Why You Need Referral Marketing For Your Mobile Game

by Game Marketing Genie, on 17-Dec-2020 10:19:16

Your mobile game has finally launched. You have managed to attract a lot of users who play your game regularly. This is excellent news.

But if your app’s download rate has started to plateau or even decline, you’ll have to come up with creative ways to get your game in the hands of new users. One of our favorite ways to do this is by getting your current users to refer your game to other people.

A good word about your game from a satisfied user works like magic, and can turn reluctant users into committed players. This app store optimization guide explains how to make referral programs a key component of your mobile app marketing plan.

What is referral marketing?

Referral marketing is an app marketing strategy that involves urging your current users to promote your game in their network. In its most basic form, a referral is an invite button within the game that allows players to share a message, inviting their friends to try it. The message is typically a short line about the gaming experience and a link that takes users to the app store to download the game.

Referrals are a cost-effective way to grow a game, and every developer should incorporate them into their video game marketing plan. They act as a gateway into your video game for new players and, with some effort, can deliver amazing rewards for game devs.

Farmville screenshot

Figure 1: Farmville by Zynga. Source: Zynga

Take Farmville, for example, the hugely popular game by Zynga, that functions based on referring the game to other people - we’re sure even you have been sent one from your friends or family! The game is simple but very addictive. In their quest to expand their farms and plant more trees, players turn to referrals to benefit from the perks that come with it.

The only other option to advance further in the game is to pay for supplies with their money. With the stakes this high, most players don’t mind sending invites to request their friends to download Farmville.

Why do you need it?

These are the advantages of having a referral program for your game:

For a lower cost per head

People are 4 times more likely to purchase a product when referred to them by a friend. 92 percent of consumers trust their friends' opinions, so the recipient of an invite is more likely to download your game compared to one who has been targeted using other means.

Nielsen graphic for advertising

Figure 2: 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know. Source: Nielsen

With referral marketing, the only thing you need to do is create a fantastic game that users will enjoy playing and be excited to invite their friends to join in the fun.

For a higher conversion rate

Referral marketing delivers a higher conversion rate than other marketing channels. This is because active players usually send invites to people they have a close connection with, increasing the chances of installing the game and playing it.

Players scrutinize their contact lists to see who will gain the same value from the game that they do before sending the referral invites. These are people who share their tastes and preferences in gaming content, resulting in a higher conversion rate since many of those people who get the invites end up installing the game.

Learn more in How to Improve Your Mobile Game Conversion Rate.

To reduce churn rate

Like we said, players don’t just send invites to anyone - they forward the referrals to people they think will enjoy your game. Most user acquisition strategies face the challenge of reaching the right audience, but that's not the case with referral marketing.

This word-of-mouth promotion strategy will help your game get noticed by users who are more likely to download your game and enjoy it, reducing the churn rate.

Because it creates an acquisition loop

When your churn rate declines, the retention rate improves. A high retention rate means that players are enjoying the gaming experience. When players enjoy what your game has to offer, they are more likely to recommend it to their friends and family members. Here, your game is shared among like minded individuals, encouraging conversations about it and further to the next person, and so on.

This situation creates a viral acquisition loop that will help you attract more people to your game. Work on improving your gameplay mechanics to keep the acquisition loop running.

To track your traffic sources

Most developers face the challenge of tracking their sources of traffic. They cannot tell which user brought the most installs and the channels that are most effective in attracting players.

This information is essential since it helps developers optimize their marketing to attract more users. Referral links are unique, assisting developers in identifying the most active participants, who then get rewarded to motivate them further. Brands can gamify their referral program by introducing leaderboards where players are incentivized to finish as high as possible. Users will be encouraged to invite more people, thus helping brands bag more word-of-mouth promotions.

Traffic lights

How to use it

Here are some of the things you need to do to make your referral program a success:

Create a personalized share message that stands out

Most people see basic invite messages as spammy annoyances. They scroll past them on their social feeds and move on to other interesting news and updates. If your game’s invite message is plain and basic, then this could be the reason your conversion rate is low.

To improve this, you should create a personalized text component that accompanies the referral link. The message should be engaging and relevant to hook new players - and it must not be salesy.

Use good visuals

Don’t stop at a personalized message when creating your referral invite. Go one step further and add good visuals to make new users excited to try your game. If you have an attractive, cool-looking game, this is the right time to show it off. Add an image from the game to give players a preview of what your game looks like.

You can also capture some gameplay in a GIF. GIFs are short, often play automatically, and they loop, making them perfect for sharing game content. Engage a video game marketing agency for the best app store optimization services and to design great visuals to promote your game.

Color palette

Allow invites from different points in your game

Allow your players to send invites at different points in the game. There are likely many opportunities within your game for sharing invites, and choosing the right moment could mean the difference between getting a referral or not.

The best time to share is after the user has experienced an emotional moment. It could be after a player has set a high score or emerged first in a race. The player will be enthusiastic at this time, boosting the likelihood of getting a successful referral.

Give incentives to share

Incentivize your referral program. When players know that there’s something to be won for inviting players to join the game, they are more likely to send those invites.

The rewards could be in the form of in-app items or currency. You can also offer players access to locked features for inviting a certain number of friends.

Connect referrals with gameplay mechanics

Tie your referrals to gameplay mechanics to encourage players to send invites. This could be something meaningful like running out of lives and asking players to invite their friends to continue with the game.

Referral Program screenshoot

Figure 3: HQ Trivia Referral Program. Source: Apple

HQ Trivia uses this tactic perfectly. Players receive prompts to invite others to the game when they are out of lives. Lives are valuable to the game, and players can acquire them through in-app purchases or referrals. For most players, inviting their friends is the most desirable option, a move that HQ Trivia has leveraged to become one of the best quiz games on the iOS App Store.

Deeplinking is one of your best bets

New players don’t want to jump through too many hoops to enjoy the full gaming experience. They want customized entry points that quickly take them to their desired game locations, and deeplinking has made this possible. It allows players to be added to the friend's list or join a multiplayer match when they download and open the game.

Check out our video about deeplinking here!

Allow sharing from multiple platforms

Most referrals are sent on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. Use the popular social media platforms to get your audience to share to a wide range of friends, but don't forget messaging services like Facebook Messenger, iMessage and WhatsApp.

Invites sent on messaging platforms are more private, and users get to choose who they think will be interested in playing the game.

Social media icons on black phone

Fulfill your quest with mobile game marketing

Mobile game marketing is your key to the quest for success! Take control of your new game and make its marketing matter with the help of our insider tips in Mobile Game Marketing: Your Complete Guide to Success.

Referral marketing is quite common for apps, so doing it well is essential. Those personal recommendations from friends will help you attract more players for your game and retain them for a long time.

If you’re looking to create a high impact referral program for your game, the team at Game Marketing Genie can help. Our gaming marketing agency offers app store optimization services and work closely with developers to integrate referral programs and other video game marketing best practices.

Are you finding it difficult to get loyal users for your video game? Use our game marketing strategies to spread awareness about your product.

Topics:Mobile Game MarketingContent MarketingVideo Game Marketing StrategyVideo Game MarketingApp Marketing StrategyDigital Marketing

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