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9 Mar 2015

How To Market Your Indie Studio: First Steps

This is the first post in a series detailing how to market your indie studio. You can find the subsequent posts in this series below:
How To Market Your Indie Studio: Building Brand Advocates
How To Market Your Indie Studio: Enticing Customers To Review
How To Market Your Indie Studio: The Press
How To Market Your Indie Studio: Marketing Games With Games

We’ve had a lot of new readers crop up lately, and although we discuss marketing your indie game regularly here at Game Academy, we thought it would be a great idea to take a step back and discuss the best practices for marketing your indie game. As you may already know, marketing your indie game is one of the biggest challenges of any indie studio – and believe us, it’s going to take a substantial amount of your time. Knowing how to market your indie game appropriately is just as important as learning how to develop an awesome indie game to begin with. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the first steps to marketing your indie game.

Research your competition’s web presence

The first thing you need to do is find your competition. While we cannot tell you the perfect way to find your competition (every situation is different), we can tell you that a quick look at the various app marketplaces, Steam, and other platforms will allow you to figure out which competitors are the very best. Figure out what they are doing well, and try to make their success work for your situation.

Shopify points out that a great tool to use to analyze your competitors is SEMrush. Simply insert the URL of your competition, and you will find which keywords they use the most, where their traffic is coming from, which websites refer them to their site, and more. This will help you to discover for yourself the type of people that are visiting your competitor’s sites, the type of sites that are referring them, and more.

Now you may be thinking, “so what? What does this information have to do with anything?” Think about it in reverse order. The data found in tools like SEMrush essentially provide you with answers, and it’s up to you to figure out the questions. For example, if your competition ranks high for the keyword ‘space battle,’ you have to find out why. Moreover, if a website is a huge traffic source for your competition, again, find out why. Visit these sites, do some digging, and find out the ‘why’ to these invaluable answers.

One of the best ways to find out ‘why’ is to…

Also research their social media presence

The great thing about social media is that it allows you to research the people that follow your competitor’s brands. Pages to Watch is great for this when it comes to Facebook, as is Tweepi for Twitter (which uses a feature that allows you to analyze the followers of Twitter account). Learning why people follow a brand is the first step in learning about what makes an indie studio so attractive to certain people; and the lessons you learn can be used to improve the way your market your indie studio exponentially.

Using this knowledge

With the data you gathered, figure out the best way to market your brand to your target audience. If you don’t know your target audience, think about the type of people you want to play your first indie game. In other words, think like a customer! If you wanted to play the type of game you were developing, what would entice you to become interested and purchase the game in the first place?

But that isn’t all. Using the data you found above, you can fine-tune your website and social media pages to become more functional than ever before. When you know ‘why’ certain people find a brand appealing, you can use their success and incorporate it into your own situation. Knowing how people have achieved success is just as important as finding a new, unproven way to succeed.

Create killer content

When you know what makes a brand so appealing and you’ve incorporated that into your social media pages and website, then you need to share and create awesome content regularly. Remember the keyword feature we vaguely mentioned above? You can incorporate these keywords into your content (e.g. blog posts are perfect for this) and hopefully begin to rank well for them. Moreover, you can use a free keyword tool like….Keyword Tool to see which keywords and their variants are the most popular via Google, YouTube, and even the App Store. It’s a great way to know which keywords are worth pursuing, thus giving you an opportunity to rank highly for the most popular keywords tailored to your indie game and studio as a whole.

There are other first steps we left out (because frankly, covering every possible first marketing step would be impossible), so I want to turn the conversation over to you guys. Do you have any questions or comments about the first steps to take when marketing your brand? Let us know in the comments below!

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