Your Marketing Compass
Pixels & Profits: Chapter 14
Charting Your Course
Together, we’ve navigated through the wilderness of game marketing, and by now, you should be well-armed with knowledge on budgeting and cost-effective strategies (if you’ve been tagging along for the ride through this series). But like any quest, understanding how to get the most bang for your buck is crucial.
Think of investing in marketing is like buying a shiny new piece of armor.
You wouldn’t shell out for it without knowing what protection it offers, right?
The same goes for marketing activities.
You need to gauge what results you might reap before investing your hard-earned coin.
ROI (return on investment) is your trusty compass, guiding you to the most efficient investments.
In marketing terms, it’s all about setting clear, achievable targets – do you want to see:
- more footprints on your website,
- more downloads of your game,
- an army of followers on social media?
Once you’ve set your sight on the prize, start tracking your progress. We’ve talked about analytics at length already, so you know the basics. Just remember, it’s tough to level up when you don’t know where you stand, so don’t shrug this off.
ROI is the measure of the efficiency of an investment.
It’s asking how much we got in return for our investment.
And it isn’t limited to investments of money.
If you aren’t asking people for money, but instead for time, attention, a click, etc., you can still measure the return on investment and optimize for your goals.
For instance, if a particular social media campaign drives a lot of traffic to your website but doesn’t result in downloads, this is a signal that you might need to improve your game’s landing page, or the call to action — or that your campaign didn’t filter prospects well enough, letting a range of low-quality leads engage instead.
Test these variables, as well as any others that suggest the potential positive impact.
You will use the results of your tests to inform what happens next in your marketing efforts.
The higher the ROI, the more effective your investment. Our paid traffic series is a great read if you want to go deeper on this topic.
Interpreting the Map
If you spend enough time around us, it’ll be pretty obvious that we have our way of doing things, and one of our favorite pastimes is using Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) to drive growth and generate critical early-stage revenue, especially when marketing on a budget.
In our world, this process is known as Growth-Driven Design (GDD), but you may know it as rapid prototyping, agile development, etc.
Each term is a different application of the same fundamental principle.
(If you want a deep-dive on the topic, go here.)
The rapid, growth-driven approach to offer creation involves launching a minimum viable product (MVP) with just enough features to gain (paying) early adopters…
Those early adopters are your goldmine – they provide the resources to keep developing your game and give invaluable feedback…
That feedback is then used to refine the product.
We do all this to ensure that you’re consistently building something your target audience genuinely wants; which you will discover because they will tell you.
Remember, silence is communication too.
The simple process outlined above (called Validation in marketing jargon) not only provides valuable insights but also helps generate early revenue that can be reinvested in marketing and development.
How does it generate revenue?
By putting a price tag (or other call to action) on that MVP you built and seeing how your audience responds.
Do they buy it?
Opt-in for launch updates?
Ignore you entirely?
In the context of indie game development, the rapid approach I’m describing often looks like launching an early prototype of your game, gathering player feedback, and using it to improve the game for the full release.
That is not the only option.
Remember, Choo Choo Charles, began by making only what was necessary to create a compelling trailer. The game wasn’t playable in any capacity.
Development only began when the response indicated strong traction.
The "Hidden" Route
The truth is, the process of crowdfunding existed long before Kickstarter (people just called them pre-orders), but it was Kickstarter who gave us a hub where users could find gems in need of funding. As a result, campaigns on their platform have led to the success of many games.
However, remember that the heart of crowdfunding lies in your crowd, not the platform. Meaning…
You’ll need a crowd.
Many gamers crave a sense of community and contributing to the development of a game they’re excited about can give them just that.
Consider offering the opportunity to your audience.
Successful campaigns like Star Citizen have shown that players are willing to pay record-setting sums to those developers who understand the needs of their people.
At this point, I’m a broken record, right?
The key to completing your big Quest is this: Understand your people, and seek to serve them.
And I haven’t even mentioned the final boss yet…