— 29 Sep 2023

How to increase your ROI with app retargeting campaigns

Lidiia Mylenka
How to increase your ROI with app retargeting campaigns

This is a guest post by YouAppi, a leading performance-based mobile app marketing and retargeting platform for premium app publishers and brands. As of May 2023, YouAppi is part of the Affle group, a global consumer intelligence technology company.

As the saying goes: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” Just like old friends, in today’s marketplace, long-time customers are gold. Why? Because, on average, 65% of a brand’s sales come from returning customers. What’s more, acquiring a new customer is 5-25x more expensive than re-engaging an existing one — a fact that’s especially valuable in today’s economy of shrinking ad budgets and tightening margins. 

In this guest article by YouAppi, discover how app retargeting campaigns can drive long-term ROI for your brand.

How app retargeting enhances customer retention

In a time when user retention is at an all time low, brands must find ways to not just win customers but keep them engaged. 

  • Higher ROI: According to data from Adjust, the average app churn rate 7 days after an install is 87%. The average app churn rate for 30 days after the install is 94%. Reducing app churn by just 5% can boost profitability by 75%. 
  • Stickier onboarding: As revealed by the data, churn often happens in the initial stages of the onboarding process. Apps typically have the highest rate of retention on day 1 of install. But, after that, from day 2 and beyond, they can experience a considerable drop in engagement.
  • Boost your UA efforts: In certain app verticals, retargeting users beyond seven days since their last touchpoint is already too late to make an impact. Re-engagement campaigns can bolster your user acquisition efforts by creating a consistent flow of engagement with your brand. We believe it’s important to begin your retargeting efforts from Day 1 of install to maximize the value of your campaigns. 

How in-app retargeting can support app store optimization (ASO)

Retargeting can spark a sense of familiarity and reaffirm your top-of-the-funnel ASO efforts. With ASO, marketers can positively position their app’s visibility in the app store and maximize its appeal to new and existing users. With re-engagement, marketers can create a consistent loop of interaction with customers, from positive reviews in the app store on initial download to reminder to re-open the app.  

Some do’s and don’ts of app retargeting

As with any growth campaign, the first step in setting up your retargeting campaign for success should be defining your goals and understanding where users are likely to drop off in your funnel. From there, here are some key do’s and don’ts of executing successful app retargeting campaigns. 

Do dynamically customize your ads

Dynamic creative optimization (DCO) uses an app’s product feed to match the right message to the right user at the right time based on their intent. This tailored approach can significantly enhance the visibility of your advertisements in a crowded marketplace. In fact, based on our own internal creative testing for an e-commerce campaign, DCO results in at least a 30% performance lift.

Don’t wait to start investing in app retargeting

As mentioned above, the cost of acquiring a new customer is 5-25x higher than selling to an existing one. What’s more, the average rate of churn is much higher for newly onboarded customers. Finally, the app market is dense. There are currently 8.93 million apps available worldwide with the average consumer spending 90% of their mobile usage time in just five apps. Your best customers have already engaged with your brand. Don’t wait to start maximizing their potential by investing in app retargeting. 

Do segment your audience

A one-size-fits-all approach should never be applied to all the customers in your audience. Grouping users based on their behavior, preferences, and position in your funnel, will help you build a more effective retargeting campaign. Keep in mind that retargeted users should receive different messaging than newly-acquired users because they’ve already come in contact with your brand. Acknowledging this difference can be as simple as changing a CTA button from ‘Download now’ to ‘Open now.’ Further segmentation of users into different buckets can help focus your marketing efforts. These buckets could include users who have abandoned a shopping cart, those who have not opened an app in a certain time period, or users who have lapsed but made a purchase in the past. 

Don’t rush your retargeting campaigns 

Programmatic demand-side platforms (DSP) buy media and manage digital ad inventories through real-time bidding auctions (RTB). DSPs make bidding decisions based on user data and win rates. These bidding decisions are powered by machine learning (ML) models that seek to bid most efficiently on the right user at the right time. The predictive accuracy of these models improves as ML models collect more data and learn patterns. But this data collection and learning takes time. With that said, it’s important to give your retargeting campaigns enough time to collect data, learn patterns and scale. 

Do test your retargeting campaigns for incremental lift

Proving the value of your retargeting campaigns is key for establishing buy-in within your organization and also evaluating whether your investment is cannibalizing organic growth. Incrementality testing is key to understanding the value of your re-engagement efforts and also understanding how to best spend your next ad dollar. Incrementality testing isolates a control and treatment group and measures the difference in their response to ads, targeting strategies, etc. for lift. You can undertake incremental list testing in-house or work with a DSP that provides this service. 


In today’s economy of shrinking ad budgets and tightening margins, long-time customers are gold, with 65% of a brand’s sales coming from returning customers. Acquiring new customers is 5-25x more expensive than re-engaging existing ones. App retargeting campaigns can re-engage customers, maximize ad dollars, and reinforce your ASO efforts for long-term ROI. 

The value of investing in app retargeting campaigns:

  • Higher ROI: Reducing app churn by just 5% can boost profitability by 75%.
  • Stickier onboarding: Churn often happens in the initial stages of onboarding.
  • Boost UA efforts: Start retargeting efforts from Day 1 of install for maximum value.
  • Enhance ASO: Retargeting reinforces your app’s visibility in the app store, maximizing its appeal to new and existing users.

The Do’s and Don’ts of app retargeting campaigns:

  • Do: Dynamically optimize your ads, define goals, segment your audience, and test for incremental lift.
  • Don’t: Wait to start investing in app retargeting or rush your campaigns.
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Lidiia Mylenka
Lidiia Mylenka
Marketing and Channel Leader
Lidiia is Marketing and Channel Leader at SplitMetrics. She is a digital marketer with 6+ years of experience building paid and organic marketing funnels for SaaS companies.
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