You open your email, you see an event you’re highly interested in. It’s a one time event. Suddenly you see that a deal to get tickets to this event for half price are going to expire in an hour. Would you procrastinate that decision? Would you wait till next week to purchase tickets?
Of course not. You’d make the decision there and then on whether you want to go, and purchase accordingly.
Like the passengers who suddenly bought Concorde flights because the flights had become scarce, people take action when they feel like they’re going to lose out on something.
This is why countdown timers increase engagement with emails and improve click-through rates. It compels your subscribers, who are interested in your offer, to take action before it expires.
Don’t take our word for it. Here’s a quick example: by adding countdown timers, Selligent and Lynda got a 33% increase in click-through rate and a 10% increase in their conversion rate.
Which Email Clients Work With Email Countdown Timers
The countdown timers work as a gif in your email. Each time the reader opens the email, the timer is accurate for the time allocated to the reader.
As such, countdown timers work with any email client that is compatible with gifs.
Email Client Support for Countdown Timers
Counts Down as GIF
A word of caution though, if your recipient is using the desktop version of Microsoft Outlook 2007, 2010 or 2013, your countdown timer won’t appear as a timer, but only the first frame in the gif.
However this frame will update each time they open the email, so they will still get the same sense of urgency.
This is not as big a problem as it used to be. With desktop accounting for only 16% of all email opens in 2017 (mobile taking up 54%, webmail 30%), according to Litmus’s 2017 State of Email Report, it’s clear that the number of recipients this affects is small. With more and more people checking their emails on their smartphones and tablets, the majority of your recipients will see your countdown timer in the way it’s supposed to appear.
How To Add Email Countdown Timers To Your Email
It would be a pain to code a countdown timer yourself.
Which is why you can find several providers online who will do it for you.
We’ve broken down the top email countdown timer providers and provided a comparison, to help you make the best decision for your business.
MotionMail promises to “increase engagement, conversions, and sales by enhancing your marketing emails with easy to design countdown timers”
Their features include:
- Countdown timers are local to the recipient’s time zone
- Multiple languages supported
- Easily match brand colors by changing the background color and adjusting the font size with their design tools
- Track impressions with your countdown timers
- A free plan
- You can use it for free for up to 20,000 views per month. However, you won’t be able to remove their branding or access their premium service
- For $10 a month you can have up to 100,000 views a month for your countdown timers, as well as remove the branding.
- $20 a month allows you up to 700,000 views a month.
- Finally, the $200 a month plan allows you to have up to 2.8 million views a month.
Nifty Images has a wealth of tools to personalize your email campaigns to increase engagement, including countdown timers.
Their features include:
- Start your countdown timer from when the visitor visits a certain web page, opens your email, or a date associated with their metadata recorded in your database.
- Adjust the design and font to match your brand
- Select the timezone for your campaign
- Use your countdown timers on landing page and web pages as well
- Expiration image that shows up when countdown finishes.
- NiftyImages have a free trial for all their plans, which don’t need you to sign up with a credit card.
- Their $20/month starter plan gives you up to 50,000 opens a month
- Their $80/month plan gives you 250,000 email opens a month.
- Finally, their $250/ month plan gives you up to 1 million opens per month.
CountdownMail promise to “increase urgency, boost engagement and encourage sales by enhancing your marketing emails with customized countdown timers.”
Their features include:
- You get 100,000 email sends free per month. No credit card required
- You can localize your emails in any language
- Easy to use. Drag and drop interface.
- Design countdown timers to match your branding.
- Real-time analytics
- Evergreen Countdown Timer allows you to personalize the countdown timer of each email.
- As we said, you get your first 100,000 emails per month free. You won’t be able to remove CountdownMail’s branding from your emails.
- You only get deducted an “email credit” when someone opens and views your email.
- Their $7.99 per month plan gives you the same 100,000 emails per month, but also allows you to remove their branding.
- They have a $49.99 per month plan that gives you 1,000,000 emails per month.
- And a $69.999 per month that gives you 3,000,000 emails per month.
SendTric.com have an appealing 100% free countdown mail timer plan which gives you no limits and no watermarks. So you can easily implement their timers in your campaigns and not make it seem like you’re using free tools.
Their features include:
- 100% free, no limits.
- Reliable timers
- Optimized to be fast.
- Pro edition allows you to make fully customizable timers that match your branding, match recipients languages and more.
SendTric’s pro edition is currently in beta, and they are yet to announce their pricing.
Get Started With Countdown Timers
If you’re ready to give your email subscribers a sense of urgency, a compelling reason to take action and not put off your offers, then perhaps it’s time to start integrating countdown timers in your emails with Rare.
If so, go ahead and sign up with one of the services we’ve briefly mentioned. Find one that’s a good fit for you. Perhaps before plunging into a paid plan, work with one of the services that offers a free tool, and compare your click-through rates.
Get started, play around, and test. You never know what change could skyrocket your business growth.
And if you’re one of the thousands of merchants who are already using Rare’s Smart Email Marketing software and want to see how our Customer Success Team can work with your brand to grow your revenue – feel free to book a call at your convenience here.
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