Market Your Game With Small Budget



You have built your game, now it’s time to start marketing it!

You’ve had an idea for an app/game, it took you months to develop it from scratch, and you’ve gone through a lot of hoops to make it great. Now it’s time to start marketing, and yes, marketing often requires money.

Now you’re googling articles to get as much information about how to market your mobile app/game on a small budget. You’ve come to the right place! If that may help you feel better, according to the recent VisionMobile, the leading analyst company, research shows 59% of app developers make $500 or less a month. Good old common sense will tell you that making that much is really hard to invest into marketing. So what  should you do? Ok, here is what I think you should do.

The app markets are really saturated at this point. Most likely you’ve created an app that is somewhat similar to dozens of other apps. I know that you’re looking for an original idea, but at some point you figured out that it was impossible and decided to do a better take on existing app’s concept. By releasing an app that is similar to others, you won’t be able to grab a big chunk of a market, plus if you could, it would cost you a lot. So you need to focus on a narrow segment of the app market. Reaching out several hundreds or thousands users is a feasible goal, a million or so – not. To reach those people you need to find the right marketing channel. Your marketing channels “toolbox” consists of social media websites, blogs, forums, YouTube channels subscribers and of course the App Store / Google Play itself. Also don’t forget that you’re actually in touch with many people, who can become your app reviewers and testers, yep – it’s your friends on Facebook.

Echoing the famous Beatles song “With a Little Help of My Friends”, you can get so desirable installs on your app’s launch on the App Store / Google Play, by asking your friends and family to download the app. Also don’t hesitate to ask for their unbiased feedback, ask for pointing at any small detail, that confused them or any bugs they managed to find.

Just for the sake of people who aren’t familiar with this acronym, ASO stands for App Store Optimization. Essentially it’s a marketing technique to rank or increase ranking of an app for specific keywords and increase chances that people will prefer it to other app in search results. Among other app marketing techniques, this one is arguably the best one. The Ultimate ASO Guide downloadable for free here. And here is the digest of the most important information you need to know about ASO:

  • Describe the app’s function
  • Pick a catchy name that is easy to remember
  • Title should consist of a brand name with 1-3 major keywords describing it
  • Use a native language name for each local store
  • Apply logical and common sense to pick up keywords to describe an app
  • Apply third party tool (SensorTower, ASO Builder, etc.) to analyze keywords traffic generation potential
  • Analyze the app’s competitor reviews to discover new keywords
  • Pick up as many keywords to fill up the 100-symbol limit
  • 4 and 5 star ratings influence an app’s rating on the charts
  • It’s crucial to have high ratings to compete with other apps on the charts
  • Each app version has its own average rating figure – update release helps to fix the low rating issue
  • Of 6 screenshots, the first 2 should give the best idea of the app’s purpose
  • Decide which format (horizontal or vertical) will tell the best visual story
  • Consider a video demo stop frame to be the first screenshot
  • Positive reviews influence the user’s decision to install
  • Always go with genuine reviews, don’t be fooled by fake ones
  • Communicate with app users via social media to avoid negative App Store reviews
  • Use simple geometric forms
  • Avoid using text
  • Make it stand out in search results
  • Icon should be scaleable to look good in various sizes
Video Preview
  • Write a script to shoot a video demo
  • Highlight the best features in your app
  • Use a call to action with an encouraging message to wrap up the video
  • Shoot separate videos for iPad and iPhone for a universal app
  • Length: 15-30 seconds
  • Compression: H.264 MPEG codecs
  • RateL 30 frames / sec
  • Size: under 500 MB

I’m sure you’ve read articles about or watched presentations of apps that looked like more of a story, not just an app. The reason why app owners market their apps as a story is simple – we, human beings, are emotional creatures, when we see a story attached to a product or a service, we are more likely to buy it. The most basic way of building a story around an app is blogging about it and writing guest blog posts for other sites. I understand that writing isn’t necessary a skill that you have, after all there aren’t many Tim Urbans of WBW but you don’t have to be that cool to write about your app. As for the topics to write, it will be – a specific problem your app helps people to solve, updates you issue for the app, some crazy story about how the idea for the app did come about. This is how you’ll be able to nurture relationships between you and your app users. As an example I can’t think of a better one than FiftyFree.

