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The Ultimate Cart Abandonment Guide: Remarketing to Lost Customers

Abandoned carts hurt your bottom line and cost you in marketing and operational expenses. As a general rule, you should attempt to recapture these abandoned carts through recovery efforts. Retargeting to customers that have abandoned is a great way of addressing this, as retargeted ads are 76% more likely to result in a conversion than regular display ads.

Use retargeting ads to get more bang for your buck, limiting the impact of cart abandonment on your ecommerce store and capturing more revenue. To help you do this, this post will cover the following:

In this final installment of our Ultimate Guide to Cart Abandonment, we will cover retargeting and remarketing, to make sure you are doing everything possible to get abandoned customers back. In case you need a refresher, we’ll quickly cover why cart abandonment is so important to follow and then help you remarket to customers that have left.

Cart abandonment and its impact on your ecommerce store

Shopping cart abandonment is when a customer leaves your ecommerce site after adding an item to their virtual cart. It represents potential sales that were lost when customers were close to buying. Reducing your cart abandonment rate can help you improve conversions and gather more revenue.

Whether you know it or not, cart abandonment is significantly impacting the conversions and revenue your ecommerce store is generating. On average, 70% of customers abandon their shopping cart (based on a collection of 41 studies). Below are some of the most common reasons:

Bar graph showing the top reasons for cart abandonment by percentage

The good news is that this isn’t your last opportunity to connect with the customer and make the sale. You can use retargeting and remarketing efforts to recover abandoned carts, reducing the impact cart abandonment has on your bottom line. This way, you can drive more conversions and revenue.

The difference between retargeting and remarketing

Computer showing a remarketing email and another computer showing a retargeting display ad

Both retargeting and remarketing are strategies used to recover abandoned carts. To reduce cart abandonment on your platform, you should use a combination of both strategies. Test how each works for you and focus on the tactics that recover the most sales.

What is ecommerce retargeting?

Retargeting, for ecommerce, involves re-engaging previous visitors in the hopes of getting customers that have left to return to your site. In most cases, sites use cookies to capture visitor details to advertise directly to them in the future. Retargeting can reduce the impact of cart abandonment on your platform.

The reason retargeting is an efficient strategy is because the people you advertise to have already shown an interest in items on your store. In general, this means you get more value for your ads, as you are likely to recapture the sale if you expose them to your product through advertising.

What is ecommerce remarketing?

Remarketing – in the context of ecommerce – most commonly refers to email retargeting. While retargeting uses cookies and paid advertising to get in front of customers, remarketing uses the email subscriptions to enable targeted email messaging. The difference is only in the medium of communication used.

Both are strategies for recovering customers that have left your ecommerce store, whether that’s after browsing, after adding an item to their shopping cart, or after initiating checkout. As a general rule, retargeting with display ads is more effective for customers that have left earlier in the process, while remarketing with emails is more impactful with customers that have made it further along the sales funnel.

Best practices for email remarketing

When remarketing with emails, there are a number of things you need to do effectively. When possible, analyze why your customer left and attempt to solve or address this problem in your remarketing email.

Use a catchy, informative subject line that captures the customer’s attention and gets them to open the email. Then make sure you have dynamic content, compelling copy text, and a creative design that motivates the customer to return to their shopping cart and complete a purchase.

Standard abandoned cart email flow consisting of three abandoned cart emails

The traditional email recovery sequence is a simple 3 email series:

  • Email #1 (Friendly reminder): Remind the customer that they left your store without buying the items they showed interest in. Keep it light and give them a link to return.
  • Email #2 (Create urgency): Do your best to create urgency – through availability, exclusivity, and other offers. As your first email was unsuccessful, this email should do more to motivate them to return and make the purchase.
  • Email #3 (Close the deal): At this point, you don’t have much to lose. Use last efforts to recover the sale, even offering a discount to close the sale.

For more detailed support creating abandoned cart emails and managing your abandoned cart flow, go back and read our chapter on abandoned cart emails.

Types of retargeting

There are two general methods for retargeting customers. Each affects how you operate your retargeting efforts. Choose the method that suits your ecommerce store most and is the easiest to manage.

