Why, When, and How to Use App Remarketing: 5 Key Scenarios for 5 Big Verticals

App_remarketing_is_not_stalking_featured_imageRemarketing is not a marketing buzzword for stalking. 

Admittedly, when done wrong, it can come across that way to would-be customers that see your logo or products lurking around online, following them everywhere they go. But when done right and with tact, it can do wonders for app growth. 

So, when does remarketing go from creepy to cool? 

When you take the time to answer these questions:

  • How does remarketing fit into the app lifecycle?
  • Which specific situations warrant putting remarketing into action?
  • Why is remarketing the best way to engage users in these scenarios?
  • Who should I target with remarketing ads?
  • What types of campaigns should I run?

Don’t worry; you don’t need to toil over these answers alone. We’re going to address them in this article.


Why You Need App Remarketing

As a mobile marketer, you already have push notifications, in-app messaging, and personalized email in your toolbox – so why would you also need app remarketing

Because in a world where 48% of people have disabled push alerts, 1/3 of apps don’t send any in-app messages, and the average working professional receives about 125 emails per day, your app is competing pretty darn hard for attention. 

Combine these statistics with the fact that 90% of marketers have vouched for the effectiveness of remarketing, and you’ve got some solid reasons to add this tactic to your arsenal.


When You Need App Remarketing

One of the great things about app remarketing is that it fits into every stage of the app lifecycle. Here’s how:

  1. Smarter acquisition – You can export the characteristics of your most valuable app users and use “lookalike audiences” to target ads at similar people.
  2. Higher engagement – Remarketing gives you another way to reach users outside of the app and stay top of mind.
  3. Meaningful growth  Remarketing deepens relationships by increasing the likelihood of conversion and maximizes the lifetime value of users.
  4. Improved retention – You can use remarketing to bring back app users who are at risk of churning and decrease app abandonment.


How to Run App Remarketing Campaigns

All brands can benefit from remarketing, but the specific types of campaigns you should run vary depending on the type of app you have. 

In this section, we’ll better flesh out these use cases (with a focus on boosting ROI by converting power users) for different categories of apps.


Media apps offer free and paid subscriptions to content, such as music, videos, and in-depth articles. Often, these apps employ a paywall business model so only a limited amount of content can be consumed at no cost. The idea is to give users a taste of the entertainment and information available inside the app, for a fixed amount of time or quantity. Then, when users are engaged enough, prompt them to purchase a subscription for unlimited content.

This is where remarketing can help.

Use Case: Show remarketing ads featuring personalized content based on what users listened to, viewed, or previously read in your app to elicit an upgrade.  

Goal: To increase the number of users who move from a free trial to a paid subscription.

Who to Target: All users who have listened to/read/watched at least three songs/articles/or videos in-app (this can be further segmented by favorite music genre, most-watched TV show, or favorite news section).

Sample Messaging: “Get unlimited access to all of your favorite episodes of X. Watch anytime, anywhere. Upgrade now.”

eCommerce & Retail

Ecommerce and retail apps are not immune to the common shopper’s dilemma: to buy, or not to buy? People start off on the path to purchase, but for one reason or another, they sometimes fail to complete the checkout process. Remarketing can remind these users of the awesome products they left behind and nudge them to pull the trigger.

Use Case: Show remarketing ads containing items from users’ in-app shopping cart and offer an enticing promo. 

Goal: To drive more in-app purchases and convert users from casual browsers to customers. 

Who to Target: All users who have either viewed or favorited an item in-app or, have added an item to their shopping cart, but failed to check out.

Sample Messaging: “Still interested in X? Here’s 20% off because X will look absolutely stunning on you. Check out now.”



Gaming apps are addictive, but they are also at risk of becoming one-hit wonders if people loose interest or simply stop playing. Remarketing can be used to both challenge avid gamers (by highlighting new levels, tasks, or competitors), and motivate novice players into not giving up (by offering extra lives, hints, or in-game items).

Use Case: Show remarketing ads to people who conquered a game level, but haven’t been back to defeat the next one. And if your game has gated features, also use remarketing to prompt regular players to unlock these bonus features. 

Goal: To keep players engaged and increase in-game purchases.

Who to Target: All users who successfully completed a game level, but haven’t had a recent session with your app.

Sample Messaging: “You’re so close to unlocking the next level! Play again and we’ll give you X extra lives.”  Or, “Looking for another challenge? We’ve released X new levels for $X. We dare you to beat them.”


Travel & Lifestyle

Travel apps are unique in the sense that people tend to interact with them in bursts. When people are planning a vacation, they will likely become heavy users of travel apps with frequent app launches. But when they’re not thinking about going somewhere far away, people will have much fewer sessions. That’s why it’s more important than ever to use remarketing to swiftly convert those active users.  

Use Case: Show remarketing ads to people who just looked at certain travel packages and bring new deals to their attention to drive bookings. 

Goal: Move newly active users along the booking funnel from in-app search to the ultimate in-app action (i.e. the purchase of a vacation package, flights, hotel, etc.). 

Who to Target: All users who have more than three app sessions per week and have searched for packages for at least one destination. 

Sample Messaging: “The beautiful beaches of X are waiting for you. All-inclusive packages are now $X. Book your escape.”

Technology & Finance

Finance and technology apps exist to help people make smarter money management decisions and be more productive throughout the day. Realistically speaking though, this is easier said than done. People can be notoriously bad at shaking bad habits and often need an extra push or two. If your app offers coaching services, financial advice, or premium features that can protect people’s wealth and improve their daily lives, use remarketing to bring these add-ons to light.

Use Case: Show remarketing ads to people who consistently use your app and could benefit from additional assistance managing their finances or other day-to-day tasks. 

Goal: To increase the number of users who purchase in-app services.

Who to Target: All users who have set financial or productivity goals in-app and track more than 10 transactions (or have more than 10 sessions) per week. 

Sample Messaging: “Struggling to save? Don’t know how to budget? Talk to an expert and get financially fit today.” Or, “Stop feeling swamped. Streamline your day with our new X tool. Get this feature for only $X.”


What Should App Remarketing Ads Look Like?

Before we conclude our discussion on why, when, and how you can use app remarketing to grow your app, it’s crucial to mention that even the best-intentioned and most well targeted ads have an Achilles heel. 

And that’s remarketing creatives (i.e. the banners that typically accompany your ad).

Nothing can kill a remarketing campaign quite like a poorly designed, unbranded, boring visual. 

Your ad needs to catch someone’s eye and show people what they need and love. It should be personalized. It should reinvigorate users with fond feelings for your app. 

Luckily, we’ve broken down all the best practices of exceptional app remarketing banners right here. Combine these with the use cases you learned above and you’re ready to rock.

P.S. If you're still looking to learn more about app remarketing, you can find more great content here

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