Forgotten Flights: How POWERUP Toys used nostalgia to lift their abandonment recovery rate

Ep. 11 ft. Sophia Dagnon of GetUplift

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What happens when you know your customers use your product to tap into their inner child? If you’re Sophia Dagnon, you humanize the product and playfully nudge your abandoned customers, helping them experience the post-purchase joy even before they complete their order.

(3:07) The first step the GetUplift team takes before they touch any copy
(4:42) How the customer research fed this email idea
(6:34) The standard emotion of abandoned cart – and what Sophia focused on instead
(7:37) The little extras that make this abandoned cart shine
(11:03) An excellent A/B split for all abandoned cart sequences
(12:58) Sophia’s tip for testing unconventional things
(17:47) How this sequence gave a feedback loop to optimize further sequences
(18:09) The one thing Sophia would change to improve this email

About our guest
Sophia helps some of the coolest, high-growth brands around connect with their customers’ actual needs and increase conversions as the Head of Research and Copy at GetUplift.

Links from this episode:
Take a look at the email we’re talking about today
Follow Sophia on ⁠LinkedIn⁠
Check out her work (or read some cool stuff about CRO & emotional marketing) at Join the newsletter while you’re there, it’s neat
When you’re stuck, get big picture positioning reminders from Tovala
Get Nikki’s email musings at ⁠ ⁠

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Nikki: That would be an amazing A/B split.

Sophia: Oh, like boring? You go boring to interesting versus interesting to boring.

Nikki: Yeah.

Speaker C: Welcome to email swipes, where we peek behind the scenes at the emails that catch your attention and earn their place in your swipe file. Every other week we’ll talk to an email expert about an experiment they ran, and in the following episode, we’ll dive into the strategies and methods used in the email so you can inform and inspire your own email work. I’m Nikki Elbas, the copywriter behind winning emails for eight and nine figure SaaS and ecommerce brands like Shopify, four, sigmatic, and sprout social. And I am know that hearing the background stories to these emails will help you turn pie in the sky insights into plug and play actions. Ready to make inspiration tactical. Let’s go.

First, let’s read today’s email. Hey, it’s your power up flight goodies calling you from your shopping cart. It’s nice here, by the way. Much better than just sitting in inventory on the site with everyone else. But we’d much rather start making our way over to you so we can fly together or so that your kids.

Sophia: Can can fly with us.

Speaker D: We make great gifts, by the way. Educational too. All that aerodynamic stuff we do is pretty popular with future physicists, pilots and all around smarties. We’re also great for those adult kids born before phones took over the classroom. Back when the only way to get your friends attention was to throw a paper plane at their head and hope the teacher didn’t notice. So if you’re ready to start our, uh, flight adventures together, let’s get us out of this cart and into a shipping box. Cool. Complete order. Or if you want to check out some more products, visit our store.

Nikki: Sophia, it is always a pleasure to talk to you. I am super, super psyched that you are here and I can’t wait to dig into your email.

Sophia: Thank you for having me. I’m super, super excited to be here. Also.

Nikki: Awesome. So tell everyone who you are, what you do, all that fun, awkward intro stuff.

Sophia: Excellent. I’m so good at these as well, so this is going to be amazing.

So I’m Sophia Dagnan. Um, the head of research and copy at Getuplift. Getuplift is a fantastic CRO agency. So before I was doing that awesome stuff, I was a copywriter for years, working with some of the coolest SaaS and Ecom brands around and some amazing creators, present company included. Before that, I was a content marketer initially. This is how I got my start and then moved through all of that. But my role right now, I think, is my favorite.

Nikki: Excuse me.

Sophia: Obviously not. I’m sorry, I take that back. It’s okay.

Nikki: No, it’s just that you should be bemoaning the fact that we are no longer working together. That’s all.

Sophia: Hey, I have hope that that will happen in the future. See, I live in an optimistic bubble in my head.

Nikki: Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. Also, Talia is amazing. Getuplift is amazing. So you’re allowed to like it, too.

Sophia: Thank you. Thank you for permission.

Nikki: Okay, so this is an email for powerup, uh, flight drones.

Sophia: Power up toys.

Nikki: Power up toys.

