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Using Remarketing To Successfully Recover Abandoned Shopping Carts6 min read

Today I am looking at the rather troublesome abandoned shopping cart. 

Abandoned shopping carts happen when someone visits your website, finds something of interest, adds it to their virtual basket (or shopping cart) but fails to cross that final hurdle and actually purchase the item, leaving that item of interest sitting abandoned, it the shopping cart.

To understand both the rationale and scale of the problem let’s start by looking at some statistics around the abandoned cart…

  • 88% of consumers have abandoned a shopping cart without completing a transaction*
  • 24% of consumers add items to their cart for later consideration*
  • 1 in 4 retailers reported a rise in their shopping cart abandonment rate from the previous year*
  • On average around 7 in 10 customers that put an item in their cart, will leave the site without completing the purchase**

Understandably this causes eCommerce business owners a great deal of frustration as there is a great deal of money and time invested in getting people to visit their website in the first place, and to lose them at the last hurdle is a great deal of lost opportunity.

There is also a common frustration many instances, as despite getting to the cart stage of a website, those cart abandoners won’t have even got to the point where they needed to provide an name, email address or telephone number, so following up with this audience is highly problematic as you don’t know who they are or how to contact them!

A solution for recovering abandoned shopping cartS

For those feeling those frustrations, and are fed up of seeing their abandoned shopping cart rates go up, I am pleased to talk to you today about how you can stay in touch with these potential customers, and go on to push them over that final hurdle to complete their purchase all through the power of Remarketing.

We can typically break down websites into horizontals and verticals. The shopping cart journey is a good example of effectively using the horizontals as a source of Remarketing opportunity. If we think of a website purchase moving through the website, the visitor will move from left to right in the diagram here.


Starting either at the home page, or, depending on how well your advertising and SEO has gone, you’ll hopefully land them on a little nearer to the purchase, maybe at the category level or the product level. They may move back and forward as they browse and add more items to the basket, but the aim is to move them to the right to make the final purchase. As they move towards the goal, you’ll keep track of their progress through your Remarketing tracking code.

For abandoned carts, you’re interested in capturing those visitors who added items to their cart but did not check out. To do this you need to create the following Remarketing audiences in your Campaign Manager using the following steps. 

  1. Create your audience 1 – made up of all those who have reached the add to cart confirmation page
  2. Create your audience 2 – made up of all those who have reached the checkout complete page
  3. Create a custom combination audience by selecting all those who are in audience 1 but not in audience 2 – these are your shopping cart abandoners!

We’ve now created the remarketing audience we want to talk to, but what message should you be putting in there to get them to come back to you and actually buy this time round?

Craft your Remarketing Ad message to grab their attention

Let’s remember that these are the shoppers that have progressed all the way to adding items to their basket; but just didn’t quite make it over the final hurdle. We therefore know that they’re very interested in what you have to offer. What we don’t know is why they didn’t buy then and there.

One of the reasons that they might have abandoned the cart may have been siply due to an interruption, or a mere lack of time. Therefore a remarketing ad with a reminder of your business name, offering and USPs within your ad copy can be a simple, but successful way to bring people back to your site and to convert.

However there will be those who perhaps wanted to consider the purchase a bit more, or do a bit of research around other alternatives. For this audience offering a sweetener—maybe a ten percent discount or a free gift with purchase can help you to win you the sale instead of your competition. You can put ads offering a discount to only these people and see the direct effect on the conversion rates.

It’s a really good practice to run an A/B split test on your remarketing ads to see how the results differ between the ads that do and do not have an offer to see whether it is worth adding an incentive or not for your customers to win that sale.

Also be sure to carefully consider where direct your abandoned cart audience when returning them to your website. You want to be bringing them as back to the product page of the item they were interested in, or ideally straight back to cart once again, to make completing the process as easy as possible. Taking them back to the homepage to have to start the whole process all over again is not recommended, and it will reduce your chances of finally securing that conversion.

Results of Remarketing to RECOVER Abandoned Shopping Carts

A really great example of how Remarketing can be successfully used to recover abandoned carts comes from Yankee Candle.

They launched a Remarketing campaign and compiled an audience of 41,000 visitors who had placed items in their shopping carts in the last 60 days, but had not completed their purchases. Yankee Candle used remarketing ads to target this audience with discount offers across sites in the Google Display Network to encourage customers to return and complete their purchases.

The results of this campaign were extremely positive:

  • 10% of abandoned shopping carts returned to site
  • 10% of these return visitors ultimately converted
  • Conversion rate 600% higher than account average
  • Campaign cost-per-conversion nearly half that of account average

This clearly shows the power of Remarketing to recover abandoned shopping carts, and demonstrates why Remarketing really is a no brainer for anyone in with an eCommerce site that wants to bring back those 7 in 10 people that will abandon their cart at check out!

Click here view our accompanying vlog “Using Remarketing To Successfully Recover Abandoned Shopping Carts” on youTube


*Jacob, S. (2011), Kissmetrics
**Baymard Instiitue (2015), Online

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