The Count Is On! Or Don’t Count On It? Which Version Increased Product Purchases?
WhichTestWon's Analysis: (Click back to see versions A & B)
Winning Version: Version A, with the countdown timer, lifted conversions 8.6% over the version with no timer.
Test Type: Ecommerce Testing
Confidence Level: 99%
*Note: this test won the Silver medal in the Product Page category of our 2015 Online Testing Awards.
You can’t always count on countdown timers, but they can work wonders, even on ecommerce product pages.
Creating a sense of urgency is a great tactic for getting users to act – now!
Interestingly, this study showed the timer worked throughout the day, despite the amount of time remaining in the offer.
However, as suspected, the closer to the deadline, the stronger the impact of the timer.
The agency ran the study for their client, Miss Etam, a leading Dutch women’s outfitter.
A total of 50,000 viewers saw the test. It ran for two weeks and achieved 99% confidence.
The agency took inspiration from a previous countdown timer case study, published on WhichTestWon.com. The case study, which won Silver in our 2014 awards, found the use of a countdown timer increased form completion 226%.
Using this test as a starting point, the agency wanted to know:
1. Whether a countdown timer on their client’s product detail page would encourage returning customers to buy items scheduled for next-day delivery?
And, if so. . .
2. When in the day the timer would work best to increase conversions?
The agency hypothesized the countdown timer on the product page would work, but only with a certain amount of time remaining in the next-day shipping offer. They believed the closer the shipping deadline, the higher the conversion rate.
The team tested the variation and control versions (shown here) as part of a larger multivariate test.
Other variations (not shown here) included:
A: Static text stating ‘order before 22:00 h, next day delivery’
B: Removing the text ‘free delivery’ under the ‘order now’ button, for less distraction
Almost all combinations worked better than control (with no countdown timer), but not all achieved 90% confidence. None beat the winning version (shown in this study).
Real-Life Test Results:
This test showed the timer worked well when at the bottom of the product page.
As suspected, the countdown timer increased product purchases. Its simple presence created an 8.6% lift in conversions.
Surprisingly, the timer worked well throughout the day, despite the amount of time remaining. However, as suspected, the timer had more impact closer to the shipping deadline.
Check out this graph to see how timing impacted conversion rate.
Why did the countdown timer have such a strong effect?
The agency believes it created a psychological phenomenon known as ‘future anhedonia‘. Future anhedonia states “people prefer to enjoy benefits in the present and pay costs in the future“.
In everyday life, we can liken future anhedonia to the expression, “Ouch! I’m gonna pay for that later.” We realize doing something now may have consequences later, but we’re still motivated to do it.
With the countdown timer, users may have felt their current purchase would influence their future happiness.
The limited time offer created urgency; this urgency led to a sense of consequence. Users could lose out on the deal if they did not take immediate action. So perhaps they felt they’d better act now.
By benefiting now, users possibly not only felt immediate gratification, but also avoided losing out later, making the purchase a win-win.
What do you think? What other factors may have influenced why the countdown timer worked? Tell us your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.
Or give your input in WhichTestWon’s Forums.
Want to see another study looking at urgency? Check out this test.
Got a great A/B test you’d like to see published? Send it on over.
*Note, the images have been translated; the original version was in Dutch.