Email Countdown Timers: How to Create Urgency in the Inbox

When thinking about email countdown timers, it’s hard not to think about Tic Toc the Croc.

Yes, we’re talking about that crocodile from Peter Pan.

tic toc the croc email countdown timers

Captain Hook is chased relentlessly by Tic Toc the Croc.

Luckily for Captain Hook, he always knew when Tic Toc was nearby due to his incessant ticking.

When Captain Hook heard the crocodile’s ticking clock, he knew his time to escape was running out.

So, he searched urgently for an escape.

What if there was a tool that could give your customers the same sense of urgency to react?

Fortunately, there is such a tool you can easily incorporate into your next email marketing campaign—an email countdown timer.

leesa mattress email countdown timers example

A ticking clock lets people know that they only have a limited amount of time to act.

It causes them to snap into action.

Email countdown timers increase engagement and click-throughs, which ultimately increases your email marketing ROI.

Sophisticated email timers also help you break through the email clutter and get more results from the emails that you send.

After all, if your subscribers are not opening your emails, they won’t take action.

These countdown timers are a fun and engaging way to encourage your customers to open your emails.

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What is an Email Countdown Timer?

An email countdown timer is an animated GIF that counts down to a particular event.

These highly visual tools instantly communicate the urgency of your message.

aha email countdown timers flash sale example

Each time your customers open your email, they’ll see an updated image and countdown timer.

Most timers countdown from anywhere between 30 to 90 seconds before looping back to the time it showed when the recipient opened the email.

These timers are always accurate each time the person opens the email.

These types of emails create an authentic sense of urgency and build anticipation for an event.

Which Email Clients Work With Email Countdown Timers?

Since all timers are GIFs, they will work with any email client that is compatible with GIFs.

Email Countdown Timers Client Support
Displays Image Counts Down
AOL check mark check mark
Gmail check mark check mark
Yahoo! check mark check mark check mark check mark
Thunderbird check mark check mark
Outlook 02/03 check mark check mark
Outlook 07/10/13 check mark *
Outlook 11 check mark check mark
Apple Mail check mark check mark
iPhone check mark check mark
Android check mark check mark

* Only displays first frame of animated GIF

One thing to know is that Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013 versions will display only the first frame in the GIF.

So it is essential to select an image that can stand alone if anyone is using these versions of Outlook.

Because most consumers use smartphones, tablets and laptops, the majority of countdown timers are compatible across a broad range of devices, and most support mobile email embedding.

So, you can count on your email timers to work just as well on mobile devices as it does on a desktop.

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How Do Email Countdown Timers Create Urgency?

Behavioral psychologists have long known that urgency is one of the most influential drivers of human behavior.

A sense of urgency causes humans to act quickly—before even thinking about it.

One of the most significant problems with conversions is that people tend to wait too long to respond to calls-to-action—if they even respond at all.

Raising the urgency of a situation helps improve conversion rates.

samsung email countdown timers

If you can create a strong sense of urgency, then you can encourage your customers to do what you want them to do—to shop your big sale before it ends, for instance.

Don’t let your offers spoil like rotten bananas.

Instead, remind your customers that the time to act will soon come to an end.

While a deadline is great for letting customers know that they only have a limited time to respond.

A clock is an even better way to get people to act now.

A timer represents passing time.

No one likes to miss an opportunity.

Using a timer or countdown clock will raise the importance of your event and compel your customers to take action now—before it is too late and they no longer have the opportunity.

tampa bay bucs email countdown timer example

Countdown timers give your customers a reason to act at this very moment.

This reason is why email countdown timers works so well.

The timers are also very useful because they are visual.

The right visual content can increase conversions and increase click-through rates.

Almost any business that sends out emails can use countdown clocks—retailers, e-commerce stores, online publications, event planners—you name it.

Top 3 Email Countdown Timer Providers

There are a plethora of email timers available on the internet.

