You know how you’ve spent the last year working on your brand, your projects, your marketing strategy, and yet, seen little reward?
Well, the problem is you’ve missed the mark. You’ve lost sight of the steps needed to reach your objective. And chances are, you haven’t even noticed.
But before implementing new digital marketing strategies that “put you back on track,” it’s time to do things the right way. This time by evaluating what you’re already doing, analyzing how that connects with your target audience, and setting up a 12-month plan to help you reach your goals.
How Will This Help Me?
It’s tempting to just alter your strategies right away and reap the rewards, but ultimately, it won’t amount to much. It’s what you did last year - why do it again? This time, it’s all about understanding what content gets you noticed, why, and how to best develop a campaign around it.
It’ll take a few days, or weeks, of research, but ultimately, this can help you:
Compare how you’re doing against the competition.
Gain a better understanding of who your target audience really is.
Identifying changes that need to be made.
Evaluate your SEO ranking, as well as your reputation on game stores like Steam and Humble Bundle.
Uncover website weaknesses.
Understand what you can expect in the next 12 months.
Building Buyer Personas
Think you know who you’re marketing to? Think again.
Most business owners, developers, and other industry professionals assume they know who they’re speaking to all the time, mainly by using the standard description of the player base.
Mainly male, teenage to mid-thirties or so, competitive, etc, etc.
Instead of following a generic guideline, take the time to research your audience. Find out what they like about your games, and what they wish you’d change. When they follow your accounts on social media, find out who else they follow. What games do they tend to play, and what developers do they favor?
Feel free to conduct surveys and interviews. Find out if they would prefer you post more on your blog, or if posting announcements on social media is enough for them to pay attention. During events or streams, ask them questions, and based on their answers, ask follow-ups that may dig a little deeper. So for instance, if they don’t like hard mode because it’s too difficult, ask if a better rewards system would make it worth the challenge.
Just remember, your audience isn’t only composed of customers. It’s also the prospects and people outside of your contacts database too.
Here’s something else: it’s not enough to know what your players like or dislike about your games. You have to know things like where they’re located. Knowing a player’s location helps you plan wisely.
The same goes for understanding the regional preferences. Asia has become eSport mecca, as well as competitive multiplayer, battle arenas, etc. They also play plenty of mobile games, which up until Nintendo Switch, were all pretty much a wash in America.
Age is another factor because it determines preferences and income (low vs. high disposable income). If you’re making games geared toward your average 20-something, but it’s mainly teenagers playing it, then something is wrong, and it’s probably your target audience information.
Ideally, to better understand your customers, you need to know their motivations.
What genres do they tend to play, and why? Do your games fit the description?
Say most of your players boycott games that charge for extras on top of the base game price. That should show you their goals: to play games that feature free DLC, or no season passes.
Furthermore, it should give you an idea of what they appreciate overall. If your player base tends to play games made by companies that are known for actively posting on their blogs and announcing everything they’re up to, then your priority would be to start posting more.
Because in order to know if your content and strategies are working, you need to know who you’re marketing to. Getting this insider data helps you prioritize projects and actions, learn from the competition, and avoid making mistakes that may cost you your hard-earned reputation.
Evaluating Existing Digital Marketing Channels
Now that you know who you’re really marketing to, it’s time to evaluate what you’re currently using to conduct your marketing. Doing this will help you get a clear picture of what it is you’re realistically using, what’s working, and what isn’t.
This includes your website, social media profiles, blog content, imagery (original art, photography or screenshots), and off-site content that you own, but that isn’t hosted on your website (e.g. Medium).
This includes word-of-mouth exposure, customer experience reviews (game reviews), press mentions, guest posts, and social media shares - not likes.
This includes anything and everything you pay to promote your games. Think Google AdWords, paid social media posts, and native advertising - a fancy term for sponsored posts on other websites.
Audit and Plan Media
Next up, it’s time to decide what content is going to help you reach your goals. For example, if you want to generate 50% more leads through your blog, then you have to compare that to your buyer personas. Are they the type of people who will read your blog, or do they prefer your use of social media?
Dig through statistics to analyze what’s working and what isn’t. Pay extra attention to what types of posts have been lead generating in the past.
Audit Owned Content
Begin by listing all owned media and ranking according to what has been the most helpful in meeting your goals. It’s no secret that Facebook has been good to business owners of all types, but posting on Pinterest probably wouldn’t be a good idea for gaming professionals.
Then use your buyer personas to pinpoint any gaps. Maybe you found out that your player base spends more time on Instagram than you thought.
Create a content creation plan based around what works. Found out your blog is basically unnecessary, but that your players love AMA’s and live streams? You know what to do.
Audit Earned Media
Where are is traffic coming from? How about leads? If you posted on another developer’s blog recently, and it’s gotten plenty of traction and led people to your page, then you know you need to do more guest blogging. Especially if that traffic is helping you get more leads.
Much as before, it helps to rank earned media for effectiveness.
