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How To Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment With Retargeting

A smiling woman shopping in a supermarket with her shopping cart full

So you’ve got pretty decent website traffic but are still struggling to drive conversions as you need to reduce shopping cart abandonment.

Your customers show interest in your products by adding items to their shopping carts. But, it ends there. Your cart abandonment rate is far higher than you’d like, and it’s starting to impact your bottom line

You’re not alone. According to Baymard Institute’s research, the average shopping cart abandonment reaches 69.89% for e-commerce retailers. Crazy, right?

But why do customers abandon their shopping carts? And what can you do to prevent cart abandonment on your website?

This blog post covers shopping cart abandonment’s main reasons and how you can tackle it by incorporating retargeting into your marketing strategy.

Let’s start with the ‘why.’

Why do people abandon shopping carts

Since June 2020, data shows that consumers abandoned 94.4% of carts than 85.1% in 2019. They’re calling it ‘pandemic window-shopping,’ where consumers scroll through online stores and add items to their carts only to close the window without purchasing anything. It’s become a form of entertainment and a way to fill time during the many months of lockdown restrictions.

But, while it’s undoubtedly increased, shopping cart abandonment isn’t a new thing. 

Forrester Research, back in May 2010, stated that on average, only 3% of shoppers purchase during their first visit to an online store. Of the remaining 97%, 71% place an item in their shopping cart but end up abandoning it. That’s a huge chunk of visitors that you’re losing!

What are the top reasons your customers are hesitant?

While there could be numerous reasons for a consumer to stop at the ‘purchase now’ button, the most common reasons given are:

  1. Being asked to create an account.
  2. Unexpected or high delivery costs.
  3. Concerns over payment security.
  4. They’re struggling with your complicated checkout processes.
  5. Your website has errors or crashes.

Or lately (thanks to the pandemic), they were doing some digital window shopping and had no intention to purchase anything in their cart.

Apart from pandemic window shopping, there are also a few other reasons for consumers to add items to carts with no intention of buying them. Many use carts as wish lists, a place to hold things while they compare on other websites, or a reminder to themselves for later.

Luckily, all is not lost when a consumer abandons their cart. There are ways to pull them back to finish off their purchase.

So, how do retailers save sales and reduce shopping cart abandonment?

They retarget.

What is retargeting, and when should you use it

Traditionally, research shows that customers require seven touchpoints with a brand before they convert. With digital marketing becoming increasingly saturated, many marketers believe the number of necessary touchpoints to be even higher when it comes to e-commerce.

The increased saturation of digital marketing is why retargeting campaigns are so important.

Retargeting is showing ads to visitors who have left your website on the other websites they are visiting. It’s essentially dropping little reminders and hints to them as they move around the Internet. You are reminding them of the products that they liked and keeping your brand top of mind.

Retargeting relates to the natural psychological phenomenon called the mere-exposure effect. As humans, the more we see something, the more we tend to like it. It’s kind of like those TV shows where you have to push through the first few episodes, and then, suddenly, you’re hooked, and it’s your favorite show!

It also has something to do with finding comfort in familiarity. When something is familiar to us, we tend to view it more favorably. Therefore, retargeting can deepen consumers’ appreciation for a specific product and reinforce brand salience.

Reinforcing brand salience does wonder for your brand recognition. And we all know that higher brand recognition leads to more robust customer recognition, increased competitor edge, customer loyalty, and enhanced credibility—all good things for improving your bottom line.

So, when is the best time to start retargeting?

Short answer: As soon as a website visitor abandons their cart.

Retargeting vs. remarketing: they’re not the same thing

Are retargeting and remarketing interchangeable? Knowing the difference is essential when adjusting your marketing strategy to bring customers back to your website.

While both are effective ways to re-engage consumers who have already expressed an interest in your brand, they aren’t quite the same thing.

The main differences are:

  • Retargeting primarily focuses on re-engaging audiences who have visited your e-commerce store.
  • Remarketing primarily focuses on re-engaging past customers who have already purchased from your store

Both do, however, target audiences who are already familiar with your brand and are likely to make a purchase. They also both focus on building lasting brand awareness and recognition. 

