HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR INDIE GAME WITH FACEBOOK ADS
Facebook ads provide you with a unique opportunity to gain attention to your indie game. Here at Foundation Indie Game Marketing we get to work with many clients with a huge range of budgets to see what works and what doesn’t. Facebook Ads can really be hit or miss for indie game developers.
On the upside, indie game makers can use Facebook’s lazer focused audience targeting tools to put their game in front of game players who likely have an interest in their style or genre of indie video game.
However, keep in mind that Facebook advertising can be expensive and if your campaign goals are not clearly defined you could end up losing money on your ad spends, no matter how good your targeting is. That’s why we don’t recommend indie game makers use Facebook Ads to promote their games until they know their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
For example, at a minimum you should know what your Conversion Rate (CR), Visitor Value (VV) and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) are before you start buying ads. This is because, if your metrics aren’t aligned in your favor, your ad budget will be nothing more than an additional expense. You don’t want to create a Facebook Ad campaign where you spend $100 to make $10, $5 or $2.
The idea of course is to make your ad budget an investment where you spend $100 and make $200 or $300 or $400. As the investor Warren Buffet famously once said “”Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.”
Therefore we strongly prefer when our indie game making clients use a slightly more gorilla approach to advertising when they are first starting out. We offer such a service for indie game makers (see a plan here that starts at $79). It’s a really affordable way to help your indie game gain tracking in an affordable and organic way. Best of all, with us, your ads don’t come down once your budget runs out. It’s a much more “indie friendly” approach to gaining game exposure. For example, we focus on getting gaming thought-leaders and influencers to create “let’s play videos”, blog interviews, reviews, and social network shout-outs about your game. Once that content is created it stays up (usually forever), helping drive awareness to your game for years to come without you having to spend additional money. By taking this approach first, you’ll be accomplishing a few important tasks.
First, your grassroots style advertising efforts will allow you to bring in enough visitors to start collecting data which can then be later used to create an effective Facebook Ads campaign. For instance, you might discover that you have a 1% Conversion Rate and your visitor value is .20 cents. This means that for every 100 people who visit your game’s website, 1 person will buy your game. If your game costs $20, then your visitor value is .20 cents per visitor. Therefore, after you’ve collected this data, you’ll now know that you need to spend less than .20 per visitor on Facebook ads if you want to remain profitable.
The problem is that most indie games don’t retail for $20 and Facebook’s average cost per click (CPC) is over .20 cent (in the game’s niche we often find it’s usually between .70 cents to $1.20 / click). You often can find cheaper cost per click’s by targeting countries with lower GDPs but you’ll also often see a massive decline in sales by taking this approach.
However, until you have collected a sufficient amount of sales data, you won’t know what these metrics are and therefore any ad spend will be based on your best guesses. However, in our experience, taking a non data backed approach to game marketing can lead to some pretty devastating results.
Most indie game developers don’t have huge game advertising budgets and they need to plan their game exposure campaigns carefully to avoid loss. Many indie games devs look for a 2X to 4X ROI for their ad spends. However, in our experience, many indie game devs find it difficult to achieve these goals using Facebook ads.
CAMPAIGN GOAL: GAME SALES
Therefore if your campaign goal is game sales you need to create a campaign on Facebook Ads focused on Conversions. Facebook will then help you try to achieve your goal by sending active shoppers your way. In fact, you can actively target active shoppers using Facebook’s custom targeting tools.
For example, imagine you have a game inspired by Dungeons and Dragons. You might want to try to target Dungeons and Dragons players, but also target the people within this group that speak English, live in The US, Canada, The UK or Australia. However, you can drill deeper down by targeting “active shoppers”. Active shoppers are people who Facebook knows have made purchases online recently. Therefore your audience will need to pass through all of these filters before Google shows your ad to them.
