Katerina Zolotareva

Katerina Zolotareva

Marketing and Customer Success at TheTool

Editor’s note: a little while ago we discussed how to market your game on a $0 budget. It was a popular post with a lot of useful tips. We thought we’d get more advice from another industry expert. This time it’s from TheTool’s ASO and mobile marketing lead, Katerina Zolotareva.


Getting a mobile game discovered by users is a tricky task and many developers have a perception that it will inevitably cost a lot of money. However, this doesn’t have to be true! There are many ways to promote an app on a low budget. App Marketing is all about creative approach!

Good communication with potential players and existing ones is essential to achieve visibility and help your game to achieve maximum exposure.

Today we will share some tactics that will make your life so much easier when you need to get downloads (without investing a single dollar). Let’s go!

Before launch

1. Create a teaser

Video and screenshots are the perfect examples of visual content that you will need at this step. A striking video teaser of your game will evoke the interest from the audience and create a desire to try it. Tell a story with your video and try to grab the attention from the first seconds. Use real footage from your gameplay – in the end users want to see what is inside!

“Users who watch your video are 3x more likely to install (Apptamin)”

Prepare a good selection of screenshots and provide them with explanations. Showcase characters and locations and provide the screenshots with a powerful and engaging call-to action.

Read more about screenshots here and be sure to check this guide for video marketing to create an amazing video for your game – and be ready for the new App Store update with iOS11!

2. Get web exposure

Before launching a mobile game in the app stores, ensure its web presence. It can be as simple as a one page site that will showcase your game’s best features and include the promo content (screenshots, videos). Follow the examples of Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja or Homescapes.

Describe your cool characters, their virtues and the hot moments of your game – make it desirable!

Use your website to promote your game in web search engines and to collect emails of those who are interested in getting the news about the game launch. Start a blog and publish interesting game-related content frequently – see this example from the Two Dots blog.

Never stop collecting emails, as direct email marketing still remains the most powerful tool to communicate with users. Emails can, any stage to get, help you to attract, retain and engage your players. Gather emails from your website, landing pages, Twitter or Facebook pages.

When the game is out, your website will become a powerful SEO tool for promoting it. Include download links from the app stores, and stimulate web visitors to try a game with interstitials or links in page headers. Read more about how doing SEO for mobile apps can help you drive more organic installs in this article.

3. Create a hype

People enjoy all things exclusive. A great example is when Spotify entered the US market being an invitation-only platform. People always want what they don’t have, so they went crazy about it!

A good trick is to launch the first version of a game and open it only to beta-testers in the beginning. You will create a buzz around your game, and the beta-testers will soon become loyal players and your strongest advocates, thus increasing your reach to your target audience. Try Betabound to look for beta testers for your upcoming game.

4. Get ready for press attention

Having media attention is essential to reach wide audience and get your game exposed to new users. Pitch to journalists, apply for awards, speak at the conferences or other industry events, give interviews to local media, write guest posts.

Search Google to find popular blogs in your niche to reach out to. Think Android Authority, Macworld and similar. Try these app review sites: Here you can find a list of 112 app review sites to submit your app.

Have your PR kit prepared – it usually includes:

  • Game Description – A summary of what your game does and who it is targeted to.
  • Press Release – A story behind the creation of your game, biographies and photos of founders, and statistics and curious facts about your game.
  • Design Materials: Logos, Icon, etc. Include all sizes and the hi-res images to avoid any complications.
  • Screenshots & Video to show your game in action and help readers get an instant overview of what it is about. Include a lot of visual materials to give different media a chance to pick the ones that haven’t been previously used by anyone else.

Reaching out to influencers will also do you good – try Buzzsumo to find the content on the blogs with most shares.

5. Do App Store Optimization

App Store Optimization, or ASO, is essential to market a game on the app stores. ASO is the process of optimizing the visibility and conversion rate on the stores in order to drive app installs. ASO is the instrument that will open your game to the market and help it stand out from more than 7.6 million other apps (just on App Store and Google Play Store together, not counting the numerous other app stores that exist out there).

The main elements of ASO are: Keyword Research & Optimization, Conversion Rate Optimization, and constant Tracking and Improving the results.

