How To Use An Email Countdown Timer In Emails (+14 Examples)

Written by: Chris Donald

Published on: 12-21-2022

Chris is Managing Partner at InboxArmy and has more than 25 years of experience in email marketing

An email countdown timer might seem gimmicky at first, but there is more to it than meets the eye. When you think about it, aren’t we all always counting down to something?

Final hours before the Friday night plans, that one movie release, or maybe a trip you have been planning for months. And, sometimes, this eager anticipation pushes you to make last-minute decisions. 

Similarly, email marketers can utilize countdown timers in their templates to benefit from this basic customer instinct. Here is an expansive guide to help you make effective emails with countdown timers. 

What Is An Email Countdown Timer?

Email Countdown Timer is a visual presentation of a timer counting down to zero. Often, these are live timers that are embedded in your email via HTML and CSS scripts.

Some marketers also use countdown GIFs to achieve the same dramatic effect without the complexity of HTML coding. However, these GIFs can backfire if not integrated properly. 

Now, email countdown timers create a time-based scarcity to coax the readers to take immediate action.

Placing the timer at the middle or the top of the template will attract the most attention compared to placing it at the end. A couple of A/B tests should give you a general idea about which placement works best for you. 

Different Types of Countdown In Emails


Email countdown timers can be divided into two categories. 

1. GIF Countdown Timer 

GIF countdown timers are only used to imitate a real-timer and fabricate a sense of urgency. It is most effective when the email copy is concise.

The reader can read through the email and click on the CTA button without the countdown resetting. However, things become dicey when you use GIF timers in longer emails. 

There’s a risk of the countdown timer resetting as your subscriber is reading through your email. This can break the illusion and make them decide against clicking through to your website.

Moreover, every time the customer opens the email, the GIF starts again from the first frame. The subscribers can get misled by the timer and miss the sale deadlines.

The only method of circumventing these problems is to use longer GIFs that continue for a couple of minutes before resetting. 

2. HTML Countdown Timer 

HTML countdown in email is most effective when it comes to creating convincing copies. Email designers and coders work together to embed the countdown timer using HTML scripts.

Such timers are precise and will count down to the last second. A team of expert coders can easily create HTML countdown in emails.

However, if you do not have an in-house email marketing team, you can always outsource the operations to email marketing agencies like InboxArmy

So, does it make the HTML timer the best option out of the two? Well, HTML timers also have their fair share of downsides. To begin with, they are expensive and can affect the overall ROI of the campaign.

And, if there are any errors or bugs in your HTML code, the spam filters will instantly flag it as malicious and affect your sender’s reputation. Therefore, you should only opt for HTML countdown timers when you have enough resources. 

While countdown timers are a great way to capture the reader’s attention, you can also do so with creative and brilliant email designs also. Check our email marketing templates samples for inspiration.

How to Use An Email Countdown Timer In Emails?


Here are four effective ways to use a countdown in emails. 

1. Timer Placement 

Needless to say, the top of the email is arguably the best place to position the timer. It instantly draws the customer’s attention, and they know that time is already running out.

You can also place it in the middle of the copy. But, ensure that the timer stays above the fold regardless of the position. There is a good chance of missing the timer if the reader has to scroll down to see it. 

2. CTA Button Placement

The placement of the CTA button also matters when you use a GIF timer. As these timers are not multi-functional, the effectiveness of the copy boils down to the CTA button.

Try to place it as close to the countdown timer as possible to maximize its effects. On the other hand, HTML timers can be programmed to be multi-functional and act as pseudo-CTA buttons to increase the click-through rates of your email. 

3. Use Realistic Timelines 

Be honest about the timelines you are setting for your sales and events. If you are only using it to increase clicks by creating imaginary deadlines, it is going to hurt your credibility in the long run.

Readers won’t shy away from unsubscribing from your emailing list if they are duped one too many times. 

4. Do Not Overuse The Template

As they say, moderation brings balance and freshness to your email campaigns. Using the countdown timer for every other seasonal sale or event will eventually lower its efficiency.

Again, the customers are smart enough to catch such patterns and will refrain from engaging with such emails in the future. 

Why Should You Use Email Countdown Timers In Your Emails?


Now, why should you use an email timer when you can simply highlight the deadlines in the copy itself? Yes, you can do that, but it will not be as dramatic or interesting as using a live timer. Here are a few reasons why you should use email timers in your emails. 

1. Generate A Sense of Urgency

We all know how heightened our decision-making skill becomes when a deadline comes closer. Similarly, a countdown timer sets off the same triggers in our brains.