Below are the two ways of using retargeting on your ecommerce store:

1. List-based

List-based retargeting uses existing contact information to get in touch with customers. You can use a variety of communication methods, but the important distinction is that you are contacting customers with methods that have been collected previously.

If you allow guests to use accounts and register on your ecommerce store, you may have contact information, such as an email, a phone number, a Facebook profile, or more.

2. Pixel-based

Pixel-based retargeting uses browser cookies (JavaScript) to anonymously track customers that have visited your page, abandoned a shopping cart, or left their checkout. This allows you to market to them in the future. Facebook Pixel is an example of a tool that allows you to automate your retargeting efforts.

You can use these pixels to track actions visitors take on your site, automating emails and ads accordingly. Add customers to your abandoned cart email flow when they add an item to cart or visit a product page. You can also automate ‘Thank You’ emails for customers that do return to complete a purchase.

How to perfect your abandoned cart retargeting campaign

Retargeting effectively is not as simple as setting it and forgetting it. It will require close monitoring of analytics and customer behavior, allowing you to identify what works best and areas to improve. The tactics below will help you make the most of your retargeting efforts and increase conversions.

1. Segment customers

Google Analytics dashboard displaying where you can segment customers

A key component of effectively retargeting is segmenting users. This lets you develop user personas and customize the abandoned cart communications you follow up with, for both retargeting and remarketing. Segmenting customers allows you to personalize the customer’s shopping experience and ad copy.

Below are some ways to segment customers to gain valuable insights about cart abandonment behavior: 

  • Product: Create retargeting campaigns for individual products, writing copy specific to each product. If one product is experiencing higher abandonment rates, consider reviewing the ecommerce page as well.
  • Returning vs new customers: Customize copy text to address new visitors differently than returning customers, showing that you value loyal, returning customers and recognize their contributions.
  • Cart value: Retarget according to the value of the abandoned cart. Customers abandoning high-value items should receive different copy than someone with a low value cart.

2. Select the platform(s) to use

Many ecommerce platforms come with a cart abandonment email tool built in. However, you will want to use retargeting as well and integrate it with your overall recovery strategy. Retargeting ads can be managed using third-party options that integrate with your ecommerce store:


  • Facebook Ads: Designed for any ecommerce retailer – beginner to expert – Facebook Ads lets you manage your abandoned cart remarketing efforts in a goal-oriented way.


  • AdRoll: Address your retargeted advertising with AI enhanced software designed to not only retarget customers that have abandoned, but develop your brand and instill loyalty as well.
  • ReTargeter: Retarget via site, CRM, and search to make sure you expand your reach as far as you can. Their tool enables customization, believing that one size doesn’t fit all.
  • Perfect Audience: Coordinate all remarketing messaging in one space, making it easier to track and manage. Use mobile, web, Facebook, Twitter, and more to recapture sales.

These are just a few of the popular retargeting tools, but there are many retargeting and remarketing services that will help you recover sales.

3. Use burn pixel to avoid annoying customers

This is an integral aspect of your retargeting flow, as customers will be annoyed and question your professionalism if they receive ads after buying a product from you. A burn pixel allows marketers to track when a customer has returned to buy a product, and cancels future ads. To build confidence and loyalty in your customers, make sure your burn pixel is functioning right.

A burn pixel is a type of tracking pixel, that automatically stops tracking when a customer returns to convert or receives a certain number of retargeting ads. This ensures that you can continue to remarket to these potential customers, but that you don’t annoy them after they’ve already returned or overwhelm them when they’ve clearly shown no interest.

To help you use a burn pixel accurately, we’ll show you how to set up a burn pixel using a Facebook Pixel.

4. Set frequency and timing

Retargeting ad timing can make or break your recovery efforts. If you send ads too soon after abandonment, you risk bothering the potential buyer; if you send ads too late, they may have found the product elsewhere. Use analytics to understand customer behavior on your ecommerce store, and try different timing and frequency of retargeting ads.

5. Use catchy, enticing ad copy

Ecommerce shoppers receive numerous ads each day. To get customers attention, you need to stand out. Create ad copy that is informative, interesting, and motivates the customer to return to their shopping cart. Customers abandoned for a reason; the more you can speak to their reason for abandoning, the better your chances are of getting the customer to return.

