This guest post is written by James Haslam from Adjust. Find out more at

Mobile advertising is a tough competition, with more and more advertisers competing for space which is seeming to dwindle. As inventory is bought up, mobile marketers should be on the lookout for new ways to maximize returns. But how?

Retargeting is one of the most effective tools to make the most of your userbase, inactive or not. Users who’ve already converted, especially organic ones, can be immensely valuable if they can be engaged with. Retargeting makes this possible - and we think it could be a game changer for all kinds of app marketers frustrated with their user acquisition efforts.

In this guest post, we’re ready to give you some effective retargeting tips, but first we’ll kick off with the initial question; what is retargeting? Then, we’ll look at how well retargeted users perform, before finally reaching those all-important retargeting tips. Ready? Let’s dive in.

What is retargeting?

Retargeting is the strategy of advertising to users who’ve previously installed an app, but who have lapsed from use over a period of time. In many cases, retargeted users will happily return to an app, and are more likely than new users to make a significant conversion.

Let’s use an example. Say that a user has expressed interest in a product on the web, and has an E-commerce app installed on their device, though at some stage stopped using it. Retargeting is used to go after those users, displaying a product with a deep link that points back to the app. The ‘creative’ as it were, is an item that might be sitting in that user’s wishlist, or even in their cart - and with that simple call-to-action, there’s a high chance of conversion.

Is retargeting effective?

Recently, we at Adjust conducted a study into retargeting, which found that retargeted users significantly outperform new users in three types of metrics: events, revenue events, and retention. Not only do retargeted users contribute more revenue, but their lifetime value is significantly higher.

In our first chart, you can see events aggregated over three months (or 12 weeks). Users who have been reattributed trigger far more events (over time) than new counterparts.

All events aggregated by week over 12 weeks graph

This is only the start of a trend. When it comes to revenue events, retargeting is highly effective.

Revenue events aggregated by week over 12 weeks

Retargeted users perform more revenue events in the first 30 days, and also further, up until about week eight, where after both types of users behave relatively the same. On the first week after install, there’s a 49% difference in performance - a large improvement on new user figures. Here, the outcome is definitive: retargeted users trigger more revenue events, therefore generating more revenue.

Retention rates aggregated by day graphFinally, when we look at retention rate, we see the trend continues. On day one, retargeted users retain by 5% more than new users. This figure lowers by a few percent by day 30, but new users never retain better than ones who’ve already lapsed once before.

3 retargeting tips

Let’s cover the key topics that provide the most value for retargeting - with some light strategies to get you thinking about the direction of your app marketing.

The value of deep links

You can make your entire experience seamless by allowing your users the ability to switch between app and web views with deep links.

There’s any number of useful resources on the topic of deep links, so I’ll make it short: without deep links, you’re blocking the path to conversion for any number of users. They’re an essential bridge in the web ecosystem, as more and more users move to mobile as their preferred method of browsing, shopping, and gaming.

So, how do they work? Let’s look at an example: a travel app may want to retarget users who previously searched for hostels and hotels in Berlin. So, on the web, the campaign shows hotel offers at peak times of the season - and, in a click, the user is redirected straight into the app - finding a full set of listings with more options, all the while locked into the experience.

But, with retargeting, you can utilize sophisticated deep link technology, diverting users to specific items, or to the app store first (for a new app to download) before sending them to the page they initially wanted. With a clever deep link structure, you could ship users to all corners of your app network, improving retention, boosting conversions, and making your users happy, and engaged.

The three S’s: Segmentation, Segmentation, Segmentation

Building a historical library of users means you’re suddenly available to segment them by any number of attributes that you track. This will allow you to send personalized messages to your users, which results in improved conversion rates as they return for a reason.

Furthermore, segmentation enables you to compare performance among your users. By looking at those who have reached a particular stage within your app, e.g. such as reaching level three in your game, or favoriting a product, you can work to increase your conversion rates for others by understanding why those actions have occurred.

To achieve that segmentation, you need the right tools. Adjust’s Audience Builder cohorts the users you’re after into a single segment, and allows you to pass the segmented data to retargeting partners to reach without having to send anything more than a link. You can find out more about Audience Builder by getting in touch with Adjust.

Surprise!: Deliver highly engaging creative

You’ll have heard this advice a million times before, so I’m only keeping this as a courtesy (and an in-joke, of sorts).

Often, the success of any ad comes down to the creative message. Thanks to banner blindness, it’s so much harder than it used to be to catch people’s attention - we’re far from the days of letting people know they’re the millionth visitor to a site resulting in a click, after all.

Dynamic ads bring some level of personalization to a retailers product catalog, increasing the likelihood of users to click and convert. Colorful, characterful ads are the name of the game for Gaming apps - and all those in between really have to rely on the value that could be added to a person’s life, whether personal or professional.

Additionally, marketers should constantly test new tactics. Yes, it’s another tactic you’ve heard before - and I’m hardly the one to lecture on the importance of A/B testing. But, in the case of Blinkist, the difference between having ‘free’ in one CTA versus other messages was huge. Just be ready to try until you see improvements.

Want to read deeper into retargeting? The Adjust blog covers a number of retargeting strategies and we talk in more detail about Audience Builder too. Take a look if you’d like to find out more.