Countdown hero

♫ Because your list (your list) is on my list …

…because your list (your list) I can’t resist!

Lists can be a great way to call out your most popular products. There are many ways you can tackle designing such a list. Here are 5 drastically different approaches and a few pointers to keep in mind.


From: Pottery Barn
Date: 11/18/15
Subject Line: Celebrate the Season of Giving with Our Top 10 Holiday Gifts

Pottery Barn  Pottery Barn zoom

The last thing you want is for your numbers to get lost or to feel like an afterthought. Think of them as a graphic rather than text. I love how Pottery Barn made their numbers large so that they feel like a conscious part of the design. They toned-down the color to keep them from becoming overwhelming. Another great addition is the horizontal lines. They help to unify the sections and also add dimension & interest by intersecting the numbers.


From: Sephora Beauty Insider
Date: 11/23/15
Subject Line: Take your pick: free fragrance mini

Sephora  Sephora zoom

Don’t let your design fall flat. Sephora’s email has layers upon layers of dimension by 1) overlapping product cut-outs over square cut images, 2) including drop shadows, and 3) sprinkling in confetti ground cover. In this design, the numbers all run along the right side. The flow is made possible with the help of ornaments, gold fans, and carefully placed confetti stars.


From: Pottery Barn Kids
Date: 11/13/15
Subject Line: Top 10 gifts we L♥VE

Pottery Barn Kids  Pottery Barn Kids zoom

By using both product cut-outs and square-cut images, you are getting the best of both worlds. The square-cuts will help to set the scene and show off your products in the best way possible. But when you get too many environment shots, your design will become hard to scan and overwhelming to look at. This email has the perfect mix. I also like how the environment images are all full-width with the number and text written on top of them.


From: OshKosh B’gosh
Date: 11/19/15
Subject Line: Extra 30% OFF COUPON ends tonight!

OshKosh  OshKosh zoom

A countdown is a great way to get your subscribers to scroll in order to reveal the big #1 item. In OshKosh’s design, even though the numbers are aligned down the center, they are able to create flow by staggering the corresponding text and products. I also like the mix of fonts, clever wording, and scannable titles.


From: Williams-Sonoma
Date: 11/21/15
Subject Line: Last Chance to Save on Thanksgiving Essentials + FREE SHIPPING ON ALL ORDERS

Williams-Sonoma  Williams-Sonoma zoom

Don’t let your design get too cluttered. Sometimes simplicity and predictability is the best solution to a scannable email. Here is a classic example of a staggered design. Everything is cut into a perfect grid with the images zigzaging down the page. The copy appears on the opposite side of each image. The copy is kept concise for easy scanning.

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J Crew Timer Hero

Real Time Countdown AWESOMENESS!

From: J. Crew
Date: 10/12/15
Subject Line: Get a piece of this sale event, now with free shipping (hurry, ends today)

J Crew Timer

J Crew

Wow, check this out. J. Crew had a one day sale. Instead of blasting reminders throughout the day, they included a timer that counted down to the end of the sale… in real time! It conveyed urgency and allowed people to check back throughout the day to see how much time remained in the sale. As you may be aware, this timer is not easy to pull off. Animated gifs can’t keep real time and complex code can’t be used in emails. So how did they do it? We speculate that this timer was made possible through a company called Moveable Ink. They use a server to generate an image on-the-fly based on the time and date the user loads the image. Genius. It’s not free, but the company provides some really awesome services that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

Rather than counting down to the end of a sale, this technique would work great for counting down to the START of a Black Friday or Christmas sale (when discounts are large, sales end quickly and your email needs to stand out)! Last year I saw a few companies offering exclusive first dibs on sales for email subscribers, prime members, card holders or high status spenders. The timer could be used to count down the amount of time the sale remains exclusive to those members. And don’t forget countdowns to shipping cut offs as well!

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