The Game Developer's Guide to Digital Marketing
by Game Marketing Genie, on 14-Feb-2020 13:53:08
Digital marketing is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - forms of marketing available to game devs today. Your audience is bound to exist online somewhere, and you need to use this knowledge to attract and delight them so they start (and keep!) playing your game. In the technological era, it’s no longer good enough to rely on traditional marketing methods. You need to exist where your competitors are, target specific audiences and track your performance. The perfect way to do all this? Digital marketing.
But what is digital marketing?
If you’ve never heard of it, you’ll have at least seen it in your own online travels. Sponsored posts on Instagram, banner ads on web pages and even the content you see on your Facebook news feed are all forms of digital marketing. It is the use of the internet, mobile apps, online advertisements or any form of digital medium to promote products or services.
What you want it to be for your gaming studio is up to you. Here are a few options that you can get involved in your digital marketing strategy.
- Content creation to craft a loyal relationship between your brand and players
- Ads placed in strategic locations that your target players are likely to visit
- Your company website as a way to create a good UX
- Social media pages on platforms that your players are likely to frequent
- Search engine marketing to rank highly and get the clicks you need
- Email marketing to inform your current players
- Web analysis to track your progress and measure your investments
Traditional marketing vs. digital marketing
So, what’s the benefit in investing in digital marketing over traditional? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both.
Traditional marketing uses methods like television advertisements, print media, billboards, flyers, newspapers and the radio to target interested audiences.
It is best used to attract local audiences as they’ll usually need to be present in or nearby particular locations to receive the ad’s message. The often physical nature of traditional marketing materials also means that your target audience has an opportunity to retain them for a later date if necessary.
However, relying on traditional marketing comes with its fair share of disadvantages.
You’re limited to a local audience and a hope that they’ll invest in your game. It’ll also be more expensive for you to produce physical media and pay for it to be distributed or promoted on other companies’ channels (such as flyers and television stations). But the worst part of all? The chances of being able to reach the right players is very minimal, as your player base likely exists across the world.
Digital marketing tends to have a lot more advantages than traditional marketing. Let’s take a dive into some of the most beneficial parts of getting yourself online.
Your reach is dramatically increased when compared to traditional marketing. Rather than limiting you to a local audience, digital marketing lets you contact players in both the neighboring streets and countries on the other side of the world. Compared to traditional marketing, this audience will be drastically different because it will only connect you with people that have shown some level of interest in what your game has to offer. Unless you are a local game studio that operates in store only (which is unlikely), this will be incredibly valuable for your future.
You’ll also have the ability to customize your content to the audiences that are viewing it. This will make your content more engaging, and encourage players to interact and share it in their communities. It also gives you the opportunity to build strong relationships with your audience as you’ll have outlets to respond in a timely, direct and personable manner.
Another big plus is that it tends to be cheaper. Even with internal costs and paid advertising, you’re free to create and use your own social media pages, websites and content. You’ve got the opportunity to give your players many different channels to consume their content from - and you can track its impact through click-through ratios, engagement rates, impressions and more.
It’s this tracking that might be the most important part of digital marketing, as it allows you to instantly see how your output is performing and where it can be tweaked. We’ll cover in more detail below.
These are just a few of the benefits to digital marketing, but there are some disadvantages too (but don't let the cons outweigh the pros).
When you go out into the digital sphere, your actions are often visible to those around you. This means that any good things your players have to say about you can be seen by others. While this is good, it means that any negative reviews or feedback will also be visible and will be noticed by your potential customers.
You’ll also need to manage most of it in house. This means that you’ll need to have a team of experts that know your game and the gaming industry. They’ll have to know how to work your content to ensure it performs to its best abilities. It’s not enough to put your content or ads out and hope that they do well. SEO, keywords, customization, tone and more will all contribute to your output’s performance. Knowing how to optimize your work is crucial to your digital marketing success but also requires a massive investment of time.
Both have their pros and cons, so choose the right one for your industry. If your target players are local and unlikely to use digital media, then use traditional marketing. If you serve an internet-active or widespread set of players, you’ll want to invest in digital marketing. Know your game and customers before you make this choice.
Digital marketing strategy
Digital marketing isn’t going to work for you if you don’t have a strategy. If you’re not planning, mapping out and analyzing every aspect of it, then you won’t know how to optimize your work.
Creating a strategy from the ground up is a daunting task. Luckily, all you need is a few key steps to get started. Let’s take a look at how you can develop a strategy that works for you.
1. Consider what you want to achieve from your digital marketing strategy
The first step of any good game marketing plan is your goals.
Do you want to get more players, generate sales, build trust, grow your subscriber list or something else? You need to map out exactly what you what to achieve otherwise your end results won’t hit the targets you wanted them to.
2. Understand your buyers’ journeys
Your buyers don’t all exist in the same place. They’ll either be unfamiliar with your game, familiar with you but unlikely to purchase, ready to purchase, or existing loyal fans. You want to move your prospects through this funnel so they end up as returning advocates of your game.
