Cart Abandonment Email Analysis: Zipcar

We’re back for another installment of cart abandonment email analysis.

This time around, we’re going to look at how Zipcar handles checkout abandonment on Zipcar is a subscription service that gives its customers access to vehicles on-demand. They’ve built an incredibly successful business by removing all of the headaches involved with automobile ownership. Zipcar members can access a car whenever they need one, but don’t have to worry about insurance, gas, or maintenance.

In order to sign up, Zipcar asks users to select a plan and complete a multi-step checkout process. Before the sign up process starts, they capture some basic information about the user and ask them to complete a profile.

For this example, I completed the initial registration and then abandoned later in the sign up process. Here are the criteria we’re using to critique the follow-up email campaign:

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?
Personalization – 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?

The Campaign

Approximately 3 days after abandoning the Zipcar sign up flow, I received this email:

After 8 days, they sent a second variation:

What I liked:

Copy: I really enjoyed the tone of these recovery emails. The copy is fun, quirky and drives people back to the Zipcar sign up flow.
Design: Simple, clear, plain-text. In many cases, these types of emails have higher click-through than HTML.
Call to Action: It’s very clear what Zipcar wants me to do after receiving this email. The CTA drops users right back into the sign up flow.

What I would test:

Timing: Our data shows that most leads go cold after 24 hours. I would test sending the first email using a much shorter time window (< 1 hour) after the abandoned sign up occurred.
Offer: Zipcar isn’t shy about using promotions to attract new customers. I would test offering to waive part of the Zipcar setup fee or giving some free drive time in the second email.
Social Proof: Zipcar has lots of high profile press it could use to reinforce its credibility. It would be interesting to test adding a couple of press logos or coverage somewhere in the e-mail.
Personalization: There is no personalization being used for this campaign.
Testimonials:  Zipcar has a lot of happy customers. Why not feature a couple of simple customer quotes expounding on how great the service is?

Zipcar’s campaign is an example of a simple cart abandonment email campaign designed to remind potential customers about their service. The biggest area for improvement is in the campaign’s timing. I would forecast that Zipcar would see a substantial uptick in recoveries if they sent the first email within 24 hours of the original abandoned sign up.

What do you think? Have you seen any abandonment campaigns in action? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Martijn Oud

    I would also test the ‘unsubscribe line’. Maybe something like ‘this is an one time mail, you are NOT subscribed to a newsletter’. Because I personally would hit the unsubscribe link the first time I get an mail. 

    • mikearsenault

      Martijn, love this point. They should make it clear to people that they haven’t been subscribed to anything else and that it’s just a friendly reminder.

  • Service

    Is it common to have a users email address when they abandon?

    Maybe its our bad, but we don’t capture a users email address until late in the process.

    • mikearsenault

      We see abandonment rates hover around 70% on checkout forms. Of that 70%, we can generally identify 10%-20% with an email address.

      • Service

        Thanks Mike!