Think about your most-used mobile device for a second: There’s probably a significant difference between what its home screen looked like a year ago—assuming you’ve had it that long—and now. There’s likely even a difference between what it looked like a month or week ago and now. And no, we aren’t talking about the adorable wallpaper of your pet you like to change out every season.
The point is that mobile devices are not static. Just because you downloaded an app recently doesn’t mean you’ll keep it. People delete apps all the time for reasons ranging from boredom to dwindling storage space. Some apps sit “on the shelf” forever after installation, gathering dust. Others come and go within a matter of hours. Some people may install and uninstall the same app dozens of times over the course of their relationship with it.
Installing an app is not a one-time behavior—so why should marketing be? Here’s what you need to know about mobile app reinstalls and retargeting.
Many App Installs Are Actually Reinstalls
Recent data shows that almost 30 percent of app downloads in North America were reinstalls, and that figure was even higher for certain categories. As eMarketer cites, apps that fulfill a “short-term need” like travel and dating apps had even higher rates of reinstallation, as did gaming apps.
There are many reasons people might participate in an install-delete-reinstall cycle. Sometimes users hope a new version will work better than an old one did. Other times, people download an app when they need it then delete it to free up precious storage space. Yet others just want to give an app another try.
Whatever the reasoning, reinstalls represent a significant portion of installs. App marketers cannot afford to overlook these installs as they’re strategizing on how to best attract engaged users.
Strategies for Re-Engaging Mobile Users
Don’t just sit back and wait for mobile users to decide to reinstall your app, though. You can play an active role in driving reengagement through retargeting marketing.
One strategy for doing so is serving re-engagement ads to unengaged users, or those who installed your app before going dormant or deleting it. The benefit here is that you have mobile user demographic and behavioral information off of which to personalize these ads. You can customize retargeting ads to reflect the last action someone took before disengaging, urging them to re-engage with a relevant call-to-action.
Let’s say a customer downloaded an ecommerce app, browsed a number of product listings and added a jacket to their shopping cart before closing the app. Any number of things can distract a mobile user when they’re not actively perusing an app. The difference between a sale and no sale, in this case, might just be reminding the customer they were considering purchasing the jacket. So, you can serve them an ad so personalized it shows the actual jacket they added to their cart along with a CTA like “take another look” or “shop now” or “get this style.” This is possible because programmatic ads are assembled in real time to reflect the demographics and behaviors of the mobile user viewing them.
The same principle applies if you’re marketing a travel app. If a user looked up flights to Paris, you can show them an ad advertising cheap flights to Paris as a means of getting them re-engaged. This is more effective than showing a generic ad or showing them an ad for cheap flights to Tokyo.
Thinking in Terms of Customer Lifetime Value
Last but not least, think in terms of customer lifetime value. Installation is only the beginning of your relationship with a mobile user. Retargeting users helps drive retention and revenue by getting people back into your funnel.
At the end of the day, understanding the nature of mobile app reinstalls and retargeting will help you effectively re-engage lapsed users.
Nicole Hicks a graduate of UFT. She’s based in Toronto but travels much of the year. Nicole has written for NPR, Motherboard, MSN Money, and the Huffington Post. Nicole is a financial reporter, focusing on technology, national security, and policing.