In a day and age where everyone is connected through Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, it may seem surprising that email is not only still around, but still relevant. Something that began in the 1960s is still around, being used to communicate with business partners, coworkers, and potential clients, and it’s as important as it was back then.
For game developers hoping to sell their games and utilize smart business practices, this is a goldmine of a resource. Sure, social media can directly connect to potential clients and even allow you to follow people of interest, but email is the more formal, professional manner to let people know what you’re up to. With email, you can send out newsletters and links to your blog or YouTube video. Special coupons or announcements.
So, what are some of the things you should be implementing when email marketing?
Define the Purpose of Each Email
You know how when creating a game, it always starts out small? Maybe it’s just you with a notebook and pen, jotting down ideas and potential concepts. This brainstorming process leads to the discovery of one solid idea that will eventually become the basis of your entire game.
It is the same with email marketing. Each and every email needs to have one solid idea behind it, and it should be made perfectly clear to the reader.
For instance, maybe you want to announce your KickStarter campaign launch. Go ahead and link to the page, add a countdown clock, and give people a rundown of what they can expect. Or maybe you want to let them know your game is in a new bundle for a limited time. Make sure they know that, make sure to link to it, and explain why this is a good thing. Maybe those other games its bundled in are worth looking into as well. Use it to your advantage.
Whatever the message is, make sure you avoid coming off scatterbrained. One message, one mission, one email.
Always, Always Feature a Call to Action
Speaking of one message for each email, don’t forget the call to action. This is a term for what you want readers to do. For instance, if the purpose of your email is to announce a game sale, then you want readers to go buy it. Rather than just letting them know the game is on sale, you want to convince them to click on the button in your email that takes them directly to the listing.
That means you’d want to follow a basic template:
- The message: the game is on sale.
- Game description
- What people have said about the game
- Reinstate the message with details, like when the sale will be over, and how much money they’ll save
- A direct link they can click on to go buy it easily and quickly
Create Engaging Subject Lines
Of course, it’s not enough to create a well-written, clear email. You have to get people to click it open first. To do this, it’s important to create engaging subject lines.
To do this, think creatively. Good subject lines do more than state the topic. They may use a little humor (not dark humor), state when there’s savings or something free, or even use capital letters for part of it (game name). Remember, you’re not the only one sending people emails. Most people get a few emails a day, and little time to check them all. Make sure your email stands out from the get-go to increase the chances of improved metrics.
Monitor Metrics for Each Goal
And metrics are important. They can tell you when an email has been opened, when a link has been clicked on, how many people have unsubscribed, and how many emails got lost in the wind, never to be read. This all goes back to your marketing campaign, and individual email goals. Each email should have a clear purpose, but all of your emails should be aiming to make a business goal a reality.
Say you want to improve your game sales. Your email marketing should strive to make that a reality. Each email you send out would have a purpose that aids in that process. Maybe one email would be to announce a game launch, another would be to let people know it’s on sale, another would feature a coupon exclusively for people who open that email, etc. All incentives to increase sales by engaging with readers and giving them some motivation, like discounts. You could even link to a blog post about the game, or an interview that went particularly well.
But what does this have to do with metrics? They’ll tell you if your approach is working or not. If engagement starts to decline, maybe you’re actually not doing too well. Sending out one email per day might be too much for some of your readers, so maybe try a preference center. Maybe you’re being too spammy, or your copy writing is missing the mark. No one likes to feel like they’re perpetually being pandered and sold stuff to. People like to feel like they’re in-the-know about games, like they’re learning something about a game that they eventually want to buy and enjoy with their friends.
Build Your Own Email List, Never Purchase One
Building an email list takes time. It involves having an opt-in option on your official website and putting out enough quality content that gets people talking. Interacting with others and guest posting so other websites vouch for you and your SEO ranking goes up on Google. Only by drawing in that traffic and getting people to opt-in can you really build a solid email list composed of people who genuinely want you to email them.
It’s no surprise some try cutting corners by purchasing email lists from other companies in the industry. This is a terrible ideal, since technically, those people didn’t opt-into your emails. It makes you look spammy and can eventually get you blacklisted. So, remember: hard work or bust.
Keep Design Simple & On Brand
Copy is sure to engage readers, assuming it’s well-written and interesting. But no one likes a wall of text. There’s nothing worse than opening an email that’s too long, and makes you feel tired just looking at it. Unless it’s work related, no one takes that kind of time to read lengthy emails, because, well, most of us don’t have that kind of time.
This is when proper design comes in. Emails should be clean, sleek, and eye-catching. A little color goes a long way, with graphic design and the proper coding, but filling your email to the brim with images and little copy doesn’t work well. You need to balance both, and remember that less really is more.
Furthermore, make sure your emails are on brand. When you open a Medium email, you know it’s a Medium email. It looks gorgeous upon opening. Clearly, they use that same template each time and just write new copy, images and links. And it works.
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