How using a countdown clock in an email appeal impacts donor conversion Experiment ID: #6833

Harvest Ministries

Harvest Christian Fellowship exists to bring Christians closer to God and to bring nonbelievers to a saving relationship with Him by showing how God's Word and faith in Him are applicable and relevant to everyday life.

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 6/7/2017 - 6/20/2017

Harvest Ministries had a high-urgency fundraising campaign prior to their  large-scale evangelism event, Harvest America. They sent a series of emails to their house file to acquire donations and revenue. In an effort to increase clicks and donations from their email, they added a countdown clock in their email counting down to the end of the campaign. This element was added to create a greater sense of urgency and motivate more people to click-through and give. They split their email file and sent the control email without the countdown clock and the treatment email with the countdown clock.

Research Question

How would a countdown clock in an email appeal impact conversion?


C: CTRL - No countdown clock
T1: TRT - With countdown clock


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: CTRL - No countdown clock 0.45%
T1: TRT - With countdown clock 0.39% -13.7% 77.4%

This experiment has a required sample size of 85,410 in order to be valid. Unfortunately, the required sample size was not met and a level of confidence above 95% was not met so the experiment results are not valid.

Key Learnings

While the experiment didn’t validate, the results were leaning towards being valid.

The treatment with the countdown clock decreased clicks by 5% and donations by 13%. What this initial data tells us is that the presence of the countdown clock didn’t motivate more people to convert, but possibly created friction in the giving process. There may have been a disconnect between the countdown clock counting down to Harvest America and the call-to-action of the email – which was to give to the fundraising campaign. The clock may also have taken away from the more casual, personal style and tone of the email that we know donors respond best to.


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Experiment Documented by...

Courtney Gaines

Courtney is the Senior Director of Optimization at NextAfter. If you have any questions about this experiment or would like additional details not discussed above, please feel free to contact them directly.