6. A/B test constantly to improve

A/B testing process for an abandoned cart flow

Run tests that enable clear comparisons between emails and ads; change content, timing, layout, or design to see how each performs. Only change one variable at a time so you can determine what element worked better or worse. Update best practices for sending recovery emails and retargeted ads accordingly. Constantly analyze how different methods perform and adjust based on what brings you the best results.

Common pitfalls to avoid when retargeting abandoned carts

It is just as important to remember what to avoid as it is to remember best practices. Below are some of the most common mistakes of abandoned cart remarketing efforts. Ensure you review this list and avoid doing these to your customers for best results.

1. Don’t pester and annoy potential customers

While you do want to try to stay on your customers’ minds, remind them of your product’s value, and motivate them to buy, you can easily begin to annoy your visitors. The last thing you want to do is scare them away and cause them to avoid you in the future. A good experience will likely lead them to reconsider buying from you in the future. In some cases, it’s better to cut your losses rather than risk pushing your visitor away.

Limit the extent of your retargeting efforts to ensure you don’t overdo it. Be conscious of this in your messaging as well, using creative images, intriguing copy text, and more to keep the customer happy and draw their interest.

2. No double-dipping

It’s important not to make duplicate requests of your customers, as this is a great way to pester them. Not only will it bother them, but it makes you look incompetent and can hurt your relationship with the potential customer. Give customers an ideal user experience by setting up checks to avoid sending duplicate abandoned cart emails and ads to your visitors.

Ensure that customers that re-enter the conversion funnel are not re-added to the abandonment recovery flow. Just as importantly, make sure that customers that have returned to complete a purchase do not still receive abandoned cart emails and retargeting ads for the same product. Use burn pixels, event triggers in analytics, and more to help you manage abandoned cart flows properly so customers have a clear, positive interaction with your business.

3. Don’t link a customer to an unfillable order

As we’ve said, the main purpose of remarketing and retargeting is to get customers back to buy on your site. In many cases, the best practice is to provide the customer a direct link to the order they abandoned. However, this can really upset the customer if the item they come back for isn’t available!

Make sure that you have a way to monitor inventory, ensuring that the product you are linking a customer to is available to purchase. If possible, save an item for them so that you can definitely fill the order. Also make sure that you can ship to their location before linking them. If you get a customer back to the point of purchase, and can’t ship to their address, they will be very disappointed and unlikely to trust your store in the future.

4. Don’t break compliance laws

If you sell in different regions, especially multiple countries, you know that it can be difficult to keep up with differing compliance regulations. This is important to consider when remarketing and retargeting customers with email and ad campaigns, as different areas regulate these practices differently.

Always include information about how you track, opt-in, and remarket to customers in your Privacy Policy so that customers are able to access this information if they are interested. This will also make it clear that you are not intentionally deceiving customers in the event that you do breach a regional regulation.

Research the data privacy legislation that pertains to the area you are selling your product or services, so you collect, store, and use personal customer information properly. To help, here are some of the main data privacy laws (this is not exhaustive and you should do comprehensive research for the specific areas you are selling):

United States

The United States has a federal law, The Federal Trade Commission Act, that protects consumers from false or deceptive advertising and privacy and data protection. Beyond this, states have more specific laws that need to be followed when selling in that state. Some of the more strict state laws include New York (23 NYCRR 500) and California (California Consumer Privacy Act [CCPA]). By following these regulations, you are likely to comply with most U.S. privacy regulations.


Canadian privacy law is regulated by three main regulations; the Privacy Act, the Access to Information Act, and the Freedom of Information Act. These cover the rights of citizens in relation to data privacy. More specifically, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) governs the regulation of data privacy in relation to how private businesses can collect and use personal information.

Each province then has a regulatory body that is also responsible for how this act should be carried out based on existing laws related to Canadian privacy law. By following PIPEDA, you ensure you follow data privacy laws throughout Canada.


The General Data Protection Regulation governs data protection and privacy for countries within the European Union (EU), as well as the European Economic Area (EEA). It applies to any business that is collecting, tracking, and using personal information that they collect from anyone within the EU or EEA. If you sell to countries within the European Union, you will want to adhere to this standard. This makes selling simple, as adhering to this standard will typically cover data privacy for all EU countries.

