Marketing

Marketing, Tips and Advice

Who should calculate ltv header image with different kpi highlighted, cvr, ctr, cpm

Many companies in the mobile app ecosystem today try to figure out the LTV of a customer also known as CLTV or CLV. In fact, some of them probably shouldn’t. In the past companies simply focused on the value generated in a single session and count page views and conversions and for many situations this method is the right one to chose.

The choice between these 2 distinct methods often impact the choice of analytics platforms, attribution methods and many other things. If you are developing a new application, you should figure out which method suits your application.

Services should calcualte LTV

The industries that have traditionally focused on revenue per user calculations and user life time value were the service companies: phone carriers, utility companies providing electricity and cable companies. The models were later adopted by SAAS companies and these days, freemium games started the trend of “Games as a Service” and are using the same models as well. At the heart of these models there is an assumption that the customer will stay for a long time. This usually happens when the cutomer relies on the service for a basic need or when the service becomes part of the user daily routine and habits.

Companies who sell products should use atransactional measurement model

On the flip side, eCommerce sites are relaying more on transactional models where each purchase is measured separately even if performed by the same user. When games started, the Premium model was popular and games were considered products so the transactional measurement model was the standard. Users go to the app-store and buy an app for one or two dollars and that’s it. There is no retention measurement, no LTV analysis, ARPDAU, nothing like that. Transactional models are much simpler.

Habit creation is the deciding factor

The main question you should ask yourself when you are coming to chose between a transactional measurement philosophy or the LTV one is whether or not you are creating a usage habit. We are all used to turning the lights on as we walk into our house. We all flip on the TV as soon as we sit on the couch and many of us open the candy crush app when they wait for the subway. These are habits, they indicate the service became a part of the user life and there is a real chance he will stay for a long time.

Apps that monetize over time but don’t have a habbit

Let’s think about the example of Kayak. It’s an app that helps you compare travel deals: flights, hotles and car rentals. The customer might install the app and use it once but the next time he will use the app is only when he is booking another vacation. By that time, it’s very possible that he will have another phone. There is no habit being created that is attached to a daily or weekly routine. Every purchase is a stand alone transaction and should be thought of it that way. The value of acquiring a user through a CPI campaign is pretty low. And the LTV vs. CAC formula doesn’t really apply here. From this reason, companies like Kayak focus most of their marketing efforts on users that are booking travel in the near future. They might try to promote their app or entice user to bookmark their site but this should be considered more as a way to put an ad banner for free in front of the user’s eyes. There are other models that can be applied to assess the business merits of banner advertising.

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Industry Forecasts, Marketing

what's the average spend per app on cost per install campaignsAbout 2 weeks ago a friend asked me how much do app companies spend on getting app installs – what’s the average cost per install campaign size. He was pretty happy with the answer I gave him and the research I referred him to so I thought I would share the answer.

Concentration in cost per install campaignscost per install campaigns account for growing part of the total mobile ad spend and forecasted to reach $6.8B in 2019

First, you have to realize that the average spend is really irrelevant here due to strong concentration in the market. According to eMarketer there were $4.6 billions spent on App Install campaigns in the US during 2015. You can assume that the numbers are 2x if you look at the global market so $9.2B. The reality is that the top companies are doing a big chunk of that. You can look at the public companies to get a sense of that:

  • Zynga spent $169M on Marketing in 2015
  • King spent $344M in 2015
  • Glu’s marketing spend was $45M in 2014

The rumor is that Machine Zone and Supercell are spending close to $500M each on cost per install campaigns. The real answer is that the distribution is estimated as:

  • Top 3 companies: $1.2B ($400M each)
  • #4 – #10: $1.2B ($150M each)
  • #11-#50: $4B ($100M each)
  • #51-#100: $2B ($50M each)
  • #101-#200: $0.75B ($15M each)

The average spend per app is around $4,600

If you still want to figure out the average spend you would need to divide the total campaign spend by the number of apps. Surely enough Apple and Google can provide this data. The latest numbers that were released were 1.5M apps for Apple and 1.4M on Google Play –  http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/08/itunes-app-store-passes-1-5m-apps-100b-downloads-30b-paid-to-developers/. Obviously there is a lot of overlap so we can assume 2M apps in total and an average spend of $4,600 per app.

 

 

 

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Marketing, Tips and Advice

You Need an Email Address, You Say?

I’ve recently been working on email outreach. I’ve got my personalized pitch ready to go, but I’m missing one thing. The perfect email address. I’m not just looking for a generic email; I’m looking for a valuable employee email who is relevant to my search.email-2-icon

Most of my searches I’m pretty lucky and after digging around I get the email I want. I will say there are some people who are really good at hiding themselves and I give them kudos. In this day in age, it’s hard to truly hide yourself with such sophisticated tools to track people.

Not to Spam, but to Enlighten

Before we dive in let’s just be clear, use these tools for good, not evil. When I’m reaching out to leads I truly believe our service can and will benefit them. I don’t use these tools to spam, but to enlighten potential customers. Every email sent should be personalized and tailored to the recipient. If it’s not, then you should reconsider your email outreach process. Email outreach is generating valuable leads that will be genuinely interested in your service, not just shouting to the masses that you have a new product.    

