So, everybody is telling you that you should promote your mobile game. And they’re right. There’s just one problem. Your mobile game marketing budget is low or even non-existent. 😱 Don’t worry, I have good news. Marketing a mobile game on a low budget is possible.
1. Create Attention-Grabbing Visuals
Stunning visuals are one of the most important parts of marketing a mobile game on a low budget. Users want to get the full experience of a game before they download it. Moreover, mobile games are primarily visual, so it’s only logical to showcase them in a visual way.
But here’s the thing.
You need to create eye-catching visuals that will entice users to download your mobile game. Plus, you need to do it with a small budget. That’s not an easy feat, but it’s not impossible.
How to Create Visuals for Your Mobile Game
To start, you need to learn the basics.
When creating a game trailer or a promo video, the key is to grab the viewer’s attention right from start – in the first few seconds.
Imagine a person scrolling through social media and stumbling upon your video. Will the first couple of seconds make them want to watch the whole video (or even better – download your game) or will they just keep scrolling?
The second key thing when creating videos is including gameplay.
Users want to get a real taste of the game and experience gameplay through the trailer. That’s what makes them want to download the game.
So keep your videos short, to the point, and include exciting gameplay footage.
You’ll also need screenshots and a cool icon.
In case you really suck at creating visuals for your game, you might consider outsourcing it. You don’t need to spend a ton of money – you can get cool visuals on Fiverr for very little money. Or perhaps you have a friend who dabbles in graphic design or video production – ask them for help.
2. Build a Strong Web Presence
Building web exposure is something you can do even before you officially launch your mobile game. In case someone types your game’s name in the search engine, this is what they will stumble upon.
If you have your own website, create a separate site that includes the above-mentioned visuals (promo video, screenshots). On this site, you can go beyond the gameplay. For instance, you can create a storyline about your characters or game features – after all, people love stories! Here’s a great example of how Angry Birds did this.
The whole point of this is to introduce the visitors to your game and show them what they can get after they install it. Strategically place the download link in the places the users can’t miss.
Having owned media channels is useful for another important marketing strategy: collecting visitor emails.
The website is not the only place to do this, you can gather them from your social media channels as well. After you’ve gathered a proper email list, it’s time to start with newsletter marketing. This is the point where you can start creating game-relevant content for your emails.
Collecting emails is a non-stopping task, as email marketing is a powerful tool that can be used to communicate with users in various stages. It can be used for: getting new users, retaining the existing ones, and boosting player engagement.
3. Become a Master of App Store Optimization
ASO is hands down the best way to get organic downloads for free. When app store optimization is done right, it can significantly improve the visibility of your game and get you a ton of new users.
Here are the basics of app store optimization.
- Choose a memorable app name (that contains a relevant keyword)
- Write an attention-grabbing description
- Add relevant keywords
- Create a stunning icon
- Add screenshots and app promo video
- Localize your mobile game
- Update your mobile game regularly
- Index your mobile game
Out of all app store page elements, the app promo video has the highest conversion rate. That’s why you should craft it carefully.
Here are some basic tips:
- Always include gameplay footage in an app promo video (this is what both Apple and Google recommend)
- Demonstrate the most exciting and fun features of your game
- Highlight the game’s USP
- Add captions where necessary
- Edit the video according to the atmosphere you want to accomplish
- Add music and sound effects
- Make the video immersive
- Include a CTA at the end and invite users to download the game
4. Be Active on Social Media and Join Gaming Groups
If you’re not using paid ads, social media marketing is absolutely free. And it’s a great way of marketing a mobile game on a low budget.
It’s basically content marketing, so the key is to post fun and engaging content.
Also, it’s important to choose social media platforms you will focus on. Granted, being active on five different platforms can be very time consuming since you’re doing it by yourself.
That’s why I recommend that you set a realistic goal. If you’re not able to consistently post on several social media platforms, start with one. Keep in mind that content creation also takes a lot of time.
If you’re not sure which social media platform(s) to choose, your best bet is to go with the one your target audience uses.
Another important thing is to join different gaming groups on social media and be active on gaming forums. However, the purpose of these groups is usually not self-promotion so don’t harass people to download your game.
Gaming groups are more about developing relationships with likeminded people and contributing value to the community. After you make some friends, you might ask them to try your game and give you feedback.
Additionally, utilize the power of your presence as the game’s developer. Usually, big developers don’t communicate directly with their audiences, but you can. Of course, it can take time to respond to everyone, but that only means that you have a lot of feedback to respond to.
Also, don’t overlook the significance of game forums. Yes, maybe nowadays forums are not as popular as they were before social media took up all the space, but they can still be significant to you.
