To try and ensure that a message is opened at the relevant time, marketers will try to create a sense of urgency to grab the attention of the recipient, perhaps marking the message as “URGENT,” “Last Chance,” “Sale Ending” or other calls to action in the subject line to encourage the message to be opened quickly.
The issue of relevance really hit home in recent weeks when I went on holiday and for once I didn’t check my personal email. When I arrived back and logged on, my inbox was full of New Year sales offers. In fact, most of it wasn’t spam and there were some great offers that I would have been really interested in. And “would have” is my point! I clicked through hoping to bag a bargain but the sale had closed.
This leads me to one of the big trends in email marketing for 2015 that I am seeing: the widespread adoption of Countdown Timers.
Countdown Timers are exactly that. They let the recipient of an email know exactly how much time they have left to act. So for example, if you are an insurance company and customers request a quote, the email they receive will let them know how long that offer remains valid, and each time they open the email the Timer will show the revised remaining time. Similarly, if tickets are going on sales for a big tour on Friday morning at 9 a.m. and you send an email out on Wednesday, the ticker will keep on counting down in customers' inboxes, creating a sense of urgency but also keeping them informed.
In the case of my post-holiday sale emails, it would have been great to have opened each email and known how long each sale was still on for. Couple this with some real-time content that is updated only at the point of opening, perhaps highlighting alternative offers that are currently on that matches customer likes, and you have a hugely compelling and engaging email!
Countdown Timers are not new, but they have been the preserve of organisations with deep pockets. These organisations have been willing to spend big money because they know they work. Now Countdown Timers have begun entering the market at a price point that is making them affordable and easy-to-use. I would go so far as to say that every time-sensitive email should have a countdown timer displayed within it.