Sometimes, really tactical stuff just works…
Earlier this year, I worked on a project with another copywriter, Vitaly Grinblat.
It was a promotion for a stock picking service. The market focus and promo topic is irrelevant to this article.
We wrote a solid promo.
They tested it, and it worked.
At least, it kind of worked.
You see, we were hitting all our numbers — except one.
People were opening our emails. They were clicking from the email to the sales page. They were clicking through to the order form.
We were running into a brick wall. Because the actual number of people converting from the order form was dismal, compared to the benchmark metric we needed to hit.
Now, this was actually GOOD news, in total.
Because in the end, our promo was performing about 30% weaker than it needed to, on a pure dollars-per-email-sent basis — and we knew based on all our campaign metrics that this under-performance was pretty much all on the order form.
This meant that people were intrigued by the subject lines we were using to grab their attention. They were intrigued by the email content, that got them to click to the sales page.
And through our entire pitch, we held their attention, built their interest, got them desiring our offer, and even got them to take the action of clicking through to the order form.
We had a winner on our hands — if we could simply carry that momentum over the finish line.
So, we tested.
And admittedly, there were a few tiny tweaks. But there was one big one suggested by the other copywriter on the project — thanks Vitaly! — that I believe was the single-biggest factor in what happened next…
Now, before I tell you what this one factor was — this little tactical change — I need to tell you…
This DOUBLED our conversions!
Meaning, we went from being 30% below the benchmarks we needed to hit, to 40% above.
For every $1 in sales we were making, suddenly we were making $2.
And because this completely shifted the economics of the campaign, it suddenly allowed us to roll out a promotion that had come to a screeching halt after the initial launch.
All because we realized that we were doing a great job getting them all the way to the order form, and we needed to tweak that to get them through the order.
So, what’s the trick?
And you can file this under “one weird order form hack,” or whatever near-magic promise you want — I don’t care. It worked, and it works over and over again.
The one thing that doubled our conversions on the order form was…
Vitaly suggested we add a countdown timer!
That’s it. Throw some urgency in there, with a simple 15-minute countdown timer.
We already had decent urgency in the copy itself. But when someone got to the order form, they could simply leave it sitting open in a window in their browser, and walk away!
Now if they walk away — or even just don’t order quickly enough — the timer will run out. To what consequence? I still don’t know!
The timer says, “Offer expires.” But here’s a little secret — it doesn’t.
That said, you won’t know unless you let the timer run out. And presumably you’re on that order page because you want the offer. And so are you willing to take the risk of missing out, just to see if the offer actually expires?
Well, apparently there are enough people who don’t want to miss out that we were able to double revenues from that plus a few tiny formatting tweaks.
If I were in 100% control (instead of this being a client project), I would actually make the offer expire. I’d offer some nearly-as-good offer for the people who didn’t order by the time the timer expired. (That’s what I do for my stuff. The page self-destructs. The offer disappears. A deadline is a REAL deadline.)
But regardless of what I’d do after the timer runs out, the fact remains — we’ve doubled the revenue based on people ordering before the 15 minutes are up.
Add this to the list of things I know and should use every time…
Fast forward to today. I’m comparing some lifetime upsell pages, for newsletter subscriptions.
I have stats on upsell pages that work, and those that don’t.
And as I look at one that’s blowing the others out of the water, it hits me — there’s a big countdown timer on the page!
SERIOUSLY — could it be this simple?!
I mean, don’t get me wrong here. You need a great offer in the first place. And you have to have the pitch right. You can’t use urgency to get someone to buy something they don’t want. Your message has to be persuasive enough to get them to want the offer, before this really matters.
But all else being equal, having that countdown timer is going to boost performance over not having it.
And lest you think this is all too gimmicky and “internet marketing-y” and this doesn’t work in real businesses, consider this…
I just popped over to Amazon.com, and looked at a kids board game I might buy soon. It’s eligible for Prime shipping, and on the product page it tells me, “Free Delivery: Saturday, Order within 11 hrs 36 mins.” And yes, that counts down. Likewise, when I add it to my cart and get into the checkout process, that countdown follows me until I actually place my order.
Amazon made $141.92 BILLION in product sales last year. Every single item in their checkout process is tested, honed, refined, and there for a reason. If there’s a countdown timer there, it’s because it improves their conversions. Sure, they may use the subtlest of all countdown timers (nothing like what we use!) but their inclusion suggests the mechanism works for online purchases.
And so as I was creating another upsell page today, I did it again. I added the countdown timer.
And as I make plans going forward, I’m making it part of my process to at least decide whether or not I want to use a countdown timer.
(It was definitely part of my Webinars That Sell campaign — although in that case it was a countdown to the end of pre-order pricing. Following what I teach in that program, you can use timers to increase sales for both live and automated webinars.)
And going forward, I would suggest you seriously consider how you can use countdown timers to supplement, complement, and augment the urgency in your copy.
A brief note about tactical implementation…
There are two tools I use and recommend for countdown timers.
— ClickFunnels: Get 2 weeks free at this link. It’s a complete funnel-building tool. And it includes countdown timers to a specific time and date, as well as for a pre-set length of time after someone loads a page. Plus a TON more. Many of the funnel and page templates are built around using timed offers as part of your campaigns.
— DeadlineFunnel: Get 14 days free at this link. This is how you add really solid countdown functionality to almost any webpage. It’s meant to run on your site, no matter what site software you use. And it tracks users across devices, plus can integrate a single countdown into multiple pages on a site and even in email. It’s robust and strong, built just for this. And it’s for both calendared campaigns as well as evergreen.
Both of these links are affiliate links, but — as usual — I would NEVER recommend them if I didn’t use and value them personally. I’m a paying customer of both. And find that depending on where you need them, having one or both can be a great investment.
Or, you can pay a coder thousands upon thousands of dollars to create a custom solution for you.
No matter how you invest in it, it’s likely to be a worthwhile investment.
After all, what would it mean for you to have this handy tool that you can use to potentially double conversions on every campaign you run?
That might just be a breakthrough…
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,