How to Run a Paid Advertising Campaign For Player Retention
by Game Marketing Genie, on 23-Mar-2023 11:33:04
For game developers, nothing's more frustrating than seeing players come and go without a trace. You spend countless hours crafting a game to be enjoyed, only to have your efforts go unnoticed. Add an economic downturn to the complicated mix, and you're trying desperately to increase your player base and stay viable as a gaming business.
The answer to this problem lies in shifting your focus (for a while at least) from acquiring new players to retaining existing players.
The latest Twilio Segment 2023 Growth Report reveals that businesses are adjusting their priorities in response to the uncertain macroeconomic landscape. Rather than focusing solely on growth, they're prioritizing long-term customer loyalty. The report indicates that 67% of marketers now focus on retaining their existing customers rather than acquiring new ones.
But what is the best way to boost player retention for games? In our experience as a game marketing agency, we strongly recommend paid advertising campaigns as a critical part of your player retention strategy.
In this blog post, we'll explore how paid ads can help your gamers stay with you and how we run these campaigns for our clients.
Figure 1: 67% of businesses want to prioritize customer retention as a strategy. Source: Venture Beat
Your goal: player retention
As a game developer, it's essential to understand that the success of your game hinges on more than just attracting gamers. While awareness and engagement are critical components, they're only the first steps toward building long-term player retention. To achieve this, you need a game that retains players with regular updates, valuable content, decent offers, and a sense of FOMO.
But why is retention so crucial? For starters, it's the foundation from where a game succeeds.
A Newzoo research revealed some top reasons for churn are based on in-game frustrations. Here are some reasons players leave and how much of your player base may leave due to them:
In-game lag: 54% loyal players, 39% new players
Pay-to-win mechanics: 24% loyal players, 27% new players
Too many bugs: 12% loyal players, 4% new players
Not enough new content: 9% loyal and new players
Without a solid product, no marketing or retention tactics can compensate for a lackluster player experience. A good game offers players a unique and compelling experience that keeps them returning for more. Players should feel a sense of accomplishment after completing levels or achieving specific goals within the game.
Figure 2: Reasons for players leaving your game. Source: Newzoo
Furthermore, a good game must continue to evolve and improve over time. These updates should be paired with attractive offers, such as discounts on in-app purchases or exclusive content for loyal players.
In a nutshell, a good game is the cornerstone of successful player retention.
Want to learn the strategies that work for player retention? Read more 6 Tips to Help Strengthen the Player Retention for Your Game in 2022.
How the team at Game Marketing Genie does it
Running paid ad campaigns for player retention requires a strategic approach that considers your game's unique qualities and target audiences. Retention depends hugely on how engaging the game is and the efforts made by developers to encourage users to continue playing.
We start with a goal for maximum retention. This is influenced by how the game is built to retain players, and our basic strategy is as below. Naturally, this strategy is modified for all clients (depending on their needs, game, goals, and more) and isn’t fully laid out here:
- Research industry standards of the game’s genre (cost per install and the regions that are more likely to get an efficient result)
- Define the target audience based on interest, age, gender, and geography
- Create a Google Analytics report to track retention
- Create the campaign, which is usually divided into three phases:
- Phase 1 focuses on getting maximum installations
- Phase 2 focuses on targeting users who are likely to install the game and engage with it
- Phase 3 targets users who are likely to complete an in-app purchase
- Revise and continue reporting on the campaign until completion
As we run the campaign, we monitor each phase and determine where the highest engagement and retention happened, as well as the maximum number of conversions.
There are other strategies we use too, depending on the clients’ needs, including using push notifications to bring back lost players and running rewards programs to encourage users to take action in the game.
To achieve good results with your own paid ad player retention campaigns, you should focus on the following:
Identifying the key to your game that will encourage retention
To retain players, you must identify what sets your game apart from competitors and focus on that key feature. It could be a unique gameplay mechanic, a compelling storyline, or social interaction features. Highlighting this key feature in your ad campaigns can help to differentiate your game and encourage players to stick around.
Identifying key audiences
Further, the type of audience footfall that your game attracts is also a crucial indicator of what strategies you need to develop.
People who've played similar games
Targeting people who have played similar games can attract an audience interested in your game's genre. For example, if you have a puzzle game, you can target people who have played other popular games like Candy Crush.
