Rethinking Your App Retargeting Strategy

With the New Year fast approaching and marketing planning well underway for 2019, it’s important to focus on the strategies and channels that bring the most value for your app business.

According to a recent report from Appsflyer, app retargeting is on the rise with a significant increase in marketers adopting the approach into their mobile growth stack in the past three years. But with so many channels to take into account when devising your mobile marketing strategy, it becomes increasingly difficult to choose the best approaches and KPIs that will impact your bottom line. To help, we’ve put together this list of app retargeting approaches and associated measurement tips to ensure you make the most of your app retargeting budget in 2019.

App retargeting is used most often for the following 3 scenarios:

1. To get lapsed users to re-engage with your app (Reacquisition)
2. Get users to engage with your app more frequently (Increase app usage)
3. Get app users to make in-app purchases (Increase app revenue)

What’s Your Goal?

In order to choose the appropriate retargeting approach for your app, you first need to know what your goals are. Do you want to inform your lapsed users about a new level in your game? Do you want to remind your users of the the items they left in their cart? Drive your active users to spend more with you?

Retargeting can be complex and technically demanding to manage. And as a mobile marketer managing multiple channels, spending significant time on your retargeting strategy isn’t always the priority – preventing you from realising the full impact retargeting can bring.

Rely on Retargeting Experts

To achieve the results you’re after with retargeting, your goals, strategy, and KPIs have to be aligned. If your goal is to increase engagement, then setting up a campaign targeting users that open the app three times a day will produce little incremental value vs targeting less active users.

If you’re not sure where to start, consult with your retargeting partner who will be able to advise you on the strategies that have worked for apps that are similar to yours, or who monetize in the same way. They can help you to know which events you should be tracking with your attribution partner, to set yourself up for success, and ensure you have the optimal setup to track your results.

Here are some case studies from some top apps, detailing how they used app retargeting to achieve their goals:

Delivery Hero
Ebay Classifieds

Don’t rush into app retargeting until you know what you want to accomplish. Retargeting is a hot topic right now with proven success, but each one of these scenarios requires a different approach that your partner should be aware of so they can optimize towards your goals.

Reacquisition – getting lapsed users to re-engage with your app

A reacquisition campaign can allow you to reacquire users who lapsed after a certain period of inactivity to create that top of mind awareness and maximize retention for your app. With so many apps competing for our users’ attention, it’s easy to understand why a user might engage with your app once or twice after installing it before forgetting about it. To solve this in the past, marketers would up the spend on their user acquisition campaigns to ensure a steady flow of new users to make up for the lack of engagement from existing users. But as CPIs continue to rise, this approach just won’t cut it anymore – plus it’s actually 6 times more expensive to acquire a new user than it is to retain an existing user.

With this in mind, there are a couple of things to consider when running a retargeting campaign focused on reacquisition. Namely, how you segment your audience, the creatives you will use, and how to measure your campaign.


When reacquiring lapsed users, segmentation is the name of the game. Lapsed users are a particularly sensitive segment of users who require extra attention when it comes to retargeting. To prevent annoying lapsed users to the point they churn and stop using your app completely, you should utilize your app’s data to create custom segments of users based off the in-app events they have already completed. This will ensure your messaging is relevant, timely, and effective.

Below are some examples of lapsed user segments and how to retarget them with customized creatives.


When measuring the impact of your reacquisition campaign you’ll want to compare the cost to reacquire the user (Cost Per Reacquisition) to the LTV of these users post-reacquisition. If you don’t have any benchmark of performance to expect, you can start with your UA data points, knowing that past churned users that used to be valuable usually have a higher LTV than an average new user.

KPI = CPA (Reacquisition) < LTV of reacquired user

Increase App Usage: Get Users to Engage With Your App More Frequently

Increasing app usage is a common challenge for marketers across all verticals. All of the highest-grossing apps in the app stores are those that boast high engagement rates, meaning that if you’re not focusing some of your marketing budget on increasing app usage and engagement, you might be missing out. Increasing app usage involves retargeting users who used to enjoy your app but haven’t opened it in a couple of days, and bringing them back. The goal is to get them engaging again – whether that’s finishing a puzzle, or completing a purchase – your metrics for what engagement means will differ depending upon the kind of app you have.

Segmentation & Deep Links

Just like your lapsed users who haven’t been active in your app for a while, the users you retarget to increase their app usage should be handled with care. There are a number of reasons why a user who was once active and engaging with your app will stop, so it’s important to segment your audience to ensure your messaging is effective. With data to guide you, you can understand the points of churn to develop a retargeting campaign that addresses their pain points and brings them back to continue where they left off.

Equally as important as segmentation are deep links. Deep links ensure that when the user clicks on your retargeting ad, they are brought directly to the appropriate page in your app. This could be the last page they visited before they left, or to an offer page. Deep links improve the user experience, allowing users to navigate more freely and have also been proven to double both post-install retention and engagement rates, making them an imperative part of your app usage campaigns.


How you measure the success of your app usage campaign will be dependent on the issue you’re trying to solve. Usually marketers who run app usage campaigns want the users to continue engaging with the app to then perform a specific action; like completing a level or registration, a purchase, or a booking – in these cases, the main KPI will be CPA (Cost Per Action).

Increase app revenue: Get app users to make in-app purchases

Perhaps the most common scenario we encounter at Adikteev, and by far the most effective use case, is marketers who run retargeting campaigns to drive more revenue in their apps – the goal being to convert users who have already engaged with your app. It’s a sad fact but just over 5% of app users currently spend money on in-app purchases, according to a study of more than 100 million device owners across 1,000+ apps. Often marketers find that spending their retargeting budgets on this 5% of users to encourage more purchases is more effective than running campaigns to bring back users who may never convert.


The best way to segment your app’s audience for a retargeting campaign focused on driving revenue, is to segment your users based on their likelihood to convert. Namely, cart abandoners, previous purchasers, and users who play your mobile game everyday.

It may seem counterintuitive to retarget users who are already engaging and spending in your app, but this approach has been proven to drive an increase in user LTV and revenue. In fact, a recent study on the incremental value of retargeting from Appsflyer showed that even retargeting active users from day 0 adds incremental user conversions.

The number of incremental app retargeting conversions on a shopping app


When retargeting active users and previous purchasers, you can still run the risk of giving your retargeting partner credit for actions that would have happened organically. To adequately evaluate retargeting, you need to measure incremental sales. By running an incrementality test, you can split your app audience randomly and show ads to a portion of users whilst keeping another portion as a control group. Comparing the control groups’ purchase revenue values to the target groups’ purchase revenue, assuming we have statistically significant results, will give you the net value of the campaign.

To Wrap Up

These are just a few examples of the challenges marketers are addressing with app retargeting, and these strategies are not mutually exclusive. We’re actually working with a number of clients who run different campaigns with different goals and KPIs, all at once. Retargeting is not new, but the prevailing misconception that it can only be used to bring back lapsed users means that marketers are not using it to its full potential. We hope these use cases and measurement tips will help you derive more value from your retargeting campaigns in 2019.

If you’re interested in discussing your retargeting strategy or want to know more on the topic, contact your dedicated account manager or shoot an email over to

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