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Indie Game Marketing: How to Grow Your Game on Budget

Learn the secrets to stretching your marketing dollar and standing out in a tough industry

Indie Game Marketing

Indie gaming is a hotbed of creativity: Many of the most exciting ideas and mechanics are born in this space. And due to recent advancements in distribution methods and development tools that enable anyone to make a game, indie studios will continue to drive the industry forward for years to come.

But of course, having a brilliant idea for a game is the easy (and free) part. Getting it out there — now that's the tricky bit. This article will explain how smaller developers can win the promotion game, outlining the best indie game marketing strategies they can use to grow their games on a tight budget.

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The 3 keys to successful indie game marketing

Invest In Top Notch Creative

Focus on App Store Optimization

Leverage High Impact Channels

Standing Out in a Crowd

The 3 Keys to Successful Indie Game Marketing

While indie game developers may not have the resources of major studios, they can still launch highly successful marketing campaigns for their titles. They just have to focus. To maximize the impact of their marketing, smaller developers need to create an indie game marketing plan that prioritizes excellent creative, app store optimization (ASO), and high-impact channels.

Invest In Top Notch Creative

Every game developer knows that aesthetics can have a huge impact on a game’s popularity. The same is true for the marketing creative you use to promote that game. If you want your title to blow up, you have to make sure every bit of creative you use in your ads, app store profile, and press kit tells exactly the story you want it to tell.

To keep you from blowing your budget in this endeavor you’ll want to concentrate on a few core assets: your logo, screenshots, character art, and trailer.

  • Logo: Create multiple high-resolution, authoritative versions of your logo.
  • Screenshots: Take multiple screenshots of the most exciting, interesting, important, or illustrative highlights.
  • Character art: You should have numerous high-quality images of your game’s important characters (if you have them).
  • Trailer: Your trailer should be about 90 seconds long and capture what’s special about your game.

Once you’ve built out these assets, package your best creative in a press kit that you can share with journalists, influencers, or anyone else looking to publish content around your game. Doing this well will help you control the message and get your audience excited about the upcoming launch.

For an example of an indie game press kit done right, check out what Gladio Games put together for their Square Maze Press Kit.

Focus on App Store Optimization

With your creative in hand, you can now turn your attention to one of the most important aspects of indie game marketing in 2021, 2022, and beyond: app store optimization (ASO). Around 60% of all app downloads result from users browsing app stores, so developers that dial in their ASO unlock huge growth potential for their games.

The ASO playbook is very similar to SEO because it’s all about maximizing the chance that your game will turn up in a search. But because app stores don’t use all the same signals that Google does in their search algorithm, there are some unique considerations you need to take into account. Overall, ASO is about executing across the following areas:

  • Keyword usage: You’ll want to use keywords in your profile that your audience would use to find a game like yours, so brush up on your ASO keyword research skills.
  • Creative: Pick the best creative you’ve got to feature on your profile.
  • Localization: Make sure to create multiple versions of the page and its contents to cater to each of your target markets.  
  • Reviews: Don’t just think volume here. Instead, focus on getting the ratio of glowing reviews as high as possible. This tactic could entail targeting your most devoted players with review requests.
  • A/B testing: Regularly test alternatives to your creative to find the most appealing visuals.
  • Monitoring: Keep track of search rankings and what your competitors are doing to make sure you can make any necessary strategy adjustments and don’t get caught flat-footed.
  • Download velocity: While Google uses backlinks as an important part of their ranking mix, app stores look at how fast users download a game as a key input in ordering search results. When you’re putting together your launch strategy, you want to emphasize driving download velocity by making sure you have tactics like localization, reviews, and ASO working for you from the beginning.
  • Retention rate: Another important factor for ASO is the retention rate. The longer you can encourage users to play your game, the higher your search ranking.

Leverage High Impact Channels

Now, let’s look at some of the highest-impact marketing channels indie game developers can use to grow their audience.

  • Social: Social media generates over 15% of app downloads. One of the best tactics you can use to set yourself apart on social is influencer (or micro-influencer) marketing. Recent data has shown that influencer marketing is actually three times as cost-effective as social media advertising
  • Search: Search is also responsible for about 15% of app downloads. In general, marketers take two approaches to capturing search traffic: search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). SEO is a long-term strategy because it depends on developing website authority over time by creating useful content related to your game. But once you’ve built that authority, it generates sustained and cheap traffic. SEM typically generates results more quickly because you’re paying to place your ads in front of your audience immediately. But SEM can be tricky to optimize. For this reason, it may be a good idea to use both of these strategies to promote your game.
  • CTV: CTV advertising is an emerging, high-impact advertising channel that combines the precision of digital advertising with the power of the home television experience. Recent research has shown that it's the most memorable, one of the most influential, and the least annoying digital marketing channel. While your competitors may use some of the other indie game marketing ideas we’ve discussed, they’re less likely to have tapped this channel. CTV advertising could give you a competitive advantage in a tough industry.  

Standing Out in a Crowd

Successfully marketing a title in the mobile game industry is extremely challenging — even with deep pockets. When resources are scant, “challenging” can feel impossible. But the good news is that’s just a feeling. With the proper application of focus and a little creativity, you can certainly make your mobile game a success.

Part of that creativity is in finding and using marketing channels that your competitors may overlook. CTV advertising is just such a channel, and tvScientific is the leading, most sophisticated, CTV ad platform. Our performance advertising solution for the gaming industry has proven to be highly effective, generating an average Cost Per Install (CPI) rate of $1.90 and an average Day-7 Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) of 1.25X. Contact us today to see what our platform could do for your game.

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