Pirates didn’t use modern digital countdowns, because they didn’t had them, but they used ordinary sand clocks and boy did they work. People were literally dying over them. Pun intended.

So, do countdown timers still work? 

Well, to understand that, we need to understand human behaviour and psychological triggers that makes us do stuff we usually wouldn’t also known as “buying shit we don’t need”. 4c89e24232fa7be038f83c199526784efce88dae17be1a6b5455fe2e90c05fe4

One of those magical triggers that makes us do stupid things is called a sense of urgency. Sense of urgency is just one of the triggers you can use and I will write about the others next time, but if you are eager for some extra knowledge, you simple have to read a book from Mr. Joe Sugarman called “Triggers”. This is a quote on urgency:

In selling, the concept of a sense of urgency involves two emotional aspects in the selling process. One is loss or the chance of losing something, and the other is procrastination.

Let me paint a picture for you.

You have a solid product, price is somewhere in the range of 15$-30$ (impulsive buyers market) and your landing page is looking really fresh. I mean, it’s polished to the point you would buy your own product in a heart beat. So? Where is the problem? Why aren’t everybody buying it? Well, people tend to make excuses when buying online and the most common excuse is “Well, let me think about it first.” If this happens, there is more chance of you hitting the lottery than this person converting on your page at that moment. This is called procrastination and by now you probably hate it. And you should.

Why do you hate procrastination?

It’s costing you money and lots of it. This doesn’t mean, that urgency is the reason your sales are slow and your pages aren’t converting, quite contrary. If your landing pages are full of distractions, or if your value proposition is bad, urgency won’t save you, it could backfire on you. It also won’t work if your offer’s irrelevant to your audience, or if your audience doesn’t trust you, these are the basics you should check before using urgency elements on your pages.

We established that urgency doesn’t stand up very well on its own. But if you check all the other stuff I mentioned above, urgency can and WILL help you skyrocket your sales.

You need more proof?

Aren’t you a stubborn one! That’s great, never trust a pirate without proof and without a cool parrot.

We wanted to test the conversion rate % difference between a product page without urgency and with urgency. We used the same traffic source and same ads (we have to keep the test pure as possible) to get a nice clean juicy competition. Wan’t to bet which product page had better results?

Overtime conversion rate increase. Happy us!

The winner is clearly the one with the countdown timer, and by winner we mean, it annihilated the countdownless page. Do you trust me now? Yes? Well you shouldn’t. 

Why shouldn’t you trust me?

You should, but not because I showed you one Analytics screenshot (that doesn’t show the A/B test), things can be photoshoped you know (just look at my picture above). First of all, I’m not selling anything, so that’s a big TRUST sign above my head and second, well I’m a really nice guy and I’m gonna show you more data, because data is king. And more importantly, data never lies.

Google said urgency is king – Google knows stuff – Google has data – shitloads of it

If you use Google Adwords you know that the best performing text ads are the one that use dynamic urgency. You know, the ones with the countdown in the text copy.

They look like this:

cdadw

We used one just like that and one without the urgency.

  • Test Details
    • Store: Sport niche T-shirt site
    • Promotion: 2 Day Sale, 20% Off All Products Across Site
    • Network Targeting: Search only, running promo ads across all active campaigns
    • Language Targeting: English
    • Ad Set-Up: Ran Control Ad (sale is Friday & Saturday only copy), as well as Countdown Ad (using Sale Ends in X!). Set ads to rotate evenly.
  • Results:
    • Countdown Ads vs. Standard Sale Ads Saw:
      • +115% Higher Conversion Rate
      • +45% Higher Revenue
      • +103% Higher ROAS
      •  Countdown Ads’ Conversion Rate doubled on Day 2, while the Standard Sale Ads had consistent Conversion Rate on Day 1 & Day 2.

The winner is once again the ad with the urgency copy. This seems like a pattern already, doesn’t it? Although, urgency has the best effect when used in later stages of the purchase funnel. Closer to the purchase intent, the better. Why is that so? Well because if you have all the ingredients of a good product/landing page/offer you don’t need much additional help converting the customer.

Where to put them on a product page? Less is more.

Again, you have to be really careful with countdown timers, because they can backfire and kill your conversion. How? Easy, you site and your offer will look spammy, without credibility and trust in your offer. You don’t want that, right?

After many split tests, many many mistakes we learned that the best position for a countdown timer on a product page is just below / above the PURCHASE button. The difference between positioning above / below was negligible.

Example of a solid countdown timer (this example has also scarcity, which is also awesome) and you can clearly see trust badges above that are also awesome. Simply too much awesomeness in one picture. YAAARR.

urgency

But what about the checkout process? Well, aren’t you a smart one…

On average the cart abandonment rate is around 69%. 69%!!1

Of course that doesn’t mean that your cart is bleeding that much, that is just the industry average, which is too damn high.

I found some data on why people tend to leave the checkout page and marked those which you can improve with a simple countdown timer. Quite a large percentage, don’t you say? And the list has quite a few you can easily improve. Every little step and tweak matters. This is a make it or break it game. 

stats

If you can make a user feel like he could lose an awesome offer if he doesn’t commit to an order immediately, I personally guarantee that he will convert. You can thank me later.

Let’s talk numbers:

If you’re currently making $15,000/mo in online revenue and could turn just 25% of those abandoned orders into sales, you’d make an extra $45,000 each year. How about now?

Your store is on Shopify? You can’t edit your checkout process? This isn’t the end. Winter is not coming. The solution is simple and FREE.