My experiences as a digital product manager, and working in an ad tech company have given me plenty of exposure to the sorts of digital marketing strategies you can use to make a product successful. I am utterly dedicated to making Gaslands a successful game, using whatever tools are at my disposal. At the start of this journey, I made some instinctual choices about how I was going to present and promote Gaslands on the web, but without any deliberate or written-down “marketing strategy” for the game.
The purpose of this design blog is to provide you with some insight into the games design and development process, but also to provide me with an outlet to crystallise my ideas and approaches into mindful and deliberate learnings. Although it’s somewhat of a retrospective, I hope you will excuse this brief foray into the topic of “digital marketing for tabletop games”. If you are at all interested in how you might take a game that you are working on, and get it in front of a larger and more engaged audience, you might find this blog post interesting. It probably applies to board games and card games as well as wargames.
Speaking generally, when I started Gaslands, I knew that I wanted to have a website, and a Twitter profile. I knew I wanted a forum and I wanted to build a fun and friendly community around the emerging game and the rich hobby opportunities it is intended to provide. I dreamed of having an online store, and I was aware that I would need to ensure that I was writing interesting and original content on a design blog (such as this) to ensure that search engines looked favourable on the site. I also knew I was going to have to work hard to ensure that enough people in enough different gaming communities – both digitally and in person – heard about the game.
I had ideas about what I was going to try to do, and some justifications in mind about why I was doing those things.
Putting instinct down into writing, the “after action report” of the marketing strategy for Gaslands breaks down something like this:
- Gaslands is discoverable via Search Engines
- Provide set of useful online resources for the game
- Provide an “official” community hub for the game
- Provide a mechanism to collect email address from customers
- Created Gaslands.com website in WordPress
- Added forum plugin and added the option for people to register on the site with their social media accounts
- Provide reasons for players to periodically return to the website
- Provide fresh and relevant, keyword-filled, content for those hungry hungry search engine alogrthyms
- Provide interesting and sharable content to distribute via social media
- Provide players with a sense of the journey that (hopefully) leads to greater investment in the final game and an increased likelihood of being a promotor for the game
- Provide me with a self-reflexive output with which to analyse my own experiences, helping me to be mindful about the games development process now and in the future
- Created a “Design Blog” on Gaslands.com
- Updated with one article each month on topics that relate to the games development process, the community, or the game itself.
- Build the critical bedrock of potential evangelists for Gaslands, prior to release
- Improve the game though community feedback
- Increase the likelihood of the long-term health of the game
- Build a foundation of interesting and inspiring hobby and game ideas for getting the most out of the game
- Created Gaslands.com forums
- Customers have to provide contact details to gain early access to the game
- Customers will be rewarded for participant with credit
- Release ideas early and often
- Request structured feedback, via Google Forms
- Welcome unstructured feedback, via the Gaslands.com forums
- Build a gaslands mailing list, ready for when the game launches
- Periodically return Gaslands to the front of players minds.
- Players have to provide contact details to gain early access to the game
- Regular (average bi-monthly) contact from Gaslands via email about new updates
- Treat peoples email addresses with a lot of respect, and never do anything that might cause them to unsubscribe because of irrelevant or overly-frequent emails
- Increase awareness of the game
- Engage players by providing positive reinforcement when they post about the game
- Retweet and share content from others to elevate and hero active Gaslands players
- Facilitate and promote the global Gaslands community
- Periodically return Gaslands to the front of players minds
- Provide “official” representations for the game on major social networks
- Gaslands Twitter account, used actively and with a healthy number of followers.
- Post a lot of visually rich material, focussing on the hobby and games development aspects
- Engage in online discussions where appropriate
- Gaslands private Facebook group, yet to gather significant momentum
- Increase awareness of the game
- Increase organic traffic to the Gaslands.com website
- Be a good citizen of some popular hobby gaming forums, but occasionally plug Gaslands
- Write and publish material that is not directly related to Gaslands, but increases my “gaming profile” and online visibility, e.g. crikeymiles.tumblr.com
- Get Gaslands on BoardGameGeek.com
- Increase awareness of the game, once it is available at retail
- Direct traffic to the new e-commerce shop on the website
- Run some Facebook Ads to advertise the game to likely audience segments, based on their interests
- Run some Banner Ads, once we have the finished artwork, likely on the Google Display Network
Online Store on Gaslands.com
- More reasons for people to come to the site
- Seamless user journey between free online resources (including community) into purchase of accessories or product
- We shall see… I’d like to sell a complete line of Gaslands accessories, plus the main game book, on the site. Details will have to remain secret for now 😉
This is actually seems like loads now that I write it down, but it’s happened over a long period. Most of the “pre-release” stuff is already in place, although it takes constant work to make sure the social feeds and forum feel fresh, and the rule updates and blog posts keep flowing. I hope the deliberateness of some of the things doesn’t come off as cynical. As I said, I’m just using any tools and strategies available to me to make Gaslands into the awesome (and widely played) wargame that I dearly want it to be.
This is maybe a little drier than some of my other posts, but I’m pretty sure that the success and thoughtfulness of my digital marketing strategy will be a real and significant factor in the success of the game. If people don’t know about the game, they won’t play it. If people hear about the game, but can’t find any evident of other people playing it, they are going to be less likely to take the plunge. If people start playing the game, but put it down again, they are more likely to pick it up again if they receive an email a new release or update, or they see something in their social feed from the community.
I’d be really interested to hear from current and new players about what draws people deeper into a game’s community, and any tactics people think I’m missing to promote the game. I’d love to hear your thoughts in our forums.