Tools of the Trade

I use a variety of tools to find an email. Most are free or give me X number of searches per month. While by the end of the month I’m usually out, I still enjoy these tools and you can too as long as you don’t require significant scale which requires payment. These are the tools I use to assist me on my endeavors:

The Process

I first begin researching the company and if I stumble upon an interesting email I make note of it, but keep researching until I know that is the exact person I want to email.

While at the end of the day I’m trying to find the perfect email address, my search really begins with the company. I begin looking around, trying to figure out the structure of the company, who does what which leads me to my potential contact person. To show how certain steps work my example subject throughout the post will be our VP Marketing, Gur Dotan.

Know Your Company

Company Website

This may seem obvious, but begin your research at the company website. You will, of course, learn a lot about the company and you might even find the email you’re looking for.

Find the “Team/About Us” page. Read about the various team members and decide who is the best person to reach. If they list the employees and their job descriptions pay attention! This will give you a great starting point of who you need to target.

Also, if you can find the company’s social media pages, open them because you’re going to want to go over them.

LinkedIn – Details, Details, Details

Moving right along to my favorite tool, LinkedIn. Wow! Has LinkedIn helped me more often than not. It doesn’t always give me the email, but it helps me learn about the company and/or the person and that’s where looking at the details is important. When I begin my search in LinkedIn I have two objectives:

  1. Nailing the right contact person with the right role in a company.
  2. Exploring if LinkedIn connections permit a more personal reach out than a cold email. Maybe a coworker has a connection and can make an introduction.

I have found, that for the most part, professionals keep their LinkedIn profile up to date. There have been times I have someone in mind, but when I go to their LinkedIn account I realize they don’t work at the company anymore. It’s important to look at these details and read their job descriptions. You might have in mind that you want a Product Manager, but read their description and realize you actually need someone else in the company. Pay attention to their job descriptions and make sure they’re the right target.

I usually begin my LinkedIn search with the company page. I like to:

    • Read/skim the company page top to bottom. I re-familiarize myself with the overarching theme and mission of the company.
    • Review their location and see if they give a range of how many employees work at the company.
    • Members – check to see if you have any second or third connections, if so this is a great way to wiggle yourself an intro or connect on another level.

Google_LinkedIn

Once I’ve reviewed the company page, I find my target and hone in. Each LinkedIn profile is set up differently, so it’s important to go over the various sections to find the information you’re looking for. When looking at a personal LinkedIn account:

    • Review current and past positions.
    • Go over job experience and descriptions (the descriptions can be eye-opening and tell you if you’re even researching the right person).

Gur_LinkedIn

In Gur’s account, he has the relevant information in his summary, rather than his job description.

Facebook – Did you remember to add your email address?

Most companies list an email on their Facebook page under the “About” section. While this might be a generic email address, it is a good starting point and might even show you how their emails are structured.

soomla FB

You also want to review their latest posts and make sure they’re recent. If they haven’t posted since 2013, then sending them a direct message on Facebook might not be the best avenue to reach out.  

Make sure you pay attention to what they’re posting about. Note if they’re posting about any major events, such as conferences they’re attending or an event they’re hosting. If so, it’s unlikely they’re answering emails or, if they are, it could be at a slower rate. For example, if you look up, our VP Marketing, you’ll find that he was on vacation a earlier in the week and know not to start emailing him.

Gur_Facebook

Let’s Find That Email Address

You have now done your research, you’ve got a target in mind, yet no email. This is when the real searching begins. There are a ton of tools that can help you find the email address of your target person.

1. Your Email List – Email Addresses at Your Finger Tips

The very first email list I go to when searching is our MailChimp list. If you don’t use MailChimp, that’s fine, just go to your email list and search. What would be better if the person I’m trying to reach has already signed up! It doesn’t happen often, but I have found team members from that company signed up for our newsletter, which is a great sign! It usually means they’re interested in your company and you can begin by reaching out to that individual. Which could then eventually lead to an introduction to your target.

Gur_MailChimp

2. WHOIS data  

WHOIS data is publicly available data and is usually collected when registering a domain. Any WHOIS tool such as Who.is will generate the information you’re looking for. It’s not my favorite tool, but it has proven useful. Most professional companies will have their domain secured and registered with privacy protection, but I have occasionally found a few relevant emails.

3. Google – Why Not Google the Email Address?

Well, it doesn’t hurt to just Google it. It’s quick easy, might won’t work, but it doesn’t hurt. Have a name? Have a domain? Type them it into Google and see what you get. You might not get an email, but some other sources that can lead you to an email.

Google Gur

4. Twitter Advanced Search – (at) (dot) your way to an email address

It might be surprising, or not, that a lot of people will just ask for emails via Twitter. Use Twitter Advanced Search to help you find an email address.

  1. “All of these words” – search (at) (dot)
  2. “From these accounts” – add Twitter handle of said company

It will then pull up tweets from that company with any (at) (dot) and potentially give you the email you’re looking for.