With the timer, email marketers focus on scarcity that suggests such an opportunity may not be available again in the future.

Hence, people who would normally glance over such offers might be tempted to make the purchase.

2. Add More Flair To Your Emails

Giveaways are a proven method of increasing brand engagement, product awareness and learning about customer preferences.

And, by timing it right, marketers can drastically increase their brand impressions across multiple social media platforms. However, your subscribers might ignore such emails as such offers are too good to be true. 

But, putting a countdown timer in email incites their FOMO and brings a certain kind of legitimacy to the offer.

Similarly, organizations use a countdown timer to add more theatrics to their emails. Such as restaurants promoting limited-time menus, OTT platforms promoting upcoming releases, and a brand about to launch a new product lineup.

When Should You Use Countdown Timers In Emails?

In the section above you got a glimpse of when to use countdown timers to make your campaigns a success. Here are some more instances of using a countdown timer in emails. 

  • Limited-time Sales
  • The countdown for big events
  • Personalized discount offers 
  • Interactive email templates 
  • Reminder emails
  • Product launch emails

Examples of Using Email Countdown Timers 

Getting creative with countdown timers can be challenging. The production of such emails is time-consuming and requires meticulous planning.

However, it does not have to be like that if you are going through an email marketing agency, like ours, known for its fast and accurate email template production

1. The Book People’s Discount Email

The Book People’s Discount Email


In this brightly colored email, The Book People offers an extra 3 pounds off on orders above 25 pounds.

Now, this is a pretty simple discount email with an offer code. But, the countdown timer at the top of the template adds a certain charm that makes the readers click on the CTA button. In addition, the CTA is colored black and contrasts with the background. 

2. Neil Patel’s Limited Seats Offer

Neil Patel’s Limited Seats Offer


While the layout of this email is extremely simple, the different elements work in tandem to truly make it seem like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

To begin with, the timer counts down the final hours of this one-day offer. The email copy also reinforces the idea that this is the final call for the subscribers to book their slots.

The email makes it even more enticing by adding extra discounts, benefits, and offers for the customers. The look of the email does not matter as long as it can get the job done. 

3. Movember’s Moustache Filled Email 

3. Movember’s Moustache Filled Email 


Movember is a truly inspiring annual fundraiser that generates awareness about men’s health issues by encouraging them to grow magnificent moustaches. Their countdown timer email focuses more on empowering men to enjoy their moustaches in the final hours of the event than to sell their merchandise. 

They used an HTML countdown timer that counts down to the last second. Apart from that, the email has a well-designed layout with contrasting colors to make each section stand out. Towards the end, they have included a small CTA button for their shop. 


4. Whistlefish’s Fall Email

Whistlefish’s Fall Email


Whistlefish should be commended for creating an email that captures the essence of autumn.

The email marketers have capitalized on the fall color palette and managed to create a soothing email template. They have used earth tones in their email. Even the countdown timer is colored orange. 


4. Segment’s Perfectly Balanced Countdown Timer 

Segment’s Perfectly Balanced Countdown Timer 


To start with, Segment has used a countdown timer to announce its upcoming Synapse event.

The CTA button for booking the tickets follows the countdown timer. Consequently, the readers are provided with visual cues about what to do and when to do it.

Using this technique they manage to remove a lot of friction when the readers notice the timer and take decisive action. 

5. Casper’s Labor Day Sale Email 

er’s Labor Day Sale Email 


The email marketing team used an HTML countdown timer to inform their subscribers about the limited-time offer.

Again, the timer is the first thing you notice when you open the email as it is placed just below the email header. 

6. Wendy’s Innovative Countdown Timer

Wendy’s Innovative Countdown Timer


As mentioned in the previous sections, restaurants, and fast-food chains can use countdown timers to promote their seasonal menus.

Here, Wendy’s has done exactly that but with a twist. Instead of using a generic digital timer, they have used a GIF of their summer salad that is slowly disappearing.

In this countdown timer example, Wendy’s did not use it to create urgency. Rather, they went ahead with this innovative timer to generate a sense of wonderment within their readers. 

7. Nord VPNs Reminder Emails

Nord VPNs Reminder Emails


Nord VPN, known for being one of the fastest VPN services, takes a different approach with its countdown timers. Instead of using an HTML or GIF timer, they applied an image of a timer in their emails.

Along with the static timer that reads zero, the heading suggests that the time has already expired, and the user needs to renew it immediately to enjoy safe browsing.

While their approach is different, they are aiming for the same triggers in their customer’s behavior. 

