Low-budget Marketing for Mobile Game & App #1: Pre-launch

It seems like everywhere we go (creative forum, Quora, so on…), there are the same common questions needed to be answer about the marketing process of mobile game & app:

  • What is the best way for a solo developer to market their mobile game?
  • How to market your game/app mobile with zero budget?
  • I have a low budget, what marketing strategy should I use to promote my mobile product?

… and what a void of endless answers.

Needless to say, mobile app and game industry is currently one of the most developing industry all over the world. This, is a growing market for competitions. So, if you are solo or a small developer team, you have a product, and want to put it into the intense reel of App Store rivalry, you will have to have the “Book of Survival”.

With this detail step-by-step checklist, you will be able to prepare a marketing plan, and execute your marketing strategy to maximize the potential of your app’s success in the competitive app market. Let’s begin with the first phase of Mobile App/Game Marketing: Pre-launch.

The pre-launch phase is arguably the most important step in the app marketing process. Typically, the first phases of your mobile app marketing strategy should focus on brand awareness and visibility. Here are the 4 steps we recommend to help you successfully market your mobile app to your target demographic.

1. Build a marketing strategy:

Besides building a visualized product composed of game feels, game plot, art visualisation plan,… it is a must for you, the developer, to build a marketing-based criteria for your product. Below are the main sectors:

Build a marketing strategy - Marketing for Mobile Game & App

a. Identify your target audience:

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that who you are making the game for. They will be the one who are interested in, like and download your game. Finding this group will save you a lot of time and money and stop you from pushing your game on an audience that have no interest in it.

If you don’t know where to start, take a look at your competitors to see where they’re investing the most effort, replicate and target users accordingly. Later on, you can consider the whales, and ad whales (if you use in-app advertising as your business model) that you need to target.

The concept behind this is pretty simple. If you wanted to create a spelling game for kids, you wouldn’t pay to have it advertised late at night. Similarly, you wouldn’t recommend manga reading app to audience over 30 years old. Identifying your target audience means getting the results you want, without wasting time.

b. Decide the business model of your game:

You need to identify the way you monetize your app so that the monetization procedure can be clear and fixed. Are you going to:

  • Charge for the game (Premium)?
  • Provide free game but charging for additional content (Freemium)?
  • Charge for in-app items or virtual goods (In-App Purchase)?
  • Provide free game, but with ads (In-App Advertising):
  • This is a frequently seen and recommended model for low-budget developers to monetize. In this business model, you remove the cost-barrier to purchasing your app and allow free downloads. Working with a mobile ad partner is a plus, so you can research for the perfect partner. For example, check out Gamob for a solution to boost your revenue.

Overall, you really need to consider which model suits you the best at the beginning as it has a big impact on the overall game design (we will talk about this in a post later). Quite a lot indie developers make this decision too late on and try and add in the monetization or business model at the end, so DON’T. DO. THAT.

c. Identify budget, channels, measurement plan:

  • Budget

Any marketing strategy should give careful consideration to the available budget. For developer team or solo one with low budget, building an effective budget plan is even more important in order not to lose money over time.

First, you need to list down every possible items that needs budget and items that do not. After that, if you have enough available human resource (or capable of doing it all) to make website, ask for download,… and chances to access free or low-cost material, it would optimize your expense effectively. You should also put a limit to your budget so that you can know when to stop spending.

  • Channel

For restricted budget, many developers may consider not to use big marketing channels like TVC, online & offline events, KOL network, and so on. Instead, some effective channels may be Word-of-mouth, social network or its existing customer base on other games it has launched. The easiest way to promote your mobile game/app is considered to be WOM – asking for relatives, friends, coworkers and any other potential users you may know. Start somewhere and continually build a loyal audience from there across a range of titles. You could also introduce your product on social network and invite them to download for a broader scale.

