Have you heard of the “mere urgency effect”?
It’s a psychological principle that says we have an in-built tendency to gravitate towards urgent tasks, even if that urgency is artificially created. In other words, even if there’s plenty of time to complete a task, the mere illusion of time pressure makes us more inclined to complete it.
Okay. You can probably see where this is heading…
The whole job of your landing page is to convince your visitors to complete a certain task—i.e. to convert. But with the average attention span of visitors hovering around eight seconds, you have to pull out all the stops just to keep them on the page, let alone to get them to convert.
This is why you need to get serious about harnessing the power of urgency on your landing pages. The fact is that amplifying urgency helps you hook your visitors more quickly and can boost your conversions by as much as 30%.
And when it comes to creating landing page urgency, nothing beats a countdown timer. It’s an unmistakable, visual cue that the clock is (literally) ticking and that your offer will soon expire. Put simply, a countdown timer sets a fire under your prospect’s pants.
In this post, we’ll show you how countdown timers can help businesses get more conversions as well as looking at the different types of timers available. We’ll also see how you can start taking advantage of your own landing page countdown timers using Leadpages.
So first off, when should you use them?
Ways to use landing page countdown timers for your business
A countdown timer can find a home on virtually any landing page where the offer is restricted to a specific timeframe. And we’ll see in the next section how you can even use countdown timers to promote evergreen offers.
Whether you’re promoting something like a webinar, an online course, an ebook, a temporary discount, or an exclusive product launch, adding a countdown timer to your landing page will work to amplify your visitor’s urge to take action.
Here are few examples of how you can use countdown timers to promote different types of offers:
Online coaching class
Countdown timers work just as well for generating leads as they do for making sales. Adding an expiry date makes it extra tempting to sign up for your coaching class or session.
Who doesn’t love a prize draw? You get the chance to win awesome goodies at little to no cost. But if for some reason that isn’t enough encouragement, a countdown timer will hammer home the fact that the contest won’t be open forever.
Sold out offer
Using a countdown timer doesn’t need to be limited to promoting active offers, you can also use them to generate curiosity for upcoming offers. In fact, as this example shows, you can transform your visitor’s disappointment of missing out on an initial offer into enthusiastic anticipation of being first in line for the next one.
This strategy can work well even if the upcoming offer isn’t quite as good as the original one. Let’s say the regular price of an item you’re selling is $97, and you offer the early birds who visit your page a special price of $47. Once the original timer hits zero and the $47 offer expires, you could then create a second offer to get the item for $77—once again for a limited amount of time. The second wave of visitors might not get the awesome deal that the first wave got, but they’re still more likely to say yes if they can make a 20% saving on the normal price.
Different types of countdown timers
Landing page countdown timers come in three forms.
The first is the standard timer, which counts down to a fixed date and time regardless of who visits your page. These timers are best suited for situations where you need to create the same one-time deadline for everyone. For example: “5 days left to get guaranteed Christmas delivery”.
The second type is the daily timer. This is similar to the standard timer, but ends and resets at a selected time each day.
The third and final type is the user-specific evergreen countdown timer. These are personalized timers that only activate when an individual prospect visits your page. In other words, each visitor gets their own unique timer that starts the first time they land on your page.
To see how this works, imagine you’re running a 48-hour sales promotion and you’ve set up an evergreen countdown timer on your landing page. You then announce the promotion through your social media channels on Monday morning.
One of your followers—call her Jane Lastname—immediately sees the announcement, clicks the link, and heads straight to your landing page. The countdown timer she sees now starts counting down from 48 hours.
Jane is on her way to a meeting, so she closes the tab but revisits the page on Tuesday morning. Now the timer tells her there’s less than a day left to claim the offer. She’d better act fast!
Later in the week, another prospect—Victor Visitor—also spots your social media announcement and himself clicks through to your landing page. By now, Jane’s deadline has already passed, but Victor’s 48-hour timer has only just started.
User-specific timers are therefore a great way to get more conversions with less work. They let you make use of the inherent urgency of a limited-time offer at the same time as enjoying the convenience of an evergreen offer.
How far out from the deadline should you set your countdown timer?
When it comes to choosing how long your timer should count down for, how long is too long?
As a general rule, your timer will have a better impact on your conversion rate if you keep the deadline tight. This is simply because the longer someone feels like they have to make a decision, the more likely they are to put off taking action in that moment.
In terms of specific timescales, if you’re using a standard timer set to a firm deadline, we’d suggest keeping the time to seven days or less. Deadlines set further out than that usually won’t create the sense of urgency you want. That said, you can still make use of countdown timers even if your event or offer takes place months in the future.
For example, let’s say you’re selling tickets for an event that won’t take place for another three months. Rather than jumping the gun by setting the timer to the date of the event right away, you could instead set a timer for a week from now and during that time allow any early birds to get a special deal on tickets. Then, once that deadline has passed, you could reset your timer for another seven days and give visitors a slightly less special deal on tickets. You could rinse and repeat this process until you eventually reach the event date.
