"There is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Mugatu is so hot right now he could take a crap, wrap it in tinfoil, put a couple fish hooks on it and sell it to Queen Elizabeth as earrings"
My Zoolander quote was a late addition to this post because some people are just damn good at making crap look good. At the end of the day, we call that M aRkEtInG.
Something you have been working on for a very long time can feel like its worthy of a lot of attention but may not be as important to people as you might think. That is why marketing is so critical to the success of a mobile game or any app for that matter. It is up to you to provide an awe inspiring point of view on your product and get it in front of the right people. Some people will tell you that as long as you create something amazing, you won't need to worry about marketing but this is only true for new revolutionary ideas and products. The App Store has been out for over 10 years (wow that makes me feel old) and there are a lot of apps to compete with.
One of the best things I have ever done for myself in regards to marketing, and I encourage you to do the same for any brainstorming activity, is to write down a list of ALL the different ways you think you can get the word out about your project. Once you have done that, rank them from greatest to least on which will reach the most people in your product niche, not just the ones that will generate the most traffic.
Its important to focus on finding people who will genuinely be interested in using and advocating for your app. (Note: My list is not organized from greatest to least, continue on for my top 4 marketing tips for mobile games and apps)
When I started out on my marketing journey I couldn’t help but think marketing was all about telling my friends and family about TALOS: Brawl Masters and updating our progress on all the major social media accounts and doing some boosted posts every now and then. I figured that if I was able to get our game in front of enough people that some percentage of those people would play the game and the game popularity would increase over time. However, after marketing our app for a couple months and now writing this article, I came to the realization that most of the top apps have pretty barebones social media accounts and the number of followers pale in comparison to the number of downloads it takes to have a successful free app. So, what exactly are these apps doing that is making them so successful?
Most Important Aspects of Mobile Game Marketing
Before I provide my list I want to point out that marketing is insanely expensive because EVERYONE wants to get exposure. However, as an indie developer it is unlikely that there is a budget for something like a tv commercial. This list is geared more towards the indie developer who is marketing on a budget.
List of the Most Important Marketing Activities for Low Budget Developers:
1. Create the best product possible - People want to gain something from using your product. This could be as simple as joy or humor, but something needs to bring people back to keep using your product. A big factor for number 2 on our list is having a decent retention rating. Also, if your game is not fun and it gets featured, your 5 minutes of fame will be more like a couple days featured on the app store and then never to be seen again. Obviously when the time arises you must be ready for the occasion but try not to peak too early. Also a tip to mobile game developers is to look into trends in the marketplace. For instance, right now hyper-casual games are really taking off.
2. App Store / Google Play Optimization (ASO) - One of the best resources for this is surprisingly Apple and Google. These companies want your app to perform well and they are very good at providing you the resources for success. I recommend going to each of their pages, reading the articles, watching the videos, and click all the associated links as well. There is a lot of material. Somewhere around 40% of all apps are found by people searching on the app store. There is quite a bit of balancing and readjusting with key words but if you have any experience with SEO, the two are very similar. One of the best websites that worked for me to give me insights about what I needed to update was Meatti.com. Create an account and immediately figure out what you need to add to your app store listing to have the best chance of being discovered. I'm still trying to determine what the best resource for google play is, so if you have one let me know.
3. Web Presence and Search Engine Optimization SEO - One thing that really resonated with me is ask yourself, what would I type into google to find my product. Be specific. Again, coming from a provider of the services you need to know more about, one of the best resources I found for SEO is Wix. This requires that you have some sort of Website/ landing page. I know I mentioned before that a lot of successful games barely have social media pages but people need to be able to go somewhere. Also, as you dive deeper into SEO, you'll find that the more places that hyperlink to your site and more people are engaged with that site, the better chance you have at climbing to the top of a google search. A world wide WEB of hyperlinks if you will...
4. Connect with Content Creators - Notice I did not use the term influencers here. The reason for that is because influence is the result of content creation not vice versa. Describing someone as an influencer makes it seem like you want something from them rather than provide content for them to grow their brand as well. It is pretty obvious you want them to influence others to play your game but you must give them something in return. When that something in return is not money, your app is all you have to work with. A content creator is more likely to spend time looking at your game and create valuable content if it is a give and get relationship. SO, if you are an indie developer, try to start small. Connect with people who create content for your target audience and who have a more middle of the road number of followers. They do not need to be the top 10 video game vloggers or even the top 300. You will have a lot more luck reaching out to people who stand to gain as much from your app as you do from them covering it. Remember the phrase - you pay for marketing and pray for content creators. I encourage you to dive deeper than pages one and two of your google searches to find some of these people.
There you have it!
I did my best to focus on the most powerful aspects of mobile marketing that may not seem as obvious. I think you should use common sense and create some social media pages and utilize your existing network and then focus on these fours areas. If you do this and you have a decent app you will come out with some level of success. Remember, marketing is about getting your product in front of the right people and is NOT about getting as many people to see it as possible. It is more important to find 1 person that absolutely loves your product than it is for 100 people to see your product and quickly move on with their lives.
If you're interested in all the aspects of starting a video game business check out my previous post to get you started.
Also to finish up I would be doing myself an injustice if I didn't provide some actionable items within my post about marketing.
Check out Skyman Studio's app, TALOS: Brawl Masters on iOS and Android and please leave us a review of what you think! If you leave the name of your app and some contact info I am happy to give you some feedback as well.