Most Affordable Ways to Promote Your iOS Game
So, you finally completed your mobile game. Now it is ready to meet gamers. You want it to reach as many people as possible. But how will you achieve this? With the right promotion techniques, of course.
You don’t need to have a marketing background to promote your game. And although money would help you to reach more people, don’t worry about it too. There are some useful methods you can apply on a tight or even no budget.
Here is a list of what you can do to promote your game:
1. Make a Good Start with Your Product Page
App Store Optimization (ASO) is a key element in the promotion of your mobile game. It plays a crucial role in your app’s findability. And it starts with creating the right content for your game’s product page on the App Store Page.
Your game’s App Store page is like a display window. It will be the first point of contact for the users. This means your game’s App Store page will create the first impression of your game. That’s why, you need to be careful while designing it. What you achieve on this page will define your success in ASO. In other words, if designed accurately, your App Store page helps your app to rank higher in app search results. This will increase your app’s findability.
An App Store product page has the following sections that need to be filled.
- App name: Your game’s name. Users will find your game with this name.
- Icon: You can consider this as your game’s logo. It plays a crucial role in users’ download decisions.
- Subtitle: This is like a slogan that summarizes your app in a concise phrase.
- App Preview: This is a captured video that demonstrates how your game is played.
- Description: This is where you define your game with its features.
- Promotional text: This is a real slogan where you promote your app. You can edit this part any time, unlike other fields.
- Keywords: The words which will be used by gamers to search for an app.
- Screenshots: Images captured from your game.
- Category: This is where you define your app under a specific category. Game is among main categories after you assign it, you can also assign a subcategory from alternative like; action, adventure, board, card, family, music, puzzle, racing, role-playing, simulation, sports, strategy.
You will need to fill these sections before publishing your game. Make sure you controlled what you entered under these titles before clicking on the publish button. You can’t edit what you wrote later unless you launch a new version of your game.
You can find detailed explanations on App Store Product Page design here: Making the Most of Your Product Page
For better App Store Optimization results, make sure you show off the highlights of your game in different channels. Always respond to your reviewers. Pay attention to your users’ feedback. Include new features according to their recommendations in your next releases.
You can read more about basic ASO tips here: App Store Optimization Tips for Startups (iOS)
2. Create a Landing Page with a Simple Introduction of Your App
A landing page is like a resource center which includes complete information about your game. This page can include your trailer videos, blog, email newsletter, App Store link, social media links, etc. Including a “contact us” link there helps you get continuous feedback from the gamers, which is a great opportunity for future developments and improvements.
If you design your landing page by considering Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the page’s traffic will rise. This means you would have an effective channel for visibility. Besides, it helps you to reach people who prefer web search to App Store search. Your landing page can also support your visual strategy and branding.
A landing page might cause some costs like domain name, web template, web designer, etc. Although the domain name is inevitable spending, other items have free alternatives. For example, WordPress offers DIY web design with free web templates.
If none of these options sounds ok, you might try Medium to build a web presence for your game. Start with creating a Medium profile for your game. You can include the necessary information about your game under this profile.
For our indie game The Freak Hunt, we created a Medium profile instead of a landing page. We created different documents for an FAQ document, a Terms & Conditions document, and a press release, and published posts for each of these documents.
3. Gain Media Coverage with Public Relations
Having mentioned in media is among the best ways to increase your game’s visibility. And higher visibility increases your game’s chance to be downloaded.
Public relations still plays a key role in reaching traditional media. Don’t worry. You don’t have to work with a PR agency to send a press release to the related publications in your field. There are plenty of press release distribution services. These services allow you to submit press releases internationally. They also allow you to choose various details like the regions and the publication types you will target, the time and date of the release, the languages your press release will be translated, etc. Some distribution companies offer press release writing services. If you choose them, you might ask them to write the press release for you. However, these are paid services with a price range between $200 to $10.000.
No Budget? You Might Still Have a Chance…
If you don’t have a budget for this, you can still give PR a try. Write your press release and pitch editors and technology writers. Sending your press release directly to an editor might not be the right method. Instead, write something sounding more natural and include your press kit’s link in your email or message.
To build a list of editors and journalists that you might send your pitch to, check out game publications and online magazines. Games Radar, The Verge are among these publications. Each offers a contact address you might try. To increase your chances of being published, you can find out who is in charge of content creation in these publications and target them directly. Some writers and editors include their personal email addresses in their profile and some not. You might try LinkedIn and Twitter too to reach them. Make a list of these people and publications with their contact details.
Write a short and concise message about your game explaining why it would worth a review. Personalized messages for each writer might provide a better result. So, know the editor/journalist you are pitching and write a message that shows this.
Instead of starting your message with;
“Dear Editor, I launched a new game which you might like,” address them with their name and make a reference to their previous work.
Something like this might work:
“Dear Jane, I’ve seen that in your latest post, you wrote about a new AR game. I checked the game and really enjoyed it. We lately launched a new game which you might enjoy as well. It is about blah blah. You can check it here (link). Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.”
Even if you don’t get any reply from the editors you pitched, having an online press kit would increase the visibility of your game. A press kit generally includes;
- A press release about your game
- Your company’s logo (if you have one)
- Your games logo (App Store icon)
- Screenshots of your game
- Preview video of your game
- Company description
- Details about your team (people working for the app like developers, marketers, etc.)
