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Ken Magill

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Ask Kara: Do countdown clocks and open-time content drive results?

By Kara Trivunovic
Yes. Next question.
Just kidding – this is definitely a response that can use some clarification. Yes, agile content (as it is often referred to) is content that is served at the point in time a recipient opens the email. 
That content can change from one minute to the next depending on when it is opened. The first time we really saw something like this was when real-time countdown clocks started appearing in email. 
Urgency can be a successful motivator to drive engagement, but as more impactful agile-content opportunities emerged, countdown clocks became more of a novelty.
Here are some things to consider when building an approach to agile content served at the time of open:
Inventory Considerations
Brands have forever been held to promoting products that have enough inventory to meet the customer demand following a promotion – until flash sales made running out of stock a driver of urgency. But not every brand wants to have their customers met with a message of, “sorry slow poke – there’s nothing left for you here.” Leveraging open-time optimization you can tie the product served in your message with your available inventory so when one item runs out, another will be served in its place.
Location-Based Messaging
Email is on the go, in the hands, pockets and purses of your customers – so why shouldn’t your email content be? This approach isn’t going to lend itself to all content, but if you have a large bricks-and-mortar presence, it could be beneficial to let customers know where your nearest location is.
Weather-Based Messaging
Messaging driven by weather is opportunistic for some businesses – especially as erratic as weather patterns have become. Brands have successfully used this approach to trigger meal delivery messages to office-based subscribers on days when it looks like rain, or storm-preparedness messages from retailers when bad weather is approaching encouraging subscribers to get the supplies they need now.
So yes, agile content can be a very effective tool in every marketer’s tool kit – if applied correctly.
Kara Trivunovic is vice president, digital solutions for marketing-services provider Epsilon. If you have any questions about email marketing you would like Kara to answer, email them to her at You can remain anonymous.

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