With thousands of games entering both the iOS and Android markets, it is becoming challenging for developers and marketers to acquire players in a sustainable manner. What’s worse, is the fact that the cost of acquiring each player is increasing too. Amidst all the growth hacks being discussed online, is app reinstalls really a strategy to go for?
Games have the lowest retention rates
Remember when PokemonGo was launched? Players across all games left what they were doing to move to the game and catch as many Pokemons as possible. They got so immersed in the experience that they forgot about the games they had been playing for months. That’s exactly the reason why games have the lowest retention rates.

Gaming app reinstall

To be precise, the uninstall benchmarks for games on iOS is 13% and almost 43% on Android. That’s a lot of players abandoning a game to try something new that they discovered in the app stores.
But just like how players went back to playing the usual Angry Birds and Candy Crush after the initial upsurge of PokemonGo, other games too have experienced reinstalls.
What are game reinstalls?
It’s simply when a player has churned from your game, but comes back and reinstalls it. So it’s similar to acquiring a user; only that this user has previously been on your game. But as a strategy, it is the one thing that most game developers and marketers don’t focus on, or measure along the funnel.
But does a reinstall not add to one’s acquisition strategy or the engagement and the retention rates?
It does and it’s time that we start paying attention to reinstalls as an effective mobile user acquisition strategy, and start measuring it as well.
According to a study conducted by TUNE on 3.1 billion app installs from November 2017 to May 2018, the reinstall rates were as high as 75%. In fact, the study also suggests that 98% of smartphone owners have previously reinstalled an app.
But here’s an interesting takeaway for game developers: Games get 55% more reinstalls than non-game apps.
In the simplest of words, focusing on mobile app reinstalls is one of the most significant yet underused acquisition tactic.
Why do smartphone users reinstall games?
With so many options in just about every category, you just can’t blame players for experimenting with different games.
But contrary to the age old belief of how a user deletes games due to lack of space on their mobile phone, the biggest reason for an initial uninstall is – deciding to give another game a try.
Tune GreedyGame
Of course, the study suggests that there are also those who deleted the game by mistake or because it was too buggy, required too many updates or simply didn’t keep up to their expectations in terms of the experience.
Why should game reinstalls be a part of your user acquisition strategy?
A reinstall happens when a player has deleted your game initially, but comes back to it when he finds nothing else that suits his needs better or is as interesting. When you think about it, it is actually more valuable than the initial install because it tells you the potential of your game in the market and gives you the opportunity to identify which feature actually pulls your players back.
They make for a major chunk of total app installs
Just because gaming app marketers are not able to measure these effectively, these installs often get ignored. But the truth is that they make for a considerable part of all the installs in total.
As per the TUNE report, app reinstalls account for 42% of the total app installs.
Tune GreedyGame
And they are significant on both the Apple store and the Google Play store.
Tune GreedyGame
They can be acquired at a lower cost
The study by TUNE also suggests that it is easier to re-acquire lost players. They already know about your game, what you offer and have had an experience using it before – so you’re not starting from scratch, trying to establish your brand first.
When targeted with a custom and personalized message, all that these players need is smart gamification and a little reason to reinstall your game. For instance, it could be a discount on an in-game purchase that would have helped them progress faster previously.
They bring you higher game revenue
But another reason that’s going to make you go back to the whiteboard to relook your user acquisition strategy are these numbers highlighted in the same study:
  • At 10% of all installs, with $1 billion in acquisition advertising, reinstalls can account for almost $20 billion in-app revenue as it doubles the number of users who are targeted by the campaigns
  • At 20%, with $2 billion in ads, reinstalls can make for $40 billion in revenue
Let’s just say, it is also easier to convert a user who sees enough value in your game to come back to it than a player who has just started off.
How to make reinstalls a part of your user acquisition strategy?
1. Leverage your email list
Yes, you just lost a player to another game. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get back them back!
Now that you can’t send them push notifications, how about leveraging the age old email communication? Including a little “miss you” email in your drip campaigns to re-engage your inactive users is a great way to give them a quick update of what’s new in the game and capture their attention again.
Another way is to ask for feedback, before promoting your next gaming app.
Sending your churned users a message asking for feedback on your game is a great way of knowing why they left your app in the first place. It also helps you identify what active players are enjoying on other games and streamline your own growth path.
2. Retarget them on social media
According to Statista, smartphone users spend up to 135 minutes per day on social media. It’s the best place to reach out and re-engage your churned players.
Running retargeting ads, you can show your users what’s new in your game. You can even personalize your messages based on their last activity or when their last session was. But the timing of these ads needs to be perfected – you need to retarget these players before they forget what your game did in the first place.
It’s pretty much the same as how you visit an online store and then get haunted by those products you browsed, on social media. They nudge you to revisit the site and purchase those products!
But be careful about the social media targeting as well. It’s better to go through how GDPR impacts social media, before setting up a retargeting campaign.
3. Leverage native advertising
With push advertising taking the backseat, it has become important for games to find ways to subtly promote their app again. Native advertising is one such format where you can partner with brands and other apps or games that have a similar user base as yours.
In such cases, you can create two types of ads – clickable and non-clickable. The clickable ad format nudges the user to click on an element that you have subtly placed within another app. On the other hand, a non-clickable app format is one where you simply place your branding within another app to remind them of you.
In game native ads GreedyGame
4. Interact with players online
According to a study by Facebook, a community can keep users engaged for a longer period of time. That’s a signal for you to use the same channel for re-engaging churned players. Haven’t you heard how gamers tend to bond?
By becoming a part of the online groups and communities, you can re-engage your lost players by participating in conversations that interest it. It could be a simple thread in which they are asking for some hacks to win or one where they want to know who the top players are. The idea is to be helpful and add value where you can.
For example, Clash Royale engages with users on Reddit, answering their questions. They even promote the same on social media so that all the players can see their answers too.
Native advertisement
While this will re-capture the attention of the churned players, it will also help you attract new ones.
Should your game be focusing on app reinstalls?
When you consider how rapidly the user acquisition costs for apps across all industries is increasing, we’d recommend you to focus on app reinstalls and make it a part of your mobile user acquisition strategy.
But when it comes to implementing reinstall strategies, it is important to do so right from the top of your acquisition funnel.
Want to discuss how?

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