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Countdown in email: the definitive guide & examples for inspiration

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Email marketing has proven to be one of the most effective marketing tools for businesses, with one of the highest returns on investment (ROI). But if you want to maximize the potential of your campaigns, you can use countdown in email.

But what exactly is it?

Countdown in email is an effective way to create urgency and motivate people to act at the same instant. It combines two psychological triggers—loss aversion and fear of missing out (FOMO), to prompt people to make decisions more quickly.

This, in turn, helps you drive engagement and increase conversion rates, especially when the consumers feel they have limited time to take advantage of upcoming events or promotions.

Sounds easy, right? 

Not necessarily. Creating a countdown timer for email campaigns isn’t always straightforward, which is why we’ve put together this guide. 

In this definitive countdown in email guide, you will learn: 

  • What email countdown timers are, and how to create them
  • When to use countdown for emails 
  • The importance of using countdown in email campaigns
  • Tips for creating successful email countdown timers
  • Examples of countdown emails you can use for inspiration 

So, let’s get started.

Ready to get started with a countdown in email? Get your free Omnisend account & use countdowns in your campaigns

What is an email countdown timer?

An email countdown timer is an animated or static countdown timer embedded in your email campaigns that helps you create a sense of urgency and prompt readers to take action.

The countdown can be an animated GIF or an embedded HTML code and is usually leveraged for limited-time offers, product launches, sales events, or any other type of promotion.

Here is an excellent example of a countdown in email:

animated gif for countdown timer in email

Notice how you are immediately drawn to the timer? It makes you want to “beat the clock” and grab the discount.

Now, you can create the email countdown timer, apply the same effect to your emails, and optimize your campaigns for better results.

Why use a countdown in email?

There are several reasons why a countdown in email can be beneficial for marketers. While we may not discuss all of them, here are a few of the most important ones: 

Create a sense of urgency

We all know when we feel we are running out of time, it’s easier to make faster decisions. That’s just human nature.

Using a countdown clock in email campaigns is an excellent way of creating a sense of urgency for limited-time offers. It ensures that your readers understand that they’ve got little time left before the offer expires.

The countdown timer running out only increases their FOMO and this is exactly what can get them to buy from you.

Triggers psychological emotions

It’s human psychology to try and complete things and be a part of something special. In email marketing, using a countdown timer can help trigger these emotions and motivate people to take action.

The need to take action results from FOMO, the anticipation, and the scarcity complex that is often so hard to resist.

As such, they will strive not to miss the offer because they need to jump on it rather than wait for the timer to run out.

This is why a countdown timer for email is so effective in influencing people to act. And when that happens, it can help increase your acquisitions and sales significantly.

Improves click and conversion rates

By adding a countdown in email campaigns, you can increase your email click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate. 

When customers or prospects see the countdown timer ticking away and that an offer is ending soon, they are more likely to click on the link and take advantage of it. 

This means you can drive and increase engagement and conversions with countdown timers instead of traditional email messages. 

Make your campaigns more visually appealing

How often have you closed an email because it doesn’t look visually appealing to you? 

Sadly, this is what happens to lots of emails marketers send.

People have a short attention span, and marketers have seconds to grab a reader’s attention. Seeing a long wall of text is surely not the thing that will get them hooked. 

But visuals and images? They can catch the readers’ attention and engage them quickly. 

The more exciting the email looks to your readers, the better the chances of them interacting with it.

Using a visually appealing countdown clock in your emails helps keep your message in mind and makes it visually hard to forget.

They make giveaways/contests exciting

People love contests because they provide a chance to win something without any commitment from the participants. Everyone loves freebies, after all, right? 

The only downside is that some people may feel suspicious of a prize offered with no strings attached.

This is because they are often aware that their chances of winning a contest are slim, which makes them less likely to enter in the first place. If you want more entries, find a way to bring FOMO back into the mix.

Adding an email countdown timer can do just the trick to get more participation in your contests/giveaways. When people see the clock ticking away before the contest comes to an end, they’ll be more inclined to register for it. 

Letting them know that the timeframe for winning won’t be around forever can be enough to convince them to participate.

Implementing a timer in your giveaways makes it simpler to reach your goals, keeps your subscribers hooked, and provides beneficial insights about their preferences.

When to use countdown in email

While countdown timers have their advantages, they shouldn’t be used everywhere. Let’s try to figure out when you should consider using them in emails. 


A countdown timer is a handy tool to highlight an upcoming sale. There are several ways you can implement this strategy and make the most out of this powerful tool.

