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Summary: Learn about how Fran, the owner of a children’s clothing store, was able to track her website’s shopping cart abandonment rate using Google Analytics. You’ll learn how to calculate your abandonment rate and what you can do about it if it is too high. This post is available in text, audio and video format below.

Meet Fran. When I met Fran she didn’t have a way of tracking her website’s shopping cart abandonment rate and so she was really unsure about how many visitors were starting the process of purchasing a product but then cancelling. She had tried to address potential cancels by clearly showing her shipping rates and pricing on her website, but still she was wondering if she had too many steps involved in moving a visitor from just visiting her shop to becoming a customer.

Fran already had Google Analytics on her website but she tended not to use it much. She wanted to understand her conversion rate better over the next year and was planning to learn more about it.

Fran booked a strategy session and as part of this session I showed her how to track her website’s shopping cart abandonment rate. Here’s the steps you need to follow to do this yourself.

Prefer audio or video? Click one of the media files below

Step 1: You need a Goal.

What is a Goal?

Goals enable you to match website visitors with the actions you want to track. With goals you can easily compare different groups of visitors to see if some groups of visitors are more frequently buying products than others.

eCommerce cart abandonment setup goal

A destination goal is triggered when a visitor reaches the right page. You can choose any page or pages that make sense for your business.

We added two Google Analytics goals so that Fran could track her e-commerce conversions when a visitor purchased an item or reached the checkout page.

Step 2: You need your Goal to fire whenever a visitor buys from you.

When a visitor bought a product from Fran’s website, the website created a unique thank-you page URL based upon the order number. We were able to create a destination goal for the unique thank-you page using what is called a regular expression.

What is a regular expression?

A regular expression is a way of matching all the website pages that match a certain pattern so that if a visitor goes to any one of those website pages it will trigger the goal.

The Goal needs to be set up so that it always fires when a visitor buys, but never fires any other time.

eCommerce cart abandonment regular expression

With a regular expression you can match all the pages where the name matches a certain pattern

Step 3: Turn on Funnel.
In the setup of the goal we turned on the Funnel option. Funnel allows you to see if people abandon at any step in the process. This shows you the cart abandonment rate.

Fran’s store has three steps that a visitor has to go through in order to buy a product – 1. Add an item to the cart, 2. Checkout, 3. Pay and complete the order. We added the first two of these steps to the Funnel for making the purchase.

cart abandonment eCommerce funnel

Use the Funnel option to track abandonment rate at each step.

Step 4: Wait…. And then look at the results.

You want at least a month’s worth of data before you look at the results so that you have enough visitors coming through your website.

Using the Goal Flow report, we were able to see that the step in Fran’s process with the largest abandonment rate was the ‘Visitor goes to Checkout’ step.

More than 50% of the customers who had got all the way to the checkout step did not continue their purchase!

Almost all of these customers chose to leave the website altogether rather than continue shopping.

google analytics goal flow report

The Goal Flow report shows the abandonment rate. (Abandoning visitors shown in red).


So we now know how many visitors we are losing during the purchase. Is there a way to stop losing so many visitors?

To investigate the more than 50% of customers that are leaving Fran’s website from the checkout page, there are a few things that we can do. We need to ask several questions and look at the answers to them.

Question: What is the visitor doing on the web page immediately before they decide to leave?
We e can set Fran up so that her website records events in Google Analytics whenever a user interacts with any elements on the Checkout page. This way we can know what is the last step that visitors are reaching before they decide to abandon the cart.

If we find that the majority of people abandon at a particular step then we would know which parts of the user interface could do with an upgrade.

The benefit of setting up events in this way is that over time we will have a detailed report of exactly what was the last event that was triggered before the visitor abandoned the checkout and we can also compare across time periods if the abandonment rate changes.

Question: How long is someone spending on the checkout page before they decide to leave?
People who are leaving the checkout form immediately most likely have a very different issue compared to the ones that get half-way through the form.

For example if most of the visitors are abandoning the checkout as soon as they get to it, it may be that the user interface is not what they were expecting to see. Alternatively they may be getting to the checkout just to see the final price if this is not obvious earlier in the shopping process.

On the other hand, if visitors are getting most of the way through the form before leaving there may be a technical issue that is causing visitors to leave.

To do this investigation we can split out website data into a couple of different groups of visitors and compare the amount of time they spend on the checkout page. Group #1 contains the visitors who exit from the checkout page and Group #2 contains the visitors who complete their purchase. If the time spent on page is much different between them then this gives us a clue as to where the problem might lie.

Question: Wouldn’t it be nice if we could see how the abandoners are using the form?
Well we can!

What we can do is set up a visitor mouse tracking tool on the website and analyze the recordings to see how visitors are using the checkout page. This will enable us to see what visitors clicked, what they typed into forms, if they had any technical issues or if they just left without filling anything out.

Question: Is anything distracting the visitors when they are in the process of buying?
It is important to remove any distractions such as signing up to a newsletter or other promotional events while visitors are in the process of checking out.

If you’re not sure if something is a distraction or not, it is possible to use heat map tools that build up areas of high mouse activity on a page. If you have a checkout page and a heat map tool shows that any area of the page other than the checkout form is getting mouse activity, then we can try to remove the distractions to increase the number of people completing their purchase.

So how can you use this information?

If you are responsible for digital marketing for an eCommerce store you will definitely want to track your sales and how your visitors are flowing through your sales funnel. This will improve your results and help you to generate more revenue from your online presence.

If you would like even better digital marketing results then I guarantee that I can help you with that. Getting started is simple – just subscribe to my free web analytics training by filling out the form below.

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SleepWise Clinic

Petra was instrumental in pulling all our clinic's web analytics into one easy to read, dynamic report that's accessible to me at any time, and works with our EXACT booking system.

This has allowed me to see, at a glance, what marketing initiatives are working, need tweaking, or changing altogether, saving me both time and money. I can't recommend her or her analytic services enough.

Ian Gale SleepWise Clinic Strategy Session August 1, 2018