Comment & Opinion

Six tips for an effective, holistic user acquisition strategy

Tanya Lee on casting the net wider

Six tips for an effective, holistic user acquisition strategy

Tanya Lee is head of demand, EMEA at mobile video ad platform Vungle.

Creating a new game is no easy feat. It takes a significant amount of time and money before the product is ready to be introduced to the masses.

Companies need to ensure every aspect of a game's launch sets it up for success.

More than the game

While keeping users engaged ultimately depends on the quality of the game, creating initial momentum to bring users in is critical.

It requires the right combination of creative thinking, marketing acumen and, of course, a stellar user acquisition strategy.

To help companies deliver the best possible results, I've outlined six tips for developing a user acquisition strategy.

Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Integrate social sharing

    Social media is a natural extension of mobile game play because it gives people the ability to share and compare their gaming experiences with others.

    It's also a key channel for user acquisition. In fact, game developers rank social media among the most effective user acquisition strategies.

    In order to better leverage social media, companies should build social features within their games to drive fan growth and loyalty.

    One of the earliest and simplest social media integrations was Canabalt's tweets

    Consider including a "play with friends" game mode that encourages social sharing for reward points or integrating creative ways for players to share in-game.

    For example, some games encourage players to tweet messages about their adventure at key progression points, using a designated hashtag.

  • 2 Leverage key influencers

    Another increasingly popular strategy for user acquisition is to partner with influencers in the gaming space.

    Typically, these online personalities have a large following on platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Twitch, among others, and can drive awareness of a game.

    While there are a number of ways companies can partner with influencers, the most effective tactics include having them review the game or develop promotional videos for YouTube.

    For example, Scopely partnered with YouTube star PewDiePie to help drive awareness around the launch of its The Walking Dead game, and the YouTube video received more than four million views.

    Because partnering with key influencers is proven to introduce games to new and relevant audiences, many gaming studios have added influencer relations to marketing budgets this year.

    By combining an influencer campaign with other marketing initiatives, companies will reach a broader audience and increase awareness around a launch.

  • 3 Build loyalty with existing fans

    Fans are a game's biggest advocates, so it's important to keep them constantly engaged and connected.

    Companies can entice sign-ups for new games by leveraging their existing mailing lists to offer compelling incentives, such as a free levels or access to exclusive content.

    Once a player has shown an interest in the game, companies can then lightly target them with marketing-driven updates about upcoming games while also offering free codes, beta-testing opportunities and special insider goodies.

    EA engaged with Star Wars fans offering free The Force Awakens characters in Galaxy of Heroes

    These activities cultivate "mega fans" – highly engaged players and advocates of the game, who are more likely to try other games from a specific brand. Companies can also tap into mega fans' untapped networks of connections to bring in new players.

  • 4 Stay top-of-mind with content updates and re-launches

    Although it can take many months to create a new game, regular updates and level expansions provide developers with a chance to stay in front of fans on an ongoing basis.

    In addition to bringing players back to the game, this steady cadence of updates can help attract new players or get the app featured in the App Store's "Best New Game Updates" section. Otherwise, studios risk losing the attention of players that could have become mega fans.

    At Vungle, we've seen companies push out new content every week to keep players' interest. Other companies allow user-generated content.

    Supercell reinvigorated Clash of Clans with the Town Hall 11 update

    Regardless of the chosen method, a content strategy will keep players engaged with a game over a long period of time so it remains top-of-mind.

  • 5 Be strategic about press coverage

    Another key component of a successful user acquisition strategy is press coverage.

    Determine what makes the game unique and capitalize on those elements with teaser trailers, interviews and a press release.

    When it comes to media outreach, this strategic messaging should be incorporated into short, personalized pitches. This will help differentiate the game from its competitors and grab editors' attention, ultimately garnering more than a brief mention in a bullet-point-style features list.

    Exploding Kittens gave people plenty to write about

    Because reporters are always busy, follow-up emails may be the ticket to getting ink on paper.

  • 6 Incorporate paid mobile video advertising

    Companies interested in taking their user acquisition strategy to the next level should invest in mobile video ads as they're a powerful way to acquire new users and monetize games.

    Video ads allow for advanced targeting and personalization in order to boost LTV of the users acquired.

    Companies should look at their advanced targeting options, such segmenting by location, device type and specific OS category - all of these levers can have a significant impact on whether users convert. Studios that work with ad partners may have more luck scaling their ad program, expanding into other countries and ultimately lowering user acquisition costs.

    User acquisition has a significant impact on the success of a new game, so it's imperative to establish an effective user acquisition strategy.

    By following the above tips, companies will be better prepared to drive awareness around new games and monetize their apps. regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.