Over the next few months, we’re going to be analyzing the shopping cart abandonment strategies of the world’s best retailers.  The hope is that we can uncover the most effective strategies used in their campaigns and utilize those tactics for our merchants.

This series will be a great learning experience not only for our customers, but also for us.  Our goal is to master every facet of executing a successful abandonment campaign and to share those lessons learned.

The Criteria

Timing – When were the emails delivered? How many of them were there? What was the interval at which they were delivered?
Design –
A general critique of design language. Was the email branded? Plain-text? What visuals did the merchant use to entice me to re-engage?
Offer –
At what point did the merchant use a promotion? How was it positioned?
Copywriting –
What was the style/tone of the email? Was the copywriting clear? What was the subject line?
Social Proof –
Did the merchant provide social proof? Testimonials? How were they presented?
Personalized –
Was the email personalized to me? How did they capture that data? Did it specifically mention items I had engaged with on the site?
Call To Action –
Was the call to action clear? What was the merchant trying to persuade me to do?

Rosetta Stone

Let’s get started. For the first installment of our analysis series, we’re going to look at an outstanding product that helps people learn new languages: Rosetta Stone.  Rosetta sells both online subscriptions & CDs of its language education software.

The price point on Rosetta Stone is higher than most retail transactions, so I could see a lot of people rethinking their decision to purchase at checkout. I started to sign up for a 12-month subscription of their French program which costs $299. I completed the first step of checkout (personal info) and abandoned at the second step. After approximately 30 minutes, I received this email:

After 24 hours. I received a second email:

What I liked:

Timing: The first email arrived almost immediately after I abandoned. The second was sent approximately 24 hours later. I like this sequencing as it would have addressed two key issues. If I had simply gotten distracted during checkout, the first email would have caught me while still at my computer. The second email also does a great job of addressing any friction I might have experienced during checkout.
Design: The email itself is extremely well designed. I loved the high-quality photography of people traveling the world. Rosetta Stone is somewhat of an aspirational product and these emails make me feel like I’ll be experiencing amazing travel in no time.
Offer: Both emails contained a compelling discount of $100 off my order. I also liked how they positioned the offer as being available only for a limited time. Creating a sense of urgency with a promotion like this is key.
Social Proof: A quote from the Wall Street Journal never hurts.
Call to Action: This email was fairly long and I liked how there were two prominent calls to action at the top and bottom of the email.

What I would test:

Personalization: Though the email did use my first name in the salutation, I think Rosetta Stone has a big opportunity to give the email more context based on my behavior on their site. They knew I was interested in French, yet they presented me generic travel images. Changing the email based on what items I had in my cart would be a great way to engage me in a more targeted way. A shot of the Eiffel Tower might have just driven me over the edge to buy.
It wasn’t exactly clear what the offer was good for. Levels 1-5?  I thought I had the whole program in my cart. I would have needed to go back and check this before converting.
The subject lines of the emails were 1)“- Order Rosetta Stone Online” and 2)“- Hurry, Order Rosetta Stone Online”. I would test something less sales oriented and I’m not sure what the additional “-” is meant to accomplish. There must be some reason for it, so we’ll keep an eye for more examples of that type of subject line.
I would have also liked to see some testimonials from real people who took the course.

Overall, this is a very effective campaign that I’m sure drives a substantial amount of business for Rosetta. Have you experienced a great/terrible re-marketing campaign? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for next week’s analysis.

Mike Arsenault
Mike Arsenault is the CEO and Co-Founder of Rejoiner. He works with 350+ online retail & eCommerce companies like Hallmark, eTix, Liftopia, and Vtech Electronics to help them grow faster using lifecycle email. He once lived aboard a 36' sailboat in Boston.