Twitter

5. Sidekick – Your Trusty Sidekick Will Help You Find an Email Address

Sidekick is a one stop shop email extension from HubSpot. They offer a variety of tools such as tracking email opens, link clicks, how many times a person opened your email and scheduling emails. However, I took advantage of their email profile tool for this process. Sidekick generates a profile for the email recipient when composing an email. I was able to check email addresses by going over the individual’s profile.

When looking at Gur, I can see his job title, company, education and Twitter handle. If you’ve used Sidekick to track the email it will show any opens or clicks as well as mutual connections.

Sidekick

6 . Mixrank – Email Address Generator, For a Price

Mixrank is an awesome tool. We pay for the service, but it helps generate targeted lists of potential leads. You can create lists from specific keywords or categories. We use it in a variety of ways from looking at specific games to looking at various companies in our industry.

To find Gur, I would go to our main page, contacts and search for Gur Dotan. He then pops up and I have his email.

Gur_Mixrank

7. MailTester – Test Email Addresses Before they Bounce

Maybe you have an idea what the email address is, but you don’t want to send an email just to have it bounce. MailTester lets you do exactly what it says, test the address. Put your the email address in their finder and see if it’s right.

MailTester

8. Email Hunter – Email Address by Domain

Email Hunter, another life saving tool, collects and organizes email addresses all over the web. I use the Chrome Extension and it works wonders. I have a little button at the top of my browser and when I’m on the site, I click it and it compiles all the emails for the website.

Email Hunter

On LinkedIn, an Email Hunter button pops up on every account page and can generate an email (usually).

Gur_Email Hunter LI

9. Rapportive – Email Address Finder for Anyone

So you’ve gone through your tools, but still don’t have an email. Rapportive, a tool acquired by LinkedIn, shows LinkedIn profiles when you have the correct email. If I have a first name and a domain, I use Rapportive and play with different email options such as:

    • gur@soom.la
    • gurdotan@soom.la
    • gdotan@soom.la
    • gurd@soom.la
    • gur_dotan@soom.la
    • gur.dotan@soom.la

When it’s a match, you get a popup on the side of your email (like below) and you know you’ve found the right email.

Gur_Rapporative

10. Anymail Finder – Can it Find the Email Address You Need?

Still can’t find that email? There have been times I know the name of the person, have the domain, but don’t want to go through Gmail and/or Rapportive just guessing. Anymail Finder, does the guessing for me which is pretty handy.

Anymail finder

Keep Calm and Find Email Addresses

You are now equipped with a variety of tools to help you find the email address of a potential lead. While these tips will take you far, there is no 100% way to find an email address unless it’s given to you directly. Take your new found knowledge and use it wisely.

Have you ever used any of these tips and tricks? Or do you have any other tools you use? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below!

 

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Game Design, Marketing

The “chicken or egg” dilemma of the second decade of the 21st century is most definitely “free or paid (300x300) 5 Monetization Strategy F2Papps”. Only it took us just a few years to crack this one. The deciding factor is always revenue – can a free app support itself and its creators? The answer is simple – yes. Not only that, but free apps dominate paid apps in every aspect. In the list of 20 top grossing games for Android, they’re all free to play, with in-app purchases available.

The general conclusion is that you should (in most cases, anyway) go for creating freemium games (free to download, with in-app purchases), as much as you can. But what do you do when you already have a fully built, completed game, selling on an app store?

play storeEspecially if the game isn’t selling as well as you’d want it to, you probably considered (in multiple occasions) switching to the free-to-play model. However, doing that transition is like a game of Jenga – one wrong move and you might end up scraping up the pieces of your work from the floor.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it – it just means you need to be extra careful and plan all your steps ahead, to make sure the transition is smooth and no one ends up feeling played. No pun intended. In this article we’ll break down some of the main issues of the paid-to-F2P model, and show a few general tips you should consider if you’re thinking about crossing that road.

Problem #1: Redesigning to fit the free-to-play model

Simply stripping the game of its price tag won’t suffice – you’ll have to do a lot more. Not only will you have to implement ads to make sure the game pays its upkeep – you’ll also need to work on creating an in-game currency and most likely pay a large client refactoring penalty to enable server-authoritative driven data.

A free-to-play game features many elements often overlooked when you’re creating a paid game.  The core game loop must be tied to real-world consumer habits.  Each level or session should include innate forms for earning resources and spending them regularly as part of the game progression.  

The game design should introduce stress points and barriers that can only be surmounted with sufficient virtual resources collected and spent. On top of that, F2P games usually include an authoritative server to manage aspects such as cross-device synchronization, social leaderboards, global leaderboards, balance backup or messaging campaigns.  

Sometimes redesigning a game to fit the F2P shoes might prove more expensive than creating a new one from scratch. This requires careful consideration.

Problem #2: User loyalty and free mobile games

Source: SuperData Research

Source: SuperData Research

This one is a no-brainer, really. Only a tiny portion of people who download a free-to-play game will stick around for longer than a week. Heck, some will move on after only a few hours. With paid games that’s somewhat different, as people who pay for things often feel they’re at a loss, and will play through it, at least for the sake of “returning the investment”.