  • Measurement

One of the most important things to do in advance of spending money on marketing is to set up the measurement and reporting tools so that you can tell exactly what return you are getting from various channels. By far, you can consider Firebase – a product from Google providing you everything needed in game/app marketing, including Analytics feature. Every statics and data like retention, engagement or revenue will be tracked and updated on time, helping you control your product better.

d. Perform market analysis

Once you have set up your marketing strategy, you have to compare your mobile game/app to your current rival for better competition. Make a list of your top 5 competing apps, their current price, monetization model, ranking, pros and cons, and notable reviews. Be sure to check out for their target  audience, marketing channels, ASO example and so on. Make sure your app doesn’t repeat any poorly made features or UX elements that users have negatively reviewed, therefore fix these features. Think about what would make your app stand out in contrast to your competitors. These are important considerations that should influence your entire app marketing approach.

2. Build an ASO strategy:

Build an ASO strategy - Marketing for Mobile Game & App

You’re a mobile developer. You must know how important App Store Optimization is to your product’s budget, as it is the most common way with low cost to optimize your mobile game/app revenue. App icon, app name, app description,… All of that affects your promotion process. Looking at our blog, you can certainly see that we are very passionate about ASO. Please refer our articles and especially our ASO E-book for more tips on ASO process.

3. Build a social media plan:

Social media marketing has become a proven strategy to gather customers’ attention. It is always recommended to implement social media into your mobile game’s launch campaign as a way to better connect with your customers, to stir up excitement, and even to integrate social media into your app so that your customers can share their gaming achievements.

Build a social media strategy - Marketing for Mobile Game & App

a. Create landing page, website or forum for your mobile game/app:

The first phase in your social media plan should be designing informative, beautiful landing pages. These are critical for both websites and apps, and giving your app a home on the Web is an important part of your app marketing campaign with one main goal: to install the app. Later you can use App Indexing in ASO procedure to boost up your ranking. Your landing page should be able to help you turn up the volume on generating leads, collecting demographic information about your target audience, understanding potential customer engagement, providing fuel for additional marketing channels, and offering insights into the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. When designing, you should remember a few key components of an effective landing page:

  • Gripping headlines
  • Relevant keywords
  • Easily accessible social sharing buttons
  • Beautiful images
  • Smartly placed CTAs

b.  Attract social media:

After building your own landing page or website, it is time to execute the achievement you made above. The first thing you need to decide is the release date of your game/app, therefore you can design a countdown clock on the landing page, which helps drum up excitement. You should also showcase some promo video of your product and images to demonstrate its plot and experience. Social networks’ link should be attached so people can share your game/app as well.

Moving on to the social media aspect, some popular networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even Reddit should be the platforms for your first step into the media.
For example, Facebook has many Mobile Game/App group all over the world, so you can try to post pre-launch info about your game and see who’s interested in your project. Try to share game graphics, storyline previews, or else look for pre-launch feedback on certain ideas. You can also add links to your landing page from your social profiles which helps to funnel people to your game, as I have mentioned above. Leave hints everywhere you can go to convert trails into sales.

4. Spread & Test:

Spread & Test - Marketing for Mobile Game & App

The last step is probably the most common thing that every developers would do. Spread your mobile game/app to everyone and every potential users you know. Ask them to download, try the game or app, and then ask for feedback. On Quora, this is considered the low-budget (almost) effective way to increase your downloads while testing the experience they receive. This process can still develop after the release date, and even bring about much more opportunities for you to improve your game. After that, you can test your retention and monetization model to decide which steps you should go next.

The first phase – Pre-launch – of the implementation is considered to be the most important phase of all. All of these areas above need to be considered carefully at the beginning of your game project and the analysis and conclusions are what make up your marketing strategy. Over the coming weeks we are going to continue to publish new posts. the Second and Third Phase, in this series about Game Marketing that deal with the channels that should make up most indies’ marketing plans. Thank you and stay tune!

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Thank you and have a nice day!.

For more articles on Game/App Marketing, please find it here.

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