Game Marketing Without a Big Budget: A Comprehensive Guide

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face with game marketing is the several thousand other games competing with yours.

According to current market numbers, there are:

This isn’t to scare you away from game dev or dampen your enthusiasm. But marketing your game is definitely not a bed of roses.

Not all the time, at least. Regardless of whether you want to market a video or mobile game, you have serious competition to deal with.

But relax, it’s not a dead end. Here are five ways to do game marketing and get thousands of users:

1. Cross-promotions or partnerships

Partnerships help to ease the burden of promoting a new game. Get in agreement with other game developers, promote their games, and they promote yours. It’s that simple.

But cross-promotions make it even simpler. It’s a game marketing strategy where you and other game developers promote each other’s game, so everybody wins.

We’ll cover how to set it up in a bit, but here’s what a cross-promotion strategy looks like in real life:

game marketing via cross promotion
Your partners’ users see your game and install it if they like it

So for example, if you’re partnering with four game developers who have 100,000, 500,000, 700,000, and 1,000,000 daily active users respectively, your game will be exposed to 2,300,000 active users altogether every day.

Not that simple, right? Of course not.

The hardest bit of the cross-promotion strategy is getting developers or game brands who’ll be willing to partner with you. They might have several doubts/reasons why the strategy is not good for them. But it’s not an impossible task to make the grade.

How to get partners to agree to your cross-promotion strategy

  • Propose partnerships to people who already know you. They often agree easily.
  • Alternatively, ask your connections for introductions to game developers that could be interested.
  • Put them first. Offer them incentives they won’t want to refuse.
  • Assure them their brand won’t get into trouble by partnering with you.

Here’s how to set up cross-promotion for your game:

  • Download the SuperDevelopers SDK (it’s free) on Unity.
  • Your users see the partner’s game ads while, before, or after playing your game, and can choose to install it.
  • Track your results.
    The SuperDevelopers SDK helps you measure how many times users see your game ad (Impressions), how many Clicks your game ad gets, and how many Installs it gets.

Your partners will need to set up the SDK too and follow the same procedure you did. They’ll also be able to see how many impressions, clicks, and installs they’re getting from your app.

(Author’s note: We share smart marketing strategies like this all the time, sign up to stay updated on when we share our next post).

2. Game marketing on Twitter

After Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, Twitter is the most popular site/social network in the world.

So there are opportunities there to market most (if not all) types of games. But as with anything, there are right and wrong ways to go about Twitter marketing.

Stick to the right ways — those are the ones you want to focus your efforts on. Here are three strategies that work.

I. Jump on trends & hashtags

There are always a number of topics (usually 10+ of them) trending on Twitter per day. Whether it’s local news about some politician or a dog that’s gone astray, something is always topping the trends at every point in time on Twitter.

You can jump on the trend a couple times a week and blend your game into the conversation, using whatever keyword or hashtag is trending.

For example, the word “Kiss” was trending in a number of countries, mostly because of an incident that happened with a celebrity.

At the time the keyword was trending, Mashable tweeted a video about a new way to iron clothes and (deliberately or not) blended it in with the “Kiss” conversation.

The mention of Kiss in their Tweet got their post in the top section of the Twitter trending page of that keyword.

As Trends are the in-thing on Twitter, the Tweet gets exposed to many more people than Mashable’s already existing followers.

This is a strategy that can help push your game to more users. Simply blend it in with a conversation that’s already trending (take a cue from Mashable), and make sure you let people know how to download your game; it’s best you include a link where they can easily do so.

Another strategy you can use to jump on trends is what I call “the ‘while you’re…’ strategy.”

It’s simple: Let’s say “Kiss” is trending; you can post a Tweet like, “While you’re wondering why Kiss is trending, this game will [enter something fun it’ll do for players here].”

That’s it. Your Tweet will be automatically added to Tweets about Kiss and be moved to the top section of the trend if it’s getting good engagement rates.

Don’t overuse any of these tactics, though. Once or twice per week could be just enough to bring in a handful of users every time you share.

II. Twitter Ads

This one’s a no-brainer; create a Tweet, promote it, reach more people outside of your followers, and get more users for your game.

Except it’s not that simple. Spending money on Twitter ads and wasting it is a reality. Happens all the time. But you can avoid it happening to you.

We’ll need another full guide on “Advertising a game using Twitter ads” to cover all the strategies to promote an app or game on Twitter. But here are three key tips you can work with:

  • Target the right people (folks who’ll most likely be interested in playing your game).
  • Use the app card to get more downloads. You’ve probably seen it before:

  • Don’t go all-in at once with all your budget. You can start at $20 and see how it goes, then you can keep increasing your budget as you get more installs.