Problem #3: Payers and F2P players don’t often mix in mobile games

You will need to also think about how to keep the old, paying players still with the game, and how to make sure the new ones stay around for much longer than they originally intended. Not only that, but you also need to keep in mind that payers, and those who’d rather opt for a F2P title, behave differently in-game.

Paying users and #F2P players don’t often mix well in #gamedev, this guide shows you how to combine them. Click To Tweet

Solutions

There are many strategies which you can use to successfully transfer your game to a free-to-play model without too much hassle, and this is by no means a tutorial, or the only useful example. The truth is, your strategy will always depend on multiple factors I can’t know from this perspective: what kind of games you’re creating, how many players you have, what’s the demographic of your audience, etc.

Here we can only focus on the basics, the things which will most likely work in any occasion. Consider it a general outline of a strategy you need to create.

Don’t forget to communicate

Your first priority must be to communicate with your players. Explain your decision to move from a paid to a free-to-play model, and make sure you explain how they will benefit from it. Communication must be frequent, detailed and informal, while focusing on the players who paid for the premium version. Placing yourself on the same level as your players and bringing a “human” element to the conversation will help you ease the transformation.  Use all marketing resources at hand here:

  • Email: send personalized messages to all users you can contact via email, which is still considered the best marketing channel
  • Use in-game messaging and push notifications to inform your users of the transition
  • Announce the change on your blog and website
  • Start discussions in your forum to involve your community of dedicated players

Premium users must see a benefit

If your paid users don’t see the benefit from the game switching to a F2P model, it just might backfire on you. You could see the overall rating on the app store plummet, and your page might get flooded with bad reviews, which could seriously damage your reputation and hurt your business. People don’t want to think about “why did I have to pay if he can play for free?”, so make sure the paying players get some sort of compensation.

One of the ways you can do it is to award those players with an equivalent in the future in-game currency. This basically means you should redesign your game to feature in-app purchases, subscriptions and ads. For advertising, rewarded video ads have proven to be a winning approach. Giving boosts, power-ups and whatever it is that you planned on selling as IAP to players who’d paid for the game could calm the imminent storm down.  Planning this ahead with analytics platforms that help segment your different users will prove useful to implement this strategy.

Rewarded video ads reward people who view them

Rewarded video ads reward people who view them. Credit: Supersonic

Another thing you should also consider is not to show ads to users who already paid for the game. This somewhat complements the idea to award the players with in-game currency, as that currency can often be used to disable ads. However, paying users don’t seem to care much if they’re shown video ads, as long as they’re shown in the right time and in the right place. Even paying users are being receptive to them, as long as they’re awarded afterwards.

“I also really like having ad-funded options like watching a video to earn extra currency, as that gives me an opportunity to improve my playing experience without always having to open up my wallet,” says Gamasutra’s Rob Weber. “In fact, I often find that the ad-funded options to earn currency enhance my gameplay, as I can advance in the game more quickly than I otherwise could, which generally causes me to purchase items more frequently than I  typically would.  Rewarding me for my attention is a positive bonus that I welcome that makes me feel good about paying because I don’t feel forced to pay to play.”

When transitioning from #premium to #f2p #games, remember to nurture your existing payers! Click To Tweet

Transition slowly

Just hitting the “FREE” button and completely wiping off the paid game model is not something I’d recommend. Instead, you should try and transition slowly, through a prolonged period of time (think three to six months), where the prices will be slowly reduced, while doing free promos and introducing F2P players to the game. By the time you get closer to the free model, you’ll have a significant majority who’s already used to it.

Notable examples of games that successfully switched

Asphalt 8: Airborne

asphaltGameloft’s racer is one of the examples how to do things properly. The slow transition from premium to freemium ensured the game would not lose its original, paying users, and keep the new ones coming, as well. The game, first launched back in August 2013, cost $0.99, but was available for free, in certain occasions. One of such occasions was a limited-time special offer in September, and afterwards it was offered as The Free App of the Week in the App Store.

After that, the game turned completely free – but only after Gameloft released the first content upgrade for it. So not only did it transition slowly, but it also used the expansion as an opportunity to push the new approach through.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR_SoR_SS10_1600x9002Another notable example is the EA/BioWare MMO. It too, took its time and transitioned slowly. As we can see from this example, in July 2012 Polygon announced the game will transition to F2P in November. Even then, in early July, the game already offered the first 15 levels for free.

The game’s developers also increased the frequency of content updates in the transitioning period, offering paying users more value through special in-game items.

Gangstar Vegas

ganstarThis game has seen a significant jump in IAP and revenue after transitioning to the F2P model, but it took its time to get there. The game gradually decreased its price, while at the same time adding new content and doing free promos.

There are many things you can improve in your paid mobile game, if it isn’t performing well. That being said, switching to a free-to-play model might not be the easiest, simplest or fastest solution, but it is one that has the biggest potential of turning the tides in your favour.  

You will have to examine your game in great detail, and forge a powerful strategy before you start transitioning into F2P. Brace yourself for some important overhauling, a lot of communication and a few unsatisfied customers.