Sophia: Cool. Yes.

Nikki: Awesome. And how does it work? I guess at Getuplift, when they’re asking you to, I guess, walk me through the client process there in terms of the email optimization.

Sophia: Okay, so everything, and that’s, uh, emails, landing pages, like anything we touch starts with a CRO audit. So that’s like a four to six week audit where we dig into absolutely every part of the funnel. So that’s going through all of the email stuff, looking at everything on the site, pulling all the data from GA, using Hotchart to watch hundreds, in reality, of recordings, heat maps for all of your key pages, we run visitor surveys on key site pages, we run customer surveys, kind of engage customers to really get to know them. We interview the best fit customers. We spend hours talking to the team. And so all of that gets combined to this really deep understanding of how everything works at the company. And we do that before touching copy.

Nikki: That’s awesome. And I’m sure you love that because it’s just so up your alley, all the digging in and finding all the problems and starting to strategize on the solutions. That’s super, super cool.

Okay, so I guess one of the things you saw for power up toys is this opportunity for an abandoned cart optimization or from scratch.

Sophia: So I think we ended up doing it from scratch. They had, like, they had the standard, uh, I think Klaviyo m ones that you have, which are like, look, they’re a good place to start. They’re way better to have than to have nothing. Definitely true. So we were taking that standard like, hey, this is in your cart. You should probably buy it. And then we tried to do something a little more kind of interesting with it based on what we learned from the customers.

Nikki: So what from the customers gave, like, some of the ideas for this.

Sophia: Okay, so I think a bit of background on what power up toys actually is.

Nikki: That would be a good idea.

Sophia: It’s this, like. Yes, right? Because it’s really cool. It’s this little, like, tech thing. And obviously, you guys can’t see anything, so you can just hear me. But it’s like, imagine your paper airplane that you made when you were a kid. This kind of. It’s a little metal thing with a sensor that basically sits inside your paper airplane.

Nikki: No.

Sophia: And connects to your phone. So you can use your phone to fly, like, any paper airplane that you make. That’s so cool. And, like this, I think the four, the latest one can go up for, like, two, three minutes. So you can make any paper plane you want, use your phone to fly it around, fly it outside, fly it inside if you’re really good and you don’t have expensive stuff around your house. So really, really cool thing. So when we started talking to customers, we were like, okay, what is the thing people really care about? And the number one thing that came up is like, yeah, you know, back in the day when I was in school, and I’d sit there, what would you do? Well, before phones, we’d make tiny paper airplanes and chuck them at our friends. Right. That’s what I did. But, yeah, it turns out a lot of other people also did that. So we kind of used that whole reaching into the past and into all that happiness you felt as a kid. Because another thing that came through the interviews was that this was really a thing either you bought for yourself as an adult in order to remind yourself of how awesome that feeling was, or you bought it to share with your kids or grandkids. So a lot of families would, like, take this. You’d make the paper airplanes. You’d go out when the weather’s good, and you’d try to fly them. And so, uh, everything with it kind of really bordered that nostalgia.

Nikki: That’s so cool.

Sophia: And that joy.

Nikki: Yeah, that’s awesome. And that’s kind of like a big. A big part of the CRO stuff that you do at get uplift is all the emotional emotion, basically getting behind it. So that’s really cool to pull that through in an abandoned cart, which usually the only emotion you get in an abandoned cart is, like, guilt. Like, how dare you have abandoned this in the cart. Your cart is crying now go save it. So it’s nice to tap into the actual emotions that, uh, our visitors are experiencing. Experiencing. And that’s so cool that you were able to tap into that and find that nostalgia, because I feel like nostalgia is, like, a really, really good motivator for selling now.

Sophia: Yeah. And, like, it feels a bit like one of those obvious things where, like, oh, yeah, nostalgia is great, and everyone’s like, well, yeah, duh. Tell me something like, I don’t know, but, uh, it really is, especially when I think it’s the joyous part of it. So it does take you back to moments that were just easier and simpler, as, uh, cliche as that is to say. Yep, works.

