6 Pro Tips for Successful Mobile Games App Retargeting

Ido Zehori
Oct 21 · 5 min read
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Photo by SCREEN POST on Unsplash

Did you know that 1 in 5 users forget about an app after using it for the first time? They’re originally drawn to the app from an offer they’ve received or a need they need to fulfill. But after their first time using it, there’s a good chance the app will fall completely off the user’s radar.Mobile marketers and product managers need effective strategies for preventing this churn and keeping users coming back to their app. This is where retargeting comes into play.

A retargeting campaign is one that aims to reawaken players that have churned or that have been idle for too long. For a mobile game, that can mean two days. If they’re done right, retargeting campaigns can be super effective — especially since the users being targeted have already shown some level of interest in the app. Retargeting campaigns have a number of benefits, including:

  • Driving engagement via app visits and in-app activities
  • Boosting user loyalty by increasing app visit frequency and decreasing churn
  • Increasing down-funnel conversions by driving more in-app conversions, signups and purchases

Now that we understand why we should launch retargeting campaigns, let’s dive into 6 pro tips for doing mobile app retargeting right.

Start by focusing on churn prediction and user importance metrics

The segment that you target in your retargeting campaign should be designed primarily around how likely it is that the user has churned for good. In other words, what is the probability of the user returning naturally to the app?

You can also use a “user importance” metric assigned to each user to determine how important it is to bring that user back. This importance metric can be based on features that rely on the user’s behavior and usage patterns and total spent in the app, as well as other insights you have on the user outside of the game. With this, your retargeting campaign should include:

  • Offering the right CPM, or the bid you offer in the auction for the right to show a user an ad. For example, users that have lower predicted ARPU should get a lower bid.
  • Showing the right creative. For example, base your creative on a certain type of mobile game you know the user is active in.
  • Determining your frequency cap. Be specific about how many ads you want to show the user overall, per day and per hour.

Then, go beyond your basic churn prediction and user importance metrics

While churn prediction and user importance are (or should be) the bread-and-butter of any retargeting effort, you can (and should) take your retargeting campaign even further.

At my team, we look at over a thousand different features and their incremental value to the retargeting effort. By “incremental value,” we mean the incremental contribution of the feature to the user’s incremental return rate, incremental FTD rate, or incremental ROI. These features are used as input to our machine learning architecture. In turn, our models produce the expected incremental value of showing the user an ad.

Simply put, incrementality is a reflection of the added value gained from our retargeting campaign. It helps us explore what our performance will look like if we run a re-engagement ad vs. not running one at all. This is an important topic, because only by predicting the incremental value of showing an ad can we determine how much we should bid for the user.

So, in essence, what we’re doing is predicting the incremental gains of targeting a specific audience. Check this out if you need to brush up on how incremental value is calculated and why it’s important (hint: this is the right way for you to determine real ROI of your retargeting activity).

Employ special offers for retargeted users

When you’ve successfully re-engaged users, you’d better make them happy they chose to return to the app. You should design special offers for retargeted users only. For example, if yours is a slot machine app, offer your returning users free coins to help them get back into the game and rediscover the joys of playing. Of course, don’t keep these perks a secret; design creatives around your special offers to let users know about what awaits them when they return to the app.

Use deep links

A deep link is a link that directs users directly into an app or even a specific screen within the app, instead of to a website or store. By sending users directly to a specific in-app location, deep links help users skip the need to locate a specific page themselves, which significantly enhances their user experience. Moreover, deep links significantly increase conversion rates and the effectiveness of your retargeting effort. Can you say, win-win?

Manage audience updating the right way

With retargeting campaigns, users are being targeted based on a number of special characteristics. These mainly include features around the users historic journey within the app, os, special user segments etc.

It would be a waste of time and resources to build or work with audiences for a retargeting campaign in any way that’s less than stellar. With this in mind, it’s crucial that you build your target audiences in real-time. Ideally, your user states should be updated in real-time, or at least once per hour in order to provide the optimal retargeting treatment. Moreover, your audiences should automatically update themselves in real-time; you should not be burdened with the need to manually update your segments as your user base grows.

Tweak your retargeting treatment regularly

You’ll find that in any retargeting campaign, the performance of your user segments changes over time. The incremental ROI of your campaign can also vary pretty significantly. This is why you should be regularly adjusting the retargeting treatment you’re giving users, and measure the impact of the choices you’re making. A failure to respond in this dynamic market can quickly eliminate a lot of potential value.

To conclude…

Retargeting campaigns are very interesting work that requires diligence, creativity, monitoring and tweaking. They’re also fairly complex. While the tips offered here will certainly help you hit the ground running, they only begin to scratch the surface of the real complexity surrounding good retargeting campaigns. The best way to ensure your success is by teaming up with a great data-driven partner that is experienced, and that can guide you through best practices while tailoring solutions to your unique needs.

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