Mobile retargeting tips for the holiday season

Anne Verhoeven

Dec 10, 2019

How to bring users back to your app this Christmas

This holiday season, U.S. sales are expected to exceed $1 trillion – an impressive feat when you consider that the crucial period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is almost a week shorter than in 2018. Moreover, m-commerce contributes a larger cut of this total year over year, with more users opting to do their shopping online. This is therefore a critical period for app marketers, with users looking to purchase Christmas gifts and enjoy their additional free time on their favorite apps. And it’s not just e-commerce apps that can benefit from the holiday season. Gamers, for example, will typically have more time to spend in-app, and even dating app usage is proven to spike during the holidays (Grindr have found a 30-50% usage increase on Christmas day).

While this presents an opportunity to acquire new users, retargeting is one of the best ways to get the most out of the holiday season. In this guide, we’ll share tips on how to retarget users with an air-tight creative strategy.

What is mobile retargeting and why is it important?

Retargeting is the process of bringing back users who have previously installed your app, encouraging them to complete a conversion. The logic is that users who are further down your funnel are more likely to convert than new users (and often at a lower cost) because your retargeted users have already shown intent. Successfully retargeting users will therefore boost ROAS and ensure that you’re optimizing your user’s LTV.

Mobile retargeting is particularly important during the holiday season, as many marketers will have acquired new users during Black Friday/Cyber Monday and will now be retargeting those users for Christmas and Cyber Week II. A quarter of online viewers enjoy seeing retargeted ads, and the CTR is 10x higher than the CTR of a typical display ad.

To learn more about mobile retargeting, take a look at our definition for the term in Adjust’s mobile measurement glossary. We also have a blog post devoted to retargeting basics for mobile marketers.

Important holiday season dates

The holiday season has many noteworthy dates for app marketers, and it’s important to start preparations early for best results. For example, if you are prepared for the holiday season as early as September, you will be able to acquire new users and obtain the data needed for successful retargeting campaigns in December. The most significant dates throughout the holiday season are:

  • October 31: Halloween
  • November 11: Single’s Day
  • November 28: Thanksgiving
  • November 29: Black Friday
  • December 2: Cyber Monday
  • December 25: Christmas Day
  • December 25 - January 1: Cyber Week II

This guide will primarily focus on mobile retargeting optimizations for Christmas. However, your data from this period can also be useful for Blue Monday (January 20th) and Valentine’s Day (February 14th).

8 retargeting tips for the holiday season

1. Research holiday season trends relevant to your vertical, region and target audience

Before spending any of your budget on retargeting campaigns this holiday season, it’s important to learn the trends most relevant to your app. You must know the audience you want to retarget and the optimal time to bring those users back into your funnel. For example, a study by Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) revealed that for online shopping, Cyber Monday generated the most online sales revenue, while the lowest day for online sales was Christmas Eve. According to Paul Shreiner, director at ADI, the company “saw that holiday sales spiked on key days and then continued to rise until Dec 21st,” adding that “the rising revenue was due to a steady increase in conversion as opposed to consumers spending more per order.”

Criteo’s Holiday Report and Emarketer’s Global Ecommerce Report are other examples of valuable insights that show how to approach different markets. You can also read our guide for how Black Friday and Singles’ Day are reshaping e-commerce globally.

2. Track in-app events

This is the crucial stepping stone by which you can implement sophisticated retargeting campaigns. Even after thorough research into holiday season trends and your target audience, you’re not going to reach your retargeting potential without tracking in-app events. This is because events tracking is essential to successfully retargeting users based on previous intent.

An “event” can be any in-app action – from browsing a product to completing a purchase – so it’s important to define what’s most important to your mobile retargeting efforts. Tracking events with a mobile measurement partner, such as Adjust, can be leveraged to learn which features your users like most, what users do directly after install, and where users churn – giving you the essential insights needed for your retargeting campaigns.

Event tracking is also an essential component of Dynamic Product Ads (DPAs), which can be used to deliver hyper-relevant creative to your target audience. A significant benefit of DPAs is that the user is deep-linked directly to a specific product page, including all the information selected when they had previously browsed that product.

To learn more about how to set up event tracking, take a look at our glossary term and our official documentation.