Nikki: Yeah. And especially something like this where, you know, people are using it to bond with their kids or their grandkids or for themselves. So it really fits in very well. Cool. One thing I love about this email is that it doesn’t just say, hey, we’re in the cart, and even adding in that little motivator in terms of the nostalgia, and then just add me to the rest of the cart. But it also taps into the benefits, you know, like the aerodynamic stuff and the stem kind of push that people are always trying to get with their toys and giving that the features and benefits that people want in the toy. And not just, not just the emotion and not just the, hi, I’m, um, here you should buy me kind of thing. But you’re really putting in, like, a lot of layers into getting people to want the product.

Sophia: Yeah. Because I’m really like, and I’d love to know how you feel about this. I’m really of two minds of doing the your products, talking to you thing, because sometimes it can just be horrendous. And I’m pretty sure I’ve written some horrendous variations.

Nikki: I’m sure not.

Sophia: But sometimes it does, I think especially if it catches you in the right moment as a customer, or if it just has, like, all the other right bits around it, it can feel nice and interesting and exciting. And because so much of the times you abandon a character is literally because you just got distracted by doing something else, it’s, oh, I’m going to buy this, but then dinner’s ready, or you need to go do something, and, um, the thing just gets completely forgotten. So this is a nice, different, different way to do it without crying.

Nikki: Exactly. I think we are, as humans, we’re very intrigued when our objects talk to us. You know, like, we’re always trying to anapomorphize. Anaphylaxis. And of. How do you, how do you verbify this anthropomorph?

Sophia: No, there was like, there’s a size or eyes that, like, I’m missing. Yeah.

Nikki: When we anthropomorphize. I’m saying this wrong. Our objects, I like, we do this with everything. We do it with animals, we do it with objects. We do it all the time. Like any children’s book, 90% of children’s books are this. And for some reason we think we lose that as adults, even though we don’t. So I think we’re really, really intrigued by this. And I think it’s a great tactic when it’s not overdone. And specifically in this kind of thing where it’s a playful item. It’s a, you know, you’re trying to get people into that spirit of fun and that spirit of nostalgia. So it really fits really well to get that humanizing of objects. That’s a better way of saying it than butchering the word, isn’t it?

Sophia: Yeah. And like, what, kids didn’t want their toys to come to life? Like, find me one kid who was not like, yes, if my teddy bear or toy or whatever, like, Barbie came to life, that would be the best day ever.

Nikki: Like, you know, one of the scary dragons or something.

Sophia: That would have been amazing.

Nikki: And it’s a friendly dragon.

Sophia: It’s a friendly dragon, exactly.

Nikki: Then you get to fly. Yes, exactly. It’s true.

Sophia: So, yeah, and as adults, we still talk to stuff like, I don’t know, a single marketer who hasn’t talked to the computer at some point be like, hey, please do this one thing I really need you to do. Or taps, don’t crash.

Nikki: Definitely. It’s true. Yeah. So tapping into that and helping us realize that we are, like, it’s part of the whole angle of the kids at heart thing that you’re tapping into here with the nostalgia. What’s the nostalgia doing? Is pulling them into this kid space in their mind. So I think that continues it in a subtle way that they might not notice, but that really speaks to them.


Sophia: So it was, I think this one was a three. So this was number one. There was a shorter follow up, and it was, I think, still following the same tone. And then number three was just, I think, really no nonsense standard would possibly get more playful sentences. So to keep it consistent. But because the further away you get. Right. I think the more you respond to plain language with these kind of things.

Nikki: Yeah, definitely. That’s interesting. Or sometimes it’s the opposite, where you just need something really simple in the beginning because you were just, you went off to make dinner, and then as you get farther, you need that kind of, like, reminder of what was compelling you in the first place, which we missed. But I think they are both testable and interesting. That would be an amazing ab split.

Sophia: Oh, like boring. You go boring to interesting versus interesting to boring. Yeah, not boring. Sorry.

Nikki: Like plain clear versus clever.

Sophia: Clear. Yeah, exactly. Because that’s so interesting is. I think it so depends on what mood your customers are in. Because sometimes, um, like, the interesting does grab you a lot at the beginning, and sometimes it doesn’t. So, yeah, that test would be fantastic.

Nikki: That would be super fun. Was this scary at all to present to the client? Did it feel like something that they would maybe you have to kind of like, sell to get them to feel like this is a serious strategy when you’re being so playful or anything like that.

