Time's Up for Countdown Timers

Last updated: 
February 22, 2022

In the run-up to release of iOS 15, much was made of its new privacy features and the impact they would have on the ability of marketers to track email opens. We published a blog in September, iOS 15 and What You Need to Know, addressing some of those concerns. But since its release, we now know for sure that open rate tracking wasn’t the only thing affected by Apple’s update.

Certain forms of personalization, specifically time-based content, were also impacted by iOS 15. This included countdown timers, a tool that the Alchemy Worx creative team has helped many of our clients use to build urgency and drive conversion.

Countdown timers work when email content is loaded, refreshing every time the email accesses the server and its date and time stamp. This allows the countdown timer to show how much time remains. But with iOS 15, content is only fetched once, so countdown timers are limited to displaying the time remaining when the content was initially downloaded.

Time to Engage Your Audience

Countdown timers are a thing of the past, but you can still get your message to the right customer at the right time with Audience Management. Request a Free consultation to learn how.

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Recognizing the threat that iOS 15 posed to the efficacy of countdown timers and the revenue they generated for our clients, replacing them became a matter of priority. Our creative team came up with a simple solution - displaying sale deadlines such as “Sale Ends Tonight” as copy in the hero image.

To understand whether our new iOS 15-compliant tactic would be as effective as countdown timers, we conducted a test over a period of two months. The results revealed that calling out a deadline generated nearly identical GA revenue and about 9% more clicks than countdown timers. Calling out a deadline in the copy of an email was proved to be as effective as using a countdown timer, while also demonstrating the potential to improve performance.

Evidence in hand, we were able to roll out the new tactic and transition away from countdown timers.

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