Third-party integration regulations

When you integrate your ecommerce site with other tools, you are also responsible to follow regulations surrounding those tools and features. For example, when using AdWords, you have to include certain information in your Privacy Policy to adhere to their requirements, such as how you use remarketing information, how you (and the third-party tool) uses cookies to find customer information, and how customers are able to opt out of cookies and third-party tools used on your site.

Similarly, you will need to ensure that if you collect email addresses for subscription lists that you adhere to the CAN-SPAM Act. You will also need to adhere to the EU Cookies Directive if you use cookies to retarget customers for advertising.

How to set up Facebook Pixels for WooCommerce

To set up Facebook tracking pixels, go to your Facebook business account. Here, you can manage your ads and create pixels.

From your Facebook Business Manager Settings, open the “Data Sources” drop-down and click on “Pixels.”

Facebook Business Manager Settings page with Pixels button highlighted

Next, click the “+ Add” button to create a pixel.

Facebook Business Manager Pixels page with Add button highlighted

This will prompt the Connect Website Activity Using Pixel window to pop up. This will let you create a Facebook Pixel to track metrics. Enter a Pixel Name and enter your URL for easy set up. Once done, click “Continue.”

Facebook Business Manager with window for creating your pixel open

Now that you’ve created your pixel, you need to know how to use it to start tracking customers and to remarket effectively.

For the Facebook Pixel code to work, you will need to install it on your website, or at least on specific web pages. 

How to install Facebook Pixel using Connect a Partner Platform method

You will be prompted with settings for how to install your pixel code. There are three main ways to install the Facebook Pixel on your ecommerce site. Select the method of installation you want to use, choosing from:

  1. Add code using a Partner Integration

Easy-to-use ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Adobe Commerce, and Shopify all allow you to set the Facebook Pixel up without needing to edit your website’s source code.

  1. Manually add pixel code to website

Copy the pixel code from Facebook Business Manager and paste it directly to your website in the header section. While this isn’t too challenging for those familiar with coding, it may be easier to have someone else handle this to ensure it’s done properly.

  1. Email instructions to a developer

Your website developer will be more familiar with your website’s backend and coding. Send the instructions directly to the developer, ensuring that a professional with experience will set the pixel tracking up properly.

Facebook Business Manager Pixel installation setup options screen

Next, you will choose the Partner integration you are using, in this case, select “WooCommerce.”

Facebook Business Manager Pixel installation, selecting WooCommerce

This will initiate the process for connecting your WooCommerce account. One of the first steps will be to download the Facebook Pixel extension. This will be prompted during this process; click “Download” to start the process.

Facebook Business Manager Pixel page to Download the Facebook Pixel Extension

Install Facebook Pixel to your WooCommerce store

Once the Facebook Pixel extension is downloaded, you will need to install this plugin on your WooCommerce site.

From your WooCommerce admin in WordPress, click on “Plugins” along the left sidebar. Then click “Add New” on the Plugins page to add a new plugin.

WooCommerce dashboard with Plugins clicked and Add New button highlighted

From the Add Plugins page, click “Upload Plugin.”

WooCommerce dashboard Add Plugins page with Upload Plugins button highlighted

Finally, you will want to install the Facebook Pixel zip file you created previously. Click “Choose File,” find the file in your windows explorer, and select it. Then, click “Install Now” to start the installation. This process may take some time.

WooCommerce dashboard Add Plugins page with zip file chosen and Install Now button highlighted

Once the plugin has installed successfully, you are ready to use it. First, you will need to activate the plugin by clicking “Activate Plugin.”

WooCommerce Plugin installation page with installation completed and Activate Plugin button highlighted

Next, you will need to configure and set up your Facebook Pixel. From your WooCommerce admin, click on Settings along the left sidebar and then click the “Integration” tab. Under Facebook, click “Get Started.”

WooCommerce admin Integration tab with Get Started button highlighted

This will initiate setup, and you can set up Facebook for WooCommerce. It will guide you through the process. The first screen will be the Welcome screen, where it will outline what you will do during setup. Once ready, click “Next.”

Facebook for WooCommerce setup Welcome screen with Next button highlighted

Next, you’ll choose the Facebook page you want to represent your business. Choose from the list of Facebook pages and click “Next” to advance.