Sophia: So by this point, no, but I mean, for context, we’d already gone through the audit. I think we’d already reworked the website. So we’d written a homepage. We written product pages. This more playful language was in everything. And also homepage conversions from the test with it had increased by like 90% or something like that. So that safety had been built in. I think whenever you’re going to test something less conventional, it really helps to have that really solid foundation of trust and of tests that have worked, or at least like a really good relationship, because you can’t always a b test everything but trust. And then you introduce the, like, hey, now, how about we try this, like, slightly different thing?

Nikki: That’s super cool.

Sophia: Nice.

Nikki: It’s always nice when you have that kind of relationship. And also not just the relationship to sell it to them, but also this confidence yourself that this works because it’s worked in other formats, it’s worked in other medium and media, and it will probably work here too, because it’s worked in other ways.

Sophia: M also, they were a playful brand, which I think is the other thing. Whenever, like, if you’re going to try something like that, it does need to fit with the tone of the brand. And in the video release they did for the fourth model of this thing, I’m forgetting the exact brand name terribly, but they had like top gun references. They had like a bunch of amazing things. It started off, you know that iconic Steve Jobs presentation of the iPhone.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sophia: So this is how the video starts of like dress so fancy, you know, giving a big presentation, and then it’s like, no, that’s not us. And then he turns into a pilot.

Nikki: That’s so cute.

Sophia: So all the tonal elements were there.

Nikki: M. And it sounds like they’re really playing with the kid at heart for the adults a lot, which also makes sense even for the people that are buying for the children, because at the end of the day, you are selling to the adults who have to make the decision to sell to the kids. So that’s very cool. That’s really awesome.

Sophia: That’s why the stem angle is good. And also the stem angle was just there. It’s because it’s really hard. Like this is. It’s hard to make a paper airplane that’s actually aerodynamic enough to be able to do stuff with. And so this gets you to think about how aerodynamics work. Well, if you fold the wings this way, would it work or the other way? And so it’s good at heart. Yes, but also a wonderful bonding experience. And we tried to get a little bit of that through every bit of the copy.

Nikki: Nice. Very cool. And obviously educational and all that kind of justification for fun that we have to give ourselves as adults.

Sophia: It’s physics, so it’s fun. Exactly.

Nikki: So how were the results?

Sophia: So with this one, we didn’t get to track exactly that. We kind of have an overall conversion rate of all the efforts, but it definitely overperformed whatever was there before.

Nikki: That’s probably not a question given that it was a claiming.

Sophia: Otomo. But yeah, back to the original point, I don’t have an exact percentage for you guys, which I know is really frustrating when you’re like, yes, but I want to know exactly what the numbers were, but definitively improved that. We also got really positive responses for the series to enjoy it. So it worked on all of those metrics and definitely didn’t drop anything, which is always kind of important.

Nikki: Honestly. That’s my absolute favorite metric is the responses because I think you’re getting. Listen, obviously the business owners care about the clicks and things like that. But for me, knowing that I did my job well is the response is because it means that it triggered something more than your standard. So that’s just my personal favorite. What kind of responses did, uh, the brand get?

Sophia: So you have to bear with me. This was like 2020. So in marketing time, like, it essentially happened decades ago. But I think from what I remember, right, we had people a kind of happy with the adult kids theme. Like the fact that it was calling back to that. The other bit that really came through was that whole desire to do. And I know this is going to sound, eh, maybe not. It’s the physics side. It’s like people are really excited to actually dive into how things work. A lot of folks that end up buying this are, uh, people that either fly in model airplanes, you know, like the, they have a name that I’m forgetting, but the ones with the really giant remote controls that you buy and then you build out. Yes, they were like the original drones. They have a special name I’m completely blanking on. So a lot of folks that ended up buying this product were big fans of that. But, uh, those are really expensive and you don’t want to necessarily let your kids handle them until they’re again in a teen phase because the remotes are complex. If the thing crashes, stuff are not great. So it was kind of the joy of, hey, this is, now I understand that this is something I can do with my younger kids without worrying about it essentially being destroyed.

