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Indie Mobile Game Marketing: Best Strategies for Success

Indie Mobile Game Marketing: Best Strategies for Success

As you know, being an indie developer is not easy. You got to do all the work by yourself and compete in a very crowded market. With so many mobile games in the app stores, it’s hard to get noticed and get people to play your game. Furthermore, big companies, powered by big budgets, are mercilessly stepping over indie developers and pushing them out. The game is ruthless, my friends.

So how do you promote your mobile game by yourself with no marketing budget at all? Can you even compete with big game publishers?

Although it might seem impossible, you actually can. We live in a time when you don’t need a lot of money or a big company behind you to do successful mobile game marketing. It is possible to do it all by yourself with a small or even $0 budget. You just need to learn some basic mobile marketing strategies. And, of course, put some time and effort into executing them.

To make your life easier, I have created a simple guide that will teach you the basics of indie mobile game marketing. Use these strategies to win and make your mobile game a huge hit.

Get an Early Start

You might think the time to start promoting your mobile game is after you release it. And you would be wrong. Yes, you should go full throttle during the game release. But you should start promoting a lot earlier than that. The key is to build a community around your game and create a buzz long before the release. Trust me, it will make things easier later on.

alto adventure
Alto’s Adventure Landing Page

Make a Website for Your Indie Mobile Game

One of the first steps of indie mobile game marketing is creating a landing page for your game, which is fairly cheap nowadays.

However, if you don’t have the budget for a website, a social media page is a good free alternative.

This is where you put all the important game info in one place.

What to Include in the Landing Page?

  • App Store/Google Play links
  • Game trailer
  • Social media links
  • Call to action button
  • Screenshots
  • Game reviews
  • News and updates

A couple of great examples are Monument Valley, Limbo, and Alto’s Adventure websites. All have beautifully designed landing pages and content that makes you want to play the game. And that’s the main purpose of creating a website for your mobile game.

Create Eye-Catching Ad Creatives

It’s time to get creative. To make your mobile game appealing to gamers, you need some eye-catching creatives. This is the content you will add to your website and use to promote your game on social media.

Create a Mind-blowing Trailer and Promo Video

A kick-ass game trailer is crucial for getting people to download your game. It’s what sells it to gamers and makes them want to play it right this second.

Make sure you tell your game’s story in the trailer. Give a glimpse into the world and characters of your mobile game. Include a lot of gameplay because that’s what people want to see the most. Make it exciting, enticing, and attention-grabbing.

Lastly, make it unique. Gamers have seen hundreds of trailers. They’re not impressed easily. You won’t make them excited about your mobile game with a half-assed mediocre trailer. Think about what you can do to make it stand out. Is there a way to make it more unique and thrilling? Experiment and don’t be afraid to do things differently. It pays off.

You also need an app promo video for the app stores. You can use the trailer, but not if it’s too long, like the one in the example above, which is more than 2 minutes. A promo video for the app stores should be up to 30 seconds in length. Furthermore, it should cover the basic functionalities, features, and benefits of the game.

The best way to go about creating an attractive app promo video is to first write a script. It’s a scene-by-scene description of the video.

Additionally, make sure to include gameplay footage in the promo video – both Apple and Google advise it. Using cinematics may be seen as misrepresenting the game. That’s why you should stick to gameplay footage – it gives people a real taste of the game experience.

Finally, make sure to finish off the promo video with a call to action – it invites people to download the game. For more tips on how to create the perfect promo video, go here. 

indie mobile game screenshot example
Monument Valley Screenshots

Capture Attention-Grabbing Screenshots

Other visual materials you need to excite users to play your mobile game are screenshots. They are one of the first things players see when they open an app listing. Even though they don’t have any effect on search rankings, they have the power to drive downloads.

For this reason, make sure the screenshots are high-quality and represent your mobile game really well.

The app stores allow you to upload five (iOS) to eight (Google Play) screenshots. You can use the screensh0t gallery to tell your game’s story, build excitement about it, tell users what they can expect at certain levels, etc.

When creating screenshots for your indie game, it’s particularly important to choose the first 2-3 screenshots wisely. The thing is, the users can only see these screenshots without scrolling.

For this reason, it’s important your first screenshots display your game’s key features.

Here are some other useful tips for creating high-quality screenshots:

  • use real gameplay screenshots
  • keep the text short
  • don’t make them cluttered
  • match colors with your game
  • screenshot orientation should match gameplay

Once you create screenshots, it’s time to test them. Ideally, you want to test several screenshot variations before you launch the game. However, testing doesn’t stop here. Out of all app store elements, you will need to test screenshots most frequently.

Apart from screenshots, you can also make gifs, icons, and other graphics. All of it will be very useful when promoting your game on social media.

mobile marketing and social media

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

With billions of users all over the world, you can’t ignore social media. Love it or hate it, it’s the most effective way to market your indie mobile game. Did I mention it’s free? So no more excuses, it’s time to get smart with social media.

You should have a couple of active social media profiles on the main platforms. Use them to promote your mobile game and build a community around it. It’s the place to post your game trailer, gameplay videos, screenshots, gifs, user-generated content, etc. Basically, anything that will showcase your mobile game and excite the users.