Consider Paidmium

The paidmium model (also known as Paymium) combines the paying model with in-app purchases. It is still not mainstream and is considered a fairly bold, emerging strategy. It is usually used to unlock a special in-game feature, or to include a subscription model where your players pay for extra content. Just make sure you don’t force your players to pay in order to progress through the game, as that will most likely make them quite unsatisfied.

Food for thought bonus: Do you keep two versions in the shop or not?

Here’s something you could also think about: having both games in the app store, but in a way that they complement each other. The general idea about having two games is to offer the free one to everyone, and then upsell the paid one to high-engagement players.

Let us know what you think the best strategy is in the comments below.

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Marketing, Open Source, Plugins

SOOMLA IntegrationsA few months ago we launched our integrations section in the SOOMLA Knowledge Base.  So far, we’ve received some significant code sample contributions from the likes of Supersonic, TUNE, GameAnalytics, Fyber, AdColony, Unity Ads and a few more.  Since our knowledge base website is open sourced on Github, we’d like to offer more companies to submit their integration code samples.  This blog post will describe how to set up such a dedicated, branded page for your platform / service.

Getting Started

  • Fork the SOOMLA knowledge base to your Github account and then clone it locally.
  • Get the knowledge base running locally by following the guidelines in the Github repo.  Our knowledge base website uses Docpad, a Node.js based static website generator.  Documents are written with Markdown for ease.
  • Once you’ve got it running, switch to the samples branch and restart the local server by running docpad run again.

Create Your Platform Page

  • Integration pages are all located under src/documents/samples.  You will see that some samples have both a file and a folder with their name.  That’s because they’ve separated their code samples into separate files which is the right way to go.  Let’s use Fyber for example, you can observe the file on Github: https://github.com/soomla/knowledge-base/blob/samples/src/documents/samples/fyber.html.md.eco.
  • Make a copy of fyber.html.md.eco in the same folder and replace “fyber” with your platform’s name.
  • Create a sibling folder to the fyber folder with your platform’s name.
  • Note that file name conventions are all lowercase here.
  • Note that the file has the .html.md.eco suffix since it goes through Docpad’s pre-processing pipeline in reverse suffix order.  The document is first parsed as an eco template (to allow partial inclusions), then as a Markdown file (for code formatting) and finally lands as an HTML file.
  • Locate the page’s metadata at the top.  An example metadata section looks like this:
---
layout: "sample"
image: "supersonic_logo"
title: "Supersonic"
text: "Show rewarded video / offer wall to earn coins"
position: 10
relates: ["giftgaming", "fyber", "unity_ads"]
collection: 'samples'
navicon: "nav-icon-supersonic.png"
backlink: "http://www.supersonic.com/"
theme: 'samples'
---
  • Change these fields: title, image (keep the _logo suffix), text, and backlink.  Specifically in the text attribute, list the use case of using your platform with SOOMLA

Page Content

A page’s content should include:

  • A descriptive paragraph at the beginning explaining a bit about the platform.  Why is it unique? How does it help developers? What is the relationship with SOOMLA’s open source SDK / data platform?
  • Code samples divided to different technologies in different tabs.  See other pages for the tab implementation.  Make sure to place the code samples in the folder you created in the first steps and include it with code similar like this: <%- @include('./fyber/fyber_example.cs') %>.
  • A “Getting Started” section with several simple steps of how to get up and running quickly.  Include links to downloads, sign up pages, resouces, tutorials etc.
  • All code and explanations should be concise and focused on the use case. There is no need to create elaborate classes with tons of platform specific code. Keep only what’s necessary, and have a look at other samples to see how they do it.

Submitting The Page

  • Submit a pull request on Github to the samples branch on SOOMLA’s repo.
  • Send us 2 key images with a transparent background to marketing@soom.la:
  1. A small 100×100 icon – only the logo without labels
  2. A larger icon that shows both the company icon and label.

That’s it.  If you need any further help you can also reach me personally at gur@soom.la.  Happy Coding 🙂

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Marketing, Tips and Advice

How to Be a Work-for-Hire Game Studio?

Work for hire (WFH) is work created by an employee, but where the employer keeps all, or parts of copyright for the work done. In some parts of the world this is known as corporate authorship and it has become an important part of today’s business model.WFH

Our CEO, Yaniv Nizan, recently gave a presentation on how work-for-hire studios can drive success and inbound leads with content marketing, open-source code, community building and other marketing tactics.

There is no doubt about it – work for hire is a tough business. It is unpredictable work and there’s potential risk your reputation. Margins are low and cash flow problems are almost unavoidable.

How We Get Inbound Leads and How You Can Too

blog1

Our blog has 100,000 monthly pageviews

The tactics that we use for inbound leads can easily be applied to WFH studios trying to gain work. We focus on content marketing, community, and, as always, open source to gain inbound leads and it works.

Open Source Projects

SOOMLA is a company based in open source and we truly believe that open source is always the way to go. We open source all our code and encourage developers to use it as they need to. This can be applied to work for hire studios. Publish your projects as open source or if you’re not comfortable doing that, become active in an open source community. You’ll engage with fellow developers and gain credibility and authority for your studio.

