Countdown Timers: How, When, and Where To Use Them


Published: | By Lee Li

Countdown timers are often used on eCommerce websites to help drive sales. You can use them in various ways, by counting down to a specific event, counting up to an event, or even letting shoppers know the time left to receive free shipping on an item. 

By creating a sense of urgency, countdown timers can make consumers complete a purchase. No matter how you use them, countdown timers have some well-researched psychological principles. 

This article will explain countdown timers, how to use them, and when to best utilize them. By the end, you will understand how countdown timers can benefit your website.

What Is a Countdown Timer?

Countdown timers are virtual clocks that count down from a date or number. Countdown timers frequently display a count toward the end or beginning of an offer or special event.

The most important use of a countdown timer is cultivating a sense of urgency for consumers. In eCommerce, you’ll find these timers on landing pages, showing the time until a promotion launches. Today, many websites use countdown timers on checkout pages too.

Besides the sense of urgency, countdown timers also provide helpful information, like when a promotion will end. Finally, countdown timers also help drum up interest in promotions and build curiosity.

Countdown Timers: The Psychology of Making Them Work

Adding countdown timers increases business revenue, and they are simple to implement. Additionally, they also don’t need to be tied to a sale. 

One effective countdown timer that can boost revenue is simply indicating how much time remains for next-day delivery (creating time urgency).

Bose portable speaker product description

Source: Bose

By highlighting the time available for 2-day shipping, this countdown timer can encourage shoppers to make purchases to get their product sooner. 

Adding a timer to your webpage costs next to nothing, but any sale you gain from this technique can lead to significant increases in revenue, making timers essential for any eCommerce business to use. Consider using POWR Apps to help boost sales on your website.

The way it works is simple - people tend to fear missing out and view scarce items as more valuable. Timers help highlight both of these things because they emphasize the scarcity of items and build a consumer’s fear of missing out (sometimes called FOMO).

Amazon products ecommerce

Source: Amazon

Research by Dr. Christopher S. Tang of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management corroborates the psychology of scarcity. “A seller could display a countdown clock showing the hours and minutes until the sale ends to nudge shoppers to buy right away,” said Tang.

According to research, countdown timers work to intensify time urgency, and this mechanism increases sales rates.

A great twist on a building scarcity theme is a counter that displays the percentage of stays available on Booking.com.

Booking.com

Source: Booking.com

This ticker essentially “counts down” to when all of the available stays in the area become unavailable, thus creating the sense of urgency described by Tang. Thinking of creative twists on the countdown timer can help leverage the natural psychology of shoppers.

You can establish substantial available resources by accurately accounting for your inventory. Similarly, inventory warnings with a timer can also help increase conversions. 

Timers are great because they are not vague, like statements such as “limited time offer.”

powr-countdown-timer-2

Source: POWR

3 Ways Countdown Timers Benefit Your Business

Now that you understand countdown timers and the psychology of counting down to something, we’ll explain their benefits and how you can use them on your website.

     1. Create a sense of time urgency

Timers are reliable and push shoppers into making impulsive decisions that benefit your store. As explained earlier, limited resources and scarcity can drive consumer spending. Countdown timers capitalize on this tendency and create a sense of urgency for shoppers.

     2. Highlight products and deals

Countdown timers can help highlight a specific product, service, or deal. Countdowns are popular around the holidays and during holiday sales, for example. 

     3. Highlight product scarcity

Finally, you can use a countdown timer to drive site visitors to purchase by highlighting product scarcity. In a classic psychological study from 1975, researchers utilized two jars of cookies to show how scarcity impacts our perception. 

In the study, researchers offered two glass cookies with cookies in them. One jar was consistently abundant, and the other was always scarce or allowed to become scarce. Ultimately, the research subjects preferred the jar with more scarce objects. 

In the same way, countdown timers can help drive shoppers to complete the sales cycle.

When and Where to Use a Countdown Timer

Countdown timers are used best when they appear on your website. One of the keys is that they can help close more sales and increase revenue. If your website finds difficulty securing conversions, using the POWR countdown timer on your website could help you lose significantly more sales.

Another common issue eCommerce websites face is that users often leave a website without making a purchase. Countdown timers are a great way to reduce your bounce rate because they can draw in customers and encourage them to continue shopping.

Countdown timers should be used in various contexts, whether on landing pages, homepages, checkouts, or product pages. Many people also use countdown timers in email marketing. When used strategically, email timers can increase conversions by 400%. 

And even better, when paired with a “tripwire,” a heavily discounted offer, or a great deal for a product bundle triggered when someone opts into your email list, a countdown timer can help bring you sales on autopilot without any continuous effort!

In any case, tailor the countdown to the specific product or offer you’re marketing. Today, many limited-release items will often feature a countdown timer for when a new release or “drop” is going to occur.

In the last scenario, a countdown timer can be a great way to build anticipation for your new product release.

Dell product page

Source: Dell

The Bottom Line

Countdown timers are a powerful way to drive conversions and help boost your website sales. Using countdown timers, you can help leverage psychology to increase shopper spending and your revenues.

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