3. Developing your creative strategy for the holiday season

It’s important to define how your retargeting campaign will utilize the holiday season to drive the most conversions possible. This can be achieved by developing an air-tight creative strategy, which includes:

  • Seasonal branding: From ad creative to in-app design, ensure the user has a seamless experience with coherent, seasonal branding. You should also be cautious of when this might be disruptive to the user experience.
  • Time sensitivity: Let users know that if they want to get the best deals for Christmas, they need to convert sooner rather than later. This can be achieved by noting that items are limited, or even including how many of that item is left (a technique that is popular among travel apps). However, this could also be as simple as having an “X days until Christmas” countdown on your ads.
  • Region-specific targeting: If you are operating globally, remember to research cultural differences to avoid alienating your audience. For example, Veteran’s Day in the U.S. is on the same date as Singles’ Day in China. Ensuring that your creative is regionalized will enable you to avoid causing offense or confusion.
  • Personalization: Thanks to events tracking, you can personalize creative for your users to increase the chance of conversion. This will make a considerable difference to your retargeting efforts, with 70% of marketers claiming that personalization has an extremely strong impact on customer relations.

4. Use loyalty programs to boost ROAS

As Christmas looms, you will have users who want to make a single purchase before they uninstall, never to return. To turn these users into long-term customers, try to incentivize them with a loyalty program.

For example, a user downloads your e-commerce app to purchase a Christmas sweater as a gift for her husband. After making the purchase, your loyalty program entitles her to 15% off her second purchase. This user is now incentivized to keep your app and look for deals during Cyber Week II, boosting ROAS and extending LTV.

According to ecommerce marketing platform YotPo, 52.3% of users will take part in loyalty programs. It’s also important to swiftly show how your loyalty program is of value to the user: 28% of millennials consider convenience when deciding whether to join a loyalty program and 78% look for discounts. Users also prefer loyalty programs that send out fewer emails, but that shouldn’t discourage you from trying to attract them with deals during Cyber Week II.

5. Push Notifications

For users that have your app installed, you can send push notifications – a retargeting method that can considerably boost conversion rates. Moreover, this is a cost-effective marketing channel that doesn’t require you to pay for ads. According to Localytics, messages triggered from an in-app event can increase conversions by 4x, while push notifications can boost engagement by 88%.

Personalization will have a considerable impact on the success rate of your push notifications. Try to include the user’s name (which can increase open rates by 9%) and don’t forget to make this notification relevant to the holiday season.

Push notifications best practices:

  • Keep your creative short, simple, and conversational
  • Monitor the success of these messages, and adapt according to your results
  • Use push notifications to nudge a user to complete a specific action in your user funnel. For example, remind the user that you have a flash sale and orders need to be completed by December 22 to arrive in time for Christmas

To learn about the different types of push notifications, their benefits and their limitations, take a look at our glossary term.

6. Offer free shipping

With numerous purchases on users’ shopping lists, this is a simple but effective way to encourage users to convert during the Christmas period. Over three quarters (79%) of U.S. consumers said that free shipping would make them more likely to shop online, so offering free shipping just before Christmas is a great way to eliminate a possible hesitation before conversion. This should also create a more pleasing user experience because free shipping for several items amounts to considerable savings for your customers.

7. Send “abandoned cart” emails

When a user adds items to their cart, you can be extremely confident in their intent to purchase. It can be difficult to know when to push these users to convert, but your data will show you the best time to retarget. Moreover, abandoned cart emails have a clear value to the user, which explains why they have an average open rate of 45%.

Because you’re tracking in-app events, you can deduce when most users become unlikely to return to your app and complete their purchase. For example, let’s say your analysis shows that most users return to their cart within 24 hours. After that, however, there’s a massive drop-off. You can now set up reminder emails to users who are unlikely to return without irritating users who would have converted anyway.

8. Don’t undervalue Cyber Week II

Taking place between Christmas and the new year, this is another period where users become more active. According to personalized retargeting company Criteo, the U.S. saw an online sales increase of 46% between December 26-31 last year. Don’t overlook that users may be looking to spend immediately after Christmas too.

You should also think about how your marketing strategy is also going to help you in 2020. If you’d like to know more about mobile retargeting, take a look at our complete guide, here. This ebook outlines how retargeting fits into your overall mobile marketing strategy, which KPIs matter most, and steps you need to take to set up your campaigns.

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