Dev Diary: 09/22/17

Posted on Posted in Dev Diary

Cross-posted from my blog, Brandon the Game Dev.

Dev Diary posts are made to teach game development through specific examples from my latest project: Highways & BywaysJust here for Highways & Byways updates? Click here.

 


 

Highways & Byways is nearly complete. It still needs some art and I’ll want to do lots of double-blind play-testing. Yet I don’t see it dramatically deviating from the framework it currently follows. The subtlest of tweaks are all that’s needed at this point.

Since I have 4-5 months before launching a Kickstarter campaign and the game is mostly complete, my main focus is elegantly drawing attention. This is somewhat of a mysterious process for a lot of game developers, as I pointed out in my article this week: A Crash Course in Board Game Marketing & Promotion. There is no shortage of fantastic ways to market and promote your game without spending a dime. Yet I’d be remiss if I taught you to dismiss entirely the many tools available to you that cost money.

 

 

Paying for marketing and promotion can dramatically speed up the process, opening up entirely new doors for you. A lot of new game developers outright dismiss the possibility of paying for marketing since a lot of other parts of game development cost money. That’s a mistake. Even if money is a constraint, time and energy are bigger, more permanent constraints. Anything you can automate or outsource to save time at least deserves your consideration.

With that in mind, I’d like to share 4 clever ways to market your game for $30.00.

 

4 Clever Ways to Market Your Board Game Online for $30.00

 

1. Order a Targeted Social Media Report from BirdSong Analytics

BirdSong Analytics sells Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube reports for $29.99. These reports give you all sorts of useful data, the most important of which is probably followers and followings. In addition, these reports can be run on anybody – you or any popular social media user. That means you can export the followers of a popular board game account to get a list of people who might be interested in what you do. That lets you know who to make friends with.

Information will come to you in the form of a CSV. That means you can open up the raw list in Excel, turn the data into a table, and start filtering by phrases. For example, from a list of 50,000 of someone’s Instagram followers, you can get a list of all people who use the words “board games”, “tabletop games”, and so on in their bio. Then you can make an effort to make friends with them.

 

2. Run a Facebook ad campaign for 15 days at $2/Day

Facebook ads are some of the most effective advertising methods around today. You can use them to get Facebook likes, promote posts, generate email sign-ups, and even get clicks on your website. You can do them for as little as $1 per day, too.

Facebook ads are not something that you get into halfway. You need to commit to running an ad for at least a week to watch its performance. You’ll need to make subtle tweaks to your ad and your audience to make sure you get the best result possible.

This kind of advertising is super effective because of two things. First, you can target people based on the pages they like, sometimes requiring them to like multiple pages that you specify before they can see your ad. That lets you zero in on the absolute perfect person to see your ads. Then once you launch the ad, you’ll get nearly immediate feedback on how well the ad is performing.

 

3. Run a Google AdWords campaign for 15 days at $2/Day

Likewise, you can run a Google AdWords campaign in a way that’s very similar to Facebook ads. You can pick super specific search terms and make sure your website shows up at the top or near the top of the search results in the sponsored section. You can tailor your ads to perfectly respond to the search terms you choose.

As with Facebook, much of the magic here is that you can target really specifically. You want to pick obscure search terms, making sure that people will still click them, though. For example “make board game” is a better search term than “board game” for my site. When people search for the magic words, you give them an ad that’s tailor made for their interests.

 

4. Send Emails to up to 2,500 Subscribers through MailChimp for $30/Month

Email is one of the most effective forms of marketing online. Yes, even in 2017. In fact, a healthy plurality of my traffic comes from email clicks. As it turns out, Mailchimp provides a fantastic service for free, as long as your mailing list is under 2,000 subscribers. It’s what I use for my email campaigns since it helps me make pretty newsletters without a lot of hassle or technical knowledge.

If you exceed the 2,000 subscriber limit for free accounts, then you have to start paying and costs gradually rise from there. For $30/month, you can send emails to a mailing list of up to 2,500 people several times per month. If you’re selling something and even a small fraction of your mailing list buys, you pay for Mailchimp’s fees many times over.

 

I encourage you to do your own research and experiment from time to time. Marketing and promotion online is quite dynamic and there are new ways to spread the word of your game every year. Use my ideas to give you a sense of where to start.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or stories from your own experiments, please share below in the comments 🙂

 


 

Most Important Highways & Byways Updates

 

  • Highways & Byways is going to be ready for double blind play-testing as soon as I get some vehicle art. Everything’s ready on my end, I just want a little more art first.
  • Highways & Byways is ready for physical prototyping pending that last bit of vehicle art.

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