How to Leverage Influencers to Market Asian Mobile Games: Interview with Growth Strategist Yanzi Geng
Mobile gaming is a fast-growing industry with an estimated revenue of over $152 million in 2019. Mobile games marketing is based on analyzing the effectiveness of various user acquisition channels, player retention, and user’s LTV maximization. Influencer marketing is one of the instruments that is actively used by game publishers to achieve these goals.
Cloutboost talked to Yanzi Geng, an expert in mobile gaming user acquisition, about what role influencers play in promoting a mobile game and how Asian companies can leverage the power of US gaming influencers.
Yanzi Geng is a former Global Publishing Lead at IGG. The company is a renowned developer and publisher of mobile games with a strong global presence and international customer base. The Group offers free-to-play mobile games in 21 different languages which have won several prestigious Google Play awards.
Yan was responsible for product growth and partnerships in English-speaking countries (US, CA, UK, SG, AU), running a global team of 5, and collaborated with the product and operation team of 50 people.
Cloutboost: What were your main challenges in bringing Chinese games across the Pacific?
Yan: Programmatic social media user acquisition is not a major challenge as long as the marketing investment is in place. As gamers, we all know that quality games with delighted player experience and innovative gameplay is the core of success. Therefore, mastering the Western-style art essence to cater to the taste of the Western players and deliver an authentic, consistent community service are critical for the lifecycle of the game and its monetization process. These challenges can be tackled by properly implementing international human resources.
Cloutboost: How do you define success when it comes to publishing a new game in the US?
Yan: The definition of success could be different for every video game developer/publisher.
The most prevailing standard is the size of the players community and the adequate revenue to cover the daily operational costs. Thus, if the new game is getting steady traffic of weekly new players and gaining its fame among an ever-growing gamers community, it would be a crucial sign of the initial success on the market, then followed by an appreciable amount of profit to build up to its further success.
Cloutboost: What metrics a marketer should use to assess the campaign’s performance?
Yan: Normally, there are several metrics marketers use to evaluate the results of an ad campaign:
The number of game’s downloads by trackable links or organic traffic growth.
Downloads number is the most direct way of assessing a marketing campaign performance. Of course, before the year of 2016, investors/stakeholders in the tech industry only cared about the users quantity and market share. Regardless of the budget spent on the campaign, it used to be the traditional definition of the marketing goal. However, for the new-era influencer marketing, a successful campaign should show the balance between cost efficiency and new users acquisition rate.
How long it takes to get a positive ROI and what is the ROI rate like.
ROI is the most challenging index for marketers, as it indicates the channel and users quality. If the campaigns are ROI positive, the campaign genre would be highly endorsed and an increasing budget will be allocated to the marketing team, otherwise, if the campaigns are suffering constant negative ROI under a red bar, future similar campaigns would be halted.
Some marketing budget goes to a split spending plan, a part of it goes to user acquisition (Downloads) and another part goes to product branding, exposure (Views). Views number is a critical indicator for the content quality, popularity and exposure effect. Millions of views may not guarantee a huge number of downloads but can be obvious evidence for strong ad exposure.
If the number of video views is above average compared to the influencer’s previous regular videos, it shows that your video content is made with hearts and intelligence. If the viewership of the sponsored video below average, it might mean that the influencer is not taking this campaign task to his highest priority.
Comments show the campaign’s feedback and are also a direct mirror for the video quality. You will notice that the more positive comments a video gets, the better conversion rate you have.
This is the key index highly related to the campaign’s ROI and Downloads number.
If the influencer’s channel is a great fit for the game players’ profile and the video campaign is well-prepared, a good conversion rate shall be expected. However, there are several critical nuances to consider when tracking the conversion rate:
(1) Click Rate – how many people click the download link? If the link takes the audience straight to the App Store, what’s the gap ratio between overall link clicks number and downloads number. It’s important to consider that people who click the link may not end up downloading the game.
(2) It might be difficult to count the downloads number for a particular campaign if you have other marketing activities going on during the same time period.
(3) How to define a good Conversion Rate? The average influencer marketing conversion rate (Downloads vs Ad Views) could vary from 0.5% to 3% or even higher. In order to define a successful campaign from a poorly-performed campaign, you have to apply the ROI metrics. This is a technical question marketers have to figure out within the team and exclude all the correlated factors to generate a solid performance report.
Cloutboost: That’s really informative! At which stages of a game launch do you leverage Influencers? How do you combine Influencer Marketing with other marketing channels?
Yan: Influencer marketing can be an effective way of gaining players or retention rate improvement at all stages from a new game launch to years after, when its operation still runs. You can leverage influencers for community events, esport, and as a part of the integrated marketing plan during holiday festivals.
Cloutboost: What are the top 3 challenges in running Influencer Marketing Campaigns in the US?
Yan: Communication, Download tracking, Budget control.
As per communication, Chinese marketers find it difficult to reach out to certain big influencers or manage them.
The behavior of influencers is usually very different from corporate people, so working together as a team requires mutual understanding and great communication skills.
Another challenge is tracking the downloads – influencers can bring organic installs and trackable downloads via call-to-action links embedded into a video, but a large share of installs is still missed out in the click-through process.
When it comes to budget, influencer marketing is definitely not a cheap channel for user acquisition and the campaign’s performance is not stable from time to time and case by case.
Cloutboost: How does Influencer Marketing in the US differ from working with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) in China?
Yan: Chinese KOLs are usually expensive, they have highly homogeneous content, and it’s hard to identify a channel’s data authenticity. They can deliver great traffic, though.
US KOLs would normally seek a brand match when accepting a partnership offer. The duration of project execution with US gaming influencers usually takes longer.
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