The app marketing strategies that drive revenue and retention


Presented by Adikteev

Retargeting is a critical component of any mobile marketing strategy in 2022, especially in an extremely crowded marketplace where everyone is competing for user attention. A solid retargeting strategy and measurement framework makes the most of an existing user base, and increases returns on UA investments.

There are three main areas where retargeting is important. First is preventing churn, which is a major challenge for the majority of app developers. You need to ensure users already in your app are staying engaged, and aren’t going anywhere.

The second area is activating new installs. These are the users who have downloaded your app, but still need to take the first step in engagement — whether that’s subscribing, making a deposit or other actions.  

And the third category is upselling your users. That’s hitting up a user who has already made one small purchase, and retargeting them to see if they’d be interested in making more, or a higher-value purchase, or both.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but three main points of focus come up again and again for marketers,” says Kate Lovejoy, COO of retargeting at Adikteev.

Here’s a more detailed look at those three key strategies — plus insight into one that’s become a huge topic for app marketers in 2022.

Targeting high LTV users to increase revenue 

Here, your goal is to show retargeting ads to high lifetime value (LTV) user segments — that small percentage of paying users who generate the majority of your revenue. It sounds counterintuitive, because these users are already active, but keeping these users engaged and happy is essential for increased revenue.

In hardcore gaming apps, targeting the small number of paying users (also called whales or VIP users) has been shown to result in high retention and in-app revenue; in ecommerce apps, it ensures that repeat purchasers continue making in-app conversions.

It’s absolutely vital to keep those super valuable users in your app. Once a user’s been gone for about a week, they’re unlikely to return. With a retargeting strategy, you can make sure that your app stays top of mind, that you remind those users to stay in the app, and also push them to make additional purchases.

Well-timed creatives are key. Users want to see relevant creatives at the right moment and in the right context. Doing this successfully requires smart retargeting of creatives and a solid bidding platform to ensure you get to those users in a timely manner.

Bucketing users by app open 

Segmenting users into different buckets, or segments, enables you to build a tailor-made strategy for each one. The most crucial audience segments most marketers use are new installers, former payers and current payers.

With new users, 70% churn immediately after install. While some will churn no matter what (because every UA strategy turns up some duds), it’s still important to protect your UA investment. This is also a good way to screen which of these users are meant to stay, Lovejoy says.

Former payers often have high intent; retargeting these users can create new high LTV users, keep them active and show the potential of the app. As for current payers, they’re the ones you want to keep within your app ecosystem and should always be paid attention to.

This strategy is especially suited for ad monetization apps, or casual games that invest a lot in UA, but need a way to retain those users. Retargeting can help them maximize the amount of revenue that can be extracted from users who have no intent to make a purchase through rewarded ad videos.

“With retargeting, you can emphasize or accelerate in-app user behaviors, but you can’t create behaviors that do not exist. A user who has opened five times in the past can be convinced to create a true habit of checking the app every day and become a highly engaged user. On the flip side, if you only see 0.10% of users completing a certain action, it will be very difficult to get more users to do that action with a retargeting campaign alone,” explains Lovejoy.

First-to-second conversion strategy 

There is always drop-off in app users who have made one purchase — a huge chunk of them never make another purchase again. A first-to-second conversion strategy can change that.

“If I were launching a retargeting campaign for a mobile app, this is the first strategy I would go for,” Lovejoy says. “I consider this to be low-hanging fruit. You have these people who have been willing to make a purchase once before. Retargeting can help get them to purchase again, and to build that habit. Usually, these campaigns are quite profitable and quite incremental.”

Typically, you start with analyzing the average time between first and second conversion, which helps determine when to get an ad in front of users, to push them to make that second purchase. That conversion window differs widely from app to app. If the average time is three days between those two points, you’d start targeting them after three days to push them to that second purchase (if they haven’t done it on their own). The whole idea here is that some users might need a bit more of a nudge than others.

It’s important to start pushing for a second conversion, because the sooner the second conversion is made, the better chance there will be a third, and so on.

Beyond retargeting

App marketing isn’t all about retargeting, however. Rather than focusing on just one app, cross-promotion is all about keeping high LTV users within your app ecosystem as a whole.

When you think a user is likely to churn, you want to push them to another app in your ecosystem. This is an especially relevant strategy for game studios that have a variety of titles in their portfolios.

“But I think there are really interesting opportunities if you’re willing to challenge that and say, why don’t we go after two-day lapsed payers, or active payers and measure the incremental lift? Let’s experiment here,” she says. “The studios that I see becoming the most successful are willing to not only look at data to challenge their notions, but also live test hypotheses.”

To learn more about different retargeting strategies for apps, get in touch with Adikteev here.

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