How to use retargeting to reduce cart abandonment

There are two main ways to retarget: with paid advertising and with email.

Retargeting with paid advertising

The most common form of retargeting is pixel-based retargeting. It works by adding an invisible ‘pixel’ to your website. The pixel drops an anonymous browser cookie in the visitor’s browser each time they arrive on your website (you know that ‘accept cookies notice’…).

Adding this pixel to your website lets your providers like Google AdWords or Facebook know that these visitors were on your website and need to start seeing your ads. It starts instantaneously, meaning that visitors will immediately start seeing your ads after clicking away from your website. By doing so instantaneously, these ads keep you fresh in mind for longer.

Okay, but how do you specifically target shoppers who abandoned their cart?

When setting up your pixel, you’ll need to start tracking events. As a default, it’s going to follow page views. But, to create a retargeting campaign to track shopping cart abandonment, you’ll need to track two additional standard events:

  1. Add-to-Cart Page Visits
  2. Add-to-Cart Button Clicks

Tracking events will tell you which visitors clicked on the pages versus those who did add a product to their cart.

You’ll also need to track ‘Purchase/Thank-You Page Visits.’


These customers already completed a purchase, so you’ll want to exclude them from your retargeting audience. You only want to show your retargeting ads to the people who only made it to the add-to-cart page and didn’t complete the purchase.

From there, you’ll have your list of website visitors to who you can start directing your retargeting campaigns.

Retargeting with email

If the shopper got to a point where they entered their email address before abandoning their cart or if they were already registered (and signed in) on your website, then you can retarget them via email.

With their contact information on hand, you can send them an email to remind them of the items they left in their cart. For email retargeting to be successful, it’s crucial to create an abandoned cart email that stands out. Gaining their attention is an essential component to get your customer to take action and complete that purchase.

A few ways to reignite your recovery rate in your abandoned cart email include:

  • Showcase trust and credibility by providing social proof.
  • Shine the spotlight on a single product in their cart.
  • Instead of including a discount code (which customers now expect), focus on your loyalty and rewards program.

Email is cost-efficient, stable, and scalable and, as such, an excellent way for you to recover more revenue from abandoned cart shoppers. It’s a great way to make the most of a smaller marketing budget.

What are the top retargeting tools and platforms to use?

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in new and exciting tools to use specifically for retargeting. These tools range from full-fledged platforms to specific tools that focus on certain retargeting methods.

A few retargeting tools and platforms to consider include:

  • Google Ads is one of the most potent retargeting platforms.
  • Adroll is one of the best all-in-one marketing platforms for e-commerce stores.
  • Criteo is a PPC advertising platform.
  • Facebook has its attractive retargeting platform due to its user statistics and overall share of the PPC advertising market).
  • Use LinkedIn for its professional-based social media-focused platform.
  • Meteora is an ad platform that we’ve gotten good results.
  • Perfect Audience is a dedicated retargeting platform.

It’s a great idea to try different approaches and applications to find out what works best for your store.

Where retargeting fits into your marketing strategy

Retargeting serves as a valuable component of an integrated marketing strategy. However, it’s most successful when used in conjunction with other efforts.

Before being able to retarget, you’ll first need to bring visitors to your website. Marketing methods to get more visitors to your website include SEO, PPC, ad buys, content, events, emails, or other marketing outreach methods.

From there, you’re able to build your audience by tracking each click that they make on your website.

While everything up until this point could be significant, what happens if they still don’t convert?

Well, then you start incorporating retargeting into your marketing strategy. Retargeting allows you to amplify all of the marketing channels that you utilize. It capitalizes on that initial audience building to build brand awareness and nurture leads down the funnel.

Abandoned shopping carts become part of the purchase funnel when you incorporate retargeting into your marketing mix. Re-engagement strategies allow you to convert customers quickly.

Retargeting is the most powerful piece of your digital marketing strategy

The ability to re-engage with most people who aren’t ready to convert the first time makes retargeting the most potent part of your digital marketing campaign.

However, getting it right requires knowing what data to pull, how to use that data for retargeting, and what content and messaging is most likely to get them to convert.