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Mobile App Retargeting Best Practices

Patrick Holmes

Senior Digital Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

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The use of mobile devices and apps increases year-over-year, making mobile marketing strategies a higher priority for digital marketers than ever before. As of 2018, global mobile app revenue amounted to over $365 billion. In 2023, mobile apps will generate more than $935 billion in revenues through paid downloads and in-app advertising.  To tap into the potential of this market, companies need to add mobile-specific advertising strategies to their annual marketing plans. Here we share some of our best mobile app retargeting best practices to help you get accurate results faster.

Focus On Retaining and Engaging Existing Users

The average mobile user has over 100 apps on their smartphone. However, a study found that 21% of mobile users abandon an app after just one use, and 80% of users across all verticals abandon an app they downloaded by month three. These statistics highlight the importance of retaining and continually engaging with existing users.

The best way to overcome the issue of inactive users is to prevent them from lapsing in the first place. The first week of interactions is most critical for keeping new users. Mobile retargeting can keep users engaged and pull them back into the app. Retargeting following an app install makes it 30% more likely that shoppers will return without further encouragement.

Consider these customer retention methods:

  • Don’t be annoying. Retargeting should start with a user’s first engagement, but don’t wear out your welcome with an influx of ads. Create a “frequency cap” that controls the cadence of your display ads so you don’t exhaust potential customers. Make sure you create exclusions For those who successfully convert so you no longer show them ads.
  • Use deep links and deferred deep links. Deep links send users straight to specific in-app locations (instead of just the homepage), while deferred deep links are for those who don’t have the app installed. These provide a seamless user journey and reduce friction between the ad and the experience you want to promote. Ensure users don’t get lost on the way to taking action.
  • Rotate your creative. Mobile screens are smaller so ads are more likely to end up in a user’s focal area. This can make your audience more likely to tire of your creative much quicker. Create different variations of each ad and rotate them liberally so that your audience perceives less repetition.

Personalize Whenever Possible

Don’t make the mistake of missing opportunities to personalize ad experiences. The more personal your advertising experience, the higher your conversion rate. Incorporate exact products or product recommendations based on the user’s actual in-app activities to boost results.

When you personalize your ads and rotate creatives, you avoid redundancy and ad fatigue. This allows you to raise the impression cap and gain more opportunities to get in front of your audience. 

Invest In Quality Creative

It’s common for marketers to invest in high-quality creative and design for user acquisition (UA) campaigns and create basic, low-budget retargeting ads for mobile. Remember that creative assets directly impact your campaign effectiveness. Put the same effort into mobile retargeting ads that you do for any other advertising campaign and make them as compelling as possible.

What works in web advertising tends to also work in mobile app retargeting in terms of high-quality, personalized, and interactive visuals. Begin by applying lessons learned about your audience and their preferences to mobile app advertising. If rich media and interactive creative work well in your UA campaigns, use them to increase the success of your mobile retargeting campaign.

Measure Incremental Value

A common mistake that marketers make is relying on broad KPIs to determine success. When running mobile retargeting campaigns, it’s important to remember that some percentage of the people who view your ads would complete a purchase anyway. You can set up a test to get a more accurate assessment of the advertising effect size.

Focus on extra value generated when assessing an ad campaign. To accomplish this, you can employ the Intention to Treat (ITT) Protocol, a process widely adopted by clinical researchers in testing new drugs. Begin by randomly splitting your audience into a target group and a control group. Show one group your ad campaign and exclude the other. After six to nine weeks — or an appropriate amount of time to reach most of your audience — compare the revenue earned from your target group with that of your control group. The difference between revenue gained from each campaign and the amount you spent on the campaign is the actual incremental value of your retargeting efforts.

Here’s a simple example of this setup. Consider the following:

You spend $15k on a mobile retargeting campaign. The target group (retargeting) makes $30k in purchases while your control group (non-retargeting) makes $10k in purchases. 

  • $30k (target group purchases) - $10k (control group purchases) = $20k
  • $20k (the difference between the groups) - $15k (your ad spend) = $5k

The difference ($5k) is the actual incremental value of your retargeting campaign. In other words, the retargeting campaign added $5k of value. Keep this calculation in mind for your next campaign.

Optimize Your Mobile Retargeting Campaigns 

As new channels and platforms continue to develop, the requirements to compete become more complex. Intelligent software solutions can help make the entire process easier, more efficient, and more cost-effective for you and your company. Look for tools that facilitate a user-friendly process of creating, managing, and optimizing your mobile retargeting campaigns while limiting the resources and hours required to do so.

Get Ahead of the Curve

Retargeting has been top-of-mind for marketers in recent years, credited with superior results and substantially greater ROI than standard campaigns. However, mobile app retargeting is still a relatively new and underutilized category of marketing that comes with its own set of recommendations and requirements. 

At this time, there’s a significant opportunity for marketing teams to act quickly and take advantage of this strategy before it becomes standard practice. The lead time that you gain will provide you with an opportunity to test ideas, optimize approaches, and build a successful mobile app retargeting strategy before competitors catch up. 

Speaking of best practices, here are critical best practices for dynamic remarketing campaigns.

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