The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Marketing to Gamers

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Pop quiz: How familiar are you with Discord, Twitch, and Fortnite? If your answer is “not very,” you’re probably not in a strong position to market to the gaming community.
That’s a significant loss, as gaming has long transcended its geek subculture roots. Roughly 67% of Americans (211 million people) play video games. Nearly half of those people play video games at least three hours each week.

Consumer spending on video games reached $19.5 billion in the first half of 2018 — a 40% year-over-year increase, which is exceptional for a mature market.

Numbers such as these provide a window into the massive size of the gaming market. Video games, aided by the ubiquity of smartphones, have become an ingrained part of our culture.

As such, it’s now a critical –and under-leveraged — segment for marketers. To help you better understand how to market to gamers, let’s take a closer look at some critical “dos” and don’ts” involved with the process.

Why twitch-ing is essential

Live streaming platforms (like the aforementioned Twitch) have been critical to the growth of gaming. These platforms allow gamers to broadcast their own in-game exploits to a global audience, earning feedback — and often donations — in the process. It’s a business model that older demographics don’t always immediately grasp (people really pay to watch other people play video games?)

The answer is yes, and in massive numbers. Twitch’s growth has been nothing short of explosive (Amazon paid nearly $1 billion for the platform, which now has 15 million daily users).

Twitch and other live streaming platforms have  been a vehicle for another market experiencing extraordinary growth: Esports. For the uninitiated, Esports are the gaming equivalent of professional sports leagues. Pro gamers compete in leagues based on popular titles (such as Overwatch and NBA2K) and earn significant sums of prize money and endorsements as a result.

Leveraging Twitch as a marketing channel is certainly a “do” if you’re seeking to engage gamers. The easiest way is through influencer marketing — a practice that’s extremely popular within live streaming circles. Brands seeking to appeal to gamers through influencer marketing will have no shortage of possibilities on Twitch, as influencer monetization is one of the primary goals of many of the platform’s 3 million monthly broadcasters.

Brands can partner with influencers and run pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll ads. Commercials can also be run periodically. The roster of brands pursuing influencer marketing on Twitch is impressive: KFC, Kellogg’s, and Duracell are just a few.

One important Twitch marketing “don’t”: Failing to do your research. Twitch broadcasters can be pretty freewheeling in terms of content, so it’s important for brands to vet each potential partner by reviewing archived content.

The power of community-based gamer marketing

Discord is a voice and text app that targets the gaming community. If you want to find where hard-core gamers spend their time online, look no further.

Because Discord allows you to create communities, it can be an indispensable tool for brands that are seeking to engage with gamers. You can easily create groups, assign admins and moderators, and invite new members.

Once a new group is up and running, brands can share information about upcoming events, offer special promotions and simply engage with the community. Access to gamers isn’t the only benefit of the platform; its native features make the platform more conducive to community building, and a better option for reaching the most dedicated gamers, than more limited platforms such as Twitter or Instagram.

When launching a new Discord channel, it’s important to garner as much attention as possible. Prizes or special offerings for the first 100, 1,000 or 10,000 members is a smart way to encourage participation — and a gamer marketing “do.”

Once a channel is operational, core marketing principles need to apply. Brands need to ensure Discord channels are engaging, active, and conversant with the natural environment.

Gamers have an uncanny ability to sniff out brands that make ham-handed attempts at relevance or connection. Engaging gamers without doing your homework first is a definite marketing “don’t.” Brands that want to be successful with the most hard core gamers need to make sure that their marketing efforts are sufficiently steeped in the culture.

Mobile games and cultural sensations

When creating a marketing strategy for gamers, it’s also important to remember that the world’s most popular gaming platform isn’t a Nintendo Switch or Playstation 4 — it’s the smartphone in your pocket.

Ignoring mobile gamers is a serious “don’t,” as they comprise an enormous chunk of all gaming activity. Mobile apps such as Candy Crush, Pokemon Go, Words With Friends, etc. are used daily by a staggering 78% of smartphone users.

One final do: Leveraging the brand power of the world’s most popular games. Fortnite, for example, is a global phenomenon, generating more than $300 million each month for its publisher. Fortnite has also generated countless amounts of fan-generated content: Fail videos, viral dance challenges, etc.

Brands are working overtime to integrate their marketing and advertising efforts with cultural juggernauts like Fortnite — making such practices a certifiable “do” for anyone seeking to reach gamers.

The takeaway

Given the size and growth of the space, gamer marketing has enormous potential. Yet many small to mid-sized businesses have failed to pursue this strategy because they lack subject expertise and a deep understanding of gaming culture.

That’s where BIGEYE enters the picture. We help brands target the gaming market by devising engaging marketing strategies that gamers find relevant — and businesses find profitable. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today for more information.

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