Banner-Blindness-Times-Square-New-York“Houston, we have a problem.”
“What’s wrong App-ollo 1000?”
“We keep broadcasting ads to re-engage user base 597, but nobody is responding.”

In the never-ending battle for consumer attention, brands have turned parts of the modern world into a giant, colorful, kaleidoscopic mess with sky-high billboards, glitzy TV spots, and flashy web ads following people everywhere they go.

After all, hasn’t psychology proven that repetition leads to remembrance?

Yes and no. Boring redundancy leads to banner blindness. Personalized remarketing leads to action. Let’s talk about how this applies to apps.

App Remarketing is About Retention & Upselling

App remarketing (aka. retargeting) is the practice of targeting app users with advertisements outside of your app, based on how they’ve previously engaged with your brand. It’s about showing app users ads for products or services they’ve already demonstrated an interest in so those products and services become “must haves.”

App remarketing can get you a lot of bang for your buck. It’s your golden ticket to maximizing the lifetime value of your existing users. It’s a great way to keep your app top of mind. And it’s also your chance to reach people outside of your app – even if they’ve opted out of push notifications!

The plain and powerful purpose of app remarketing is to retain your valuable users and push them through important conversion funnels.

Getting Noticed in a Noisy World

All right, you get it; app remarketing has great potential to impact your mobile bottom line. But remember, your remarketing ad is going to live in a noisy, cluttered environment and vie for attention alongside a plethora of other content, brands, and ads. For example, one place it might appear is in Facebook’s mobile Newsfeed in the “Suggested Apps” section.


In this scenario, your app remarketing ad is surrounded by trending stories and an ever-changing cascade of social activity.

So, how do you get people to notice your ad? How do you get them to stop scrolling and click back into your app? What separates unmemorable from eye-catching remarketing?

It’s all in the creative.

8 Best Practices of Standout App Remarketing Creatives

Standout app remarketing ads are targeted, well designed, and captivating. They resonate with users. They motivate them to return to your app and do something meaningful. Excellent app remarketing ads are hard to ignore.

Here are the eight best practices you need to follow to make sure app remarketing creative is as awesome as can be.

1. Set specific retention and nurturing goals 

App remarketing is designed to help you retain and nurture your existing users while they are outside of your app. This allows you to set goals that go above and beyond just “getting downloads.” Now, you have the power to drive re-engagement, increase conversions, and reignite awareness. With app remarketing, you can set goals like:

  • Decrease monthly user churn by X%
  • Increase average number of articles read in app per week to X
  • Increase the number of in-app checkouts by X%

Key Takeaway: App remarketing ads should be created with precise objectives in mind, whether that means motivating inactive users to re-launch your app or moving people further down funnels towards an “ultimate” in-app event.

2. Segment your target audience(s)

Once you have some goals laid out, it’s time to divide your users into different audiences. If you want to improve retention, ask yourself, “Do I have a group of users who haven’t engaged with my app in a while and might need a reminder about how awesome my app is?” If your goal is to nurture, ask yourself, “Which users were close to a conversion event, but tripped at the finish line?” And if your goal is to re-engage latent users, think about, “Do I have a group of users who have turned off notifications so I simply can’t reach them via push messages?”

These user segments are a good starting point in developing your target audience for your remarketing initiatives. You can further slice and dice these groups based on in-app behavior or profile information. As a general rule of thumb, smaller remarketing audiences can perform well, but are harder to scale whereas large, more generic audiences can be harder to optimize.

Key Takeaway: Don’t broadcast one generic app remarketing ad to your entire audience. Divide your users into like groups based on goals, in-app activity, and profile data. Then, create personalized ads for each audience depending on how they’ve previously interacted with your app.

3. Incorporate visual branding and use eye-catching colors and imagery

People should be able to look at your remarketing ad and instantly recognize your brand. Your ad should be fresh, but contain elements that are pleasantly familiar. Pick bold, contrasting colors, crisp images, and easy-to-read fonts that reflect your brand identity.

Take a look at this ad from GrubHub. The fiery red background color is part of their consistent palette and it contrasts nicely with the image of a succulent burger. What’s more, GrubHub didn’t cram their creative with tons of food pictures – they picked one really great one and enlarged it for maximum mouthwatering effect. Now that’s how you make the most of size constraints on a small screen!


Key Takeaway: Your brand holds clout and authority. Use it as inspiration for the color scheme, images, and style of your remarketing ad.