Publish your projects and code as open source. You'll engage with other developers and communities. Click To Tweet

Blogging

We blog twice a week and we’re now getting approximately 100,000 pageviews a month. To drive maximum value we repurpose our content. A blog post can be transformed into a slide share presentation and then published on Slideshare or SlideDeck.  It can also be turned into an infographic which can be posted nearly anywhere. Use one piece of content to cover multiple mediums even YouTube. To get more ideas about repurposing content, check out Google’s “47 ways to repurpose content.”

Community

We love our community and in the beginning focused a lot of our efforts on building that community. We have a hand full of developers that have become SOOMLA advocates and are trusted SOOMLA spokespeople. Some of them have established such a strong reputation in our forum that it has led to them receiving other business opportunities.

Mailing List

It is still proven that email marketing is at times better than social media marketing. We have a growing mailing list which currently has more than 9,00 people and we regularly send out newsletters to our followers. We share major updates, announcements, and posts that we think our community will find useful. You should use your newsletter to interact with your followers and update them about announcements, offers/projects, and anything else you think they’d like to know about the company.

SDK Fatigue

community

Building a strong community opens up new opportunities

SDK fatigue is real and as a WFH studio you can use this to your advantage.  All SDK providers struggle with distribution and as a WFH you can help with this problem. You can refer customers and help them reach more customers. Most providers are willing to pay and usually a hefty sum as well. As a WFH studio, you’re well situated and should take advantage of this opportunity. We even have a partner program that addresses this problem for us. Check it out and see if it’s right for you.

To conclude, it is important to know that the success of WFH studios requires that demand is higher than the supply. Various content marketing strategies will get you inbound leads, building a community can get you to outsource your projects, and you can take advantage of SDK fatigue.

Check out these slides for more details:

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Marketing, Tips and Advice

(1200x600) Marketing 101 for Indie

Pixels, code, and game engines. Three words game developers love. They are the passion driving the mobile gaming industry. Making characters, coding levels, and seeing it all come together in a mobile app – the best feeling ever but, now what? Games are not fun if nobody plays them. A game must be marketed and given a proper introduction to the people. There are so many amazing games, but no one knows about them. Game developers can always use the extra help when it comes to marketing. Here’s the step-by-step guide to market your mobile game.

FREE REPORT – VIDEO ADS RETENTION IMPACT

 
EDIT: As we continually find more tools to help indie game developers market their games, we will update this post. Our most recent addition is the Out of the Box Ideas section which showcases the Android App Badge tool.

Table of Contents:

Game Reviews

Word of Mouth

Press Coverage

Press Kit

Social Media

Forums

Blogging

Cross Promotion

Pre Launch Hype

Ad Campaigns

Out of the Box Ideas

Game Reviews

Game Reviews

I remember drooling over the iPhone when someone decided to unbox it on YouTube. Seeing the trendy box, the sweet headphones, and the iPhone light up on video was the deal breaker for me to buy one. The same applies to video games. Gamers love gaming websites and communities. They watch strategy guides on YouTube, view shows about which games to buy, and read the latest gaming news. Your game on these game review platforms is essential. Here are a few places to consider getting your game reviewed:

 

YouTube

There are a few channels that do game reviews. Check them out:

Blogs

Communities of mobile game enthusiasts and tech junkies such as Toucharcade, TechCrunch and Gizmodo review mobile games.

A previous SOOMLA post highlighted the importance of game reviews and provides a long list of places to consider. There’s no need to constrain your studio to this list, but it’s a good start. It may sound easy on paper, but you will need a good selling point when reaching out to different communities and organizations that you want to review your game. For SOOMLA, the selling point is using our SDK in your game. For other organizations, it may be reaching a certain amount of downloads or having an innovative game worth writing about. Some well respected communities with millions of DAU may not consider your game for a review right away. A strong press release and website to hype your game will improve your chances of getting exposure in these communities.

Disclaimer:  If a game is not competitively interesting, fun, or engaging, this strategy can flop and hurt you. Bad reviews discourage downloads. That being said, make great games, pay attention to detail, and the success will follow.

Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth

Perhaps the most underestimated means of marketing. When creating a game, it is easy to assume that the whole development process will take place in front of a computer. Developers and digital marketers, must remind themselves that their is an arena for marketing outside electronic devices. Restaurants pay the guy in the hot dog costume for a reason.

Let’s take a look at Flappy Bird, I remember my friends talking to me about how difficult it was. It got me, and many others, crazy about achieving a high score. The craze was amazing and it spread by word of mouth. Nothing can ensure a game download like a friend telling another friend to download an app. I know a fair amount of apps on my phone were downloaded because someone told me about it. Here’s a chart from App Annie showing Flappy Bird’s rise to fame:

FlappyBirdSo, how can developers encourage this? The viral case of Flappy Bird is still a mystery to many people. Dong Nguyen didn’t do much more than tweet about the game.

What more can an individual do? Attend game conventions or events related to your game. Go on the street and tell people about your game. Tell your friends to post about it. When good games obtain a loyal user, the loyal user also brings in more organic downloads for your game.