Facebook for WooCommerce setup Facebook Page screen with Next button highlighted

Here, you will install the Facebook Pixel. If one is already installed, the existing pixel will be replaced. Click to turn the “Use Advanced Matching” switch on as well.

Facebook for WooCommerce setup Facebook Pixel screen with Use Advanced Matching switch highlighted

Now you will be able to import your products to Facebook. The setup will indicate how many products are in your inventory. Click the “Catalog” switch to on, so that your product will automatically be sorted. Add the products you want and click “Finish” to proceed.

Facebook for WooCommerce setup Your Products screen

This will finish the setup, prompting a window letting you know that setup is done. You can now create ads for online sales on Facebook.

Facebook for WooCommerce setup Setup Complete screen

Now, you will return to the Facebook Business Manager Settings screen to finish connecting your WooCommerce account. With the installation and activation complete, you will just need to verify your connection. To do this, click “Verify.”

Facebook Manager Business Settings Connect Your WooCommerce Account screen with Verify highlighted

We recommend double checking that Facebook Pixel has been set up and is functioning properly. A simple way to ensure it is operating as it should be is by installing the Facebook Pixel Helper, which is a Google Chrome extension. Once installed, click on the icon in the top right corner of the Chrome window.

Facebook Pixel Helper that come up when you click the browser extension

Proceed to a checkout page in the checkout process. You should see that there is only one event included on the page, which is the page view. Next, attempt to complete a checkout form. Click the “Pixel Helper” again, and it should show two events now, the page view and the Add to Cart. Refresh the page and you should see that the Facebook Pixel has fired and that both the events are active.

Now you know your burn pixel is installed and operating correctly.

Create a Custom Audience for your Facebook Pixel

Now that you’ve set up the Facebook Pixel, it will track visitors who come to your site. You can further segment this analysis by using Custom Audiences. Either have it track everyone that visits your site within a 180 day period, or develop customer audiences based on a specific landing page, email subscription, or time spent on a page.

From the Facebook Events Manager, click the “Create Audience” drop-down, and then select “Custom Audience.”

Facebook Events Manager screen with Custom Audience button highlighted

A window will open where you can Create a Website Custom Audience. You can Add People to Your Audience and Name Your Audience. Choose these settings and click “Create Audience” when you’ve made your selections.

Facebook Events Manager with Create a Website Custom Audience popup window open and settings chosen

You can customize the audience for your Facebook Pixel. To track customers visiting specific web pages, set the drop-down to People who visited specific web pages. You can then add URL addresses and include or exclude URLs using the “contains” and “doesn’t contain” filter options.

Facebook Events Manager with Create a Website Custom Audience popup window open and URLs added to filter audience

This will create a custom audience. You can then advertise to this audience using your Facebook Pixel.

How to set up abandoned cart retargeting using AdWords

After signing in to your AdWords account, click the tool menu button (wrench icon) to open the “Shared Library.”

Click “Audience manager,” followed by “Audience lists.” To create a new remarketing list, click the plus icon and then select “Website visitors.”

Give your new audience list an “Audience name” that reflects the campaign purpose or scope. Under “List members,” choose the type of audience you would like to create. A great way to segment by abandoned carts is to choose “Visitors of a page who did not visit another page.”

Using this setting, you can then set the “Visited page” to be the cart confirmation page and the “Unvisited page” to the checkout completion page. While these may differ depending on your flow, the important thing is that you distinguish between a page after an item was added to cart for the visited page and a completed checkout as the unvisited page. This will ensure ads are sent according to customers that have abandoned their shopping cart.

You can then set the “Initial list size,” which should typically be set to start as empty, the “Membership duration,” which sets the time of product storage, and a “Description,” which is optional, but can be used to explain your audience. A description is especially useful if you create many audiences or have multiple stakeholders that access this data and need to understand the audience they are examining. When ready, click “Create Audience.”

Minimize the need to remarket to customers by using Bolt’s checkout experience, which comes optimized for shopping cart best practices. Customers will be able to checkout with a seamless, frictionless process that can get them through purchase twice as fast as competitors.

Give your customers a secure, efficient checkout using Bolt, which has a built-in fraud management solution. We are so confident in the security that we offer a 100% guarantee on all fraudulent chargebacks. Set up Bolt with your ecommerce site now to reduce cart abandonment at the source.

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