Expanding its product line beyond foreign language courses, Rosetta Stone now offers brain-fitness and children’s literacy programs via online subscriptions. To encourage new customers to convert quickly, the company implemented Google's countdown widget, creating urgency around its flash sales.


  • Drive quality traffic to website
  • Create urgency to promote flash sale
  • Encourage customers to convert quickly


  • Implemented Google's countdown widget
  • Dynamically showed customers the days, hours, or minutes left until end of sale
  • Used branded search campaigns for flash sale


  • 8.7% increase in conversion rate at the end of flash sale
  • 3% increase in CTR on their ad text
  • 8.3% increase in customer spending per site visit
May 2015

Since its inception in 1992, Rosetta Stone has been the go-to resource for interactive language learning. The brand, known for its language and literacy courses in more than 30 languages, has branched out to offer brain-fitness solutions for improving memory and concentration as well as develop a new children's literacy program that helps kids learn to read. It also has substantially moved its CD-based offerings to an online subscription model so users can access Rosetta Stone content in the cloud. As such, the company's goal is to drive quality traffic to its site, rosettastone.com, and attract a new audience of keen learners.

Drawing in customers with digital

As Rosetta Stone developed learning courses, its audience expanded. The company's traditional audience included people who wanted to learn a new language, whether for professional, personal, or travel purposes. Now, with its new brain-fitness and children's literacy solutions, the brand hopes to attract more millennials and parents.

To do so, the company focused on developing its digital marketing capabilities, which have become increasingly important to promote the brand's subscription-based model online. Traditionally, Rosetta Stone combined offline marketing (TV, radio, and print) with online campaigns by using Google AdWords and email. The brand wanted to expand its AdWords campaigns with the goal of getting people interested in buying its limited-time offers of Rosetta Stone courses.


Counting down to a flash sale promotion

Rosetta Stone often has weekend flash sales during which language learning products are promoted for a period of two to three days. While the company was already using a variety of AdWords features, including site links, click-to-call, and product listing ads, it needed a way of driving customers to its time-sensitive campaigns.

The company turned to a new feature in AdWords' ad customizers: the countdown widget, which dynamically shows consumers the amount of time they have left to benefit from an event like a flash sale. With the countdown widget, Rosetta Stone could change an ad's text in real time to create a sense of urgency for its audience.

First, it tested the countdown widget during a flash sale that lasted two and a half days. Each day, it changed the ad copy to show that the sale would be ending soon. For example, on the first day, the message contained "Flash sale, only 2 days left" in the promotion. As time decreased, the promotion dynamically showed the "hours left" and finally, "minutes left." With the widget, it also showed consumers how much time they had left to receive their items within certain shipping periods (for example, "3 days left to receive by Christmas").


Creating urgency drives results

Within only a few days, Rosetta Stone saw near immediate results from implementing the countdown widget. It managed to drive additional traffic to its website with a 3% lift in click-through rates across two of its branded search campaigns. Customers were spending more during their visits to the site (8.3% increase) and adding more products to their carts–increasing conversions by 8.5%–than before the test.

Additionally, the weekend flash sale was a hit for the brand. Thanks to the countdown widget, AdWords campaign conversions increased at the end of the promotion by 8.7%, which was higher than previous flash sale promotions. The text used in the ads also had a direct impact on the promotion: The countdown widget was most effective when "hours" were displayed in the ad versus "days left" to the end of the sale.

In the end, Rosetta Stone learned that when it comes to promoting a sale, creating a sense of urgency can certainly help.