One of the limitations of being an indie developer is that of 'budget constraint.' User acquisition in marketing is one area where things must be super low-cost if indies are to reach a mass audience on a limited budget.
The following are some of the best user acquisition strategies which do not require massive resources:
1. Incentivized Referrals
This first one has to do with the production of your game. Rewarding players for sharing your game and referring other players can make a significant difference at a low cost.
If you can’t spend a real dollar or two to acquire a user, then give players who attract new users the sames value in the premium currency of your game, or a free in-app purchase (IAP). Keep providing the same value repeatedly or increase the value of your rewards over time.
A cleverly designed incentivized referral system is a must-have feature if you want to make that roller-coaster effect of virality work for your game!
Another great way to cross-promote your game for free is with third-party solutions like Chartboost.
Offer the opportunity of cross-promotion to your developer friends on platforms built just for that. When done properly, cross-promotion is a great strategy to attract a significant number of users to your game for free.
Three best practices for cross-promotion are:
- Snapping up in-game ad space in similar genres is top priority.
- Recognize that banners perform better than text ads and video ads perform better than banners.
- It’s important to track the number of impressions and downloads you're driving to compare with cross-promotion partners Filter out those which don't perform as well as your game.
3. Built-in Virality Factor
If you build it from the ground up, the only way your game will go viral is if you keep virality factors in mind during the build.
It started with memes and funny images , but in 2017 it’s all about the videos. Make sure you equip players with the necessary tools to quickly and effortlessly create clips and gameplay videos.
Imagine you’d just had a thrilling in-game moment or solved a super complex puzzle; wouldn’t it be cool if you could share the replay with just a simple click?
People want to be recognized by others for their skills and achievements. By understanding your audience and making it easier for them to got viral, you’re actually l helping your game go viral.
4. Test. Test. Test.
Any user acquisition article is incomplete without mentioning paid user acquisition. But most indies don't go that route in fear high budgetary requirements.
The truth is, you can start advertising for as low as $10-$25 a day and you can achieve similar results to most marketers by doing A/B testing of your ads, creatives, time, days and demographics.
The holy grail of digital marketing is that you can start small, find ads which produce positive results and then scale them up in stages. All the while avoiding ads which burn money and produce poor results.
The message here is to test the ads as much as possible. If you do so you can expect to see an increase in user acquisition for your indie games.
5. Have a Massive Content Plan!
One of the most effective content mediums for indie games has been, and will always be, video. If you have an exciting, new game you want people to watch and play, just use video to show them how good it is.
It's incredibly easy to create gameplay videos on smartphones, consoles and PCs. If you can create compelling content with relative ease, it's not hard to put 50 or even 100 gameplay or fun videos of your game on YouTube,
Most YouTubers and gamers start playing and putting up gaming videos after watching others doing it. You can get the ball rolling... and for free! On top of that, you can share these videos on your game's social media channel along with GIFs and screenshots, or even on your dev blog. There isn’t a better way to promote your game for free than making a ton of videos about it. So make sure you do it for growing your community.
I hope these strategies help you attain your user acquisition goals. But remember, these are not the only strategies you have to stick to. There are countless more approaches for all types of games. All it takes o get the ball rolling is for you to take action!