9 Things You Need to Know to Create Your Esports Marketing Strategy
by Game Marketing Genie, on 19-Jan-2021 11:14:33
Are you thinking of joining the esports space? That's a smart marketing move for your brand.
With more tournaments, larger crowds (physical and online), and bigger prize funds, esports is balling. Established brands (both gaming and non-gaming) have already seized the opportunity to connect with new audiences through esports marketing, so you need to consider it too.
But while esports is an appealing channel for brands, it can easily backfire if you’re not familiar with the gaming culture.
This guide will teach you what esports marketing is and the important things you need to know before getting started with it.
Why esports marketing?
The video game industry has captured the hearts and minds of much of the world’s population. A recent study found that nearly 49 percent of adults in the United States play video games for at least 3 hours in a day, while 75 percent of households claim to have at least one ‘gamer’ in their home.
With such a high level of participation in the consumer side of the industry, video gaming has evolved from the living room to the sports arena and international stages. The competitive side of the industry, typically known as esports, is one of the fastest-growing entertainment niches, with an anticipated $1.79 billion in revenue by 2022.
Figure 1: Global Esports Market. Source: Newzoo
Much of the growth is attributed to the rapidly increasing investments from brands looking to capitalize on the growing interest in esports. Tournaments and other esports events attract large viewing crowds that rival most traditional sports.
For instance, the 2017 League of Legends World Championship attracted more than 80 million viewers and the Intel Extreme Masters drew 46 million unique viewers - and these numbers are only growing! These are the eyeballs that are available to advertisers through team sponsorships, media rights, and event advertising slots.
Esports marketing works because it provides the authentic connections millennials and Gen Z audiences expect from brands. Traditional sports have limited offerings since brand advertising is restricted to jerseys, commercials, and billboards. Esports offers a bigger canvas, allowing brands to use streamer marketing to create customized content as in Gillette’s ‘Bit for Blades’ program.
Our blog, What does Esports Mean for Your Brand?, explains in detail how to use esports to create a close connection with your audience.
Below are the essential things you need to consider to create an effective esports marketing strategy:
1. Start local
You're not going to get to the big leagues immediately unless you have a massive budget. The wise thing to do is start with local activations as you work your way to the big leagues. Major Esports leagues are now moving to a franchise model, presenting brands with more opportunities to work with teams at the local level.
Experiment with local teams, learn as much as possible from the local activations, and use the learnings to prepare yourself for the larger regional and global campaigns.
2. Keep it real
Your marketing efforts should be authentic if you want to hit it off with esports fans. If you try too hard with the esports community, they’ll call you out immediately.
Consumers expect your brand to align with the values of the fans of esports. It should have an authentic voice within the esports community and provide meaningful connections for the consumers.
Make the right partnerships – with a player, team, or league – and ensure your authentic presence is maintained. Your partners should align with your goals, and through those collaborations, you can communicate authentically and begin to form tight bonds with your target audience.
3. Know the fans
A keen knowledge of your target audience will make it easy for you to market to them. Know the audience of the events or streamers you want to work with. Talk to them to find out the products they like and want to see more of.
This information will guide your marketing efforts and help you add value to the fan experience. By knowing what the fans want, you will provide them with exactly that, getting them excited to engage with your marketing content.
4. Engage the community
You should get the community involved if you want to make your brand recognizable with esports fans. Players want to play together, and you need to create a safe and exciting space for them to come together and do this.
Find platforms to engage them before and during the event. Use Discord and Twitch to stream the game and interact with those who aren’t present at the event. This will allow the players and esports enthusiasts to celebrate their shared passion and create a sense of community.
5. Understand your options
There are different ways to use esports to grow your brand, and one of them is event sponsorship. This involves sponsoring an esports event such as a tournament, convention, or business summit. Sponsoring an event gets your brand before a large fan base and boosts your brand awareness.
You can also sponsor a team or an individual streamer. The team/steamer will have your logo on their jerseys and promote your brand to their loyal fans. You should only work with streamers who align with your brand values, and that’s why you should engage an influencer marketing agency to develop a concrete influencer marketing strategy for your brand.
We have explained the strategies available to you in our blog, 10 Esports Marketing Strategies You Should Be Using.
6. Be inclusive
Figure 2: Percentage of male and female gamers. Source: Entertainment Software Association.
You shouldn’t just focus on men when creating your esports marketing plan. Studies show that 46 percent of gamers are female, and you will be missing out on a considerable portion of the esports market when your plan doesn't cater to the needs of female gamers.
But it’s not just women you should consider! To create an experience that is inclusive, and to expand your company’s reach, you need to make diversity a priority. Don't discriminate against any group of people, and don't partner with anyone that does either. Work with an esports marketing agency to make sure you help your consumers feel included.
7. Be prepared to change
The gaming events or games you’re prepared to be part of could fall out of popularity as fast as they become popular. Without a flexible strategy, your marketing will be tied to unpopular activations when the fans you’re targeting have already moved on to other events.
That’s why your strategy needs to be adaptable to accommodate the industry’s rapid growth and fluidity. Try and find out what’s trending and make sure you’re associated with those events. This act will increase your brand awareness and help you capture the new cadre of fans coming in.
8. Know the risks
The esports community is full of different personalities. Some will say or do things that may affect your brand negatively. Your team should carefully assess the gamers or streamers you will be working with to ensure they are the right fit for your brand.
Check their past engagements with brands to see how the partnership performed. Did the gamer/streamer meet the set marketing goals or not? Did they grow the brand’s audience or scare fans away with their bad behavior?
Some of these things may seem trivial, but they affect how people relate to your brand. Take the time to vet your partners to ensure you only work with people who align with your brand values and goals.
9. Digital before physical
There are thousands of people at esports events, but how do you engage them? You need to offer audience members exceptional experiences to get them to like your brand, and digital media allows you to do this perfectly.
Get your online engagement first as you think of the best physical means to gain social coverage. You can live stream the tournament on Twitch to amplify your audience and to get those who couldn’t make it to the event physically to enjoy the experience. Fans can decide how the event plays out by voting in real-time about the things they'd love to see happen.
The next generation of marketing
Take your marketing strategy to the next level with esports marketing. Find out what it is, how it works and if it is right for you in our full guide - Esports Marketing and You: The Complete Handbook.
Esports is a relatively new sphere. Consumer data shows that the segment is on the rise, and as long as your target audience fits the esports demographics, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be using it to grow your business.
Esports marketing can be challenging if you don’t understand the industry. Partner with the experts at Game Marketing Genie to overcome its complexities and gain maximum value from your investment. We are a full-service esports marketing agency, and we will get you to the right events and pair you with the best streamers to get your brand before large audiences.
Looking for the best ways to engage your audience? Check out these proven strategies to grow your brand.