News

Press Coverage

If you think word of mouth will help your game, then you definitely want to make the news. Contact different news stations or gaming news websites and tell them about your game. This will get people talking about it.

Local news stations may showcase you as the local video game developer. If your game features a specific city, contact that city’s local station. Headlines could include “El Paso, TX featured in latest mobile game” or “Torreón local creates the next big zombie shooter for iOS.” Reach out to relevant communities for your games. If the game can help people learn Spanish reach out to language learning newsletters. If your game is about race cars, you can reach out to the large communities that support race car enthusiasts.

When it comes to the methodology, you’ll want to convince the news station to report about your game.  Journalists receive a lot of emails every day and will only spend a short time looking at yours. When emailing, be sure to:

  • Keep the message short and to the point.
  • Use a distinguishable subject line that will draw their attention.
  • In the body of the email include a brief reason why your game is newsworthy and mention aspects of your game that make it interesting and fun.
  • Make your email easy to read; use bullets, short sentences, and small paragraphs.
  • Attach a press release and relevant media for the journalists to refer to. You need to be able to quickly convince the journalist that your game is worth covering.

Press

Press Kit

Think of a press kit as a portfolio for a game. It will include all the relevant information that will summarize and sell the game to the press. The press release for every game should be different and should highlight the strengths of the game. Include some of the following to the tell the story:

Dedicated Landing Page

With 3.5 billion searches a day on Google, it is important for your game and website to get noticed. How? SEO – search engine optimization. You’ll want to have solid html, keywords, and relevant content to get noticed. The more backlinks to your website the better. Make sure you provide the url and links to different parts of your page.

PickCrafter landing page

It is also important that a website seems credible to the eye. An un-customiozed WordPress website with brackets saying [Insert Content Here] or large paragraphs of keywords are not the most appealing to audiences to say the least.

A website is an opportunity to showcase a game’s levels, characters and design at its best. It will reflect the branding of a studio. There should be interesting content that encourages people to download the mobile game. Pageviews to a website will not translate to app downloads so easily. One way to convert pageviews into app downloads is incorporating a text-to-download form in a landing page. The website can be provided to a journalist in an offline format or with a URL depending on whether or not developers want the page live at that time.

Press Release

Prepare all the content for a press release. A press release requires a few pieces of key information in order to be successful.

PressRelease

Headline

“Rodolfo’s latest game, Wreck Racers, gives a whole new meaning to road rage by blending racing and fighting. Free demo inside.”

Imagine scrolling through social media or reading through a newspaper. What headlines draw attention? What can be said about a game in 18 words? Why is your game special? Get the point across in your headline.

Introduction

Use the dateline format here and grab the attention of the reader with some captivating sentences. Engage the reader and build interest. Include the most important highlights about a game here.

An example PR emphasizing dateline format and a catchy first sentence.

Description

Elaborate on the gameplay, the features that make a game unique, and continue to develop enthusiasm for the game. Mention specific challenges in game design and how they were overcome. Suggest the importance of the game and how gamers will benefit from it. Encourage the readers to witness some features on their own and play.

Quotes

Include relevant quotes from fans, other news sources, or your team. This will emphasize the potential for positive reception. You can even quote a character in the game if it will contribute to the release.

Call To Action

The end goal of marketing campaigns is to obtain more downloads for a game. This section should encourage the reader to download the game. This should also inspire interest for journalists to visit the website and get access the exclusive content.

Contact Information

This should include information about the studio such as size, amount of projects, mission, goals, and years of experience. Moreover, it should include all means for someone to reach the studio: full studio name, email, mailing address, website, phone, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Facebook.

Design

Place the most important information on top. This can be a game description, the history of your studio, a background on game development, or anything that you think will help you sell the game the best. Choose appealing images and logos to catch the attention of the reader.

Media

The press kit should include high quality videos of behind the scenes work, interviews, and gameplay. Incorporate screenshots of interesting moments and key elements in the game. Include biographies of the team members and pictures of your team working together.

Many developers use presskit() to help facilitate the process of creating a press kit.

 

Social Media

Social Media

Facebook

Facebook has a ton of groups and millions of users. This is not a platform you can overlook. Here are a list of Facebook groups to join (of course only post in groups that are relevant to your game):

It is important that a studio makes their presence known on social media and maintains an updated page. Nothing says “I lack credibility” like a social media page that has been abandoned for months. Moreover, social media has a way of knowing which users are more likely to play your game. Take advantage of this when you’re launching your app and trying to get more users.

Pirate Kings Facebook page.

Twitter

They say marketing has become getting a famous person to retweet you. Twitter is a great platform to engage with users, answer questions and promote your studio. When tweeting it’s important to use relevant hashtags. To help find hashtags that are pertinent to your game use tools such as Hashtagify.me, SproutSocial, and Tagboard. Some hashtags we tend to use are:

  • #gamedev
  • #f2p
  • #freetoplay
  • #indiedev
  • #indiegame

If you use a game engine such as Unity or Cocos2d-x don’t forget to tag them. This might help you get premiered by them and opens up their network of followers.