In our experience, when you’re using an evergreen timer, anything over 48 hours is unlikely to move the dial on your conversion rates. For a lead magnet, where the only cost to the visitor is giving you their email address, a five to ten-minute timer will create just the right amount of urgency to stir them into action. For a sales page timer, one or two days is long enough for visitors not to feel rushed into making a purchase but is also short enough that they don’t find a reason to delay. Usually, the higher the cost of a product or service, the more time you should give your prospects to make a decision.
How to set up a countdown timer using Leadpages
So you’re convinced that countdown timers are a good thing. Welcome to the club!
But you’re probably now wondering how to actually go about placing one on your landing page.
Well, the good news is it couldn’t be easier to set up countdown timers on your website, landing pages or pop-ups using the Leadpages drag-and-drop builder. Here’s how it works:
Placing your timer in the right spot
Many of our landing page templates come pre-equipped with a countdown timer. But for those that don’t, all you need to do when you open up the page builder is select the Countdown widget, drag it wherever you want the timer to sit on your page, and drop it into place. It’s that simple.
Be sure to place your timer somewhere prominent on the page. If visitors can’t see the timer because it’s hidden below all the copy and other landing page elements, chances are you won’t benefit from that added sense of urgency.
Setting your timer
Leadpages gives you a number of ways to configure your sleek new timer to ensure it’s counting down to the right event for the right amount of time.
Select the “Standard” option if your landing page is counting down to a single, fixed date and time (like an online class, product launch, or some other one-time event). With this option selected, you’ll be able to set the date and time your offer ends within the calendar. Bear in mind that the time you set will match your computer’s time zone. Once you’ve configured the timer, it will automatically start counting down until it reaches the date and time you specified and will then display zeroes.
Another option is the “Daily” timer, which renews itself daily. All you need to do is choose an “end time” and the timer will automatically reset at that point every day. Like the Standard timer, the Daily timer will be calibrated to your computer’s time zone.
Finally, the “Evergreen” option lets you specify the number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds that will display until the timer hits zero for new visitors. You can make changes to the timer by resetting it, which will restart the timer for all your visitors.
What to do when your timer runs out
When your timer reaches zero, you can either leave it at 0:0:0:0, redirect visitors to a different URL or landing page, or even change the information you display on the page by showing and hiding different sections.
If you choose to redirect visitors to another page, make sure it’s clear to them that the offer has ended and that they indeed missed out. While this might cause some disappointment—and maybe even some attempts to bargain with your support team—it will ultimately send a clear message that you say what you mean. Besides, you could always place a lead magnet on your “Offer Expired” page. That way, you get to capture the details of your interested visitors and they don’t have to leave empty-handed. Win-win!
The “Show/Hide” feature is ideal when you need to make certain information on your page appear or disappear once the timer expires. Usually, your landing page will contain copy, images, videos, or other sections that won’t be relevant to visitors after the deadline has passed. Instead of having to create a completely separate landing page for when the timer runs out, you can simply show or hide specific content.
Matching your timer to your brand
When it comes to your landing page design, it’s essential to make sure that the color, style, and font settings of your timer are aligned with the rest of your brand. Here’s an example of how it’s done from Enterprise DNA:
Leadpages lets you independently adjust the color of your timer’s background, number, and label elements. Simply use the color selection panel to pick from your “Brand Colors” or “Recent Colors”. You can also add a new color by manually entering the relevant color code and desired opacity level.
To adjust the style and shape of your countdown timer, select the paintbrush icon within the widget menu. Here you’ll be able to choose from Unstyled, Block, and Boxed-In styles. If you pick one of the latter two, you’ll also be able to adjust the shape to Square, Rounded, or Circular.
You can change your countdown timer font settings by heading to the Page Styles tab. Our Global Settings option means that changing the font of your countdown widget will also change the font of any other countdown widget you have on the page. This is especially handy if you’re creating a longer page, but you can still change the font inside an individual countdown widget if you want to switch things up.
For more best practices on how to structure your landing page, check out our Definitive Guide to Landing Pages.
How do you know if your countdown timer is working?
The only way to be sure your countdown timer is helping to boost your conversion rate is to run a few A/B tests.
Create two versions of your landing page, one with a countdown timer and one without (the control), and see which version performs best. As well as testing for a timer vs no timer, you should also test to see which type of timer (standard, evergreen, daily) and which deadline duration has the best impact on your conversions.
We’re pretty confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results. But under rare circumstances, you might find that a landing page without a timer will perform better than a version that has one. This might happen because the addition of a timer moves your landing page from being “persuasion-optimized” to being “too pushy” in the eyes of your visitors. If you suspect this to be the case, it might be worth testing against a version of the page that includes a timer but doesn’t contain some other element designed to induce urgency.
To find out more about how to run A/B tests with Leadpages, check out our in-depth Guide to Split Tests.
It’s time to get time on your side
Nothing does a better job at convincing your prospects that now is the time to act than a ticking timer. It’s no surprise that countdown timers are fast becoming a mainstay of the digital marketer’s toolkit.
Don’t forget that Leadpages offers a huge range of mobile-responsive, conversion-optimized landing page templates straight out the box. Many of these come with a countdown timer as default.
Start your 14-day free trial today and watch that conversion rate skyrocket!