Audit Paid Media
Did you spend the last year throwing money at Google AdWords and get little reward for it?
Use that money on sponsored posts on other websites or paid social media posts instead, if that’s been working so far.
Remember, rank for effectiveness and eliminate anything that has been creating a deficit rather than a gain.
Clean Out Social Media Content
Now that you’ve hopefully honed in on the channels you’ll be using more of, it’s time to clean out what’s already there. It’s time to clean out any social media posts that are either:
Irrelevant to gaming.
Not in line with buyer personas.
Start by selecting your three most useful accounts, and deleting the rest. This will keep your attention focused on the three accounts that do work. And since you won’t be so spread out, your content may improve.
The things to keep in mind are:
Making sure all content is cohesive across channels (on brand).
Ensuring content is always leading or providing something of value (e.g. sale, game merchandise, or announcement).
Incorporating tricks and styles that have worked for you in the past.
If it’s too much to keep track of, consider building up a backlog of curated, edited content to pull from, and schedule posts (automation). For Instagram users, the Preview app has become a staple.
Prioritize Blogging As A Lead Generation Tool
If your buyer personas prove that your blog hasn’t been successful, and they’re not interested in reading a blog in general, skip ahead to the next section.
Otherwise, start considering your blog as your hub of links that directs customers to sales, merchandise, games, announcements, social media accounts, other web pages, and guest posts.
Once that’s done, create a set schedule you know you can stick to, and start building a backlog for easy posting.
Don’t just write walls of text though. The eye wanders to the more engaging, interesting designs on a website, so use original videos and images.
Finally, share the content. It’s not enough to post and trust that WordPress’s reader is enough to help you gain more traction. Whenever you post on the blog, announce it on social media.
Also, place buttons on the side of blog posts - it makes them easily shareable.
YouTube now ranks higher in searches than Google. YouTube users watch more than one hour per day on mobile. It’s visual content mecca, one that has been friendly to gamers and developers since its inception.
Here are the basics your content needs to cover:
Define an objective based on the buyer profiles, proven posts from the past, and your brand aesthetic.
Define your scope (goals, deliverables, features, costs)
Hire a pro, if needed. Listen to suggestions.
Capture attention in the first 3 seconds.
Let’s Be Honest About Web Design
Here’s something that often gets forgotten or underestimated: viewers and potential customers leave if the website leaves much to be desired. If it’s clunky, unappealing, disorganized, slow or dysfunctional, they may not ever come back.
To ensure you make your first impression count, consider the F-pattern of page scanning. Say you’re reading this right now, which you are. Chances are you directed your gaze up and down, then towards the right in both the middle and top right corner.
That means you want those areas of focus to be engaging, varied, and interesting. Here are some traits that help:
Size - small font is difficult to read, but large font comes across aggressively.
Bold - only use it for emphasis here and there. Too much and the impact is lost.
Contrast - black backgrounds and white fonts come across too MySpace, modernize it.
Font - nothing too crazy, or it won’t be readable.
Headings - perfect use of SEO will feature H1, H2, and H3 headings.
Subheadings - again, H2 and H3 are essential. Search engines pick up on keywords from them. Also, when used correctly, they can help guide the reader’s eye.
Space - it makes your posts look sleeker and gives your website an overall clean feeling.
Host Live Events… With A Twist
Live events aren’t just a means of showing off your game and hoping people watch. It’s a tool that you can use to get feedback, get a clearer view of your target audience, and get insight on what they want to see.
Successful Twitch streamers are those who use it after getting feedback on what people want to see. Good ways to get this information are Reddit (AMA’s), polls, surveys, and even comments on your blog or forums.
Also, valuable content is entertaining. Giveaways work to a degree, many times people leave if you’re not giving things out for free otherwise. But you can also promote your latest YouTube video, trailer, blog announcement, or patch.
Get to know your audience, draw attention towards them, ask them a few questions here and there, and fill in content gaps too. Little do they know you’re gathering intel.
Connect Marketing & Business Goals
Don’t view marketing as a means of promoting everything you do. View it as promoting every step taken toward specific business goals.
Maybe you want to increase sales by 30% this year. Maybe you have other clearly defined goals. Use the knowledge gained through evaluating and auditing to better guess which media, platforms and content will best help you achieve those goals.
Once you know what you have to use, establish campaigns for each project. So, launch a campaign for the latest game, another for a new upcoming game, another for new merchandising, and yet another to promote your public appearance at a gaming event. Combined, all of these individual campaigns should help you reach one main goal: 30% sales increase.
Set A 12-Month Plan
Now that you’ve established new practices and cleaned out the unnecessary, it’s time to focus on the next 12 months.
Use each method, tool, and tactic to elevate campaigns, which should all be geared toward boosting your goal-reaching potential.
Tweak methods as you go, always analyzing on a routine basis to better understand if you’re on the right track. One week your follower count may have fallen, adjust accordingly.
And divide up your major objective (major business goal) into smaller, attainable goals, one for every month.