Speaking of bloggers, you should reach out media outlets and relevant bloggers to review your app. In other words, you should launch a pr campaign. To launch a successful one you’ll need several things:

  1. Pitch

    Write short (2-3 paragraphs) text that highlights your app’s best features. It’ll be a template to add with details about specific blog, such as why your app review will benefit its audience. Including a link to short, up to 30 seconds video demo, will really help to show your app front and featured to bloggers and journalists.

  2. Media List

    You can use services like to get access to a large database of bloggers and journalists contact information. Make sure your list will consist of 15-25 media outlets, both high profile and less popular but still highly relevant to your app’s theme.

  3. Schedule

    Be aware that pitching app is a long-term process, all bloggers of journalists, you’ll be approaching, are overwhelmed with requests from other developers. It’ll take time and 2 follow-ups to break through the clutter of other developers requests and be ready that many bloggers or journalists won’t answer your emails and follow-ups, it’s OK. Move on to the next people on your list.

The more points of reference you get published for your app, the more signals people get about your app pros, and realize that your app is what they’re looking for. There are lots of app review sites you can approach.
One of the best channels to reach out your app’s potential audience are social networks. Here is the approach I recommend. You’ll need to decide how much time you can allocate on working with social media accounts you’ll create. Be realistic and focus on as much as you will reasonably being able to support. Your list of social networks to choose from is – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn. All accounts / pages will require daily support – posting, feedback monitoring (if you don’t talk to people back, they just move on), tuning your posting activity based on what content triggers the best response. Your posts topics should cover the app updates, any media coverage it gets over time, content related to your app – articles, videos, photos, GIFs, infographics. It’ll be your field to experiment with different type of content.

There is one specific feature for Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn to mention – Groups. Each group is built around a specific business vertical, or service, or a product. If you have a business-oriented app, you can look for relevant groups on LinkedIn to join and post about your app. By no means I’m encouraging you to spam these groups members, always read carefully discussions and inject your app only when it brings people value. On Facebook there are lots of groups dedicated to mobile apps in general, their audience is on a quest for new, quality apps to try and so posting your app there will give it an extra chance to be discovered.

Finally, all graphics for your social media channels should be visually consistent with your app’s graphics.

Good targeting is what will make a difference between wasted and well-spent marketing budget. Both Facebook and Twitter app promotion tool have unparalleled targeting options. If you have a small budget to launch app install ads campaign on these platforms, make sure you brainstorm what targeting options you choose really hard. In your disposal geo, gender, age, device, OS, interests targeting options. Especially on Facebook you can laser-focus your ads on people you really see as your app potential users.
Being able to track users behavior inside an app is important for any app, but it’s really important for an app you don’t have a lot of money to promote. It’s really essential to acquire loyal users for your application, people who will be using your app tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, next week and so on. If you have an SDK from companies like Localytics or MixPanel inside your app, you’re equipped to see what issues your users may have and solve those problems with your app, make it better.

The second SDK you’ll need inside your app is the one to track app installs attribution. Yeah, you may ask me, “What attribution? Are you talking about mobile app install ad campaigns? But I don’t have any budget?” You see, the thing is that at some point if you follow my suggestions in this article you’ll get out of this situation when you’re stuck with a small marketing budget. Trust me, it’s better to have attribution tracking SDK being added to your app, so you won’t have to worry about it and you’ll have data from low budget traffic generation campaigns you’ve launched. The best app installs attribution solution I know is AppsFlyer.

Since we’re talking about low budget techniques, I’ll start with the one, that is rarely being mentioned – app marketing self-education. The fact that you’re reading this post is already cool – you are on the right path. To get more knowledge about app marketing I strongly recommend to watch the Appreneur Summit speakers interview or read the book, written about the topics discussed during this online summit. Also follow on Twitter MobyAffiliatesAppDeveloperMagazine, AppAnnie, Localytics, LiftOff.

Yes, having a low budget to market your app isn’t exactly a dream of a sane app owner, but there is a positive side – it ignites your ingenuity to market your app with non-mainstream techniques. So, read articles, attend online webinars, subscribe to podcasts about app marketing on iTunes and gain more knowledge of how to market your app. I really hope that at this point, after reading this article, you feel more confident about how you can market your app on a small budget. Good luck!

This article was originally published on Chupa Mobile.