Here are a few other places to check out on Google+ and LinkedIn.

Google+

LinkedIn

If you’re able to post on all these social media sites, you will reach a variety of people and really market your game to a diverse group.

Forums

Forums

Forums are where huge communities of gamers live. Thousand of forums exist online and focus on everything from game design to user retention and more. This is a very specialized platform where you can find users that love to play and maybe even test games. Some forums to check out include:

Blogs

Blogging

Many young gamers out there are hoping to make their very own video games when they grow up. Similar to the special features section of the War of the Worlds DVD, blogs can provide audiences with cool facts about your game. This will build your credibility with your existing users and help you with SEO. Yaniv Nizan, SOOMLA CEO, wrote an article about the importance of blogging for startups in general. Be a guest writer or build your own blog for your game. Many game studios have their own blog. Check these out:

Cross Promotion

Cross Promotion

Cross promotion can also help market your game and reach your target audience. There are plenty of ad platforms where you can share, barter, or have direct deals and cross promote your game in other apps and mobile games. As an indie developer you can drive installs and user acquisition at a relatively low cost with the right tools and platforms. For example, Chartboost was the first to offer a direct-deals marketplace and several other ad networks followed soon after.  Tapdaq offers install trading with other games in its network.  

It should be noted that mainstream in-game advertising forms will usually show ads from big publishers with huge user acquisition budgets.  The developer risks losing users to other games created by these well established gaming companies.  These types of companies wield superior analytics and marketing strategies that will likely keep the user in the company’s portfolio and therefore you’re more likely to lose that user entirely. 

Pre Launch

Pre Launch Hype

Mobile game marketing campaigns work the same way motion pictures have trailers, websites, and social media pages before their release. Chances are a lot of this was done when the press kit was generated.  Prelaunch.me helps developers pre launch their games by allowing users to register, providing potential beta testers, and receive scores for their game.

PreLaunch

The pre launch campaign will hopefully inspire many users for day one of the game.  The first few days of a games life are the most important and most crucial in determining the success of the game. We covered this observation in our e-book of mobile data reports. A pre launch campaign will improve the chances of a game thriving in the long run and create enthusiasm for its gamers. This can lead to a community of people anticipating the release of your game.

Nintendo did this well with Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Even though it’s a platform game, the pre launch campaign brought in a huge amount of enthusiasm for players. Nintendo announced a new character for the game every week until the game was released. Players waited in anticipation to learn about new aspects of the game. Nintendo sold 874,000 copies the first day in North America alone.

Ad Campaigns

Ad Campaigns

Disclaimer: Not for studios with small wallets.

The game is launched, everything is set to go, but the studio spent all the money on the license for the Adobe Creative Suite and new MacBooks. Now there’s the expense of ads. Ads can be pricey, but they are rewarding if utilized efficiently and measured with the right tools for ad revenue attribution.

Obviously, but not so obviously, you will want to target gamers, or people that will give your game a shot. Consider the first demographic – gamers. Half of the U.S. plays mobile games. This means half of the U.S. doesn’t – so you’ll want to weed out that demographic. More about this can be found in the top ten mobile game data reports e-book. This report is a must read for indie developers that are attempting to use ads.Top 10 Data Reports Book

Gamers are found playing games on their couch, in class, waiting for the doctor, or in the back seat of a taxi. These places are not specific enough to target the gamers. You can’t place a billboard or poster strategically to target these users. There is one thing all mobile gamers have in common. Can you guess what it is? They play games. Lucky for developers, mobile games are a modern arena for billboards and commercials. Games have everything from banner ads to video ads. The game you made probably has them too. SOOMLA provides a useful list of ad networks and their ad formats.  We’ve noticed a huge trend that most video ads are preforming the best.

Now let’s look at the other demographic – people that will give your game a shot. These are the fans of giraffes, Coca-Cola, fashion, and teddy bears. This demographic is a little more difficult to identify and reach. However, if your game has giraffes and teddy bears you have a good chance of getting some new gamers on board. Ads on giraffe fan pages or teddy bear stores are useful.

Offer walls can be considered a type of advertisement. They are opportunities that reward users for downloading your game. Additionally, they may compensate gamers for completing certain tasks in your game – including spending money. This is a great opportunity for cross promotion.

Out of the Box Ideas

Android Apps Badge

If your game is in the Google Play Store, use the Android Apps Badge to create yours! Plug in your package ID and you’ll get your badge. This can be placed anywhere you like such as your webpage or in an email newsletter campaign.

Temple Run

You can even include your badge as part of your email signature. This is a great tool to promote your game in a neat and concise image.

What Next?

Marketing a mobile game is not the easy part. Many indie developers know the importance of creating great games, but often underestimate the work necessary to market them. Take these tips into consideration from day one and you will save time and money while effectively marketing your mobile game. It’s important to also track your marketing efforts through analytics. There is much to consider and, if done right, the marketing and public relations part of game development can be fun for both the developers and the end-users.

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SOOMLA - An In-app Purchase Store and Virtual Goods Economy Solution for Mobile Game Developers of Free to Play Games