How to market your app without a budget with Indie Game Girl #AppsOnAir
Have a small (or no) marketing budget to drive installs for your mobile apps? Having trouble retaining your customer base? No worries. We addressed these problems and many more in our #AppsOnAir live hangout – How to market your app without a budget.
Emmy Jonassen joined Apptentive to share her insight on marketing for mobile game developers. She is the marketing mastermind behind Indie Game Girl, a free resource that helps indie developers build adoring fanbases with step-by-step marketing instructions. With her expertise, there was a great Q/A recorded discussing how to market your app without a budget.
Here are the questions and summarized answers that were covered during the chat:
Q1. What research should first time *mobile* game developers do, before beginning development?
There are two key things to do.
1. Audience Research. Who is going to be your target audience? Mobile app gamers are used to free games or paying very little, so you need to make up for that through volume sales. Make sure there is a broad enough audience that makes it worthwhile to create the game you have in mind. Research potential competitors as you are all targeting the same audience. Learn from their success or failure whether there is a broad enough audience that can support your app.
2. Product Road Map. Plan out the creation of your app. For example, if you are planning to launch on X date, then you might want to start blogging on Y date to raise awareness. By creating a product road map you are able to smoothly market your app while developing it.
Q2. When should your marketing efforts begin, and what should early marketing efforts include?
It is really important to start marketing from day one. The very beginning of the marketing process is knowing your target audience so that you are able to tailor your gameplay to that audience. Beyond that there are two things to focus on.
1. Building an Audience. While creating your game have an active presence on the blogs, forums, and other sites where your target audience spends their time. Utilize the social media channels and even create a blog of your own to share updates and information about the app.
2. Building a Network. Build a network of people who will promote your app. Follow the reporters, journalists, and bloggers who write about the games that you like and reach out to them before you launch. A great example of building a huge presence before their release is Sauropod Studio with their game Castle Story.
Q3. What elements go into making an effective App Store download page that will drive downloads for your game?
There are 5 key elements.
1. Killer App Icon. Create an app that engages the audience that is also able to convey to the audience what the game is about. Avoid text in icons.
2. Great Description. Most people will only read the first sentence, so focus on making that first sentence as engaging as possible.
3. Benefits List. Instead of a features list, have a benefits list. People aren’t interested in the real-time rendering or physics behind the game. They want to know about what they are getting (#of levels, characters, boss battles etc.).
4. Imagery. We live in a visual world so we need to rely on engaging images that accurately portray what the app is all about. Use informative but simple image captions to help tell the story.
5. Ratings/Reviews. Ratings and reviews are the word-of-mouth marketing in the app world. Make sure you have really strong positive reviews as they show what fellow gamers thought about the game.
Q4. How can you use in-app advertising without driving alway the people who use your app?
Take ownership of how advertisements are incorporated into your game.
1. Ad Placement. Places ads in between levels or during loading screens. Try to minimize actual gameplay interruption as much as possible.
2. Be Selective. Be smart about the ads you allow in your app. Don’t incorporate low quality grainy ads that lower the overall quality look of your app and tarnish your skill as a developer.
3. Competitors. This should be incredibly obvious, but, do not show ads of your competitors. Driving traffic away from your app to a competitor = bad for business.
4. Testing. Be aware of how ads are affecting the session use. If the number of app sessions start to fall consider lowering the amount of times ads are placed during a session.
Q5. Do your marketing efforts end when a person downloads your game? How can you continue marketing efforts to keep them engaged even after they purchase the game?
No, the marketing never stops! This is some of the most challenging marketing to do, especially if you are a free app relying on advertising
1. Addictive Gameplay. The best way to bring back to your app is through addictive gameplay. This is where the market research that you painstakingly conducted on even before development comes into play. You know your audience, and you have tailored your gameplay to them in a way that will bring them back.
2. Frequent updates. Updating your app on a consistent basis will help keep your audience engaged and coming back. If you forget about the people using your app they will forget about you. Frequent updates lets your audience know you are continuing to build for them, and they appreciate it.
3. Out of App Marketing. Don’t forget about your out of app marketing. Your blog, game forums, sites, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest… the list goes on. Continuing to be active in your social community and other communities will help keep people in the loop about your app. These are all pieces of the solution and the best success is achieved combining all these pieces together.
Q6. How can you drive positive ratings and reviews for your game?
1. Amazing Gamplay. It’s simple and hard at the same time, but amazing gameplay is what will undoubtedly drive in great ratings and reviews.
2. Negative Feedback. It is hard to create a game with the perfect type of gameplay for any audience, so embrace the negative feedback. Reach out to those who give you negative feedback and encourage them to share more information about what was wrong. People who post negative reviews like to be heard. App developers should try reaching out to people who leave negative feedback to make them feel important, and more importantly, involved. Show them that you have considered their feedback and improved upon it and ask for another review. Most likely the person who left negative feedback will become one of your biggest advocates because of the time you spend talking with them.
3. Friends, Family, the Network. Utilize your friends, family, and audience that you have built during development, including those more influential bloggers, journalists, and game reviewers.
4. Apptentive. Apptentive is a great tool for app developers to use to connect with their customers. Apptentive helps you intercept the negative feedback from reaching the app store, engage with your audience, and make sure that the positive ratings and reviews roll in.