What’s even more important than posting content is communicating with people. That includes answering user comments and questions, starting conversations with followers, and being active on other people’s social media profiles. You should also be a part of different Facebook groups or even create your own. This is not the time or place to be an introvert. It’s called social media for a reason. Once you build a strong community on social media, it gets much easier to generate pre-release hype or get everyone excited about the new update.

When you’re omnipresent and engage in conversations, people begin to notice you and talk about your game. They start sharing your posts and get you more players. You might even go viral. Anything is possible.

reddit indie mobile games
Reddit – IndieGaming

Engage with Indie Mobile Game Communities

Besides social media, you should also be active in indie mobile game communities. You’ll find fellow developers and gamers on different online forums so make sure to build those relationships. These are the people who might want to test your game or give you a review.

However, as you probably know, these communities can be ruthless. You will get brutally honest opinions on your mobile game so be prepared for that. If your game sucks, they will make it clear that it sucks. However, that’s way more useful than your family and friends telling you how amazingly great your game is. Use the criticism to improve your game and make it more appealing to gamers.

List of Online Indie Mobile Game Communities

  • Reddit (r/gaming, r/gamedev, r/IndieGaming, r/indiegameswap, r/playmygame, etc.)
  • Indie Hackers
  • Growth Hackers
  • Dev
  • GameDev
  • DevMaster
  • Unity Forums
  • Indie Game Developers Facebook Group
  • Mobile Entrepreneurs Facebook Group

Cross-Promote Your Game

If you have a limited advertising budget, utilize cross-promotion. With this strategy, you can get organic downloads from investing time and inventory only.

In a perfect scenario, you already have a mobile game that is played by a decent number of players. If you don’t have one already, you can contact other developers that will accept to feature your game. If you’re going to do this, stick to your game’s broader niche. Of course, you won’t contact direct competitors. When looking for partner developers, make them an offer that both of you benefit from.

The main thing to consider when cross-promoting is the target audience. For example, the users engaged with a puzzle game are not highly likely to interact with your action game.

When using cross-promotion for your indie game, stick to these best  practices:

  • Don’t place cross-promotions where you would usually place in-app ads. This way you could jeopardize your other game’s in-app revenue. After all, there are so many other placements to cross-promote.
  • Choose the right in-app placements to cross-promote. Some good placements include the game lobby, the “about” section, and the post-review section. For instance, after the user writes a review for your game and comes back to the game, this is a good place to show off your new game.
  • Create a recognizable brand across your games. This refers mainly to your games’ visual assets. Use a similar color palette and stick to the same design style.
  • Test which placements are best converting. After you’ve tested several placements, analyze which got you the most installs, and focus on them.

Finally, cross-promotion is not restricted to in-app actions. You can promote your new game through all of your owned channels such as your website, social media, or email list.

Don’t Forget About App Store Optimization

According to Statista, there are almost 500,000 games just in the Google Play store. So how do you get noticed among such crazy competition? That’s where app store optimization comes in. It should be a key part of your indie mobile game strategy. ASO helps you improve the visibility of your mobile game and ultimately get more downloads.

Ranking high in app stores is similar to being among the top Google search results. However, the strategy is slightly different.

Choose Mobile Game Name Carefully

Your game’s name is your unique selling proposition. For some users, the game’s name is the only thing standing between installing or exiting the app store listing.

The name of your mobile game is also a huge ranking factor. For this reason, you will need to compromise between a catchy name and keywords relevant to the game.  According to Tune, mobile games that have a relevant keyword in the title rank 10% higher than those that don’t.

Captivate Users with Exciting Game Description

The game description is another important factor when it comes to app store optimization. You want to make it short, but interesting enough to capture users’ attention. Include relevant keywords in the description, but don’t do it just for the sake of it. The sentences should be natural and readable.

Other important ASO steps are indexing your mobile game, adding screenshots and videos, including relevant keywords, localization, and adding an eye-catching icon. According to TheTool, the 3 most important ASO factors are localized product page, app name, and rankings.

If you want to learn more about app store optimization, check out our in-depth ASO guide.

Invest in Paid Ads

If you have at least some marketing budget or can get some funding, it’s a smart idea to invest in a paid user acquisition campaign, as that’s the most effective way to get more users.

Even if the money is tight, paid ads can be worth it if you manage to get a good ROI.

Indie Mobile Game Marketing: A Summary

As you can see, there are many different indie mobile game marketing strategies you can try. So don’t get discouraged. It would be such a shame to spend weeks developing your awesome new mobile game and then make no effort to promote it.

Yes, being an indie developer has its disadvantages and it would be great to have a marketing budget like the giants Supercell or Tencent. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t promote your mobile game successfully and make it a huge hit.

Get creative, be persistent and I guarantee you’ll achieve great results.

What is the most challenging part of indie mobile game marketing for you? Tell us how we can help you in the comments below!

Udonis

About Udonis

Udonis is an independent full-service mobile marketing agency that acquired more than 300,000,000 users for mobile games since 2018.

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