Here are three of the most popular countdown timer providers and a comparison of each.


niftyimages email countdown timer example

NiftyImages is by for the most robust tool on the market, offering countdown timers and dynamic timers for email campaigns, landing pages and websites. They also provide personalized images and live social feeds. Some of the benefits of NiftyImages countdown timers include:

  • Email Open – Starts once a subscriber opens your email
  • Merge Tags – Each subscriber gets a unique timer using your ESP date formatted merge tags
  • Web Page – Starts once someone visits your landing page or site
  • Available in more than 40 languages
  • Updates automatically when the email is opened
  • You can customize the countdown based on different time zones
  • Offers customized font sizes and colors
  • You can upload personal fonts to use
  • An optional expiration image shows when the event ends or time runs out


There are no setup fees or contracts required with NiftyImages. Additionally, you can sign up without a credit card. There are three different pricing packages:

  • Starter – This plan is $20 a month. It includes up to 50,000 opens a month. You get free personalized images, custom fonts, live social feeds and live image editing.
  • Pro- For $80 a month, you can receive up to 250,000 opens a month. This plan also includes an embeddable widget.
  • Enterprise – Perfect for larger companies, this plan offers 1 million opens a month and includes a monthly consulting and strategy session.


countdownmail email countdown timer example

This service allows you to create customized countdown timers. They can be designed to match your email style. CountdownMail guarantees that their countdown timers will look great in every inbox on every device. Other advantages of CountdownMail include:

  • Completely free – You get 100,000 sends for free each month. No credit card is required.
  • Easy-to-manage – The timer is intuitive and features easy-to-paste codes.
  • Create the timer in any language.
  • You can update the countdown clock at any time.
  • Real-time analytics helps you track your campaign. You can see each time your message is opened.


  • Free – Sign up for free and send 100,000 emails a month—completely free.
  • Starting Up – For $7.00 a month, you get 100,00 emails a month plus CountdownMail’s branding is removed.
  • Growing Business – This plan costs $49.99 a month. It includes 1 million emails a month and unused credits roll over each month.
  • Pro Marketer – The Pro plan offers 3 million emails a month plus all of the benefits of the other plans.


email countdown timers example sendtric

Sendtric has an entirely free plan with no monthly fees. Currently, they only offer one type of timer. However, they are presently testing and plan to launch a Pro version soon. The Pro Edition will provide a lot more customization and features, such as advanced editing, customizable templates, and unique background images. Here are some of the highlights of Sendtric’s current countdown timer:

  • No branding
  • Optimized for speed – They open quickly every time.  
  • Reliable even for large volume usage. More than 500 million countdown clocks have been made with Sendtric.


  • Completely free

How to Add Email Countdown Timers in Delivra

WARNING: You are leaving the Drag & Drop Editor world and heading into the Land of HTML.

Step 1: Choose the email countdown tool of your choice

You’ll want to customize the branding of the timer and set when the timer ends.

This part can vary based on whichever tool you decide to use.

Step 2: Copy the HTML code once you generate your timer

It could look something like this…


Step 3: Making room for the timer in your mailing

Head into Delivra, go to Content, and select the mailing you want to add the timer.

Drag over a full row from your design options into your mailing where you want your timer to sit.

Then drag over a text box into the new row you just created.

In your new text box, type in “Countdown Timer Goes Here” (you’ll see why in a minute).

delivra email countdown timer how to

Step 4: Adding the HTML timer code to your mailing

Now, switch over from the Design tab of the mailing to the HTML tab to view the email code.

In the HTML, find where “Countdown Timer Goes Here”.

countdown timer goes here

Replace the text only with the timer HTML code you generated from your countdown tool.

Step 5: Add the final touches

From here, you can center your timer and add a background color to match.

countdown timer in mailing content

Remember that depending on the countdown tool you choose these steps could vary.

Now you have added an email countdown timer to your next mailing!

Remember to perform email render testing to ensure the timer appears properly across all clients and devices.

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Do you want to set up email countdown timers for your campaign or have other questions? If so, then get a hold of us.

We can help you select the best email countdown timer and send the best email campaigns for your business needs.


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