III. Twitter influencer outreach

When an average Twitter user Tweets anything, they’ll often get zero to a few likes/replies/Retweets. But when a Twitter influencer Tweets the same thing the average Twitter user does, it’s a different ball game entirely.

Likes, replies, Retweets, and clicks troop in from all corners. The elephant in the room here is obviously convincing influencers to share your game with their followers.

Three things are needed here:

  • Spot influencers who your target game users follow. Ideally, they should be game players themselves.
  • Find a way to reach out to those influencers via email.
  • Give them offers they’d love to accept — like lots of free coins they can use to purchase in-game goodies.

3. Friends & family marketing

This is one of the easiest ones. Share your game with your family and friends.

But in reality, while they’ll naturally share your game because of your relationship with them, they’ll go the extra mile because of its quality. In other words, getting friends and family to share your game has a lot to do with the game’s quality.

Even if it’s a simple/small game, make it so good that everyone wants to talk about it.

But what makes it a good game is subjective because players aren’t the same. Some players find a simple, small-sized game impressive, others prefer their games sophisticated.

In any case, the higher the quality of your game, the more likely your friends and family will share it.

4. App store optimization

Imagine you built one of these games that show up when users search “car racing” on Google Play.

App Store Optimization (ASO) is the process of setting up your game on platforms like Google Play and (Apple) App Store so that it reaches more users and gets more organic downloads.

On top of that, ASO also helps to make your game appear when users are viewing games that are similar to yours:

You need two key app store optimization strategies to make your app appear often in search results and “Similar games” sections:

I. Relevant keywords:

Which keywords do your target users use to describe your game? Find out what those words are and use them to… well… describe your game. Put the keyword in your game title and description (for example: the games in the screenshot above have “Car racing” or “Racing” in both the titles and meta description).

Important: Avoid targeting popular keywords; they’re hard to rank for since everyone is trying to rank for them. Instead, go after less popular, low-competition keywords. Of course, with less popular keywords, you won’t be getting as many downloads as you would with popular ones, but you have better chances with them nonetheless.

II. Keep testing your keywords:

You may not ace your keyword targeting the first time, and that’s okay. It’s very possible to pick a low-difficulty keyword and still not get it to rank. But keep testing; try using new keywords every month in your game title and description and once you hit the right keyword that ranks and drives conversions, you can rest easy and let the downloads keep streaming in.

One more thing to keep in mind when it comes to ASO: Be aware that with the most recent Google Play algorithm, ASO keyword optimization has become a far more difficult strategy to succeed at; new games with limited downloads and reputation barely get indexed by Google.

But still, it’s a very effective way to get organic downloads.

(Author’s note: We share smart marketing strategies like this all the time, sign up to stay updated on when we share our next post).

5. Reddit game marketing strategy

In February 2020, Reddit had over 1.3 billion visits. And every month since May 2019, the forum gets nothing less than 1.2 billion unique visitors.

Does this mean there’s a chance 1.2 billion people will play your game if you promote it on Reddit? Of course not. But there are many of these Reddit users who’d be interested in playing your game. You just need to know how to reach them.

Tread with caution, though; Reddit users are often super strict. If you create a post that blatantly promotes your game, chances are high they’ll downvote the post so much that it starts to ruin your reputation in the community.

Source

Worse, they can ban you from communities (subreddits) you join on the platform once they think you’re being spammy. Yep, they’re not playing.

But there’s still hope; I’ll share three game marketing strategies you can use on Reddit and not get banned:

I. Know which subreddit to do your game marketing:

Subreddit is the term used to describe niches in the Reddit community. There are subreddits for marketers, salespeople, entrepreneurs, game developers, and more. Your game players can be in any of these niches, but you need to know which ones you can create helpful content for — because the same topics won’t work for all of them.

For example, the topics that work in the marketing community may not work in the game dev field. So you need to know which subreddit you can create content for.

What type of content should you be sharing in these communities? Stories, that’s what.

II. Share real-life stories:

Ideally, this should be a story about your game or something close to it. For example, you can tell a story about your game development process, sharing really good content about the unique experiences you had. You can also share stories like “How I Hit 10k Installs In 3 Months” or “How I’m Making $10,000 Per Month From My Game.”

III. Run Reddit ads to promote your game

If you have the budget, running Reddit ads is another way to market your game. Go to Reddit Ads, sign up, set up your campaigns, and create ads that invite people to install your game for free.

Also, make sure your ads are targeting subreddits that have potential game players in them; for instance, you can target subreddits like r/Games and r/gamedev; these are communities that have people in them talking about games all the time — so chances are they would be interested in playing your game.

To wrap it all up, cast a wide net

While we’ve covered some powerful game marketing strategies here, there are several other strategies and channels you can use to amplify your game and get more downloads. You can use channels, like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

So cast a wide net. Your players are everywhere. You simply need to reach them on channels they frequent every day and engage them.

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