In the fast-paced world of e-commerce, choices are abundant, and attention spans are short. Creating a sense of urgency among your customers can transform them from browsers to purchasers. 

One powerful strategy to accomplish this is the use of countdown timers. These digital ticking clocks serve as visual reminders of fleeting time and opportunities, compelling customers towards swift decision-making. 

In this guide, we delve into how countdown timers can create a powerful sense of urgency, catalyzing conversions and boosting sales for online businesses. There’s also a guide on adding a countdown timer to your site, countdown timer examples, and a lesson on FOMO. 

But first, let’s find out how you can build up a sense of urgency in your customers. 

Countdown Timers and Popups

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How Countdown Timers Create Urgency 

There’s nothing sweeter than a customer with a sense of urgency. A person who so desperately needs your product and has the cash to follow through. So, how do you create a sense of urgency among your customers?

With website countdown timers, of course! Let’s look into countdown timers and how they benefit online businesses.

Countdown timers also play a significant role in creating FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). We discuss FOMO, its benefits, and how you can use it to boost store sales later in this guide.

Countdown Timers: More Than Just Time

Countdown timers are digital tools that display the time left for a particular event or offer. In an online business setting, these could include time-limited sales, availability of certain products, or the closing time for a special deal. 

Countdown timers tap into consumers’ fear of missing out (FOMO), encouraging quick decision-making and increased conversions by providing a visual and constant reminder of time slipping away.

Flash Sale Countdown Timer

A countdown timer on your website will undoubtedly initiate some urgency in your customers. This action can certainly improve online store sales.

How Countdown Timers Boost Sales

  1. Creating Urgency: Countdown timers invoke a sense of urgency. The ticking time creates pressure, driving consumers to act quickly or risk missing out on a good deal.
  2. Highlighting Scarcity: By tying timers to limited stock availability, businesses can emphasize scarcity, another powerful driver of purchasing behavior. When customers see an item they desire is close to selling out, they are more likely to buy immediately.
  3. Fostering Decision-Making: The presence of a countdown timer can help consumers who are sitting on the fence make a purchase decision. The ticking clock encourages them to decide before the offer ends, often pushing them toward purchasing.
  4. Promoting Exclusivity: Limited-time offers with a countdown timer give consumers the feeling of being privy to an exclusive deal, enhancing perceived value and increasing the likelihood of a purchase.

Countdown timers create an intense sense of urgency in customers. When paired with a giveaway, a countdown timer can be an incredible tool that will cause people to act quickly and take part in a giveaway (as opposed to “leaving it for later”).

VYPER’s Giveaway Page Editor allows you to insert a timer into your giveaway page easily.

VYPER Editor Countdown Timer

We added a simple timer to our Influencer Giveaway example, set the due date, and published the giveaway. The countdown timer is instrumental in adding even more urgency to giveaway entrants, as giveaways already demand urgency as they run for a short time only.

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Creating a Countdown Timer

Platforms like Shopify allow you to create countdown timers on your site effortlessly. This is ideal for small online businesses that use a service like Shopify. 

You can search for a countdown timer on Shopify’s App Store, install the app on your site, and start designing the timer. A popular countdown timer on the app store is the Essential Countdown Timer Bar.

Essential Countdown Timer Bar on Shopify.
Source: Shopify

The Essential Countdown Timer Bar allows you to create countdown timers and bars. You can create a rectangular countdown timer to place anywhere on your site or a product page. Countdown Bars are best placed at the top or bottom of the site page.

Once you have installed the Essential Countdown Timer Bar, go to your Shopify site dashboard and begin editing your timer.

Essential Countdown Timer bar editor

You can select a template and adjust the style to match your site best. Make sure to choose colors that are in line with your brand. Once you have made your adjustments, set the due date for the timer and publish your timer. 

It’s that simple! Go to your website to review your new live timer. Ensure all the info is correct, the correct colors have been used, and the timer is easy to identify. If you pick up on any issues, return to the editor to rectify them. 

Now that you have a good understanding of countdown timers, we can take a look at more countdown timer examples. After which, we will focus on FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out.

Examples of Popular Brands Using Countdown Timers

Need inspiration and ideas for awesome countdown timers? Here are some excellent countdown timer examples from popular online stores. 

Hopefully, these countdown timer examples will inspire your next campaign.

One Kings Lane Countdown Bar

The countdown bar is a simple and discreet timer that sites place either at the bottom or the top of their pages. Space isn’t a luxury, so your offer has to be on point and display the timer next to it. 

One Kings Lane Countdown Bar
Source: One Kings Lane

One Kings Lane makes excellent use of their countdown bar, colored in the brand’s signature green. Their offer is an Extended One Day 30% Offer with a countdown timer to emphasize the exact moment the offer expires.

A simple coundown bar is ideal for brands that regularly host flash sales and limited offers. The countdown bar takes little space and doesn’t force customers into a sale. However, it still is noticeable. 

SwissWatchExpo Countdown Popup 

Countdown Popups are increasingly valuable as they demand a response from the website visitor. The popup blocks the entire page with the offer and countdown timer. Users must click through to the offer or close the popup. 

SwissWatchExpo Countdown Timer Popup

SwissWatchExpo has a simple yet effective popup that offers discounts and free shipping. This is an excellent offer that will further entice people to take action.

Combining an excellent offer, a countdown timer, and a full-screen popup is a perfect way to create urgency in your customers.

Superbalist Product Page Countdown Timer

Countdown timers work exceptionally well on product pages. Imagine stumbling on an item you have been hunting for some time that is on sale. Excellent news!

