Does Gaming Need Content Marketing?
More than in almost any other vertical, success for small game developers depends on word of mouth. If the right people (meaning influencers) love your game, you’ve got it made. The challenge is engaging the right people. Waiting for that Steam Greenlight just isn’t going to cut it. Even if you have a Steam Greenlight, you’re just a minnow trying to compete in a market dominated by whales.
The cards are stacked against small indie developers without big studio talent or record-breaking popularity. You could be a great game developer — in fact, you could have an incredible game on your hands — but unless you draw the interest of the right people, you won’t find success. The good news is that many gamers have a soft spot for the underdog, so they’re willing to give indie developers a chance. But first they have to get to know you and your game, and they have to trust you enough to recommend you: No serious gamer wants to blow his reputation by pushing a game that turns out to be a dud. Here are some ways a good content marketing and social media strategy can help you get noticed.
If you want gamers to talk about you, you have show up where those conversations are taking place. That means having an active presence on forums like Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter, as well as on gaming-specific communities, including Big Fish Games, Enjin, and GSN Gaming. As long as the community’s rules allow it, it’s fine to mention your game and talk about how awesome it is, as long as you don’t overdo, or oversell, it. Primarily, however, you should be a participant.
Respond to comments, answer questions, and, in general, make yourself useful. Becoming part of the community helps you establish your credibility and avoid looking like a spammer. Although Blizzard, makers of “Diablo” and “Warcraft,” can in no way be considered an indie or an underdog, they do an excellent job at this. Their customer service reps, developers, and even company executives fully participate in the communities they want to reach. And they don’t shy away from the more heated discussions; they’re right there in the trenches with everybody else.
Optimize your customer base
Because most games require users to log in with an email address, you have a treasure trove as close as your nearest database. It seems almost criminal not to use that information to reach customers by email, assuming you’ve received their permission to contact them. Try sending a “tip of the day” to help players be successful. If customers have let you know that there’s a bug in the game, reassure them that you’re on top of it. Another great way to optimize your email database is to send out a weekly (or monthly) newsletter that summarizes the tips, addresses issues, talks about what’s coming out next, and maybe even recognizes the achievements of some of your most experienced and enthusiastic gamers.
Publish awesome, gotta-have-it content
As important as social networks and email are for marketing your game, you eventually want to draw people to your own website. And that means providing content that’s worth your audience’s time and effort. When thinking about how you can use your website as a marketing tool, consider these ideas:
- Publish blog posts that explore topics of interest to your audience. You might want to talk about how you developed the game, especially if there’s an interesting story behind how you came up with the idea. And, as with newsletters, you can share tips, address topics of concern, and talk about upcoming features.
- Once you’re active on social media, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what people are talking about, what they’re struggling with, and what they don’t understand. Help out by publishing (and regularly updating) an FAQ that addresses common issues.
- Strategy guides are popular in the gaming community. Not only do serious gamers appreciate the help in taking their game to the next level, a great strategy guide can spell the difference between new gamers sticking around or giving up to try something else.
- Establish a player forum. It will serve as a home base for players who want to talk about your game, share advice, and ask questions. The most important factor in making this work, however, is your own responsiveness. Respond to questions and complaints as quickly as you can, and monitor the ongoing chatter as a fantastic source of customer feedback.
You’ve got a great game, and now you need players. A well-planned and executed content marketing strategy can get the job done. Sign up today for free, no-obligation access to our platform to see how we can help you win the content marketing game.