by Russ King, 13th May 2014
I see the topic of app marketing and promotion discussed at length around the internet. God knows I’ve read plenty in an effort to get downloads for our latest game. In fact I’ve tried to implement many suggestions for previous games also. However, there was one thing in particular that we did differently this time, and it worked very well for us. Intrigued? Read on…
Firstly let me ask you this – what are you expecting from “successful marketing”?
I’ll be up front with you – Circix has not gone viral like other games out at the same time (eg. Threes, 2048, Don’t touch the white tiles). We have had a total of 14,000 downloads with the majority on Windows Phone 8. However, we have had plenty reviews including this one from TouchArcade.
Yes, you read correctly – TouchArcade. So now you are asking yourself why we’ve only had 14,000 downloads. Surely getting a review on TouchArcade is the be-all-and-end-all right? If you believe this then you have probably bought into all the hype and conjecture (like many do) that simply getting high profile reviews will make your game an instant success. It has certainly made a difference to our download numbers – but nothing that has lasted (see below).
Whilst this was initially disappointing (because I too bought into all the hype and conjecture), I am now very pleased that I have found a way of game marketing that actually gets your game some attention! And it doesn’t cost a penny.
NB. If you believe that our marketing has failed because we don’t have 1 million downloads then I believe you need to be realistic and lower your expectations. We have definitely learnt from our experiences with Circix so far. Valuable lessons such as:
- There is absolutely no point in paying for reviews. Even reviews from the very best sites will not guarantee a viral successful.
- Marketing isn’t done over night. It is an ongoing process.
- Don’t bother with a press release unless you have something truly truly special and first of type. In fact, even then, don’t bother. No one is listening.
So, onto the question that you want answering – how did we get reviews for free?
Well, firstly we started with the basics that everybody recommends – I will definitely be doing all of the following for every future game.
- Create a Facebook page.
- Create a Twitter page.
- Create a promotional video and stick it on youtube.
- Create a website.
Now to be clear, I’m not just talking about giving your game ‘a mention’ on your own facebook and/or twitter accounts. I mean actually creating a separate account specifically for your game. This way, when you engage with people on those networks, people will immediately get the name of your app into their head. They have some essential information right from the start.
There are plenty of details on the internet about how best to create a video for your game so I won’t go into that here – but do create one.
With regards to the website – I believe this is essential. This has been the hub of our marketing activities. We use it to make announcements, show off screenshots, keep links to the AppStores etc. And because we used WordPress we get lots of fantastic stats about how people got to the site, what articles and pages they looked at, and what they clicked on. All of this information helps to identify which of your promotional activities are working and which are not.
We have tried to ensure that our presence across Twitter, Facebook and the website are as consistent as possible. This means using the same icons for the Twitter and Facebook accounts, and where applicable the same promo images. This also means making sure that announcements are made on all three.
Finally, try to link to link to all your social media accounts from each one (where possible). And make sure to link to the AppStore so people can find and download your game.
You might feel that our website and social media accounts could be improved. I would agree. There are certainly things we could do better – but by having all of the above we are at least ticking the majority of boxes that the media/press/reviewers will be looking for.
So, that’s it right? NO! At this point many people just stop and hope to get people visiting the website, following on twitter, and liking on Facebook. I have made this mistake with previous games. Mistakes are great as long as you learn from them!
And so this brings me onto the whole point of this article really – the single biggest thing you can do to promote your app or game. Get tweeting!
Use your new Twitter page to follow important people in the industry such as games reviewers, editors, writers for papers, your target audience etc. It need not be as hard as you sound. Need to know who the Tech Writer is at the Guardian? Google is your friend. Need to know who might like your new Snake clone? Search twitter for “loving Snake”.
And then don’t stop at following. Get involved. Speak to these people and try to get to know them. Don’t just target the big review sites. Put some real thought into who will want to play your app. Making an indie game? Perhaps that are review sites dedicated to indie games. Make sure you aren’t speaking to the wrong people (A reviewer of fine wines is unlikely going to be person you want playing your game).
Do this everyday. Set aside an hour or two to really get your teeth into Twitter and figure out new and interesting tactics on how you can leverage the platform.
One final thing – should you bother emailing review sites? I would say have a day of it and then forget it – it can’t hurt, and at least two sites that reviewed our game insisted on us emailing them first. However, the vast majority of our reviews came about because of engagement via social media.
Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have and I hope you enjoyed the article.