Eugine is a Content Manager at ComboApp, an app marketing & PR agency. She’s a passionate individual, who knows the ins and outs of the mobile app industry. Eugine has 4 years of experience in marketing and content writing, with a strong understanding of app monetization and social media. Today she shares with us tips on how developers should do mobile game marketing without breaking the bank, and actually make money!
How to do mobile game marketing and stay profitable
The reality of marketing a mobile game crushes app developer’s expectations like the huge tidal waves of the Miller planet. While you may think you have time, and those mountains of other games are far away, a saturated market gets closer and closer to you in order to devour and leave no chance for success.
Ok, I may be exaggerating a bit, but I am a fan of Interstellar. The reality is, getting your mobile game noticed continually gets harder and harder. A survey by InMobi illustrates that the app marketing is the trickiest aspect in building mobile games for developers.
Why is app marketing such an issue for game developers? Let’s take a closer look.
First, there is a cost for acquiring and retaining users. The number of games on the app stores is constantly rising. Users tend to install fewer apps and abandon them after only a couple of days. If you are looking for loyal, engaged users for your game, you need to spend a hefty budget on acquisition and keep an eye on retention rate. The point is that in a saturated market, a mobile game needs to fight for each player. Here are some stats:
- The Fiksu Cost Per Loyal User Index reached $4.23 in December 2015, which is a 101% increase since last year. CPI indexes were $1.46 for iOS and $3.34 for Android platforms.
- 66% of users stop playing mobile games during the first 24 hours after the first app launch.
- App stores are extremely over saturated. Developers submitted around 14,000 games to iTunes in May of 2015. On average, developers are submitting more than 1,000 apps to Apple’s App Store each day.
Second, only a small part of a loyal user base actually pays. Install is just half the battle. Retention covers the second half to victory, which is building an active user base. The real success comes from players who pay. According to a recent Swrve study, as little as 2.2% of users of a free-to-play mobile game make in-app purchases. The real revenue comes from “whales”, who bring half of all revenue and account for 0.15% of all users.
Finally, most games can’t afford to acquire users. Take a look at ThinkGaming.com who estimated LTV for the top 300 grossing games from the US/iPhone category below.
ThinkGaming.com estimated LTV here as the revenue per average user from one year. These are the best games that are most successful in terms of revenue and still, part of them won’t be able to acquire loyal users and stay profitable with current CPI costs.
The top 10-20 games that make more than $10 per user can afford to spend incredibly large budgets on acquisition. But most other games, who didn’t go viral or were not produced by a famous brand, can’t constantly buy installs in large sums.
For them, the only way to succeed depends on the balance between numerous marketing methods and techniques including content strategy and user behavior analysis. App marketing agency Comboapp shares the optimal marketing strategy for free-to-play mobile games:
- Intelligent user acquisition: Instead of spending a marketing budget on one big campaign, concentrate on testing and analysis. Start with low budget campaigns targeted on a different target audience (vary both demographic and behavioral targeting). Ideally, you will find several niche groups that will stick to your game and will lead to better ROI.
- Diversify risk: Test different sources and channels like Facebook and Instagram ads, video ad platforms, ad networks, and compare performance metrics. The more platforms and networks you test, the better opportunity you have of lowering CPI cost and acquiring loyal players.
- ASO: Good old ASO can help with app discoverability. Remember to include appealing screenshots and a promo video to the game’s app store page as well as a relevant description. Don’t overuse keywords in the app’s title or description – 3-4 long keywords is enough.
- Use owned media: While pitching media and bloggers for an app review can be exhausting and ineffective, you can always use your own website, blog, and/or social media accounts to market your app to gaming communities. Add information on the app development process, on your team, or even unique game features. Ask friends to share your promo video and include their thoughts on the appearance of the game. While content strategy may seem to be time-consuming, remember that it is a free and long-term marketing method that supports paid efforts.
Whatever your marketing strategy is, base it on a data-driven approach, testing and analysis. Don’t rush. Don’t let other success stories lead your decisions. What works perfectly for one game may be a pitfall for another. Remember that additional promotional methods are often underestimated, yet they were proven to be a good supporting base for acquisition and retention strategies.