8. ATD Attractions’ Contest 

ATD Attractions’ Contest 


Here is a countdown timer example that shows how it makes contests more exciting. ATD is conducting this contest and giving away amazing prizes to the winners for reaching a social media milestone.

Attaching a timer at the end adds legitimacy to this contest and increases subscriber engagement. As you can see, the best practices for using a timer are not set in stone.

Therefore, you should choose a placement that complements the overall email copy. 

9. Joybird’s President’s Day Sale

Joybird’s President's Day Sale


Joybird also uses an HTML email countdown timer to announce the deadline for their President’s Day sale. The rest of the email is quite colorful and filled with vibrant images of furniture and fixtures. 

10. Good Eggs Analog Timer

Good Eggs Analog Timer


Good Eggs probably has one of the most innovative countdown timers on this list. Instead of using regular timers, they went ahead with an analog timer.

It is a playful take on the concept of countdown timers and is sure to bring a smile to the reader’s face. The rest of the email is very straightforward with a black CTA button on a white background. 

11. Ellos’ Hourglass Timer

Ellos’ Hourglass Timer


Just like the example above, the hourglass timer GIF sets its email apart from its competitors. While the timer does not explicitly mention the amount of time left, the email copy gets the job done.

The email is well-crafted, and each section is properly divided using an ample amount of white space. 

12. LaView’s Background Timer

LaView’s Background Timer


Well, instead of creating separate sections for their product pictures and the timer GIF, they have combined the two. LaView has used a ticking clock GIF as the background of their email template.

And, the product pictures are superimposed on top of it. The header is also animated to make it more eye-catching. 

13. LookFantastic’s Simple Timer

LookFantastic’s Simple Timer


LookFantastic has used a generic countdown timer GIF with a compelling email copy to get their message across. 

14. MacPaw’s Minimalistic Design

MacPaw’s Minimalistic Design


MacPaw has created a highly minimalistic design with wise use of the whitespace in its template.

The email copy is uncomplicated and matches the aesthetics of its hero image.

Lastly, they have inserted an HTML countdown timer at the bottom of their CTA button. 

How to Create A Countdown Timer For Emails?


Before we get down to the basics of creating a countdown timer for your emails, let’s look at the compatibility of some email clients. All the major email clients like Gmail, Android, and Apple Mail already supported GIFs and HTML timers.

However, sometimes, Apple Mail shows an incorrect time as it preloads all the emails.

This starts the countdown timer even before the reader opens it. On the other hand, Outlook has only recently started supporting GIFs. Irrespective of their compatibility, you should always add fallback texts and images to be safe. 

Creating a countdown timer for your email is fairly easy if you know your way around the tools.

  • Select the platform to write the HTML code for the live countdown timer. Some email marketing platforms offer tools to directly add a countdown timer to your template with a simple drag-and-drop action. 
  • Choose your time zone and deadline for your offer. 
  • Design the countdown timer by adjusting the size, shape, and background color.
  • Generate the code snippet. 
  • Paste the code snippet and embed it into your marketing email. 

Advantages And Disadvantages of Using Countdown Timers In Email 

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of using a best email countdown timer enables you to make better decisions when using this element in your email campaigns. 


1. Limited Sale Promotions 

Countdown timers can do wonders when it comes to promoting limited-time offers and sales. With a ticking clock and an engaging reminder email copy, you can easily draw the customer’s attention. 

2. A Sense of Urgency

As mentioned earlier, email countdowns are often used to create a false sense of urgency and enable customers to make decisions faster. It enables you to capitalize on their FOMO and persuade them to make last-minute purchases. 

3. Generate Curiosity 

In the case of event promotion and seasonal sales, you can leverage the countdown timer to create curiosity around the event. In addition, you can include calendar links in your CTA buttons that will automatically create events in your subscribers’ preferred scheduling apps. 


There is only one limitation to using a countdown timer in your emails. When you use GIFs in your emails, they are hosted on the servers before displaying in the inboxes. As a result, it might take some time to load the email. 


As you can see, any time-sensitive email campaign can be greatly enhanced by adding an email countdown timer. While it may seem fun to use it to see increased email engagement, remember not to overuse it. Finally, always A/B test your countdown timer placements to find the position that best suits your template. If you need help in managing your email campaigns then check our  email campaign management services.

About Author

Chris sent his first email campaign in 1995. He’s worked directly with Fortune 500 companies, retail giants, nonprofits, SMBs and government agencies in all facets of their email marketing and marketing automation programs. He’s also a BIG baseball fan, loves a good steak, and is mildly obsessed with zombie movies. For more information follow him on linkedin

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