Forums allow you to establish a personal connection with your target audiences, post updates about your game, announce new upcoming content, etc.
Along with forums, an app like Discord can get you so many new players. Try to create a group on Discord and connect with players all over the world.
Of course, always keep in mind two things when posting on social media: don’t promise what you can’t deliver, and don’t be too invasive with advertising your game.
The latter rule should mostly apply to social media where you can communicate with people one-on-one.
A good community takes a long time to build, but in the end, they will be the ones who will stay and play your game.
5. Utilize the Power of Word-of-Mouth
When you don’t have a lot of money to spend on things like ads, word-of-mouth becomes incredibly important.
But how do you encourage people to share and recommend your game?
To start, you should offer an incentive for fans to spread the word. Perhaps a user gets a free bonus or extra game content if they share their achievements on social media.
Or you can run a contest and give out rewards to people who invite a friend to play your game.
Whatever it may be, give users a reason to share your game online.
Another strategy you might use is to give users the ability to personalize characters or unlock cool achievements. All of that creates a stronger bond with the game and it’s something users would want to share on social media.
6. Reach Out to Bloggers and Ask for Reviews
It’s true that very often you’re required to pay to get your mobile game reviewed. However, there are bloggers that will do it for free. The key is to make a really good pitch and make them interested in your game enough to review it.
Let me explain.
Instead of sending generic and boring emails to everyone, personalize your pitch and put some time into it. That can significantly increase the chance of your game getting reviewed.
Make sure to include eye-catching visuals like screenshots, a game trailer, gameplay videos, etc. You also need to add all the important information about your game (supported platforms, release date, etc.).
The most important thing when trying to get reviews is not giving up. It’s a numbers game – the more people you contact, the higher the chances are you’ll get your game reviewed.
7. Encourage Users to Rate and Review Your Mobile Game
One of the most effective ways to improve App Store rankings and get more organic downloads is having good ratings and lots of reviews.
Let me explain.
App Store ratings play a crucial role in the user’s decision to download a mobile game. In fact, almost 80 percent of users look at ratings and reviews before they download an app.
Another interesting statistic is that going from 3 to 4 stars in the App Store increases conversions by 92 percent. That shows you that ratings have a direct effect on the number of downloads your mobile game gets.
How to Get Good Ratings and Reviews?
So how do you get users to rate your mobile game and leave a positive review?
You should start by asking them. Set up a prompt inside your game and ask users to rate it. The key is not to be too pushy and ask at the right time (i.e., after users had time to experience your game and when they’re the most satisfied with it).
Also, make sure you answer all reviews in the app stores – both positive and negative ones – it shows that you care. Plus, it can make users give better ratings.
To get more information, read our simple guide on how to get good app store ratings.
8. Schedule Time for Marketing
Since you have a low or non-existent budget, that means you’re going to be doing everything by yourself. So basically, you’ll be your own marketing agency.
But here’s the kicker.
What usually happens is that developers come up with a marketing plan, but then fail to execute it. Marketing requires you to have discipline and be consistent.
My advice to you is to schedule time for all marketing tasks. For example, schedule 1 hour a day promoting on social media, 3 hours a week creating visuals, and 10 minutes a day reaching out to bloggers.
You’ll probably get the urge to procrastinate but remember that the success of your game depends on the execution of your marketing strategy.
9. Raise Money
Here’s the thing.
Mobile game marketing on a low budget is doable. However, the chances of reaching the top charts and getting millions of users on a low budget, along with thousands in revenue, are unfortunately low.
Luckily, there are many different ways to raise the money you need for marketing. Two main ways of doing that are to find investors or go the publisher route.
Investors are individuals or companies willing to invest money in your game but they expect a return on that investment. For example, VGames, Play Ventures, and Dune Ventures.
The main task here is to find a way to reach out to investors and convince them your game is worth investing in. To make the best possible impression, you need to thoroughly prepare and have answers to all of their questions.
Another way to get help with both game development and promotion is to get the support of a publisher. If we look at a list of top mobile games, many are workingŽ with publishers.
Their main job is to help you develop, distribute, and promote your game with the goal of getting it in front of as many players as possible.
A publisher will cover many costs, but you’ll need to give up a share of the profits. Most commonly, between 10% and 50%. You’ll also need to give up some of the control over your game. That’s the trade-off.
Final Thoughts on Marketing a Mobile Game on a Low Budget
Even though marketing a mobile game on a low budget is possible, it takes a lot of time and effort. You basically need to be a developer, content creator, and marketer, all at the same time. It’s not easy to wear so many hats.
If you’d like some help or guidance, let us know in the comments – we’re here for your questions.
Also, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and get all the latest info on mobile game marketing!