Marketing your mobile game is essential for its success—after all, if no one knows about your game, it’s going to be hard to acquire users and make money. A marketing strategy is the road map that will ensure you don’t get burned by the highly competitive, and often highly expensive, mobile game marketing landscape (or buried among the nearly 900 apps released in the App Store each day).
Of course, marketing is easier said than done—especially if you’ve never tackled mobile marketing before. We hear a lot of the same questions from developers around the world: What do I need to consider when writing a mobile game marketing strategy? How do I ensure it’s as comprehensive as possible, even on a small budget? How do I know if my plan is actually working?
To answer these questions, we teamed-up with Stefan Bielau, a marketing expert and co-founder of mobile consulting firm Dynamo Partners. Bielau provided advice and guidance on how to create, enact and evaluate an effective marketing strategy. And while every game is different, these basic steps provide a great starting place for any dev.
1. Set objectives
When it comes to creating a mobile game marketing strategy, you should first have a clear understanding of your objectives (which you’ve probably outlined in your business plan.)
Bielau says you should aligning objectives with KPIs (key performance indicators) before diving headfirst into a plan of action. Consider what your business is hoping to achieve within the period your marketing plan will cover (e.g. player retention, specific number of user sessions, IAP transations), and translate these objectives into KPIs (e.g. time in game at 30 days and 90 days) to give yourself a strong foundation.
2. Build a timeline
Bielau says that regardless of how long you hope to run a marketing initiative, it’s important to create a timeline for the campaign that includes clear dates and deliverables.
A timeline will help make your long-term objective more achievable, as well as enable you focus on the bigger picture when the day-to-day marketing work feels overwhelming.
Here are a few potential dates around which to run marketing campaigns:
- Soft launch
- Hard launch
- Updates to your game
- Drum beats of the calendar year (e.g. holiday season).
3. Select tools and services
Before you start to execute your marketing strategy, you’ll need to invest in the right tools and services to analyze your progress against the performance goals you’ve established.
According to Bielau, there are four major pillars of an analytics structure that you will need:
- Attribution analytics: This tool measures where users are coming from, how they are getting to your game and who is sending them your way.
- App store analytics: This measures what happens when users enter the app store and how well your game performs within each app store (e.g. search ranking).
- In-app analytics: This examines what your users do in your game, when they pay for something, when they leave the app, etc.
- Business analytics: This looks at everything else in the business, from how games are performing to how competitors are doing.
Be clear in your marketing plan which services you want to use to address these pillars (there are many tools out there at varying prices, so choose what’s best for you and your business), how long it will take to integrate the tools and an explanation for how these pillars will apply to your overall marketing objectives.
4. Research channels
General rule-of-thumb suggests that at least 20 percent of a company’s budget should go towards marketing—even if your budget is small. For some developers and publishers—like King and Supercell who invest $400 million annually on marketing—spending dollars on marketing with multiple channels (e.g. social sites, media outlets, TV ads, etc.) are an option, but for those with considerably smaller budgets, it’s important to choose each channel wisely. Investing in the wrong marketing channel can be an expensive mistake.
Bielau emphasizes the importance of market research—starting with your network—to identify which channel is right for your game: “If you’ve not bought mobile advertising before or aren’t sure which channels to start with in your mobile marketing plan, the easiest thing to do is talk with other developers about it,” says Bielau.
Whether you do that in person at an event, find insight via a LinkedIn group, follow influencers on Twitter or use resources like Mobyaffiliates, it’s important to see what’s working (or not) for your counterparts. You can never ask enough questions!
5. Gather assets
Marketing asset creation is all too often left to the last minute. A great mobile game marketing strategy considers (and creates) assets early on in the game.
Here are some very basic assets your game will need:
- App store graphics
- Social media accounts
- Press kit
- Youtube trailers
- Press release
You will have to adapt the size, format and style of your assets according to which channels you hope to use to promote your game, says Bielau.
“You may have to make videos, banners, different call-to-actions and other assets for different networks, as each of them have various banners and standards,” he adds.
It’s also important to make sure your marketing timeline includes time for uploading and updating your assets. For example, asset uploading in Apple’s App Store can take up to a day for international game launches.
6. Enact, analyze, iterate
Once you’ve put your plan into action, it’s important to keep a close eye on the results. According to Bielau, one of the best ways to evaluate success is by tracking the source of your most engaged users.
While it can be difficult to measure, he recommends looking for a “high level of activity in your game from one acquisition channel” (e.g. YouTube or Facebook) and analyzing “whether people are coming out of the funnel and paying.” These two data points will help you pinpoint which channels and users to target with your future marketing efforts.
Ultimately, your first mobile marketing plan is part of a larger, ongoing process and iterative strategy. By putting each stage of your plan into practice, analyzing performance and adjusting for the next round, you’ll be able to continue reaching new users and growing revenue for your mobile game for years to come.