4. Carefully choose your offer and highlight something new 

At first, this next best practice may seem to clash with the previous one, which states that app remarketing creatives need to adhere to your brand. Yes, their look and feel shouldn’t seem like something out of left field.

But, the actual offer you highlight in your ad should be unique. Your remarketing target audience has interacted with your brand before. They’re likely already knowledgeable about your typical products and services. That’s why you need to show them something new to get their attention – like the latest sale or the next step in the conversion process.

For example, Zipcar used remarketing ads to announce the launch of multiday rates to its members. They artfully designed a creative that maintains their brand identity while also showcasing an enticing new offer.


Key Takeaway: Because your remarketing audience has an existing relationship with your app, you can’t use the same old offer in creatives as you would everywhere else. People will be much more likely to re-engage with your app if you show them something they haven’t seen before or tell them something they didn’t know.

5. Finesse your ad’s copy to be clear, concise, and compelling

Can you convey your app’s value proposition in one to two sentences? Remarketing ads have limited space for text, so you need to write copy that is short, sweet, and super effective. Don’t know what to write about? Remind your users of the biggest (or latest) benefit your app has to offer. And make it punchy.

Here’s a brilliant example of no-fluff, straight-to-point copywriting from Wallapop. In two concise sentences, this remarketing ad reiterates how the app works, how the user is rewarded, and even uses quick verbs to express a sense of urgency.


Key Takeaway: When you’ve only got a few words to convince your audience to take a certain action, clearly and persuasively highlight how the end user gets value. Tell them what they get and what they need to do.

Another best practice to try in your app remarketing campaigns is to design a creative that is less about your app and more about what’s actually inside it – like its content and features. Instead of reminding people why your app is awesome, actually show them a sneak peak. Did you just launch a cool new feature? Preview it in your app remarketing ad. Is there a hot and trending article within your app? Highlight it in your remarketing ad. Then, drive people who click on your these ads to the relevant app feature or screen with deep-linking to complete the experience.

This is exactly the approach that Yahoo takes. Yahoo’s news app showcases recently published stories in its remarketing ads to help users stay up-to-date on what’s happening around them. When somebody wants more information on a particular post, Yahoo’s ad CTAs open the article within its app so people can continue reading seamlessly.


Key Takeaway: Try making your app’s content or features the star of your remarketing ads. Show people what they’re missing inside your app and drive them to specific app sections. This way, people can immediately start interacting with your app versus stumbling through screens searching for what they need.

7. Include a relevant call-to-action 

You’re no longer confined to the standard “Install App” CTA. App remarketing creatives allow you to more clearly outline the action you want your users to take. Some of the choices at your disposal include “Open Link,” “Learn More,” “Sign Up,” or “Use App.” Pick the one most relevant to the type of app you have and the campaign you are running.

For example, Amazon is an ecommerce app and its remarketing ads focus on daily deals for selected items. The common “Use App” CTA isn’t strong enough to induce action nor does it tie to what Amazon ultimately wants people do to here (make an in-app purchase). However, the “Shop Now” CTA is much more specific and works nicely with the creative.


Key Takeaway: Earning new users isn’t the goal of app remarketing. Choose a CTA that fits with how people use your app, and correlates with key conversion steps.

8. Measure, test, improve, and optimize

We can’t lay out a list of best practices without mentioning the ever critical stage of measuring your mobile campaigns! How do you know if your app remarketing ads are actually improving user retention or increasing conversions? How do you know if you’re achieving the remarketing goals you outlined from the get-go?

After your app remarketing ads have some time to fly, comb through your app analytics and look at the metrics that matter. Did they change?

Now’s also the time to A/B test your creatives. Freshen up your ads, change the benefit, change the offer, employ a new CTA, tweak the copy, etc. and monitor your ad performance. Use the information from these tests to regularly improve and optimize your app remarketing.

Key Takeaway: Experiment, experiment, experiment! If a certain group of users didn’t re-engage with your app after seeing your ad, all is not lost. Give your ads a makeover and try again until something works.

Personalization is Key

The biggest difference between app marketing and app remarketing is that the latter is built upon rich insights into your existing audiences.

GrubHub’s remarketing ads highlight Bostonian restaurants. Zipcar informs me about new offers I haven’t redeemed yet. Yahoo’s remarketing ads surfaces stories that are similar to the stuff I typically read in-app. Amazon shows me sales for products I’ve browsed, favorited, or purchased in the past.

These apps know me. They know what I like. Their ads show me what I love. That’s why I return and remain a faithful user.

App remarketing is mighty when it is personalized for the individual receiving it.