You’ll also need your digital marketing to accommodate all of your players. Don’t be afraid to create varied content to reach different people at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
3. Make some buyer personas
It’s not enough to understand the stages of the buyer’s journey, you need to understand the buyers too. This means creating a solid set of buyer personas that represent the types of people likely to interact with your brand.
This process may seem time-consuming, but it will be worth it in the long run to serve as a foundation for all of your marketing needs.
First, begin by researching your target audience. Do this by asking yourself a few key questions.
- What do my current players look like?
- What demographic does my game suit?
- Who is most likely to benefit from or enjoy my game?
- What do my competitors’ audiences look like?
- Where will my marketing reach them most effectively?
Use this information to narrow down a select set of people that best suit your target audience. Then you’ll want to separate it further to start creating your personas. Identify people with the same characteristics and needs to create specific personas that are likely to invest in your brand.
It’s then as simple as giving them a name, and beginning to create personalized content that will attract similar types of people.
4. Find out where you can reach these players
Like we mentioned earlier, your buyers are at different stages of the buyer’s journey. This means that they’ll be looking in various places for information to fulfill their needs.
For example, if they want to find a new game to play as soon as possible, investing in Google Ads will help your game appear in their related searches. Whereas running a Facebook Ad campaign might serve better to reach someone who isn’t actively looking for your game but might still be interested in it.
Research where audiences at different stages exist and adjust your strategy to reach them.
5. Reaching your end goals
You’ve got your strategy all planned out, but now you need to make sure you’ve got everything in place to achieve your goals. Being broad will not help you do this. You’ll need to plan everything down to the last detail to ensure you’re performing as effectively as possible.
For example, you’ll want to go further than saying “I want to increase my number of players”. Instead consider saying “I will place CTAs on my social media posts to increase my click-through rate to my app store page”. This is an easy thing to check off, yet it still exists as part of your overall goal.
You know your marketing mix and what you want to get out of it. It’s up to you to make sure you’re meeting your goals every step of the way.
6. Analysis is important
How do you know if your strategy is working if you’re not tracking it? Analytics are essential for your studio to make informed decisions. You need to know how your digital output is performing to see if you’re reaching your business goals and players, achieving your desired returns, and also to determine where you need to update your marketing strategy.
Most platforms will have inbuilt metrics systems where you can see you click-through rates, engagement levels, reach, conversions and more. Use the analytics of your website and the sites you post on, or consider using Google Analytics. You’ll be able to see what content players are attracted to and where they’re dropping off so you know where you can improve.
But none of the above will work without content.
So, what is content marketing? It focuses on the creation and execution of material that will attract a specific audience and encourage them to become qualified leads that your game can rely on.
The type of content you create is up to you and your business goals. You could focus on copy for your blog, attractive images for your social media pages or gameplay videos for your YouTube channel. Like all of your marketing methods, it needs to prove to your players that you’re a business that they can trust when they have a problem that you can solve.
But it’s not enough to simply create material and hope it will succeed. You need to ensure it’s optimized to rank well on search engines and appear when certain keywords are used. Look into SEO and how to improve your ranking so you’re not wasting your time.
Read more about SEO in 5 Key Things to Remember When Making Your Game Marketing SEO Strategy.
You’ll also need to advertise your game. What you want to invest in is up to you so let’s dive into a couple of common options you could look at for your business.
Search engine advertising lets you display your game amongst the results that appear when certain keywords are typed into search engines. Where you appear is based on an auction system in which advertisers bid on keywords related to their content. Look into your keyword choices, see where your company could exist that has little competition and get your ad to rank higher at a cheaper price.
Another common choice is display ads - we’ve all seen them on web pages we visit. These are banner ads containing images or text that appear in nominated locations of your choice on websites and social media platforms. You want your game to exist in spaces that your target audience is likely to visit, so research your audience and choose specific areas that best suit them.
Social media ads are part of display ads, but you can also create ads through the platforms themselves. Sponsor your posts, set up campaigns and choose different ad sets to appeal to different audiences. There are many different platforms, methods and audiences on social media so you should be investing in it to get ahead.
Look into the type of ads that would work best for your business and audience, and make sure you’re visible where you should be.
Want to learn more about digital marketing?
Digital marketing is a vast industry, and you need a strong understanding to master it. That's why we've compiled all of our best resources to create the ultimate guide to digital marketing. Check it out here: Everything You Need to Know About Digital Video Game Marketing.
There is so much more to digital marketing than we’ve covered in this blog. These are only the basics, but they should give you an idea of where to start and how to get your digital marketing strategy going.
At Game Marketing Genie, we’ve got a team made from the industry’s best digital marketers who can help you at any stage of your marketing needs. We can relieve you of some of your stress, so let us take control of your marketing so you can focus on your brand.