As you can see, for a $10 ad spend Facebook is estimating that I will receive 55 to 159 visitors. Let’s imagine for example, that for our game is $10 and we have a 1% conversion rate. If 1 person buys from this campaign, we’ll have spent $10 to make $10. Of course, we could better our ods by increasing teh price of our game, A/B testing to increase our Conversion Rate or creating stronger ads to help reduce the price of each click. Again, it’s not impossible to make money this way, but we do find it more challenging for unknown games with lower price tags.
CAMPAIGN GOAL: SOCIAL PROOF
However, we’ve seen many indie game makers use Facebook Ads not with the intention of targeting sales, but to help provide social proof for their games. We’ve seen this strategy used effectively in various campaigns.
Most game players are more likely to consider a game if others show interest in that game. Social signals like upvotes, likes, trailer views, shares, and comments provide important social proof that helps game players gauge the popularity of a game. In our experience, for better or worse, interest helps attract more interest. Therefore, some of our clients have engaged in Facebook ad campaigns designed to increase social signals such as page like, post likes, shares and trailer views.
These social signals help provide game players with the perception that there is a decent sized following interested in your game. Again, interest helps breed more interest, and this exposure can help you gain unintended additional marketing opportunities. We’ve seen this happen time and time again.
For example, imagine and indie game with 15 trailer views on YouTube. If a popular Twitch or YouTube game streamer views your trailer they likely won’t think much of it. They are looking to cover games with interest behind them so they can capitalize on that interest. If they create a “let’s play” video about your game, they know they are getting access to 15 people who have showed interest in your game. That’s not much.
However, imagine that same trailer has 10,000 views or 100,000 views. Now, when the same popular video streamer sees your trailer, they might consider creating a “let’s play” video or reviewing your game because they know they could get access to the audience of 10,000 or 100,000 people who have viewed your trailer and showed interest in your game. They want to cover games people show interest in to help them grow their own audience.
We saw this happen recently with a game called “Totally Reliable Delivery Service”. We recently featured an interview with the game makers on our blog. The game was starting to get a lot of press (not ads, but permanent interviews and other forms of game review content that stays up), and then video influencers started creating content around it. Attention was responsible for breeding more attention. The outcome? Well, just last week “let’s play” videos helped the game gain over 2 million new video views on YouTube alone.
CAMPAIGN GOAL: CLICKS
So how do Facebook ads fit into this? Well you can use Facebook ads to help start building this social momentum. This means you don’t necessarily have to be focused on game sales, but you can focus instead on things like page likes, trailer views, and post sharing. We find driving attention to any video content game makers have created being particularly helpful. Those social signals don’t go away. If you promote a page through Facebook Ads with the campaign goal of clicks you can drive people to your YouTube trailer and YouTube will start counting those views.
Best of all, you don’t need these people to buy from you so you can target lower GDP countries like Uganda, Algeria, Liberia, Tanzania, Mexico, Philippines etc. You can often get clicks for .01 cent to .10 cents from lower GDP countries. Again, use the same targeting features Facebook provides you to try to put your ad in front of an audience who will be interested in your game (i.e. target Dungeons and Dragons players), but target more affordable countries.
When someone from a France, Germany, the US, Canada or the UK visits your trailer, they will just see the video views and like count. They won’t know where your views came from and how much you paid for them. But the view counter will tell them that there is interest in your game and people like it, which will make it more likely that they too will show interest in your game.
In conclusion, we have found that indie game makers who use Facebook Ads to build social proof, tend to do better than those who use the platform to try and drive sales. It’s not impossible to drive sales through Facebook Ads, but remember, it helps to have collected sufficient data first. Before you have collected this data, it’s impossible to know what your maximum bid per click should be. Therefore, we recommend focusing on social proof first, because at a minimum this approach to game marketing will help you collect enough data to make those types of game marketing decisions later on.
We hope you’ve found this post helpful and we wish you the best of luck with your indie game marketing efforts. If you’d like to learn how we can help you drive awareness to your indie game please check out our super affordable indie game marketing packages here. These packages are designed to help your indie game succeed.
Best of luck!