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App retargeting strategies to drive revenue to your mobile game

Mobile gaming has maintained its pandemic momentum. Global consumer spend in the space hit $116 billion in 2021 and app downloads neared the 83 billion mark.

2020 brought us isolation measures and movement restrictions and as a result, the majority of app users faced significantly more time at home. More people downloaded and played games on their devices during this period and this trend spilled over into 2021.

Source: State of Mobile 2022 - data.ai

The increased organic app usage is good news for the gaming industry - but can gaming advertisers convert this growth into increased revenue for their apps? We look at how gaming apps can plan their retargeting campaigns to focus on retention and incremental conversions.

« Atypical times bring new opportunities. It’s time for gaming to seize the moment and rise to the challenges the market presents. »

Users turned to mobile gaming during lockdown

The growth in mobile games downloads and time spent on gaming apps is undeniable. During the 2020 lockdowns weekly mobile game downloads grew by 80% in China and 35% in South Korea. The same growth is visible on DAUs according to IronSource data. For China, the industry saw a 60% increase, along with higher player engagement, on rewarded ads and increased paid installs (up 25% in the US).

This increased activity in mobile games stemmed from hyper-casual, strategy/puzzle, and RPG gaming genres. And this pattern continued in 2021, where hyper causal games were among the most downloaded, globally. One of the noticeable shifts in user behavior is the increased interest in multiplayer games for their sense of connection with other users and thus “real-life” entertainment factors.

The adoption of gaming apps, along with their revenue potential, is expected to grow - so how are app marketers creating incremental and sustainable app growth? If the spending potential exists, how are app marketers taking advantage of the situation to create incremental and sustainable app growth?

Retargeting is one of the keys to a well-rounded strategy for gaming app monetization. According to Appsflyer data, retargeting for gaming apps can drive an uplift of the average revenue among paying users by over 50%, more than double the industry average. This poses an opportunity for marketers to use retargeting as a way to retain and monetize the surge of organic users downloading their apps.

Source: State of Mobile 2022 - data.ai

Pave the way to mobile game monetization with retargeting

For gaming, retargeting is a proven strategy for achieving higher retention rates and stable revenue streams. It is effective in generating long-term engagement that creates incremental value from non-paying and paying users, as well as everyone in between.

Here are some of the considerations that go into building a retargeting strategy focused on driving revenue.

It all starts with segmentation

Are your users engaging with your game more or in a different way? Users that have completed specific actions (e.g., those who have reached a higher level and register more sessions per day) signal a higher level of interest in the game. This engagement is an important factor when grouping users into different segments, which you can retarget with specific goals in mind.

Don’t wait for your new users to churn. Identify and retarget your big spenders ("whales"), low spenders, and users that haven’t made an in-app purchase yet but show signs of being more engaged with the app. Identifying the different segments in your user base is the first step to large scale user reactivation.

Here are some suggestions on how to rethink your approach once you have build your segments:

  • Retarget users who have recently installed the app with a unique “new sign-up” offer as a way to build a great first impression in the game and get them to start playing right away. This is an excellent way to improve new user retention while providing a memorable onboarding experience.

  • Users that haven’t converted but are playing more and in a consistent manner might be more willing to convert. Target them with a special offer to level up in the game (or get perks such as more points, coins, a higher level character) and encourage users to come back to the game more frequently and play longer sessions.

  • Users that converted in the past but haven’t made any other purchase in the last 14 or 30 days can be retargeted with a new game offer or a special bundle discount that entices them to purchase again and to continue playing.

  • Reward your most loyal users and users that spend more time in-app with exclusive content or a higher status in the game as a sign of appreciation for the time and investment they put into the game. This tactic will keep them engaged and lead to increased retention and time spent playing.

« A smooth journey from ad to app is critical for the performance of your retargeting campaigns, especially when it comes to driving revenue. »

Map the gamer journey

Know your users’ behavior inside out. Do you know the flow of each of your user segments? Track all the relevant events that occur within your game. Then, identify any churn moments and any patterns on the type and frequency of actions taken in your game. Test and optimize these user loops to create not only a smooth but hyper engaging journey for your players.

Different game genres have a different appeal. Find out what makes your game addictive and “sticky,” and leverage those insights via paid channel communication.

Here are a few possible scenarios:

  • Do you find that your users reach a particular level/chapter but then show less activity or even lapsing before they can tackle the next one? Look at your game journey and see if you can engage them before they reach that stage. Use retargeting to remind them that they are close to unlocking a new challenge, offer them an incentive to keep playing (free lives, a chance of purchasing a new level) before they lose interest.

  • Do you only monetize your users after a certain level of the game? Use retargeting to guide your users towards that level and entice them with the benefits of doing so: a more engaging challenge, more credits to unlock features, etc.

A smooth journey from ad to app is critical for the performance of your retargeting campaigns, especially when it comes to driving revenue. You will want your users to land at the correct spot where they can seamlessly perform the intended action (downloading, purchasing, or signing up). Make use of deep links / iOS universal links to drive your users to a customized landing page (such as a store page) within the game. Here’s a real-business example: by implementing deep linking in their retargeting ads, LINE Music increased their conversion rates by 63 to 99%.

« Don’t oversimplify your approach and, don’t forget the valuable players you already have. »

Diversify your creative messages

A successful retargeting campaign relies heavily on hyper-relevant messaging (messaging targeted to each user segment) and engaging creatives. By the time you know your user segments and have defined your goals and KPIs, it is time to craft what you want to communicate to your targeted audiences and what trigger events to consider.

  • For example, do you have new levels or storylines in your game? Retarget your regular users with content updates. Users that have played for a while and passed all levels will have a compelling reason to come back and engage again with the new content.

  • Focus on creating messaging that is focused on instant gratification like promos and rewards for an irresistible game experience. This messaging establishes a sense of urgency and curiosity on players to keep them visiting the app regularly.

Creatives have a substantial impact on improving click-through rates and retention, which, ultimately, will lead to a higher user LTV and revenue. Diversify your messaging, make it highly customized, and use the different creative formats available to you.

One of the top recommended practices when it comes to creatives is to run A/B tests to identify the best performing elements and optimize from there. Use the insights from regular A/B testing to fine-tune your creative strategy and see your engagement rates soar.

Grow your gaming app with retargeting

The longer a user engages and stays in the game, the better chances it has of converting and becoming a loyal customer. App retargeting contributes to improving the player’s lifetime value, which will reflect in higher revenue in the long term. This was the case for our client, Triwin Games, who surpassed their ROAS goals with a retargeting campaign.

Consider the long term gains that a retargeting strategy can offer. Don’t oversimplify your approach and, don’t forget the valuable players you already have. Look deeper into your data, measure often, and find what is bringing you incremental uplift.

Game on - it’s time to play. If you would like to learn more about how to build a retargeting strategy for your app, talk to one of our experts.