App Store Optimization helps you show up in the app stores search results, where the users are browsing to find new apps and games, and with a boost of installs your game will also have a chance to rank higher in the top charts, and ultimately it might get featured by the stores’ editorial teams.

To learn more about App Store Optimization, read these Guides for Google Play ASO and App Store ASO.

After launch

6. Localize your game and its listing on the stores

Localization is a powerful tool to open your game internationally. Mobile is global, and by localizing an app and its product page on the stores you can reach a far larger audience and possible fans of your game.

Be sure to prepare your app to localization technically at an early stage, and to evaluate the potential market, first make an app available on a new country in English but with a store listing in the target language. When you start getting installs from this country, you can evaluate the possibility to translate the game’s full content.

For more examples of quick and clever game localization tactics, check this interview with FRVR.

7. Take care of your user ratings and reviews

User reviews and ratings have a lot of weight in the app stores’ algorithms (for determining ranking apps and games in search). The Google Play Store even takes into account the keywords found in user reviews. Moreover, user feedback heavily influences conversion rate, as the users are keen on checking the reviews before downloading an app.

The good news is that the app stores provide developers with an opportunity to reply on users’ comments and sometimes that makes is possible to resolve the problem and change user feedback from negative to positive.

Listen to your users – from their comments you can find interesting ideas to include in your roadmap, fix bugs and provide them the excellent customer support that will turn them into loyal users.

Encourage your players to leave feedback. It is important to find great time points to ask for a review – for example, after the user has passed a difficult level, unlocked an achievement or new character. Make sure you are not asking your new users to leave comments – they probably won’t leave a nice feedback as they haven’t yet had a chance to discover all the virtues of the game.

The best option in this case is to prompt the users to confirm whether they are happy with the game or not – if yes, take them to the store to leave their positive feedback, and if not, provide them with a support page where their problems can be resolved or bugs fixed before they write a negative review on the store.

8. Get featured by influencers

Gamers love reviews. The quickest way to get them to know about you is to get endorsed by an influencer or get your game reviewed by an authoritative YouTuber.

For example, here you can find the 100 most viewed YouTube gaming channels worldwide.

9. Use social media channels like a ninja

Use the powers of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Flickr or Tumblr to promote your game. Don’t underestimate the audience you can get from these channels and collect their emails to directly promote your offers to them in the future. Grab this guide on what to post on each social media platform!

Create a community – you can publish walkthroughs, run championships, organize contest and grow an audience of loyal users that are engaged with your game and become your fans on social media. Monument Valley has created an amazing community in Tumblr – take a look here.

Publish your own content in a blog and transmit your news to your audience through social media. With a minimal budget you can try to increase the organic reach of your posts by publishing it a few times, once a week.

Communicate important news and listen to your users – follow the example of Tap Tap Fish’ Facebook page.

10. Use the power of word-of-mouth

Encourage your users to spread the word about your game! Include a social component to provide users with an opportunity to share their achievements, and consider bonuses for doing so – like unlocking new levels.

Run a contest or giveaway of your premium content – for example, pick a winner from those who have shared your content and give something as reward. Encourage your users to invite friends to the game, providing cool incentives in exchange.

Offer rewards for inviting friends, connecting social accounts, sharing achievements and records! You can even use unlocking new locations or characters as rewards or incentives. The best rewards are unpredictable or random – this is why things like one-hand jack or fortune wheel are so addictive!

Another example is to let the users personalize their characters to create a greater affinity to your game. Users will actively share their records and achievements on social media, creating an amazing word-of-mouth powered marketing for your game.

In a nutshell…

A big budget is not necessary for a high visibility and success of a game. More than that, a good combination of app marketing tactics, such as App Store Optimization, can help you refine your paid acquisition strategies by improving conversion rates and getting you more organic and non-organic visitors.

A few takeouts to have a killer app marketing strategy:

  • Create an attractive video teaser
  • Work on a press kit and reach out to specialized media
  • Take advantage of web users to convince them try your game
  • Use the power of social media and influencers
  • App Store Optimization is a MUST!
  • Listen to the users reviews and encourage them to leave feedback
  • Localize a game (content + listing) for a wider audience reach
  • Encourage word-of mouth marketing with rewards

See you in the Top Charts and Search Results!

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Katerina Zolotareva

Katerina Zolotareva

Marketing and Customer Success at TheTool

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