Knowing how to market your app to get a meaningful amount of downloads is difficult. Especially if you’ve never done app marketing before and don’t have a marketing budget. This is the exact situation Ryan Martin of Ensomniac Studios was in when he and his team launched their first title, Glint, on the App Store. Unlike most indies who won’t break 1,000 downloads in their app’s lifetime, Ensomniac scored over 1,000 on launch day. Below is the app marketing process Ryan and his team followed to beat the odds.
Successful App Marketing Case Study:
With no marketing budget or prior app marketing experience, secure at least 300 downloads for first title, Glint, on launch day.
Build and execute a marketing plan based on expert advice gleaned for free from the web.
Ensomniac’s Marketing Process:
Gather Expert Advice:
Having never launched an app before, Ensomniac had to first learn about app marketing. For this, the studio spent countless hours scouring the web for useful “how to market your app” videos and articles published by marketing experts and developers. Among these resources was my very own “How to Market Your App on a $0 Budget” video, which largely drove the team’s marketing plan.
- Build a Marketing Plan Based on Commonalities:
As Ensomniac reviewed various app marketing advice, it searched for commonalities. Things like: “you must have a trailer,” “a development blog is required,” “start marketing early,” “make your marketing material irresistible” and so on. Based on these commonalities, Ensomniac constructed the below marketing plan:
- Build an amazing game.
- Amass a fanbase.
- Create irresistible marketing materials.
- Contact and secure press.
- Launch on the App Store.
All marketing documents, including the list of “how to market your app” resources and marketing plan, were saved as Google Docs. This allowed the Ensomniac team to easily communicate deadlines, share ideas and more in one centralized location.
Ensomniac organizes its marketing documents in one easy-to-access location on Google Docs.
Execute the Marketing Plan:
With the plan in place, Ensomniac began execution. The below provides a bit more detail on how each step was completed.
Build an Awesome Game
Although it wasn’t traditional marketing advice, experts agreed that to be successful, a game must have more than good marketing–the game must be good. Ensomniac took this advice to heart and spent a great deal of time ensuring a good game. Not only did the team focus on what it thought was good gameplay, graphics and so forth, it consulted real users.
Before launch, Ensomniac reached out to members in several forums (primarily TouchArcade) asking for their opinions on Glint. The real user feedback received helped Ensomniac make a stronger game.
Amass a Fanbase
As Ensomniac fine tuned its game, it amassed a fanbase. Ensomniac established a development blog, as well as social media properties, to generate awareness and give people a place to follow its progress. Ensomniac posted game updates and relevant content to each frequently. The team generated further awareness by getting involved in well-known forums like Reddit. By launch, Ensomniac had acquired almost 5,000 Facebook fans and 3,000 Twitter followers.
Ensomniac promoting its GDC presence on the Glint development blog.
Create Irresistible Marketing Materials
Once Glint had been fine tuned, the marketing materials “fell into place.” The team spent a great deal of time creating a trailer video, “making of” video, screenshots, press release, game description and more. Special attention was given to aesthetics, simplicity and message. Once completed, these materials were posted to an online press kit made accessible to the public.
Glint trailer video.
- Press Outreach
Ensomniac compiled a list of review sites that had covered Glint-like games in the past, as well as corresponding contact information. Using this list, Ensomniac reached out to each writer with a personalized email introducing Glint and explaining why it would appeal to his/her readership. The team also attached its marketing materials and provided promo codes.
At the beginning of its outreach effort, Ensomniac didn’t get much of a response. A few bloggers had expressed interest, but not much more. Then something amazing happened: AppAdvice requested exclusive coverage of the Glint’s launch. The team agreed and received a feature article two days before the launch, followed by a full review the day of. Shortly after, Pocket Gamer and App Spy published reviews.
Glint scores a review on AppAdvice.
- Build an Awesome Game
Ensomniac’s Key Take-A-Ways and Lessons Learned:
- Press Coverage is Everything:
Even though Ensomniac’s social media efforts helped boost its initial download numbers, none of its marketing efforts equaled the power of the press. The reviews the studio scored in AppAdvice, Pocket Gamer and App Spy contributed to the vast majority of its downloads, reinforcing the important role press plays in an indie’s success.
- Stage and Share Your Game Early:
As an unknown indie, the press will NOT jump through hurdles to cover your game. This means asking a writer to join Test Flight and download your game is a good way to score ZERO coverage. Ensomniac learned this the hard way. If given a second chance, the team would have distributed promo codes earlier by staging on iTunes earlier.
- Continued Marketing Means Continued Downloads:
After the initial launch, Glint’s downloads dropped to 300 per day. To get the numbers back up, Ensomniac attended GDC for added exposure. The team’s efforts at GDC had an effect, increasing downloads to 800 per day.
Glint received over 1,000 downloads on launch day (233% over its goal) and at least 300 each day since. In addition, Ensomniac has been contacted by several interested publishers, but has made no commitments.
About Ensomniac Studios
Ensomniac Studios has been producing high quality digital content since 2002 and is the personal publishing platform of Ryan Martin. Based out of San Francisco, California, Ensomniac Studios is currently focused on mobile app and game development. Glint, the studio’s first title, is a gorgeously-addictive, fast-paced puzzle game. Dodge bombs, collect rings and score exciting power-ups as you climb through the innumerable levels bursting with brilliant colors and stunning visual effects. Learn more about Ensomniac Studios and Glint at ensomniac.com or download Glint for free.
Many thanks to Ensomniac Games for allowing Indie Game Girl to cover its successful iOS launch of Glint.