As maturing analytics in games reveal player experiences, the next natural step is to build effective messaging strategies – ultimately using personalization to make the game responsive to individual players. This player-first approach is at the heart of successful and profitable mobile games. But as the number of campaign channels starts to grow, it is often difficult to figure out if the combination of contacts is having a beneficial effect over all.
The mobile sector of the games industry is leading the way in of actively managing user experiences. However, when in-game messaging, push notifications, email and ad serving are all shouting for attention from the player it can create real challenges.
It is relatively easy to understand if individual campaigns are being successful and A/B testing techniques are now regularly used to experiment quickly and optimize response rates.
However, as the number of interventions increases across the player lifecycle and targeting of campaigns gets more precise it is sometimes hard to see the wood for the trees. At this point, it can be easy to lose sight of what it’s like to be a player on the receiving end of this activity, which is why robust measurement is important to ensure the whole communications strategy is working.
But help is at hand. Here are a handful of simple tips and best practices that we have observed over the years that will make sure your overall effort is intelligent, timely and appropriate from the player’s point of view.
Be super careful not to over contact your most valuable players
This always happens if campaigns are built up individually without thinking about the whole communications plan. It’s clearly a bad idea to spam your best guys with repeated promotions. So first, calculate how many contacts across all channels you are sending to your spenders over a week – stand by for a big surprise. And then constrain yourself to a reasonable number. Then make each of those contacts count. Developing sensible ‘rules of engagement’ is the first step in controlling the overall communication strategy. Equally, don’t under contact your players or you are leaving valuable money on the table.
Don’t ignore the others
Similarly, there will be pockets of players who don’t get any attention. These wallflowers deserve some encouragement so report who gets very limited contacts and create additional nurturing messaging especially for them.
Know when to stop
If your carefully crafted offers have been rejected three times, then it is time to switch tactics. Either making a different offer, backing off for a while or switching to an ad strategy. The most important part of communication is listening not speaking.
Have one objective for each player segment at different times in the playing lifecycle
The overall strategy is to engage players and then to monetize them. Make sure you understand the right time for each player segment to deploy different message themes. This timing will be different depending on the particular segment. Novices will need lots of patience and nurturing; whereas expert players would prefer to be left alone until they want to spend.
Make sure the message is consistent across each channel
In-game messaging works best, followed by push and email comes a long way third in terms of response rates. But push and email can support in-game messaging effectively to back up key messages around gifting and offers.
Use analytics to know who is ad responsive and who is IAP responsive
Predictive analytics can help here. Patterns of gameplay enable us to predict the likely responses to different interventions; so use them to get more precision in your targeting strategies.
It’s perfectly fine to blend IAP and ad monetization strategies
Oftentimes these activities are separate. That is a mistake. There are many examples of rewarded video unlocking spending behaviors and enhancing engagement for novice players in early sessions.
Use predictive models to start your messaging strategy early
Churn in mobile games is so steep it is important to deliver the right message as early as possible in the player lifecycle. Again, predictive modeling can help make sure the strategy is sound.
Do more than sell
Think of the communications strategy as a dialog. Nurture with advice; point out aspects of the game; enable players to build momentum and give them reasons to return. Using the game mechanics and gamification best practice effectively allows players to feel like messaging is a relationship builder rather than a sales promotion tool.
Learn something from each activity
A/B testing and experimenting is core to all activity; try things and if they don’t work move on.
Never stop thinking player first
But most importantly always put yourself in the players’ mind-set. It’s not about campaigns, they are the means to the end.
Our industry is quickly evolving its sophistication in this area and, due to the richness of the environments, we can claim to be leading the charge towards intelligent mobile engagement. These rules should ensure that ultimately the players feel important and valued.