7 Actionable Ways To Retarget Shopping Cart Abandoners

Dale Broadhead Ecommerce Tips & Tricks

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If you’ve seen the statistics, you know that just about every trend in ecommerce is pointing up.

Annual ecommerce sales are exploding each year, plus more people are more comfortable buying online than ever before – and they’re using all sorts of different devices to do it.

Basically, when it comes to ecommerce, it’s rare that you find a statistic that isn’t improving year over year.

Except shopping cart abandonment.

Since 2006, the percentage of users who abandon their shopping carts has increased from 59.8% to 69.2% in 2017. Which isn’t a trend going in the right direction.

Brick and-mortar store owners have always had to worry about whether or not buyers will ever return to their stores to buy.

Fortunately in the ecommerce world, things are a bit different.

Nowadays, retailers can use effective marketing techniques to show ads to users that have added products to their shopping carts, but haven’t pulled out their credit card to buy.

In this post, I’m going to explain a marketing technique that we use all the time over at Conversion Hut called retargeting, which is sometimes referred to as remarketing, depending on which platform you are using.

We’ll also cover seven actionable ways that you can implement for yourself.

So without further ado.

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What Is Retargeting?

Let’s imagine a user comes onto your website, browses a few pages, and then decides to go ahead and add an item to their shopping cart.

Then life gets in the way and they leave your website before even entering their email address.

Retargeting is the process of showing ads to these shopping cart abandoners to encourage them to come back to your website and complete their purchase.

After all, not everyone is ready to buy right there and then. Some people will need more persuasion. For others, distractions simply arise and divert their attention elsewhere.

One extremely important point to remember is that returning visitors will normally convert twice as often as new users.

So please bear this in mind: The first goal should be to actually get them back onto your website.

Different Levels of Intent

Each user who visits your website will have a different level of purchase intent.

Some will have their card out ready to buy, and others will just be getting started in the browsing phase.

The shoppers that show the highest level of intent will be your lowest hanging fruit to begin with. These are the people who, with a gentle nudge, might be heading back to your store to complete their purchases.

Building Intent-Based Audiences

To build our retargeting campaigns on the different channels available, we’ll start by creating audiences.

An audience is a specific group of people that have performed our desired action.

People will typically convert differently depending on their level of intent, so it’s best to build audiences around that.

That way you will have more control over the price you’re willing pay to convert the user as well as the creative and offer being used.

Different Types Of Retargeting Ads

Now we’ve covered the theory behind retargeting ads, let’s get into the practical side.

Google Display Remarketing Ads

Google Display Remarketing Ads are set up and managed using the Google Ads interface.

There are a number of different options available to you, but to begin with you will really want to focus on static banners and dynamic banners.

Static banners are when a static image is displayed to users trying to bring them back to your website:

Dynamic banners are ads that contain particular products that have been added to the cart by by the user.

To get your campaign set up, you will need to do two things.

Firstly, you will need to create an audience of users that have added products to their cart, but haven’t purchased. We do this with Google Analytics.

Then you will need to create a campaign in Google ads and upload the ads that you are going to show to a particular audience.

This is a great video on creating your audiences in Google Analytics:

Here are Google’s own instructions to create your first remarketing campaign and also create a dynamic remarketing campaign.

If you are using a service like Shopify, plugins can be implemented for dynamic remarketing campaigns very easily.

Dynamic banners work really well. Why wouldn’t they? You’re showing products to users that they have already shown an high level of interest in.

YouTube Remarketing Ads

These are video ads which are shown to users while viewing content on Youtube.

Obviously in order to utilize this type of ad, you will need have the video content to use.

Think more about raising awareness to the value proposition for your business as opposed to the reasons people should buy from you.

Here’s an example of a bumper ad that Xbox used to retarget viewers that had previously watched their long form commercial:

If you’re interested in setting these up, here’s the tutorial.


RLSA stands for Remarketing Lists For Search Ads, and these are my absolute favorite place to start with retargeting.

These work by showing text-based search ads to users related to their search queries.

Example :

We would normally create a separate campaign in Google Ads for RLSA, which uses much broader keywords.

This also depends on your volume of traffic: It won’t be productive to create a separate campaign if you don’t have many shopping cart abandoners to retarget.

One final note: RLSA can be applied to both search campaigns and shopping campaigns. So if you have shopping campaigns setup, they’re definitely worth testing out!

If you’re interested in giving RLSA’s a try, here’s Google’s guide.

Facebook Retargeting Ads

Facebook is still one of the best channels out there for reaching consumers.

Similar to Google Remarketing Ads, you will need to build audiences based on their engagement with your website, and then create campaigns to target these users.

Check out this brilliant tutorial on configuring retargeting audiences on Facebook :

Here’s some ad examples that can be used:

We find the use of offers works especially well, as demonstrated by Target:

Carousel ads are the perfect way to show products that a user has already shown interest in:

There’s also the option to use video ads, as well as to retarget users.

We’ve found that dynamic carousel ads perform the best, but it’s worth testing different options.

For ecommerce platforms like Shopify, there are quite a few plugins that you can use out of the box. Alternatively, you can do it yourself by following this guide.

Email Retargeting

According to Moz, the conversion rate for email retargeting can be as high as 41%.

Do I have your attention now?

Email retargeting is the process of collecting an email address from the user and then contacting them to try and get them to return and purchase.

This is one of our own in-house tactics that we use for our clients, and it works great.

Once a user has added one or more items to their shopping cart and looks as though they are about to exit the website, we’ll display an exit-intent popup.

Something like the following:

Tons of users will take you up on the offer if you are just asking for their email address.

Once we have their email address, we can drop them an email with a link to their shopping cart to come back to the site and complete their purchase.

If after a few days, they haven’t come back to the site to buy, we can send them another email. This time with a discount coupon that will expire within a set amount of time, say seven days.

Then after another seven days, we will send one final email to them as the coupon is about to expire. The email will tell them that this is the last chance they have to redeem their discount.


This post is going to finish strong. Because if there’s one way of contacting someone that has a hugely high open rate, it’s mobile SMS.

With current message open rates sitting at around 95 percent, there’s a huge opportunity here to bring users back to your website to buy.

There’s one big requirement here though.

Have you guessed what it is?

You’ll need their mobile number.

So they’ll either need to be an existing customer and therefore a registered user on your website, or you will need to have collected it through an exit-intent popup (as discussed above).

We love this method of retargeting users because it’s so direct. Thanks to the high open rate, we can pretty much guarantee that nearly all of the SMS messages that we send out will be seen by our cart abandoners. Which far increases the likelihood of them coming back to our site to buy something.

It may sound fairly complicated, but it will be worth testing to see if you can increase sales for your store.

Fortunately if you’re using a platform like Shopify, you can use several plugins that you can install and setup in minutes.

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Final Thoughts

I really hope that you have enjoyed this post and picked up some useful information. As much as we love retargeting, your end goal should be to increase your conversion rate so that fewer users abandon your website.

Remember to always test different messaging, channels, creative, and different durations since users abandoned their shopping cart. Avoid ad fatigue at all costs!

Happy optimizing!

Dale Broadhead
Dale Broadhead
Dale is the Founder of Conversion Hut, a PPC marketing company based in the United Kingdom. They help companies drive high-quality traffic and also assist their clients to optimize their conversion rates.