In recent years, mobile game developers have had to come to terms with an inconvenient truth: our users are no longer our customers. In fact the latter increasingly represent only a small percentage of the former, maybe 5% if you're lucky. Maybe less if you're not.
What do those soberting facts mean? Most obviously - and as covered previously on this blog - we have to start challenging a few assumptions. Perhaps the most significant of these is the urge to regard an install in the same way most of the world views a customer.
Sure, an install is one step on the journey to revenue, but that’s about as far as it goes. An install doesn't pay any bills, and in fact the sum total of our installs simply adds up to what you might call an "addressable target market". Some people we can sell to.
If we take that perspective, and forgive me for going off on a tangent briefly, it does prompt questions about why we reward 'acquisition partners' on installs, and why we attribute such significance to what is essentially a 'vanity' metric.
But that is largely a side issue. It also makes it clear that we need to consider HOW we get users from install to fully-fledged customer status. And THAT is a marketing challenge.
Unfortunately many of us consider what we might call the monetization challenge solely from the perspective of designing game economies in order to create 'squeeze points'. That's the natural response of the game designer, but it's also a limited and sometimes counter productive strategy.
The alternative - seeing this as a marketing challenge, enables us to take a broader view. Instead of simply designing games to force buy-in, we can consider targeted offers and campaigns that sell the benefit of buy-in and help to drive player behavior in a way that helps us move the needle on our KPIs.
To get a feel for how far along this 'in-app marketing' curve you are, it might help to answer these three questions:
- Do you, as an organization, continuously test and optimize user experiences in order to establish their effect on retention, conversion and revenue?
- Are you creating time-limited campaigns, targeted at specific user groups, intended to drive certain user behavior?
- Do you serve alternative variants of your game to different player groups in order to provide the most personalized experience possible?
If you are answering 'yes' to all three of these questions - well done. If you are answering 'no' to all of them - it's time to invest some thought (and time) into how in-app marketing can help turn that awesome game you've developed into some serious revenue.
What's involved is nothing more complex than adopting some of the techniques already used in the online (and, for that matter, offline) world. And I'll cover some of these in my next couple of posts.