How to Create a Countdown Popup to Skyrocket Your Holiday Sales

Are you ready to cash in on the billions being spent this holiday season?

The period from November to January accounts for around 20% of annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s $84 billion in revenue in the US alone. No matter what business you’re in, you’ll want to be planning marketing campaigns to get your share of this market.

And no matter what promotions you’re planning this holiday season, a countdown popup can boost your sales by creating a sense of urgency.

Countdown Popup Video Tutorial

Watch our video tutorial for step-by-step instructions, or keep reading for more details and a written tutorial below.

Urgency is one of the best ways to boost your conversion rate. When our purchasing decisions are based on urgency, we automatically lean towards the “take action” route, because we’re afraid of missing out.

In the holiday season you can use urgency to:

  • Display early bird pricing to convert procrastinating shoppers
  • Encourage visitors to use holiday discount codes before time runs out
  • Let visitors know about last order and last shipping days before major holidays so they won’t put off their purchase
  • Reduce shopping cart abandonment (though this works great year-round as well)

Seeing that timer ticking down will push hesitant buyers to take action NOW, before they miss out.

But what’s the easiest and most effective way to add countdown timers to your holiday marketing campaigns? Let’s take a look at the options (and potential downfalls)…

Which Countdown Popup App Should You Use?

There are lots of tools for creating a generic popup with a countdown function, but they won’t all achieve the results you want.

For example, you don’t want to scare visitors away with an overly intrusive popup.

You need a tool that puts you in charge of who sees your countdown popup at what time.

OptinMonster customers have used countdown popups to increase event subscriptions and trial signups. You can also use OptinMonster’s advanced targeting to show a countdown popup only to people who might actually want to buy, so you have a better chance of making sales.

You can set your sale countdown to appear based on visitor activity or inactivity, to prompt visitors to take action before they lose interest, or to present new offers to those who are already on your site. OptinMonster customers have used onsite retargeting to triple subscriber numbers, increase pageviews 157%, and increase conversions by 2100%.

Plus, unlike a WordPress countdown plugin, OptinMonster works on any site, and with any content management system. It also integrates with the leading eCommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce and WooCommerce.

om countdown popup christmas-holiday-email-marketing

You can use any of OptinMonster’s new holiday themes, as well as the Countdown Timer theme, to create a popup with countdown functionality.

In this tutorial we’re going to show you two ways to create a sale countdown popup, plus a way to share your campaign without needing expensive landing page software.

Let’s get started.

How to Create a Lightbox Popup Sale Countdown

If you want to target abandoning visitors with a compelling offer, you can create a Lightbox sale countdown using our Lightbox campaign type, and any of our holiday themes. Here’s how you create this Black Friday campaign.


Step 1. Create the Campaign

Login to your OptinMonster dashboard, and click the Create Campaign button.

om create holiday campaign button countdown popup

Choose a campaign type. We’ll use the Lightbox.

om create lightbox countdown popup

Select a theme. We’ll use the Black Friday theme.

om choose black friday countdown popup

Name your campaign. You will be redirected to the OptinMonster campaign builder.

om name black friday countdown popup

Step 2. Customize the Campaign

The default campaign will load in the OptinMonster campaign builder.

popup with countdown - om black friday default

Now it’s time to make the campaign your own. You can change the headline, body text, image and call to action as desired. Click on each section to bring up the appropriate section of the campaign builder. Clicking on any text will allow you to select and type over it. You can also change text color by clicking the paint drop icon on the pop up toolbar.

om black friday sale countdown edit text

Click on the email field to bring up the Email Field section. You can change the font, text and color here.

om black friday sale countdown edit email and submit color

Click on the submit button in the preview screen to bring up the Submit Field section. You can use this to change the button color and text.

om black friday edit submit text

Consider adding a sound effect to get even more attention. To do this, go to Design Fields » Sound Effect, and choose one of the 4 available sounds.

add sound effect to seasonal countdown popup

Step 3. Change the Timing for the Countdown Popup

While in the Optin tab, scroll down to Countdown settings. Choose a countdown type.

choose static or dynamic evergreen countdown timer

A Static countdown shows the same countdown for all users, while a Dynamic one lets you create a specific countdown for each visitor, increasing urgency and reducing abandonment. One OptinMonster customer has used Dynamic countdown popup timers to earn an additional $23,700 in sales.

We’re going to use the Dynamic Timer to set a personalized countdown for each visitor.

Step 4. Set the Display Rules

Now it’s time to decide who will see your countdown popup when. Go to Display Rules » When should the campaign appear? After ‘X’ seconds is enabled by default so your campaign always appears even if you don’t change the display rules.

om time on page 5 seconds
However, we’re going to use OptinMonster’s signature Exit-Intent® technology, which detects when people are about to leave and pops up your offer just in time to get their attention. To enable this, go to On Exit Intent® and click the toggle to enable it.

om countdown popup exit intent enabled

Since you’re offering a time limited sale, you’ll also want to go to When should the campaign appear? » Based on visitor’s date and time, and set an end date for your countdown popup. Click the toggle to make this display rule active, and set the end date you specified in your countdown.

om date and time

You can also specify multiple conditions within this section to set both a start and end date for your countdown popup. In this example, we’ve combined is on or before and is on or after to create a weeklong countdown.

