How to Retarget and Drive Revenue: Shopping Apps | AppsFlyer
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The What, Why, and How of Retargeting for Shopping Apps

Jillian Gogel Jillian Gogel May 28, 2020

Getting quality consumers to your Shopping app can be hard. Keeping them there over time while driving ongoing revenue with relevant and attractive offers can be even harder. 

Given increasingly high expectations, and numerous other competitors to buy from, users can easily and rapidly lapse into inactivity (or even uninstall). 

On the marketing side, rising user acquisition costs means driving new users to your app is increasingly expensive, while retargeting is much cheaper. As such, it is worthwhile to leverage intent data and advanced audience segmentation capabilities to re-engage with existing users — whether they are already inactive (lapsed) or are predicted to become inactive.

But practically speaking, what is the best way to set up these campaigns? How can marketers fully optimize the value of retargeting for their app? 

This blog post will cover the what, why, and how of retargeting for Shopping apps so that you can make the most of your marketing budgets and meet your goals. Plus, be sure to check out the complete practical cheat sheet on Shopping app marketing at the end of this post that includes: 

  • Top vertical-specific goals + the KPIs to measure 
  • Which and how many in-app events to configure
  • Selecting media sources to run with
  • Recommended segments

↓ Download full cheat sheet for Shopping apps ↓

What is retargeting and why use it? 

Retargeting is the marketing method to re-engage existing app users through paid and owned media channels. 

As the data from our new State of App Retargeting report shows, retargeting efforts deliver strong results and are especially well-suited to Shopping apps, which had a 50-72% adoption rate and a 25-60% increase in the share of retargeting conversions (depending on the region) as of Q1 2020. 

More importantly, we found that retargeting led to significant uplift in the share of paying users across regions: US (+90%), France (+70%), Italy (+43%), to name a few examples.

Retargeting in Shopping is a natural fit because direct response campaigns encourage action, which drive purchases of products users expressed interest in. In fact, according to Criteo, re-engaged shoppers show more than four times higher conversion rates in-app than they do on mobile web or desktop, making the app the ultimate touchpoint and a must-have channel for Shopping brands. 

Clearly, mobile web is not an alternative but rather a complimentary mobile channel whose primary role is to cater to users who land from search.


What to measure

Running an effective retargeting campaign starts with measuring the right data to guide your analyses. This is especially true for Shopping apps, who need to drive lapsed users to make their first purchase, while also retargeting non-paying and paying users before they lapse (usually within the week after install).  

To get you started with focused measurement for retargeting, we’ve included the following table showing some of the most common vertical-specific goals and the KPIs to support them:



First purchase

  • Number and share of first purchases driven by retargeting
  • ARPU & ROAS 

Repeat purchases

  • # of repeat purchases driven by retargeting
  • ARPU & ROAS 


  • # of lapsed users reactivated


Timing retargeting campaigns

There are multiple factors that go into deciding when to begin running your retargeting campaigns. These include the type of audience segment, the level of engagement, whether you’re seeking to recover users or simply re-engage, your budget, and others. 

Retargeting campaigns may be launched as early as immediately or 24 hours after install, within the first week, or later. Remember that one size does not fit all and choosing your timing depends ultimately on your own goals.

The same is true of stopping your campaigns, which is again determined by your expected marketing goals and the limits of your campaign budget. For Shopping apps, the most successful marketers tend to end campaigns after 7, 14, and 30 days, though one perspective suggests that all projected engagement will occur within 14 days. 

Remember it is important to avoid overexposure which could severely hurt your brand and lead users to rapidly uninstall your app. 


Audience segmentation for retargeting

So you’ve mapped your target KPIs and set up the scope of your campaign, but it’s still not time to launch your retargeting campaigns. Understanding your audience, and being able to use your data to segment audiences effectively, is critical for delivering targeted and effective ads. 

Below, we’ve included some of the most common audience segments Shopping marketers use to guide their retargeting efforts:



Retarget and re-engage

Improve your re-engagement by targeting high-value users who made multiple purchases last month, but were inactive this month.

Recover uninstalled users

Target users who made a purchase above $50 but who recently uninstalled your app with custom creative to drive re-installs.

Cross-sell and upsell

Encourage users with high-purchase intent to complete checkout on items within the same brand or category as others added earlier to the cart.

Retargeting exclusion

An audience who has engaged with a specific owned media source (push, email, SMS, other) is excluded from paid retargeting.

Category mixes

If you’re a shopping platform selling multiple brands, optimize the brands displayed to high-paying users to drive more purchases of your most profitable brand(s). Use audience segmentation to find the users that aren’t already buying these brands and target them. 

For Shopping-specific UA audience segments, as well other practical guidelines for Shopping app marketing, check out the cheat sheet below. 

Retargeting for Shopping App Marketing

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