However, you are still a bit skeptical about making the purchase. Until you notice a countdown timer with only a few hours left. You need to act fast and checkout before you lose out!

Superbalist regularly includes countdown timers on their product pages. This strategy works really well for them as they regularly host flash sales and limited-time offers.

Superbalist Product Page Countdown Timer

The countdown timer is relatively small and simple. However, it is highlighted in green and is clearly visible. The green timer will also greet anyone who notices the 40% off.

With the offer ending within the day, the customer is forced to make a decision soon. Most customers know that waiting longer may cause them to lose out on the item to other buyers. So, it’s now time to make your move!

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FOMO – What Is “Fear of Missing Out”

In the realm of online business, FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out, isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a psychological trigger that marketers can leverage to drive consumer engagement and boost sales. 

FOMO refers to the worry that one may miss out on rewarding experiences that others are partaking in. It’s a powerful driver of behavior, particularly in the context of e-commerce and digital marketing.

We mentioned FOMO earlier in this guide. As promised, we have an in-depth guide on FOMO below and ways to implement it in your business today.

Understanding FOMO in Online Business

For online businesses, FOMO is about creating an environment where customers feel they may miss out on a great product, an exceptional deal, or an exclusive opportunity. This fear can drive quick decision-making and prompt customers to make a purchase they may have otherwise delayed or foregone. 

The immediacy of online shopping and the transient nature of many digital deals amplify the potential impact of FOMO. Entire sites like OneDayOnly exist on the premise of FOMO. With OneDayOnly, you are forced to purchase immediately because deals are live only for 24 hours at a time. 

One Day Only Countdown Timer

After 24 hours, OneDayOnly will remove the product from their store. This strategy encourages the customer to act fast before the deal is gone. 

You can set up the same strategy on your store by hosting “Daily Deals” for 24 hours only. This will encourage customers to make the purchase before they miss out on the deal. Adding a timer for when the deal ends is truly the icing on the cake. 

A countdown timer gamifies the action of having to make a purchase quickly. The customer is usually left fighting to complete their action (making a purchase) on time, similar to completing a specific task in a game before time runs out. 

Leveraging FOMO for Sales

It’s incredible what an online store can do with FOMO. You can gamify the situation to create a scenario where the customer wins the game when they buy your product in time before missing out. 

Daily Deals and sometimes hourly deals are also tried and tested ways for brands to 

  1. Limited-Time Offers: Limited-time offers create a sense of urgency, as customers may fear missing out on a great deal if they don’t act quickly. These can be flash sales, holiday discounts, or time-bound special promotions.
  2. Exclusive Access: Offering exclusive access to products or services can make customers feel they are part of a select group. This might include early access to new products for members or pre-sale access for email subscribers.
  3. Social Proof: Showcasing customer testimonials, reviews, or the number of products sold can reinforce the popularity and desirability of a product or service, heightening the FOMO effect.

Limited Stock Notices: Highlighting low stock levels can create a sense of scarcity and urgency, prompting customers to buy before the item sells out.

Potential Pitfalls of FOMO Marketing

While FOMO can be a powerful marketing tool, businesses should consider potential pitfalls. 

Here are a few pitfalls to consider when using FOMO:

  • Overuse can lead to consumer fatigue and skepticism, diluting the impact of future campaigns. 
  • If the sense of scarcity or exclusivity is perceived as artificial, it could damage trust and brand reputation.
  • Some customers may not purchase products for full price. Instead, these customers may wait for your next FOMO promo. This means your regular sales activities will be negatively impacted by your FOMO strategy. 

Fortnite is an online multiplayer game that makes its income from in-game transactions. Players can buy cosmetic upgrades using the in-game currency (bought with real money). 

A big reason for Fortnite’s successful transactional sales is their exclusive content that is available for 24hrs only. This forces players to drop hard cash immediately to buy that exclusive skin/upgrade. However, Fortnite has been scrutinized for hosting a similar FOMO deal multiple times.

Fortnite Rarest Skins

If an exclusive FOMO deal is regularly hosted, then the deal isn’t exclusive. Players accused Fortnite of lying about the exclusivity of the deal to force people to buy the skin. Even if it isn’t true, the last thing you want is for your audience to think that you lie to them for financial gain.

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Fortnite still manages to shine years into gaining major global popularity. Brands are still using Fortnite as a means to market themselves. We have an entire guide on how you can leverage Fortnite’s popularity to boost your brand awareness.

Click here for our full Fortnite Marketing Guide.

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TL;DR: Using Countdown Timers

This guide has everything you need to understand countdown timers and how to implement them into your sites. 

Some crucial topics covered in this guide include:

  • Countdown timers are essential for creating urgency in customers buying decisions.
  • You can leverage FOMO (fear of missing out) with countdown timers.
  • Apart from creating urgency, countdown timers also promote exclusivity, highlight scarcity, and foster decision-making.
  • FOMO is a ​​psychological trigger that marketers leverage to drive consumer engagement and store sales.

We hope you enjoyed this guide, and we thank you for making it to the end! Have you tried using countdown timers on your website? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Jack Paxton
Jack Paxton

Jack Paxton is the co-founder of VYPER, a marketing tool that helps brands build email lists, social followings, and revenue using viral giveaways, referral, and reward programs. After millions of dollars spent testing different marketing strategies at his marketing agency. He then also co-founded Hyax a fast, conversion & design-focused course and funnel builder for creators.

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