4 Mobile Marketing Channels Game Devs Can Use to Communicate With Players
Mobile game players are what marketers call “multichannel consumers.” They flip between mobile games, mobile apps, emails, texts and social media, making them easy-to-reach targets for mobile marketing and advertising.
That’s good news for devs who can utilize mobile channels to reach out and encourage users to come back to their game. And in fact, studies show that those users who are active across different channels actually spend more.
Still, while users are theoretically just one message or tweet away, devs and brands alike struggle to find a method that covers all the bases. But the secret to going multichannel isn’t about going all-in on all channels right away. Devs should take the time to hone their outreach on one channel: getting familiar with its nuances and tracking engagement metrics to measure effectiveness, before moving onto the next. Over time, devs can integrate several—or all—of these four common outreach methods.
Push notifications: prime space on the screen, but easily dismissed
Push notifications are a go-to for devs. Built into the mobile platform, they offer the opportunity for messages about a game to appear prominently on players’ iOS or Android devices. Push notifications are often used for tasks like letting players know about an in-game timer going off, or just asking them to come back.
Users, however, get so many push messages they’re prone to dismissing them. Amit Bivas, whose company Optimove helps developers build and automate marketing, advises devs to thoroughly test to make sure their notifications are effective in bringing players back. Take rewards, for example:
“When users know there’s something in it for them to complete a task, they’re more likely to engage with it. Another strategy that has shown great results is to put expiration dates on rewards, something like: ‘return to the game in the next 60 minutes to complete your profile and get unlimited games for six hours,'” says Raina Malik, product strategy lead at multichannel brand strategist Y Media Labs.
Social: familiar to everyone, but potentially expensive
Attracting players through social networks is a little more complicated than creating a Facebook Page and waiting for users to come. Social media doesn’t offer viral growth for most developers: it’s hard work (and often costly) to build up an audience. It does, however, increase engagement and retention of existing users by giving devs another way to connect.
One method of slowly building a Facebook audience is to advertise the page in-game. For faster, more reliable growth, Bivas recommends using Facebook’s custom audiences feature which targets users on Facebook using data from the game. But take note: this requires paying to connect with these users, which can add up.
Once there are users coming to a page, devs should generate content (check out 5 tips for using content and social media to build an audience for your mobile game). “We increase engagement through user polls and comments, compelling facts and quotes, and shareable and fun content,” says Jeannie Novak, founder at Novy Unlimited. “Between comments and private messages, social media can be a very effective way of interacting with the player base.”
SMS: always gets opened, but can be intrusive
Devs should consider SMS for at least one important reason: it’s the channel with the highest and fastest open rate, according to Optimove, which measured 83 percent open rates of its messages and an average of three minutes between receipt and opening.
The rule of thumb in SMS is to keep the message short and sweet: “It’s like Twitter in that sense, you have a certain amount of characters to use so be clever,” Bivas says. “Your CTA needs to be clear, and the copy needs to be brilliant.” Many devs advise limiting use of the channel to time-sensitive content like promos and in-game events and only for the most engaged customers.
Email: highly customizable, used by everyone, but low open rates
Most games don’t market through email, but it’s a reliably ubiquitous channel—97 percent of the population use it regularly, according to Optimove.
“It’s only a matter of time before the user gets bored with the app and moves on to the next big thing,” Malik says. “Using email to remind them of the app’s benefits and appeal is a great way to re-engage users over time.”
Unlike SMS, however, emails see low open rates. To get recipients to engage with emails, says Bivas, “you need to be very smart and use different mechanisms. Use channels with a high open rate to get them to open the email.” One of Optimove’s favorite tricks is sending an email, then following up with an SMS asking users to open the email in a one-two combo.
Devs who can circumvent low open rates unlock a massive advantage in email: creative freedom. Email’s custom graphics and HTML allows devs to thoroughly brand and bling-out messages, as with the email screenshot below, which introduces the pixel-art glory of Pixowl’s The Sandbox Evolution to your inbox.