Perfect Urgency: How to Time Your Deadline “Just Right”

Gabriel Ryan

also recommends Voma for high-converting payment pages

August 11, 2023
April 13, 2023

To make the most sales during your promotions you need 3 critical components to make your messaging really motivate your leads.

Here are the three critical ingredients to messaging that drives leads to buy:

  1. WHAT to say (the hook or even your offer)
  2. HOW to say it (your copy and how you communicate your message)
  3. WHEN to say it (the timing)

If you make a mistake with just one of those three ingredients and your messaging will fall flat or at the very least you’ll be leaving money on the table with your marketing.

But of the three, timing is especially important for getting the urgency and deadline just right in your promotions. At Deadline Funnel my team and I have helped thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs boost their sales using authentic deadlines and I can tell you one of the keys is to get the timing right.

This is true whether you’re using urgency in your fixed date promotions like launches or automated evergreen sequences.

But the good news is that rather than thinking in terms of the “perfect” timing when it comes to urgency and deadlines, think of it as avoiding “bad” timing.

In other words, know what mistakes to avoid with your urgency messaging, and make sure you don’t make those mistakes.

In this article I’ll share my experience, I’ll give you the best practices, walk you through specific steps to get the timing “just right” for your urgency, and I’ll back it up with some research.

Here we go.

The “Deadline Distance” Concept

If you understand this one concept I call “Deadline Distance” then you’ll avoid the biggest timing mistakes you could make with timing around urgency in your funnels:

The power of your urgency messaging is indirectly proportional to the amount of time remaining before the deadline.

The closer your lead is to the deadline, the more impact it will have on their decision.

Keep in mind, urgency only works when you’re delivering the right message to the right market. 

On my trainings I frequently say:

“You can’t multiply a zero”

If your sales are zero, conversion rate optimization is pointless. You have nothing to convert.

This could be the case if you’ve chosen the wrong market, or you’re wrong about the wants and desires of your market, or your marketing message is a mess. And in those scenarios you’re kidding yourself if you think adding a countdown is going to save your funnel. Even with the best software and the perfect timing of your urgency a deadline on an offer that no one wants isn’t going to help.

But if your offer is generating some sales then adding a deadline will boost your sales. And to maximize those sales you need to avoid the biggest timing mistakes.

As you’ll see, there’s a critical window of time where you should be talking about the looming deadline, and outside that window you should not focus on the deadline.

Urgency Experiment Shows 992.68% Boost In Sales

A study by Marketing Experiments on the Power of Urgency on Offer Pages documented the results of an email marketing campaign promoting an upcoming event. 

They promoted a course with a price tag of several thousand dollars. The promotion had two deadlines: 

Deadline #1 = $100 discount for early registration

Deadline #2 = Cutoff to buy and attend the course live before the course began

On average, the 3 days before those two deadlines boosted sales by 992.68% compared to the sales per day outside of the 3 day window

The results of this third party experiment mirrors what my team and I have seen over the past decade working with thousands and thousands of Deadline Funnel clients:

The most powerful window for communicating a deadline is within 3 days of the cutoff.

Tip: The Urgency “Rule of 72”

In the world of investing there’s a neat trick for figuring out how long it will take an investment to double called the “Rule of 72”. You divide the number 72 by the rate of return you’re expecting and the number you get will tell you how many years it will take for your money to double.

There’s another Rule of 72 I’m going to share with you now that’s even easier to profit from.

My “Urgency Rule of 72” is:

Within 72 hours of the deadline you can start to talk about the deadline and even emphasize it in your messaging.

But the further away from this 72 hour window you start emphasizing the deadline, the more you run the risk of actually hurting your sales.

I’ll share a story that really drives this point home with an extreme example of violating my “Urgency Rule of 72”

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How to Screw Up Your Urgency Timing. A True Story.

Many years ago a friend reached out to me for some feedback on a new campaign he paid a lot of money for an “expert” to create.

This “expert” sold him on the idea of doing a “viral contest funnel”. 

When my friend sent over the optin page where prospects would choose to give their name and email, I immediately saw a big problem.

See if you can spot it:

Over 29 days for the deadline!

Just imagine for a moment what’s probably going on in the mind of anyone who sees this countdown (which by the way, isn’t a Deadline Funnel countdown).

“Oh, if there’s almost a month before the deadline then I don’t need to pay attention to this now.”

That’s right, if your timing is wrong for the urgency in your campaign you’ll actually hurt your sales.

Using a deadline in your marketing isn’t just the most reliable and powerful way to boost sales, it’s also the easiest to get the timing right.

You have a 72 hour window of wiggle room where you can talk about the deadline.

Just avoid talking about the deadline and making it a focal point of your messaging outside of that 72 hours window and you should be fine.

Tip: A Timer for Your Timer

One of my favorite features of Deadline Funnel is the ability to hide the countdown timer on the pages of your evergreen funnels and even your fixed date promotion pages until 72 hours before the deadline, or whatever number of hours feels right to you.

As you see in the screenshot above, it’s a simple toggle to activate the feature on your Deadline Funnel campaign. And then you just choose how many hours before your deadline should be the trigger for Deadline Funnel to show your countdowns.

For example, if you have a 5 day evergreen campaign bringing in leads every day, Deadline Funnel will automatically assign a unique deadline to each lead as they enter your funnel but for the first few days they won’t see your inline page timers from Deadline Funnel, they won’t see the floating bars with the countdown to their personalized deadline, and they won’t see any personalized urgency text you put on the pages.

Then when they’re within 72 hours of their unique deadline (or whatever number of hours you choose) Deadline Funnel will show the countdowns and urgency text on their pages.

That’s the same timing you should be using for your automated email sequence: no mention of the deadline in the first few days and then in the last few days you mention the deadline. And your messaging closer to the deadline becomes more urgency focused

Tip: 3 Urgency Emails on the Last Day

There’s very few ideas that work 100% of the time but this is one of them.

At the end of your promotion, whether it’s a fixed date promotion or an evergreen marketing sequence, don’t just send one final email.

Instead, send at least three emails on the last day.

That’s right.

Three emails.

It’s human nature to procrastinate and delay.

When you send three emails on the final day of your promotion you’re going to make more sales.

Every. Single. Time.

If you want more information on how and why this works you can check out this article on sending three emails the final day of your campaign.

But trust me on this: every single day you have an automated sequence running without a deadline or without three emails on the last day you’re losing sales. 

If you’re anxious about the fallout, a great way to get over your fear is to run a “time boxed” experiment with your deadlines and urgency.

Set up three emails on the last day and set a reminder 30 days out on the calendar to check back and see the results.

If I’m wrong, you’d be the first person who’s told me this, and frankly I’ll need to more about how you ran this test before I believe it didn’t work for you.

But test it out for yourself and see. If you decide it’s not for you, at least you tried and you know.

And if you’re wondering what to write in these three emails, don’t overthink it.

Here’s a slide I show on some of my training webinars

These three emails are some of the shortest emails to write.

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