Mobile game discovery is one of the toughest tasks facing indie game makers. Around 270 billion apps and games are forecast to be downloaded across global app stores in 2017, an increase from 228 billion last year (data from Statista). If you’re a budget conscious developer, ad networks might not be the first feasible point of call for user acquisition. At Tappx we’re no stranger to this situation as we started out as budding developers ourselves with a blank canvas. Through this article, we provide our top recommendations for increasing your mobile game download rates, helping you to stand out in the busy and crowded gaming landscape
1. Consider your distribution strategy
Don’t limit yourself to just iOS or Google Play App stores. The smart strategy to increase your chances for more downloads is to launch across other app stores in geos in which you’re launching into. The core duo are of course Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Beyond these two market leaders, there are a myriad of other additional app store options available.
2. Explore cross promotion communities and promote yourself within
Ad networks are a powerful and proven channel for acquiring news users. If your development studio doesn’t have the necessary budget to invest in ad networks yet, you should explore the various cross promotional communities available for free.
Most of them work on the same premise - a network or community of app developers exchanges users or ads for free. Some examples include Tapdaq, Tappx and Everyplay. This is a strategy which can benefit everyone, whether you are a new indie developer or part of a large franchise of mobile games. Many leading app developers use cross promoting as a primary means to increase downloads when bringing new apps to market.
Integrating a cross promotional mobile ad strategy has powerful benefits. Developers can conduct highly targeted ad delivery with options to choose specific geos across various vertical industry sectors, e.g. deploying banner ads for a casual puzzle mobile game launching into UK, France, Germany and India, across similar casual gaming titles. Once developers have activated a cross promotional ad campaign, they can then capture and evaluate their campaign data, such as being able to view click-through rates and gauge impressions. To optimise your cross promotion activity, you’ll of course need to conduct lots of testing and analysis to deliver the best results.
3. Implement a creative, engaged and targeted PR strategy
As you’re intimately involved with the development of your mobile game, this makes you eminently qualified to promote it across target media outlets, influencers, blogs and social media platforms. Ensure you create an end-to-end PR strategy to help create buzz and excitement. For example, app gamers like to hear about up and coming new games which possess unique features and innovative gameplay mechanics/graphics.
Other possible news announcements include interviews with lead developers, leveraging any notable IPs which may be involved, inviting influencers/journalists to your development studio, writing development blogs and providing insights and recommendations to your community. Also, nurturing an inspired and engaged community is a great source of feedback and ideas, so it’s important to be responsive to your fans and media.
4. App Store keyword optimisation
Research and try different selections of relevant keywords to increase the organic visibility of your games. Using tested keywords in your app title or name is a proven method to increase app store rankings. It’s worth noting that utilising keywords multiple times doesn’t increase your rankings on app stores. It is critical to test different combinations of keywords, descriptors and synonyms to discover which combination yields the best organic search results. In our experience it’s preferable to appear in the top five search results of a targeted specific keyword search, than compared to appearing in a top 100 list of a more generic keyword search. Additionally, if you wish to explore professional premium App Store Optimisation (ASO) tools, there are a number of key providers which can fulfil this need. Some examples include App Annie and apptamin.
5. Optimise app design and visual assets
App store logo
Ensure that at your game logo or icon is clear, succinct and eye-catching. . Research what your competitors are doing and deliver something unique for potential new users. Test a few different candidate logo options via a/b testing, and see what delivers the best results.
App store screen grabs and descriptors
Using your best screenshots which sell the unique propositions of your game. Regardless of your game’s category or key functionality, this part of the app store experience needs to be executed with finesse. Ensure you include descriptors for your screen grabs, highlighting features/benefits/selling points. Consider using video content if relevant as this is a potent way to communicate your app’s key benefits and messaging within a few seconds.
6. Enter business and consumer awards programmes
Shout about your successes and achievements by promoting your talent and games through various award platforms. This is a potent way to gain the respect of your target audiences and your industry peers. Winning awards recognises business achievement accolades, that resonate with audiences whether consumers, investors or other. Some notable app award platforms include the Google Play Awards and Best Mobile App Awards. Also explore your industry awards. For example, the Develop Magazine Awards 2017 for games trade, or the Pocket Gamer and The Golden Joystick Awards for consumers. It’s definitely worth noting that these awards often have indie developer specific categories, so it’s certainly worthy of investigation. So spend some time, consider your most successful projects, and submit your entries. Remember, you’ve got to be in it to win it.
7. Build a microsite or website
Many indie developers forget to implement this vital step. Establish a website or microsite as a key destination for all your important stakeholders, whether they be consumers wishing to be notified about your latest game updates, or businesses researching your latest blog or publicity. In our experience, a good site empowers you to engage with traditional marketing practices like SEO, banners and link exchanges. Often enough, having a simple site with app store download options is sufficient.