You can create countdown emails to inform your customers about the upcoming sale, with or without discounts and promos, among others, as shown in the example below:

countdown email for upcoming sales

Use your timer to countdown to a surprise flash sale. These usually run for a few hours or days. Having your timer tick down and constantly updating can help create a sense of urgency and convince your readers to buy before the sale ends.

Cart abandonment emails

Cart abandonment rate in 2022 averages at 69.99%. From high shipping rates to credit card declines, the reasons vary among individuals. 

Nevertheless, who would want to lose a chance to drive sales?

That’s where email follow-ups come in. Emails are one of the most effective tools for recovering lost sales and can help increase conversions significantly. 

Adding countdown clocks in cart abandonment emails can help drive shoppers back to their carts and persuade them to complete the purchase.

Black Friday emails

It’s no secret companies use countdown clocks to build anticipation and hype up their Black Friday deals for the holidays.

That’s because countdown timers for email are especially effective during peak shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

You can also use countdown timers in Black Friday emails to highlight a promotion, provide extra incentives, and explain why people should take advantage of the offer while they still have time. 

Birthday emails

Every business wants customers to be satisfied to keep them returning for more. It’s one of the easiest ways of nurturing customer relationships, building loyalty, and driving sales.

At the same time, every customer wants to be treated in a special way and to be given personalized offers.

You can achieve these two goals through birthday emails. It’s an excellent way to give customers what they want and get a significant ROI due to the high number of transactions you’re likely to receive.

To get them excited about birthday offers, you can use countdown emails featuring special discounts, deals, and surprise gifts. This will entice them to shop and help you increase sales.

Pricing change

Let’s say you’re selling a service, and the price is going to change soon. The best way to tell your customers or subscribers about the change is through countdown emails.

In this case, you can have a countdown timer to the date when the new pricing change kicks in and remind customers that they have a limited time to get their hands on the current pricing.

New product launch

Want to bring attention to a new product feature you are launching? Then countdown emails are the way to go. 

You can countdown until launch and create excitement for your newest feature.

Additionally, you can also use countdown emails to showcase a new product you’re launching and offer discounts or promotions to get people excited about it.

Events or webinars

Do you regularly host events or webinars? 

Let countdown emails keep your audience informed and excited about the upcoming event. 

You can countdown to the day of the event, the registration closing date, a live stream, and a countdown to the start of the webinar. 

Using countdown emails for your events creates anticipation and excitement to help increase attendance. It also helps in reminding people about the event as well as give them a reason why they should attend. 

Tips to succeed with countdown in email

To succeed in using email countdown timers, you should keep a few essential tips in mind.

First, make sure you create countdown emails that are visually appealing and grab attention, as they will be competing with other emails in the inbox. 

The countdown timer should also be prominent and clearly visible so it stands out, and more importantly, is easily understood. Also, ensure that the countdown clocks don’t count down past the deadline.

While at it, you should also:

Position your countdown timer at the top

It’s crucial to position your countdown timer strategically, and the closer to the top of the email, the better. Prominently featuring the timer will encourage recipients to click through sooner.

The countdown email timer from Kate Spade is among the first things seen when the recipient opens it due to its placement at the top of the email. 

Moreover, the excellent use of contrasting colors makes it even more eye-catching.

countdown timer positioning example

Use a subject line that incites urgency

When creating countdown emails, make sure to include a subject line that stands out and grabs attention. 

This will entice recipients to open the email and act while they still can. 

Using words like “urgent”, “hurry”, or “limited time” will help encourage people to click on the link and make the purchase.

Use a clear CTA button

Your countdown emails must include a clear and prominent call-to-action (CTA) button. 

The CTA should be easily visible and stand out from the rest of the email so people can quickly click on it and take advantage of the offer or promotion.

A good practice is keeping your CTA button below the countdown timer with a clear and effective conversion-focused message.

Use countdown timers for email sparingly

You want countdown emails to be exciting and create anticipation as well as urgency, so it’s important that you don’t overuse them. 

If countdown timers become an everyday thing, the desired effect will be lost. 

Too many countdown timers can annoy people and make them unsubscribe from your mailing list

Instead, it is best to use countdown timers for email only during the most important events or promotions. 

Create a countdown in email with Omnisend

Creating a countdown timer for emails can be complicated and time-consuming. 

Luckily, you don’t need to build countdown clocks from scratch. Omnisend easily helps you start creating countdown email timers in a breeze. 

Plus, since Omnisend’s email countdown timers are HTML embedded, you can pull it off even with the most basic HTML skills. 

All you need to do is open your Omnisend Email Editor content block and drag and drop the HTML to the body of your email. 

