You are developing for a platform that is used by 70 million (best guess) people. That number is sure to expand. You are in a market that literally has a hundred thousand competitors. It can be hard to stand out. In fact, in some game genres – it seems impossible. The question is, how can you reach the most people with your latest and greatest game? It is a tough question and one I am interested in looking at. First some background on me; I do marketing for a software company that has nothing to do with games or any iDevice. In our marketplace there are about 10 main competitors. It’s not easy to stand out but it is possible. Below are some of the things we do that may also work for your game/company.
We use Twitter and set up keyword searches for our segment of the market (including our competitors). We make sure to follow up with people that have expressed interest in a certain type of software and mention our own software and what features it has. We bring those people to our website or to a review of our software. As an iDevice game developer, you can do the same thing. Never underestimate how much more valuable a review is than your own bullet points or opinions. No one trusts a company trying to sell things to them. We use references to stand out from the crowd. For you, a good review is a good reference.
We have an optimized web page that allows people to easily find out about our product and what we do. Create a webpage in an open source CMS like Drupal or WordPress. Both of these have SEO (search engine optimization) plugins available that will help people find your website. Make sure you link back to all of the reviews that are out there (at least the good ones). Make the site look nice but more importantly, make sure people can easily find information they want. There are way too many websites out there that have good information no one ever sees. If you offer a forum or a way of your fans to interact with you, be careful to moderate it. Only open up a forum if you have the staff to moderate. Otherwise, you could be opening up Pandora’s Box.
As far as optimizing your own website. It really is a ton of work. It may or may not be something you have time to do. The most important thing is make sure the copy or text you write on your page matches up with your Meta descriptions (which should be different for each page on your site). Meta keywords don’t matter as much anymore (in fact Google doesn’t use them for their search rankings at all). Think about advertising on Google Adwords or Yahoo’s advertising service. Depending on the type of game you are advertising for you may be able to bring people to your site for just 10 cents per click (a very good price). This is something that should be used sparingly though because the cost can quickly add up if you used an oft-used keyword for your ads.
Reach out to members of the gaming world. All of the big guys including Touch Arcade and Pocket Gamer but don’t forget about sites like this one as well. In fact, the smaller the site, the likelier that your game will be noticed by its readers. Some of the larger sites put up 4 or 5 reviews per day. It’s pretty difficult to be noticed in that type of crowd. If you do want to advertise directly at a gaming site, ask around before doing so. Make sure that they can give you an advertising sheet that explains their rates and the cost you are likely to pay in a month. The cliché, “it costs money to make money” does apply here but be careful to not go crazy with advertising. A .5% click through rate (very good in most cases) is likely the best that you can hope for. If that site receives 1,000 impressions per day and you pay $10 per 1000 impressions, you are paying out $10 for 5 clickthroughs. If your game costs $2 you are just breaking even. That isn’t an ideal situation. On the other hand, if you pay a monthly rate for an unlimited number of impressions, you might be able to bring in a lot more money. For example, if you have a .5% click through rate and pay $200/month at the site that has 1,000 impressions per day then in an average month you are receiving 30,000 impressions and getting 150 clicks. That means you are making a profit of $100/month.
I hope this article is able to help some of the developers out there looking for marketing advice. Let me know if you have any questions. If this is something you are interested in knowing about, let me know. I have some other ideas that may be able to help your own company branch out into other areas. If you’re not a developer and just reading this article, I hope you found it slightly interesting. No matter who you are, let me know if you would like to know more about this stuff.