Two weeks ago I’ve tackled a problem most Indie Developers have – how to market games with no budget in this day and age? I’ve offered a few solutions that work both for me and a few developers I’ve been following lately. Today, I want to talk about THE marketing buzzword for the past couple of years, "content is king," and how it applies to what we do.
When marketers say "content is king" they refer to creating valuable content on chosen platforms through which they are able to elevate their brand’s visibility and hopefully start driving sales. Some of the examples are writing blog posts, creating YouTube videos, doing white papers, webinars and so on. It’s all about creating a long-lasting relationship with your audience who may turn into paying customers later on.
However, one thing worth remembering when thinking about content is that although it’s called a "king," the context behind it is called a "god." Because what is content if you offer it to an inappropriate audience? For instance, would you try to copy/paste your long article to a Twitter feed – 140 characters at a time. Or would you like to mention your awesome next-level MMORPG game on a HOPA website?
Remember, creating content is not only about sales or visibility. It’s about reaching your GOALS whatever they might be. Let’s jump into real-life examples.
1. Building newsletter subscribers’ base
Many people approached me in the past two weeks looking for suggestions on how to build an audience around their games. There’s obviously Facebook, Twitter and forums, but newsletter allows you to interact directly with people who are SERIOUSLY interested in what you have to say. Why? Because in this day and age you protect your e-mail more than anything else.
I have reached over 300 subscribers last week. Some might say it’s not a lot, but please bear in mind that I’m not a game development studio – I am a marketer. That means no fancy screenshots or videos. However, I have managed to get all these amazing people on board because I deliver content no one else does. I’ve chosen the best platform (context) to distribute my content and slowly started getting traction.
How can you, as an Indie Developer, approach newsletters? Again, offer a unique content like behind-the-scene write-ups, pictures or in-game screenshots and videos for your subscribers only.
Also, if you’ve never tried any newsletter solutions I strongly recommend MailChimp. They have everything you will need at the beginning for free.
2. GIFs are you friends
Although screenshots are awesome, GIFs are 100x times better because they provide something pictures can’t – motion. You see how the game looks and how its developers want it to feel like. Also, .gifs are more likely to get a re-tweet on Twitter or share on Facebook.
One of the most amazing games I’ve been following for a bit is an upcoming Action RPG called Eitr. I love what Eneme Entertainment is doing with their game promotion-wise. If you start analyzing their social media channels you see that their content marketing strategy is based on posting art. Art gets you amped, but once you see their .gifs you get that "oh shit, I gotta play this game" moment. Brilliant job for a 2-man indie studio.
3. Blog posts
This is my personal favorite way of building a community/interest in my project. Through providing useful and/or interesting information, you can get people to follow your project. But where do you start and how do you do that?
Start in a place you know. For instance, start building your community through websites like indieDB or TIGSource’s forum. Devlogs are an amazing way to get initial indie fans on board, and a good way to see if people show interest in your concept. You can easily iterate your project based on early feedback instead of rushing changes close to the official release.
You can also start your Tumblr blog, which is great for posting amazing screenshots and gifs, but you could also tryMedium or your own WordPress site for posting walls of text. If you don’t want to setup your own site/blog, you can also try "guest blogging" on Indie websites or places like Gamasutra or GameDev communities. This has worked wonders for me in the past, and if you have something valuable to share it should work for you as well!
Once you have your blog up-and-running, you can go back to my older post and start promoting content on Facebook and Twitter for higher traffic and more visibility! These early blog posts may also lead to your initial newsletter subscribers!
This is not a strategy – this is a state of mind. Do you stay consistent with writing code or creating new art for your game? Do you hit your milestones? Awesome. Now do the same with your marketing!
Sometimes you won’t see results of your actions soon. It might take you days, weeks or even months before everything you did marketing-wise will start working the way you want it to. Staying consistent with your game’s promotion is extremely important for building credibility and keeping your fans engaged the whole time.
It doesn’t mean you have to post something every day, but creating a habit of posting something twice a week every week is going to help you a lot. My system is: 1 newsletter and 1 blog post a week because that’s how much I can handle at the moment. I also try to spend at least an hour a day on Twitter and Facebook. Not a lot, but enough for me at the moment to keep getting steady number of subscribers every week.
To keep you motivated and give you some ideas on how to use content marketing to your advantage, here are three awesome lists of one of the best content marketing campaigns from 2014. Good luck!
The 30 most genius content marketing examples of 2014 so far
Content marketing rocked 2014
6 epic content marketing examples
If you have any questions or need some help, feel free to get in touch at contact@youtubeforindie - I'd be more than happy to help :)