Here’s where the HTML code block is located:

Omnisend email builder

Steps to follow:

  1. Drag and drop the HTML content block to your email template
  2. Visit and create a countdown timer. Remember, however, that Sendtric requires a subscription or a paid plan before it enables you to create a countdown timer
  3. Click “Generate,” and an HTML countdown timer will be generated
  4. Copy the code and paste it onto the HTML content block on Omnisend
  5. Click “Save”

Before sending your countdown email to your customers, you must send out a test campaign first to determine how it looks. Make the necessary changes if the design doesn’t impress you, and send it.

Take the hassle out of email marketing and create countdown timers for emails in minutes.

Best examples for email countdown timer

1. Abandoned cart email – MailBakery

This email template by MailBakery is a perfect example of a simple countdown in email for cart abandonment.

Instead of boring the customer with text reminding them to check out their carts, it includes a GIF timer with a specific time of when the items in the cart will be cleared.

The timer is a psychological strategy that influences the consumer to act.

2. Promo code – VisionDirect

countdown in email for promo code example

VisionDirect’s email features a mega deal for the Cyber Monday sale for buyers looking to save on lenses.

From the email, the countdown email timer is hard to miss. It’s placed right below the name of the sale in a clear and attention-grabbing manner.

The email is designed to feel like it belongs to an exclusive group, and that’s what makes it powerful.

The countdown timer’s primary purpose is to communicate the urgency of using the promo code from the email so you can receive a discount that others won’t be able to get after the time expires.

3. Product launch – Mercedes 

countdown email for product launch example

If you want to make a statement with your product announcements or limited releases, you need an email template that will turn heads.

The email design above Mercedes is both elegant and purposeful. The countdown clock dominates the center of the email, while the copy around it explains how exclusive the product is.

As we all know, consumers love limited-edition items and will do whatever it takes to get their hands on them. This is why a countdown timer is essential to any business launching such products.

4. Pricing change – VASA Fitness

countdown in email for pricing change example

VASA Fitness decided to reduce the pricing plan of their workout routines during summer to encourage more people to join them. 

To better motivate more people to enroll, it included a countdown timer to give them something to race against and try to beat – time. 

The timer goes a long way in nudging those unwavering customers to join the club before the deal ends. And did you notice the huge countdown email timer? It’s at the bottom but eye-grabbing and easy to remember.

The same goes for the CTA. It stands out, making it even hard to resist.

5. Events/Webinars – BlueVenn Webinar

countdown in email for events and webinars example

The above example by BlueVenn, like many other examples in this guide, features clear and concise language, a visually appealing email design, and a strong CTA.

In time-sensitive campaigns, countdown timers are essential to quell customers’ anxieties about participating in topics that interest them. 

The email shows that the background color blends well and is aligned with BlueVenn brand colors. This maximizes visibility. 

The email copy is also smart and actionable, encouraging the reader to “register now” for the webinar.

6. Loyalty program – Freedom 

countdown in email for loyalty program example

In this email by Freedom, a countdown timer has been used to call for customers to make purchases and earn rewards, such as a gift card.

The position of the email is highly visible and is strategically placed below the reward you get for shopping to pique your interest. 

The best part is how the email is well-worded—it pushes you to take action right away! 

By the time you get to the call to action, you already know that you’ll get something good out of it.

Time pressure is a great motivator, and this countdown email timer helps to create a sense of scarcity. Would you be able to resist the urge?

7. Special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) – Thorntons

countdown in email for special occasions example

This countdown timer email example by Thorntons is a great way to make customers feel cared for on their special occasions like birthdays

The countdown clock is placed on the main image and in the middle of the email copy, which helps keep your customers engaged as they anticipate their special delivery. 

The countdown timer also serves as a reminder of the impending deadline, and encourages customers to use their special discounts for free rewards. 

Wrap Up

In conclusion, countdown in email can be an effective way to drive engagement and sales. Used correctly, countdown clocks allow you to create a sense of urgency and excitement among your subscribers, leading to increased conversions. 

They can be used for various types of emails, such as abandoned cart emails, promo codes, product launches, event invitation emails, birthday emails, and more. 

With the help of a countdown timer for email, you can make your email campaigns more impactful and drive better results. 

So, what are you waiting for?

Get started with Omnisend’s email marketing and design countdown email timers that will get your customers clicking.
Bernard Meyer
Article by
Bernard Meyer

Bernard is the Sr. Director of Communications & Creative at Omnisend, with a passion for good research, helping ecommerce businesses with their marketing automation needs, and beating absolutely everyone in Mario Kart 64.