You’re an indie game developer, not a marketer. But the reality is that no matter how amazing your game may be, the old adage, “if you don’t tell it, you can’t sell it” is a fact of life. Without a good marketing strategy, you’ll never even get off the ground.
We understand your frustration. To make it easier, we’ve created this quick marketing checklist of 6 tips for indie developers so you can get the word out about your game.
- Get a website
- Social media is a must
- Build a mailing list
- Share content often and predictably
- Your approach should reflect your game
- Analytics are your best friends
1. Get a website
Unless your budget has absolutely no wiggle room (and even then, there are free alternatives), developing a website is a great way to share everything that the press, your fans, and the rest of the industry needs to know about your game. Depending on your desired features, a static site may not be an option (in which case, you’ll need to pay for a domain and hosting), but there are many inexpensive services out there.
Once you have your domain and are ready to build your site, try to design it following the rules of landing pages. Focus on using powerful language, high contrast call-to-actions, and priority content above the fold. If you already have a design in mind, that’s great! As long as you follow best practices with web design and development, it will pay off significantly over time.
2. Social media is a must
In this day and age, everyone and everything has a social media account. Whether you use it to share your thoughts, vacation photos, or technical achievements, there’s a network out there that’s designed to ensure your content is shared effectively with the most relevant audiences.
There are many options for social networks and you’ll want to make an account on each major network. But you should prioritize the one that best presents your game. Pro tip: Using software like Hootsuite to synchronize and schedule posts across numerous accounts is a great way to keep your content organized.
3. Build that mailing list
While email isn’t exactly the latest approach to marketing, it’s still one of the most powerful. Integrating Mailchimp (or a similar service) that shows campaign clicks and opens is a great way to discover who really cares about your content. Having a direct line of communication with the fans who care most is one of the best ways to generate powerful word-of-mouth advertising and grow your fanbase.
So make your biggest fans feel special. Offer exclusive deals and giveaways to subscribers, and never (never, never!) send low-quality content to your followers just because you haven’t sent something out in a while. It’s significantly harder getting someone to re-subscribe than to acquire new emails!
4. Share content often and predictably
Once your content delivery methods are established, it’s important to create a release schedule. Letting your followers know exactly when to expect fresh content on each media vehicle ingrains a habit of going to your website or social media account(s) on a regular basis. This in turn increases the likelihood of word-of-mouth advertising and ultimately, followers and sales.
While regular blog posts should be your primary method of converting users, it’s important to make your followers comfortable and visitors excited whenever they visit your page. Creating an ongoing “story” about your game’s development is a strong way to hook visitors. Many of the most successful posts in the indie games subreddit are episodic in nature, referencing a previous post and asking for feedback. Keep your readers hooked and they’ll come back for more.
5. Your approach should reflect your game
Readers react to realism, so write from the heart. You shouldn’t feel like you can’t be yourself. If your game is ridiculous and over the top, don’t be afraid to act a little goofy from time to time! If you’re releasing a serious game, try to limit your public wackiness. But whichever approach you take, make sure it’s genuine.
It also helps if you share and promote content that reflects values held in your content (for example, That Dragon, Cancer, which promotes oncology research). Of course, you shouldn’t feel obligated to be outspoken for causes relevant to your game, but it always helps to give a little back when building a powerful and positive digital presence.
6. Analytics are your best friends
Similar to mechanics-driven design, analytics-driven marketing is commonly ignored or underutilized. Yet it’s value is priceless. Between Google and Unity Analytics (as well as other game engines with native analytics), you can gather the intel to know exactly which audiences have the strongest response to your content, and which content does best overall. This essentially gives you an inside scoop as to which of your Facebook followers will be most likely to react and share your posts. And this isn’t exclusive to any specific social network, either!
If you release a beta, pay close attention to points in the game where user completion sharply drops off. Put yourself in the mind of the player, and make notes about what could affect user experience. Then, reach out to a segment of your target demographic and ask them about troublesome points in the game. This will make them feel special and valued, and they’ll be more likely to share their positive opinions of your game and brand.
Once you’ve ticked the six items in this checklist, you’ll be well on your way to a successful, measurable marketing campaign strategy that will deliver the growth you need. But no matter where you are during the process, or which marketing medium you’re using, it goes without saying: always hold yourself to the highest level of professionalism and the results will follow.