The Evolution of Mobile App Marketing Part 2: Cross-Promotion & Re-engagement


The mobile app marketing industry has undergone quite a few changes since its early days. As discussed in part 1 of this blog series, the industry began with the focus on clicks then moved to optimizing for installs and post-install events. Today, app install is still one of the most common key performance indicators (KPI) in an app marketing campaign. However, as the mobile app industry continues to mature, app marketers are starting to realize that acquiring high lifetime value (LTV) users is the key to success. Thus, many have began to optimize their app marketing campaigns for high LTV users.


An emerging mobile app marketing strategy for doing this is cross-promotion. This strategy allows app marketers to take advantage of their already existing or old high LTV user base by promoting a new app to them. For example, app developer XYZ has an existing app A but has just launched app B recently. Both app A and app B are in the same category, so the app marketer at XYZ can promote app B to the high LTV users of app A. The theory behind this is if the users are driving the return on investment (ROI) of app A, they are highly likely to do the same for app B since the two apps are in the same category.

Knowing which users are loyal, which users are spenders, and which users are both help guarantee that the device IDs being targeted in a campaign will become high LTV users, if converted. App marketers can bid only on media inventory across global ad exchanges that also have those high LTV users as audiences. On the other hand, knowing which users are neither loyal nor spend money in the app will help app marketers save time and be more efficient by knowing what users to not to target. This strategy can also be cost efficient since app marketers will be spending their budget in to acquire only users who they already know have high LTV in certain apps and can almost guaranteed to also become high LTV users in the new app. This can mitigate the risks of a regular user acquisition campaign where bidding depends on the prediction of whether or not certain publishers will deliver high LTV users.


211330.pngAcquiring high LTV users - no matter what method - is a big challenge, but retaining and keeping them engaged is another. In fact, many apps are failing to maintain user interests and keep them engaged for a long duration. A study from eMarketer reveals “only 24% to 29% of iOS users who installed an app used it again within 24 hours of their first app session.” Retention rates fall to a single-digit by the thirty-day mark and according to research, the rates are worsening by the year. Thus, the re-engagement strategy emerges and is becoming widely used by many app marketers. Re-engagement campaigns are designed to bring back lapsed users who have stopped interacting with it over a period of time.

Lapsed users, no matter what app lifecycle stage they’re at, can be re-engaged with this strategy. The initial step would be defining user segments - 7-day lapsed, 30-day lapsed, etc. Different ad creatives can be targeted to each segment, encouraging them to return to the app with sequential messaging and ultimately convert them into loyal users. Ad creatives often offer promotions, offers, or new updates to entice users to return. Ad creatives are deep linked, so once the user click on the ad, they are redirected to the app store page if the app has been uninstalled or the app is launched if it is still installed.

Instead of spending budget on acquiring new users, who may or may not be high LTV users, app marketers find that this strategy lets them spend budget on growing existing users’ LTV by re-engaging them. The engagement key performance indicator (KPI) will differ for each app category. For example, a shopping app marketer’s goal can be for user to return to the app and purchase the items in their cart. On the other hand, a game app marketer’s goal can be for user to re-install the app and keep playing until level 5. Whether it is because the users forgot about the app or no longer found the app to be useful at the moment, re-engaging these users can be the right strategy for many app marketers.

As this industry continues to mature, app marketers are coming across more challenges but are finding new ways to tackle them. To learn more about new and emerging solutions, keep an eye out for the last part of this blog series which will focus on more advanced user acquisition strategies: lookalike audience targeting and bespoke segments.

Topics: Retargeting