Many game developers focus on the free-to-play (F2P) model – using in-app purchases to generate revenue. However only 1-3% of users pay to play. To make sure the game is as engaging as possible and your players are happy (and therefore more likely to spend money), your monetization messages – push notifications, in-app messaging, offers and daily bonuses – needs to be spot on and appealing. It is a precise art, and in some cases, messaging can feel intrusive or too frequent, which can result in the abandonment of an otherwise perfectly good game.
To help engage your players productively, we have put together top tips on how to perfect your monetization messaging.
1. Promote relevant offers
To start with, make sure when you are promoting an item to a user that is one they are likely to want to purchase. What works for one group might not work for another. Using segmentation, you can focus on in game characteristics such as speed and aggression and with this knowledge you can target them with specific In-App Purchases (IAP) that are relevant to them. For a FPS (First Player Shooter) game you could promote bundle offers such as a bigger gun or camouflage, sniper rifle and a rare sniper rifle skin, whereas in a RPG (Role Playing Game) scenario, if the player is struggling to defeat an opponent in a dungeon and is showing signs of slowed progression (and there is no indication of interest to monetise at this time) you could gift health or an increased stamina potion to help the player progress. This helps the player to become more engaged with the chance to monetize further down the line, since they have now experienced the game as a paying player with the free gift.
2. Focus on the difficulty curve
Players will leave a game if the difficulty is too high, or alternatively, if they find it too easy. Tailor games to suit the player’s level of ability using messaging. For instance, if there is a drop in retention on level 4, you could analyze the health levels or lives left of players entering that level, to find out if a segment of players is finding the level too hard, then you can offer them hints, tips or gifts such as a health potion or booster to help them complete it. However, if you are looking to engage players that are showing signs of boredom, pushing messages such as “Did you know that…?” / “Have you seen this…?” can help keep them entertained by directing them to unexplored regions of your game. If players are having fun and have been exposed to what items are on offer through gifting, monetization can naturally follow.
3. Don’t fatigue your players
When considering the frequency of messages, there is a fine balance between too much and not enough. While you may be sending well-meaning messages, flooding players with a flurry of them in close succession can soon become irritating, and can mean that players learn to ignore all in-game messages, as they appear all too frequently. Remember, a player can delete the app altogether in frustration if messaging becomes a frequent annoyance. To prevent this from happening, carry out A/B testing to strike the right balance between the frequency of messages. Then once a messaging strategy has been defined, set up limitations on the number of messages that could be pushed in a day/week/month. This is a crucial way to fine-tune and balance your frequency.
4. Consider tone of voice
To assist with this write using a persona. Tone of voice provides an emotional connection, has personality and ensures consistency. Both tone of voice and the use of personas often have a remarkable influence on players’ responses, and can be powerful tools if used correctly. Additionally, including likeable characters in the game that guide you through and offer you advice are a good way to increase monetization, as players are likely to feel like they have someone on their side, who they can identify with, and therefore they will be more likely to take their messages and advice on-board. An example of this is in Uno & Friends, where a friendly character, used throughout on-boarding, returns to draw the player’s attention to areas of the game they may have missed.
5. Testing is key
Testing is essential for effective game messaging. It allows you to tailor personalized and relevant messages to players, which means they will be more likely to act on them. Match the item type to the segment and they won’t feel as though they’re being spammed when you send offers. If a certain segment of players is not engaging with a particular messaging strategy, there is little point in repeating the process indefinitely, so change your tactics. On the other hand, perhaps you would like to offer a gift, such as a healing potion, to a segment of players. In this case, you can use A/B testing to notify players of the gift at different times and from this, discover what works best, maybe holding off until later in the game, or maybe more promptly at the next level.
When considering in-game messaging and how to use it, to maximize monetization, it is key to understand that your players are different, and focusing on their experience is paramount to monetization and retention. The most successful messages avoid aggressive commands and generic pop-ups, instead focusing on helpful hints and tips. And they also have one thing in common – they are personalized, contextual, timely, and relevant.
If you liked this article, you may also be interested in reading ‘Ad serving in games: 10 expert tips for monetization’.