Saturday, 19 December 2015

Promoting and Marketing A Mobile App (or any product)

Marketing and Promotions Part 2

As we approach the end of the year it is time for me to talk a little about marketing and promoting my game.

There has been a great deal said over the past few years about the difficulty in having one's app discovered on the mobile markets. In fact for independent developers it is difficult to have one's product noticed anywhere.

There are a number of solutions to this problem.  

The first is money.  If I had tens of millions of dollars to spend, plastering buses, billboards and television networks with advertising then people would know about my game. No question. This is what the major companies with a lot of finance do.

That is not a possibility.  However it would solve the problem quite easily though it would raise another which is whether the return on investment is positive or not. Generate enough hype and it possibly is (ala Star Wars or Fallout 4).  

Another solution is to find a distributor and let them wear the cost of marketing and promotions. A number of people I know through another forum distribute their desktop games through various indie publishers.  This works for them as they are mostly building casual games of the main types (hidden object, match 3 or card/solitaire games).  

There are no distributors of mobile games however. I think there is a very good reason for that - there is just too much noise on the mobile market.

Something to remember is that games are not essential products. They are in a sense a luxury item.  A game is something that people can go without and will happily do so.  A steak or a loaf of bread is not. People have to eat. People do not have to play my/your game.  

When it comes to mobile marketing there really is only a handful of ways to be successful.  

What it seems to come down to is whether or not you can gain traction with organic installs. Installs through searching the play store or app store.  

I have tried the following methods so far, although I am fully aware that no matter what method I try - with the budget available to me - it is going to fall short of the target.

Writing to app reviewers and youtube bloggers. I've written to over one hundred or more of these over the past few months. Minimal response.  It has resulted in perhaps a handful of extra downloads of maybe one out of twenty reviewers taking a look, but the majority deal with desktop programs only.

Advertising with banner ads on websites that target my demographic (male, wargamer, nerd/geek).  I have had perhaps a handful of downloads from these as well. Certainly not enough to justify the price of advertising.

Advertising on google ads or mobile ad networks of various types.  This is a tricky one to categorise. I do get results from these. However the result is linear in terms of what I spend.  If I spend double the money I get double the installs. However the advertising is limited to poor countries where English is not the main language.  In order to advertise to English speaking countries I need to raise my budget, which is not going to be possible.  So in one sense it works but in another sense it doesn't reach the people I wish to reach.  Budget is the big constraining factor here.

Twitter and Facebook posts have a limited effect - again, one or two downloads every few days as a result of a post on one of these is usual.

I am going to try advertising at my local fast food outlet with a small tv ad on an advertising platform I built part of earlier in the year for my day job.  My expectation is that it will result in an increase of downloads by a marginal amount - although I'm happy to be surprised.

Another attempt is to advertise at a local computer swap meet. I believe this will be more successful however I am not entirely sure just how much. I expect I will be able to convince many people to try the game out but I am limited by my own personal reach - I can only reach people I speak to. I expect on the 27th December I may acquire ten to twenty downloads of the free app - if I am successful. 

That is not many.

I have had tshirts printed, promotional letter box drops, made a game to attract people to the main game, posted on forums, and tried numerous different things.  However none of these - even if they were as successful as they possibly could be would have a major effect.

Success will come from one area. And that is to be 'featured' by google.  If in some way my app were to be 'featured' by google this would result in numerous, uncountable, downloads.  It happens to apps from time to time. But to get this needs organic installs, which only come by being high in the table of results, which only comes by having a lot of organic installs. So, it is a merry go round that cannot be gotten on once it has started. You will notice the same games shown on the 'merry go round' day after day - because they are successful they remain successful. It is that simple.

So, what does this all mean?

Well the main thing to consider is that I am not likely to be featured by google. If I hold a realistic view then I have to accept that my downloads, installs and players of the game will only come through the channels I work on.  At this stage the chance of a random sudden upsurge in installs is highly unlikely.  If it did happen it would continue. But it won't happen like that.

What I need to consider is this.

I have a good product. It is a solid, stable, high quality product.  It is fun and great to look at and listen to.  

I don't need to believe in my product - I know my product is good because there is nothing quite like it out there in the marketplace yet. Eventually there will be, but for now there is not.

The difficulty is going to be in getting the word out.  

Perhaps I need to accept that the game will never see hundreds of users downloading it in a single day?

It is unfortunate, if that is the case.

But is that the case?

I have tried so many options, so many methods and am still trying each one.  Most of them result in negligible success if any at all.  

It may be worth getting a reality check in terms of how successful desktop pc games are that are sold in stores through a distributor.  I imagine the smaller ones are not very successful at all.  

Hmm.....I look forward to my day of marketing at the local computer swap meet although I am not sure it is going to do much beyond that day. I may get ten or twenty downloads but I have a good idea that that will be all. Unfortunately.  If I get more than two or three paid downloads I will call it a success though not a financial success. Just a success in terms of acquiring some users.  

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