Include all these items as a link instead of sending them as an attachment. You can use Google Drive to create a Press Kit folder and share its link.
4. Use the Power of Video Marketing
Video is among the most useful promotion methods you might use. You can use videos to provide information about your game. You can also use them as marketing tools to reach more people.
Create a Preview Video for the App Store
Including a video on the App Store page of your game would increase its chance to be downloaded. Because videos give users a better idea about what the game is about, how it feels like to play it. That is why they are also more effective than screenshots.
So, the first step of your video marketing efforts should start with a preview video. You can use your iPhone’s screen capturing feature to shoot your preview video. This video will demonstrate the features, functionality, and user interface of your game on your App Store product page.
Apple only accepts screen-captured videos. For example, a video that shows a person while using the app would be rejected by Apple. Make sure you shoot your video with one of the largest screen sizes. Thus, it would have a high resolution and looks good on different devices.
Start a YouTube Channel
To get the most out of video as a marketing tool, start a YouTube channel for your game. You can use this channel to release game trailers, teasers, and how-to videos. You can also build a community on YouTube by engaging with your subscribers.
Before launching your game, you can publish a trailer video to create interest. If you manage to pull people’s attention with your trailer video, they would be more likely to download your game when it is live on the App Store.
After launching your game, you can use your YouTube channel to release introduction videos. You might give users a quick look at the game and share insights into the best practices and tricks of the game.
You might also share videos that show gamers enjoying your game. Try asking your followers to share such videos with you. This means not only continuous content for your channel but also strong community relations.
If you manage to update your channel with fresh content continuously, you can also build a community there. This would be useful to get feedback that can be used to improve your current game and to get new ideas about your next game.
While building your YouTube channel, pay attention to branding by using a custom channel banner and thumbnails. Create different playlists to emphasize different features of your game, like best gameplays, specific levels, etc. Never forget to include your App Store (download) link to anything you share.
5. Localize Your Game by Supporting Different Languages
Although English is a universal language, some users are conservative when it comes to reading something in a foreign language. They might prefer an app that supports their native language. That is why supporting as many languages as possible would help you to reach more people.
Of course, you cannot support all languages. Choose which countries you will target first. This will determine the languages you will support. Then start translating your content. This content not only includes your App Store page details like description, subtitle, etc. but also, the messages and texts in your game’s interface.
It would be better if you can get a professional translation service. But if you don’t have a budget for translation, use Google Translate. But make sure that the translation sounds ok. Double-check by reverting the piece you translated. First, translate the original piece, then copy the result text and translate it. If the meaning stays the same, then you can continue with it. If you have a friend who speaks this language, asking her to check your translation might be the best option.
If you’d like to take this a step further, you can also localize your messaging. If you believe that a specific region has a higher potential in terms of the user base, you can communicate with them in their local language. This means you might need to post social media messages in this specific language.
6. Get As Many Likes and Reviews As Possible
Likes and reviews are especially important at the first weeks following the launch of your game. The more reviews your game gets, a better ranking it would have in app search results. Start by asking your family and friends to write reviews for your game. But you should be careful. If they write reviews for the sake of helping you without playing the game, these reviews will disappear in a short time. App Store team takes spam seriously. Any activity that looks like spam is prevented.
Apple has strict rules on this. To prevent fake reviews, App Store team evaluates reviews and disable the reviews of users who spent no or very little time with the game. Make sure that your reviewers play your game and spend some time on it before writing a review or scoring the game.
If you have enough budget, you can also consider buying reviews. Although this sounds spammy, there are legitimate sites that provide real users for real reviews. Keenmobi, Mopeak, and MobiAso are among these sites. Their price range is between $55-$999.
I had a chance to try MobiAso with our indie game. While other sites required a PayPal account, MobiAso didn’t. Since Paypal is not supported in my country, I decided to use MobiAso for its credit card option. They deliver useful reviews which are written by real players.
You might use Apple’s native push notification service to ask users to score your game. You can also include a call to action at the end of your social media posts to encourage users and followers to score or review your game.
7. Use the Power of Online Communities
Communities play a huge role in the expansion of a new product or service. If you manage to build a loyal follower base, it wouldn’t be hard to convince them to try your product. But building powerful community relations is not a simple, one-time task. It requires significant time and effort. First, you need to take part in these communities actively. Try to join conversations, write comments, ask for opinions. Users need to see you as a real person, not as a spammer who is there to promote her product. This would increase the chance of your product to be accepted as something worth trying.
To build a community, you can try Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, gaming forums, Product Hunt, Reddit, etc. Whatever platforms you choose to participate, make sure that you have enough time to invest in them. Otherwise, posting an announcement about your game in a group where you have never been active before wouldn’t help. Your post might get downvotes and even be filtered as spam. So, make sure that you know the dynamics of each community and act accordingly.
Engage with your followers. Make sure that you promote your game on different social media channels. For example, tell your audience to complete a certain task and tag themselves with contest-specific hashtags on social media. Reward the winners publicly.
Promoting a mobile game is a tough job. If you have a limited or even no budget, it becomes more difficult. But there are tried and true methods you can apply. With these mostly-organic methods, you might get useful results. Don’t forget that promoting a mobile game is not a one-time task. It takes time and effort. Make sure that you try different promotion methods continuously.