100 Growth Hacking Tactics - The Growth Hacking Handbook

#58. The Timebomb Hack

What is this? At any stage where a user must make some kind of critical decision such as a purchase, set a time limit for them and display it visually in a countdown.

Why should I do this? This is a basic pressure tactic. Giving users a limited time to make a decision helps increase conversions. Users will psychologically motivated to move through a process faster, which can result in more users completing a process. It can also have practical applications in high demand online shopping, clearing out a users shopping cart to prevent users from “reserving” limited quantity items indefinitely.

Who else is doing this? Many ecommerce stores use this tactic during checkout.

How can I implement this? The visual counter can be achieved with Javascript, for which there are various countdown plugins available for frameworks such as jQuery. Integrating the counter with a backend callback when the counter reaches zero is the harder part of implementing this, but you may find this level of integration is unnecessary in the beginning. The point of the counter is more a pressure tactic to finish an action, not to penalize users if the time does actually run out.


Pressure can backfire. Give your users too little time and you may frustrate some of them into closing the window or going elsewhere. On the other hand give them too much time and the motivational effect of this tactic is lessened.

View More Growth Hacking Tactics