Retargeting and remarketing are two terms that we often see used synonymously and interchangeably. Both refer to the act of re-engaging people who are already in your funnel. Distinctions are often drawn in other channels like desktop, where retargeting may mean serving display ads to someone who has visited your site and remarketing can mean following up with an email.
For the purposes of mobile user acquisition, it’s time to draw some clear distinctions:
Remarketing: Using first-party data from a non-mobile channel in order to get customers to download and engage with your mobile app.
Retargeting: Serving ads to people who have already downloaded your app, with the goal of pushing them further down your customer funnel.
For example, uploading an email list to Facebook to target customers is remarketing. Serving customized ads to people who have downloaded your app but not yet made an in-app purchase is retargeting.
Remarketing: get them into your app
Remarketing should be part of every mobile user acquisition campaign. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be using as much first-party data as possible in order to improve your ad targeting. Current customers, fans of your brand, and people who have engaged in other channels should be at the top of the list of users to acquire for your mobile app. Many networks and DSPs allow you to upload user lists, and you should take advantage of these capabilities as often as possible.
While the most obvious example of remarketing is uploading email addresses to Facebook, it also includes IP targeting, IDFA targeting from your other apps, or collecting user info from a pixel placed on your mobile website.
Retargeting: drive the app behaviors that matter
Savvy marketers should also be retargeting their app users—but only after setting clear KPIs and committing to live and die by downstream metrics. You won’t be able to focus on a CPI goal since you’ve already acquired the users, so you need to be willing to pay based on clicks and be confident in the ultimate costs of driving users to perform a specific action.
A simple example of retargeting is creating a segment of users who have registered for your app but haven’t made a purchase. Develop custom creatives specifically designed to encourage initial purchases (maybe with a extra incentive?) and serve ads to the users’ IDFAs. Of course, the only way to measure success on a campaign like this is to know exactly how much a user who makes a purchase is worth—then calculate the combined costs of your acquisition and retargeting campaigns.
The best mobile acquisition campaigns incorporate a strategy that features both of these techniques.Remarketing will help you acquire new downloaders by targeting people who have already shown interest in your brand. Retargeting will help ensure that you are moving users through your funnel towards deeper engagement with your app.
Here’s a chart illustrating the differences – click to expand.