om on before and on after

Another useful rule that lets you show your offer only to engaged visitors is Visitor has viewed ‘X’ pages. Set the value to 2 so you can be sure that only interested visitors see your offer.

om visitor has viewed 2 pages

Step 5. Publish the Campaign

Save your changes and click the Publish button. You can use campaign specific or sitewide embed code, publish it on your WordPress site, or use a shareable MonsterLink™ as described below.

om publish live

How to Use Shareable MonsterLinks™ to Promote Your Campaign

One of the publishing options you have for any campaign is to use a Shareable MonsterLink™. To get the link, click on the Shareable MonsterLink™ button.

om countdown popup publishing options master

The link will appear in a blue box, along with some sample code.

om shareable monsterlink code

You can use the Shareable MonsterLink™ to promote your campaign on social media, or email marketing, in your content marketing, or anywhere else.

When subscribers and visitors click on the link, they’ll land on your campaign. This lets you effectively create a landing page countdown timer without the need for expensive software.

You can also create a welcome mat sale countdown with OptinMonster. Here’s how.

How to Create a Welcome Mat Sale Countdown

Interested in a countdown landing page? You can mimic the effect of a countdown landing page timer by creating a welcome mat as your countdown popup. Landing pages are proven to increase conversions, but since landing page software can be costly, using OptinMonster allows you to get the benefits without the additional pricetag.

Here’s how you recreate this holiday-themed campaign.

om spooktacular final

Step 1. Create a New Campaign

Login to the OptinMonster dashboard and click Create Campaign.

om create campaign button

Choose a campaign type. We’ll use the Fullscreen campaign to effectively create a landing page.

om create fullscreen wordpress countdown

Select a theme for your Fullscreen campaign. We’re going to use Spooktacular, as it has a built in timer for your countdown popup.

om select spooktacular theme

Name your campaign, and press Start Building to go to the OptinMonster campaign builder.

om name fullscreen spooktacular

Step 2. Customize the Campaign

Once you’re in the Campaign Builder, you’ll be in the Optin tab. You’ll see the default Spooktacular campaign. You can customize this to suit your needs.

om spooktacular campaign default

Click on the text on the campaign preview to edit it. You can edit the headline, body text, image, and call to action.

om edit spooktacular headline

Click on the email field. This will take you to the Email Field section of the campaign builder, where you can type in new text if you wish.

Click on the submit button to bring up the Submit Placeholder field. Change the text if you wish.

om edit spooktacular submit

You can also change the colors of your campaign by clicking on the background or selecting the text to bring up the color picker, but we’re going to stick with the default colors for this tutorial

Step 3. Change the Countdown Popup Timing

Scroll down to Countdown settings. Choose a countdown type.

choose static or dynamic evergreen countdown timer

For this tutorial, we’re going to use the Static countdown, which is useful when you want your offer to end on a specific date.

Enter the end date and time for your offer in the Countdown End Date/Time field.

om countdown popup end date time

As you click on a date, the preview will update. You can also use Restart Countdown Preview to force this to happen.

om spooktacular countdown timer plugin

Step 4. Set the Display Rules

When you’re happy with the look of your campaign, it’s time to set the display rules. In order to create a welcome mat effect, we’re going to make the campaign appear as soon as visitors land on your site. Here’s how you do that.

Go to Display Rules » When should the campaign appear? After ‘X’ seconds is enabled by default, with a default value of 5 seconds. Change the value to 0 to make sure the campaign appears as soon as people land on your site.

om time on page 0 seconds

Optionally, you can also make sure your countdown popup welcome gate is less intrusive by enabling the page slide effect. Go to Optin » Design Fields » Enable Page Slide to do this. This ensures that visitors see your welcome gate but can scroll down to get to your content immediately.

om enable page slide off

As before, you may want to set start and end dates for your offer. In this example, we’ve combined is on or before and is on or after to create a weeklong countdown.

om on before and on after

Step 5. Publish the Campaign

Now it’s time to make your campaign live. To do this, save your changes and click the Publish button to see your publishing options. You can get sitewide or individual embed code, a shareable MonsterLink™ as described above, or can add your campaign to WordPress.

om publishing options master

To add your responsive countdown timer to WordPress, you’ll need to install our WordPress plugin which connects your WordPress site to the OptinMonster app. Once your campaign is live, go to your WordPress dashboard and click the OptinMonster icon.

om wp select om

Check to see if your optin appears in the list. If not, click the Refresh optins button, and it will.

om refresh optins

You can also click on the Edit Output Settings link for your campaign to refine the campaign display even more. For example, you can select post and page types and categories where your countdown timer popup should display.

om countdown landing page output settings

That’s it! You now have two options for boosting holiday sales with a countdown popup. You can also use a floating bar countdown timer to create a persistent offer visitors can’t ignore.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, check out how to create a popup coupon that boosts sales and how to schedule your marketing campaigns with OptinMonster.

Not using OptinMonster yet? Get started today and start converting more visitors into subscribers and customers!

Sharon Hurley Hall has been a professional writer for more than 25 years, and is certified in content marketing and email marketing. Her career has included stints as a journalist, blogger, university lecturer, and ghost writer.