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5 Ways to Use Countdown Timers in Your Holiday Emails

It’s merely a few days until Black Friday.

Got all your email campaigns queued up? If you don’t – or you have some time to spiff up what you do have queued up – I recommend adding a few countdown timers.

Why? Well, you’d like some extra sales, right? Do 10% more conversions sound good? That’s what got with this email:

There’s a bunch of ways to use countdown timers in your emails, but because everybody’s mind is on the holidays right now, we thought it would be most helpful to give you some ideas for how to use them for your holiday marketing.

So here’s a few ideas. I bet you’ll think of even more before you’re finished reading this.

1) Countdown to your holiday shipping cutoff.

Everybody hates crazy-expensive shipping fees, so reminding people how long they have left to avoid them can help your subscribers finally take action.

You don’t have to send one email, either. These shipping countdown emails could be a series. One for your standard shipping cut-off. Another for your 3-day shipping cut-off. Then another for the last-minute, overnight rush cutoff.

Here’s an email from Harriet Carter about a free shipping day promotion. It doesn’t have a countdown timer, but it definitely could have used one.

2) Countdown until Christmas.

Even after the last-minute shipping options have passed, it’s still possible to deliver gift certificates. Don’t let your customers forget that – send them an email with a countdown until Christmas morning.

Your well-timed email (with a countdown timer to remind them that they’re on the clock) could help them decide to buy a gift certificate from you, rather than heading out into the crowds and the cold.

This email from Warby Parker does most of that… but they would have gotten better results if they had added a countdown timer.

3) Countdown to your after-Christmas sale.

Don’t know about you, but I get 3-4 sales emails a day from retailers and other companies. That happens all year round. The sales, of course, always have a deadline… and that’s an ideal opportunity for a countdown timer.

Here’s a typical flash-sale email that needed a countdown timer:

4) Countdown for an abandoned shopping cart offer.

Did you know that you can personalize when your countdown timers count down to? Yep – it’s possible to add a variable to any countdown timer so people can see a customized count.

This opens up a bunch of new ways to use a countdown timer, but one of the most obvious applications is for abandoned shopping carts.

About 4-24 hours after the cart is abandoned, send a countdown timer email with an offer. When the timer hits zero, the cart abandonment offer ends.

This is a cart abandonment email from FTD I got awhile back. Notice how they’re offering a discount, but I have to act within a set amount of time. And I might have… if they’d put in a countdown timer.

5) Countdown for a welcome email discount.

You know about welcome emails, right? How they get crazy-high engagement rates  and sell more stuff than almost any emails you’ll ever send to your subscribers?

This graphic from Experian’s Welcome Emails Best Practices Guide ( explains it:

Well, because welcome emails tend to get so much attention, many email marketers put in some kind of welcome discount, just to boost the results even more.

That’s a great start, for sure. But if you limit how long the discount is available for, you’re likely to get ever better results. And if you add a countdown timer to that discount time limit, well… it’s almost an unfair advantage.

Here’s yet another email – this time a welcome email from Home Depot – that could’ve used a countdown timer.

How to do this for your emails

Want to set up a personalized countdown timer for your welcome email discounts, or cart abandonment emails, or any other offer you send to subscribers? Watch this video to see how it’s done.

Pretty cool, right? And don’t worry about not having enough time to add these to your emails. It took me less than 8 minutes to set up a countdown timer for one of my tests. I know the holidays are busy, but you’ve got eight minutes, right? Especially if it nets you 10% more sales?

One last way to get even more results

Include an emoji or two in your subject line if you’re using a countdown timer. A recent split-test from ( showed how an email with clock emojis in the subject line got a:

Here’s what the two emails looked like. As you can see, the only difference is the emoji clock symbols in one subject line.


We know countdown timers work. They’re also easy to set up, can be used in a slew of situations, and don’t cost much to use. This is also a tactic that’s relatively new, and thus not expected by subscribers. In other words, it stands out in their inbox. So act while you’ve got an edge – and use it during the biggest sales days of the year.

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