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Mobile gaming app tactics that go beyond user acquisition

User acquisition (UA) is often considered the bread and butter of a mobile gaming app’s success, and yet, there are other areas that can significantly impact a game’s overall bottom line. From cross-promotion to introducing new social features, we cover fresh marketing tactics that growth marketers can implement to scale their gaming apps.

Engagement: Reward every step

All client-facing businesses focus on customer engagement, and gaming apps shouldn’t be any different. While user churn is an inevitable part of the user lifecycle, in the gaming industry, it doesn’t appear to cause any concern. A common mindset, particularly at the hyper casual end of the scale, is “There’s always the next set of users to come through user acquisition campaigns”.

But this thinking does a disservice to an app’s overall revenue. Engagement should be a core area of focus for gaming apps, particularly in light of the rough year they had in 2022. Although gaming apps mid-2023 show positive signs and are largely making a comeback, to ensure long-term growth, they should consider the following engagement strategies.

1. Add social features

Social gaming is taking the gaming world by storm. In our recent social gaming article, we discuss how many younger players use games to engage with others beyond traditional gameplay. They often look for belonging and emotional fulfillment within games. By adding some of the following social gaming features to your app, you can enhance user engagement.

Types of social features to incorporate into your gaming app

  • In-game chat function
  • Push notifications when users are mentioned or challenged
  • Personalized activity feeds
  • Like button
  • Communities/guilds
  • Competitive events
  • Friends list
  • User profile
  • Recording and sharing gameplay
  • Gifting items
Gaming app example utilizing the social feature of guilds

2. Maximize your monetization with items

During your gaming app’s development, the monetization model was set before launch—ranging from in-app purchases, subscriptions, freemium, a combination of these, and more. However, think beyond revenue and consider, “What will entice my users to keep playing?” (Trust us, if you can correctly answer this question, your app’s revenue will grow.) Try the following two recommendations.

Beef up your in-game store

In a typical gaming store, players can choose from a variety of items to purchase, such as tools, weapons, outfits, more lives, in-game currency, etc. Outfit your app’s virtual store with more consumable and non-consumable items for purchase. You can also offer bundles in which several items are grouped together for a discounted price. Having a robust in-game store provides greater incentive for users to keep playing your game to be able to purchase and use these items.

Tease VIP content

Create exclusive in-game rewards or content, like hints, that can only be unlocked by players who achieve a “VIP” status within your game. How you define VIP may vary depending on your goals: by time spent in app, by levels completed, etc. Some games even have VIP levels that can only be accessed if users purchase a VIP pass. By segmenting your audience to identify high-value users, you can target these with VIP features for additional engagement.

3. Get in on gamification

Yes, even gaming apps stand to benefit from adding additional gaming elements. Perhaps your app has long had its own in-game currency and leaderboard, but have you let users try to obtain different skills within your game? Or play a mini-game within your game, such as spin the wheel, roll the dice, etc.? If not, we suggest you read our guide on gamification to review the multiple gaming elements you could add to your app for improved user interaction.

4. Seriously, get that opt-in

Over the past two years, App Tracking Transparency (ATT) opt-in rates have continued to rise in the gaming vertical. Per Adjust data, the gaming vertical boasts the highest opt-in rates at an impressive of 37%, as of Q2 2023. This is likely due to the fact that players better understand the benefits of targeted advertising and welcome ads that help them find their next game. Benchmark how your app is doing by comparing its opt-in rate to the vertical averages listed in the graph below.

Having first-party data will also mean you can provide gamers with rewards across all your gaming titles, which will come in handy to cross-promote your apps as we’ll discuss below. Check out these tips for getting the opt-in. Even without the opt-in, however, Adjust’s SKAN solutions make campaign strategy and optimization on iOS easy, meaning you can scale regardless.

Cross-promote to grow your apps

If you own more than one title, cross-promotion of your apps is a must. There are multiple ways you can advertise one of your games within another. Consider showing a rewarded video ad with a trailer of another title. Better yet, feature a playable ad so the user can get a taste of the game.

Additionally, if you’re utilizing in-app messages, you can send a notification encouraging users to try a new game. Offer users incentives such as virtual coins or extra lives upon installing the new game. Another bonus of cross-promotion is that you can leverage the IDFV to measure activity across games.

Some recent examples of top-tier cross-promotion include Meta’s push for Instagram users to open a synced account on Threads, or Pokemon Go’s ‘Catching Some Zs’ in-game event promoting the launch of Pokemon Sleep.

Pivot: Do you need to rethink your game?

To bounce back from the blow 2022 handed the gaming industry, many apps are reinventing themselves by combining subgenres. Popular mashups include: RPG + strategy, Idle + RPG, and hyper casual + mid-core, also known as hybrid casuals. By combining popular subgenres, gaming app publishers are winning new audiences and keeping them around for longer by expanding the elements in the game potential users could be attracted to or retained by. This means great opportunity for monetization.

For example, Friends & Dragons is a strategy game that combines puzzles and RPG elements. Users can fight dragons, win treasure by playing puzzles, and play in a co-op (see that social feature there?).

Friends & Dragons app combines Puzzle + RPG gaming app

App developers who are reimagining their games should consider leveraging generative AI to build their gaming universes and elevate their characters to mimic human behavior.

Psst—Retaining users matters too

The yin to user acquisition’s yang, user retention is not something to be left to the side in favor of UA strategies. When marketers make improving their retention rates a priority, (and if they have the right analytics platform), they can understand how to improve their app’s user journey, which touchpoints encourage user engagement, and ultimately grow the lifetime value (LTV) and revenue potential of their app’s user base.

Additionally, by monitoring specific segments of users and their retention rates, marketers can inform their UA campaigns of which channels bring in the high-value users.

Five retention tips:

  1. Revise your app store content and assets.
  2. Continue to perform app store optimization (ASO).
  3. Ensure your app’s onboarding delights and educates users.
  4. Retain users with tactical in-app messages.
  5. A/B test and then A/B test some more to see areas of improvement.

For more tips and insights, check out our handbook on user retention.

Go beyond user acquisition with Adjust

Getting accurate and timely analytics across your marketing campaigns and channels can make or break your gaming app’s success. From mobile attribution to dynamic audience segmentation to campaign automation and more, Adjust’s mobile measurement and analytics suite provides growth marketers with a comprehensive marketing platform. With options to advertise on newer channels like connected TV or PC & Console, Adjust’s continual innovation will keep you one step ahead of your competitors.

To see firsthand how Adjust can empower your gaming app’s growth, request your demo today.

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