Nikki: That’s super cool. That’s interesting. Did you take that feedback and put it into any future communication or anything like that?

Sophia: So I think after this we redid the welcome sequence and like inertia sequence. So I feel we had a lot of that in there.

Nikki: Nice. That’s so cool. That’s so fun that you got these responses that then let you perfect other stuff and resonate more. Amazing. That’s so cool. All right. If you were to go back in time and perfect the email, what would you do differently? And you could say, nothing. It was perfect.

Sophia: Well, obviously it was perfect. But you know what I’ve really been getting into is gifs. And I don’t think that you have gifs in abandoned cards.

Nikki: Right.

Sophia: But a lot of them are cards doing interesting things. At least a lot of the ones I get. Like animations of cards. Yes. Like some are really cool, but I think animation, the gifts of product use. Like fun product use. Mhm. Like that. The launch bit or the final bits of the fold before you put the device in. Just anything that really communicates the joy would be cool because, I mean, these days, gifs really don’t make emails. They don’t weigh them down like they used to because, you know, we used to be worried about video sendability and blah. But so much has kind of improved in that sense that I’d love to have that and then maybe test shorter copy with like, a really cool gif.

Nikki: That’s such an awesome idea because it’s such a concept that you want to see, so it really helps illustrate it. That’s super awesome. That reminds me, actually, was there a tech reason behind not including other products in the email itself? Like, pictures of it, instead of just saying, like, visit our store?

Sophia: Oh, no, they’re in Clearview, you see in the Google Docs. So there were products listed at the bottom.

Nikki: Gotcha.

Sophia: Those are just not visible in this draft because the tech takes care of that.

Nikki: Okay, last question. Uh, what is your favorite brand to cull email inspiration from, and what do you like about them?

Sophia: So this is a really weird one, and it’s my favorite for, I think, all the wrong reasons. So have you ever heard of Tavala?

Nikki: Yes, actually, I get them too. Maybe you were the one who told me about them.

Sophia: I think so, yeah. Okay. And the reason why they’re my favorite is because on the surface, Tavala make an air fryer that, you know, you can buy for, like, I think it’s $300. But said air fryer is absolutely always on sale for, like, $50 if. If you buy their meals for a certain amount of time. So what they really like, what they really are is, uh, a meal delivery service that happens to come with an oven that can perfectly cook their meals, as well as, like, other stuff you buy from the supermarket. You can scan them and program them, and then, like, the oven just does them. And I love them because it always reminds me that what you’re selling on the surface isn’t what you’re actually selling because they don’t really sell the meals. I mean, sometimes a little bit, but usually it’s very much like, buy the oven, buy the oven, buy the oven. And ultimately, the oven is a loss leader. You’re not making money off of $50 of that complex ish looking oven. It’s the services, the meals, it’s the retention that’s so interesting. So every time I’m stuck on an idea, I’m like, okay, am I actually selling the thing I think I’m selling? Am I selling something else? Huh?

Nikki: Huh? That’s so cool that it’s more their business model that inspires you. And the emails are just kind of reminders in your inbox every time you get stuck.

Sophia: Yeah. And also I like looking at pictures of food, and they usually have pictures of food, so I’m like, oh yeah, that’s definitely true.

Nikki: Yeah. It’s like basically a food blog, but for work purposes.

Sophia: Yes. And that’s how I get away with them going to my work email. I’m like, ah, uh, I can look at this lasagna picture and it’s fine.

Nikki: Exactly. Oh, that’s awesome. Cool, cool, cool.

Sophia: Any last takeaways that you want to share about email story

Sophia, thank you so much for sharing this email story and for joining us today. Any last takeaways that you want to share?

Sophia: I feel like I should have something really clever to say here, but I don’t. That is just thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

Nikki: Pleasure. Thanks so much.

Speaker C: Thanks for joining me for email story time. If you enjoyed today’s story, give this podcast a review so email marketers like.

Speaker D: You can have more fun with email. See you next time week when we dig into this story’s takeaways, up next on email swipes. Sometimes there’s this famous study that gains traction and people use it to such an extreme, it becomes such a best practice that everyone just kind of follows it blindly, always pointing back to this one piece of data. And abandoned cards are one of those things.

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