Countdown Timer FAQs

What is a countdown timer?

A countdown timer is an animated gif that is served into the email at the time of opening, displaying the exact time remaining until the set end date. These timers are an excellent way to drive urgency within email campaigns and as a result can increase engagement, and conversions and drive revenue. Key examples would be showing live countdowns to events such as the beginning of a sale or a product launch.

Are countdown timers customizable?

Yes, absolutely. Countdown timers are fully customizable in the UI by uploading a background image and creating your countdown clock. If you need any assistance in customizing your template, contact your Account Manager for more information and work through the use case.

Can I use the timer on my website?

Yes, it is possible to use a Litmus Personalize timer on your website. However, it is important to know that each page hit would count as an impression. If you have a high volume of traffic to a page, you may see more impressions than you expected.

Do Countdown Timers work in all inboxes?

No. Outlook 2007-2013 does not support animated GIFs however support has been introduced for Office 365. For the former versions, the first image within the GIF will still be served, showing the exact time remaining until the timer expires, however, the timer won’t tick. As this normally accounts for a small proportion of opens, it’s not too problematic.

Do they work on mobile?

Yes. You can also create a mobile-friendly countdown image and use the rule builder to serve the correct timer for each device - see our help guide on the Rule Builder for more information.

What happens when the timer gets to zero?

When the countdown reaches zero, it will show 00:00:00:00. We recommend swapping the expired timer to a different image/banner - see our Best Practices. Here's an example of an expired timer:

Can I change the timer to a different image after it’s expired? 

Yes and we recommend it. You are able to set this up whilst building the countdown campaign.

Can you optimize for local time zone?

Unfortunately, it isn't possible for the timer to count down to the local time based on the open location of the recipient. GeoIP functionality is used to detect the location and then apply a time. However as GeoIP technology isn't 100% accurate, we don't rely on it and only use it at a country level. We also cannot detect location in Gmail, for example, so we can't determine the local time at opening.

How can I improve the quality of the image?

Image quality can be improved by using retina images. Create the timer template double the size you require and then use your HTML to scale it back.

Why do the colors in my timer look pixelated?

GIFs are limited to 256 colors. If the background image used contains more colors (this is particularly common where gradient of colors is used), you will find that when your image is generated into a gif, the clarity is lost. Colors are matched to the nearest web color which can cause a lack of clarity and pixelation.

Make sure your design includes web colors and there will be no impact on the clarity of the colors.

See all web-safe colors here.

What should I do if only one digit is visible? When one is missing?

This is because the second digit will have dropped down onto the line below. If this happens, edit the template, making the boxes for the time parts larger or alternatively, making the font smaller.

Will it tick indefinitely?

No. All countdown clocks will tick down for 30 seconds after an email has been opened. Once the 30 seconds have passed the clock will no longer tick but will remain static on the last frame. If the recipient closes and then reopens the email, it will tick for another 30 seconds.

If required, we can set timers to tick for up to 70 seconds. Contact your Account Manager to arrange this.

Am I able to make the timer restart every day?

Yes. When editing the countdown campaign and setting your expiry time and date, select ‘Restart every day’. A good use case example would be having an email banner that counts down to the time cut-off on next-day delivery.

Why is my countdown timer slow to load?

Using a heavy image can have an effect on the loading time of the timers. Make sure to only use a slice of the entire image, just covering the countdown timer and time part labels, to ensure fast load times.

What messaging should I use around the timer in my email?

We suggest using clear messaging to inform recipients what the timer is counting down to. Additionally, we strongly recommend positioning a strong call to action close to the timer to prompt action.

Do you recommend A/B split testing?

Yes. Use A/B split tests to measure the impact of the timer within the campaign, having the creative with and without the timer present to measure success. We recommended sending a 10% control group to the creative without the timer to measure performance. Make sure to keep everything else in the email consistent.

You can also test positioning, messaging, design, color… etc.

Am I able to make my timer count up?

Yes, by tweaking the configuration of the tag you can count up from a specific or merged time.

Configure the tag to match the below using the timestamp YYYYMMDDHHMMSS

Can I make my timer on a transparent background?

It is not possible to make a gif transparent because the GIF format does not support alpha transparency.

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