The audiences of your competitors may also find your game interesting. For example, if you have a battle royale game, you can target the audiences of other popular battle royale games like Fortnite or Apex Legends.
Previous players who are no longer engaged
Targeting players who have played your game in the past but are no longer engaged can help to re-engage them with your game. You can offer them special promotions, discounts, or exclusive content to entice them back.
General audiences who match the style, age range, and gender of the game
Additionally, it's crucial to target general audiences with the same style, age range, and gender. For instance, if you have a fashion game targeting women, you can narrow your ad campaigns to females aged 18-35 interested in fashion. By doing so, you can tailor your ads to a more specific audience, increasing the likelihood of attracting players interested in your game.
Campaigns for targeted game installs and engagement
Running paid ad campaigns for targeted game installs and game engagement involves using specific ad targeting criteria to reach potential players. By using the right ad creatives that showcase your game's unique features and gameplay mechanics, you can increase the chances of players installing and engaging with your game.
For these campaigns, strategies will include crafting persuasive ad copy emphasizing the benefits of playing your game. You can also leverage social proof by showcasing positive player reviews or ratings here.
For instance, if you have a mobile game, you can use Facebook ads to target users who have previously installed similar games. You can also target audiences interacting with your game's social media pages or website.
Figure 3: Example of a game install targeted ad. Source: Google Play
Campaigns that introduce new content and are aimed at re-engaging lost players
Another way to improve player retention is to target audiences who have played your game in the past but are no longer engaged. You can entice these players to your game by using ads promoting new content or features. Here you will use personalized messaging to target players who haven't played in a while or create urgency with limited-time offers or events.
For example, you can use Facebook retargeting ads to target players who have installed your game but last played it a while ago. You can reignite their interest in your game and increase player retention by showcasing new levels, characters, or features.
Revising your strategy
As you progress through your campaign, you’ll identify areas that have had the best results. But this doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything. This is the best time for you to reinvent your strategy and develop new creatives and ad copy to highlight new points of interest for your players.
For instance, if you notice that a particular ad set has been fruitful in re-engaging lost players, then you may want to create more variations of it targeted at that audience group.
What could your campaign include?
Promotion of a new update
One of the most effective ways to retain players is by regularly releasing updates to your game. A new update can bring new features, improved gameplay mechanics, and bug fixes, making your game more exciting and enjoyable. Use ads to promote the latest update and highlight its key features to encourage players to reinstall or update the game and try out the new content. You can also offer incentives such as exclusive rewards for players who install the update within a specific timeframe.
A daily rewards system
Create a rewards system that incentivizes players to log in daily to claim their reward. Use ads to promote the rewards and encourage players to log in daily to claim them. You can also offer extra bonuses for players who log in for multiple consecutive days, encouraging long-term engagement.
A new event
In-game events are another great way to retain players. They create a sense of urgency and exclusivity, encouraging players to log in and participate to earn unique rewards. Use ads to promote the event and highlight the rewards, encouraging players to participate.
For example, Pokemon GO frequently includes research tasks for players to do independently. Still, limited-time Global Challenges also require people worldwide to band together to achieve a particular objective.
The integration of push notifications split between different user bases
Push notifications are an effective way to remind players about your game and any new updates or events. However, segmenting your notifications is essential to avoid overwhelming players with too many messages.
Split your user base into different segments based on their behavior and preferences, and send notifications that are tailored to each segment. For example, you can send notifications to inactive players reminding them of the rewards they're missing out on or to active players to remind them about upcoming events or new features.
Rewards for users
Winning is a great motivation for most players. Consider offering rewards to players who engage with your game regularly. For example, you can provide bonus in-game currency or exclusive items to players who reach certain milestones, such as reaching a certain level or completing a certain number of quests. Use ads to promote these rewards and encourage players to strive towards them.
Paid advertising for game devs
You'll need to go the extra mile to get to game marketing success! Paid advertising can help you generate the reach and engagement you need. Want to know more? Check out The Complete Paid Marketing Guide for Video Games!
Run successful paid ad campaigns with game marketing experts
In the competitive world of gaming, player retention is crucial to success. Keeping your audience engaged and returning for more is the key to growth and increased revenue. While getting players to try your game is important, it's only the first step.
The team at Game Marketing Genie can help you develop effective strategies to retain your players and keep them hooked on your game.
Contact us today for a consultation call to discuss your ad strategy.