Creating A Strong D2C Funnel for Gamers

Just because something has been done a certain way in the past doesn’t mean it’s the best way for you to obtain your goals. This is especially true of traditional B2C marketing to the gaming audience. The typical marketing funnel requires the consumer to go through many stages before purchasing the product, including awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and finally, purchase.

Many game brands are exploring Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) strategies and seeing the value in marketing the product directly to their gamers. In fact, D2C sales reached $128 billion in 2021 and are expected to climb to $213 billion by 2024 in the US alone. With such a unique audience and plenty of competition, it’s critical that brands create a strong D2C funnel that connects with gamers.

What Is D2C?

D2C is a type of B2C sales strategy in which a business builds, markets, sells, and distributes its product directly to the consumer. This is different from the traditional B2C sales model, which uses several parties to manufacture, wholesale, distribute, and sell the product before it reaches the customer.

The Benefits of D2C for Gaming Marketing

The primary benefit of a D2C strategy catered to gamers has to do with control.

  • Relationship-building: Brands can build a relationship with their target audience by creating a direct line of communication from the brand to the gamer.
  • Cost-effective: Removing the middlemen from the sales production and strategy eliminates unnecessary costs.
  • End-to-end control: Rather than relying on numerous partners to protect the customer and brand experience, D2C allows brands to directly oversee every step of the process and shape it into the best model for their audience.

What Does a D2C Funnel Look Like for Gamers?

Influencer marketing and in-game advertising ​​are popular methods to reach gamers because they foster brand awareness and loyalty with a unique audience. Reaching $12.34 billion in spending in Q3 of 2022, gaming is the most popular hobby in the world. But it’s important to remember that gamers are still consumers and have interests in products that are not endemic to gaming.

Influencer and Social Media Marketing

The gaming industry has not been immune to the power of influencer marketing and social media. Our research shows that three out of four gamers watch livestreaming, and close to half of those watch livestreams regularly.

Gaming livestreams are not limited to one platform—livestreamers reach different demographics and audiences by operating on multiple channels, including YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok.

With the saturation of game streamers and influencers in the industry, it can be challenging to know where to start and how to strike the right balance of reach and spend.

Big audience does not always equal big results

Rather than picking influencers strictly by audience size, it’s more important to understand the loyalty and trust of the community. Loyalty—not numbers—creates the greatest impact, so be sure to consider a streamer’s relationship with their followers and the number of followers when selecting partnerships.

Vet the Streamers

Each streamer has a different relationship with their follower community. To best understand the influencers and whether they align with your goals, create a questionnaire that gets to the heart of what they do and what their followers expect from their content. Ask questions like:

  • What kind of content do you post outside of livestreaming, if any?
  • What kind of messaging and aesthetic do you create on your channel?
  • What is your personal brand? Is it consistent with your gaming brand and values?

Sponsor Content

Sponsoring content is a critical method to raise awareness for your brand or game. This includes sponsoring livestreams and prerecorded content. If your influencers are also prominent on other social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, be sure to attach your name to relevant posts on those channels. Diversifying the spaces where you sponsor content creates a greater reach for your brand.

Make sure the content is authentic

While partnering with a gaming influencer is based on strategy, it’s critical to remember that the connection they have with their followers is based on authenticity and trust. Viewers can spot it in an instant if their favorite livestreamer is being ingenuine. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to work on a script that ensures the product and messaging feel real and will resonate with the viewers. Don’t hold their hands too tightly, though, or you can risk it feeling inauthentic—let the influencer lead the way, and the gamers will follow.

In-Game Advertising

In-game advertising has a successful track record of increasing revenue and engaging with gamers on a deeper level. In fact, revenue from in-game advertising is expected to grow to $56 billion in 2024.

Some of the most popular in-game advertising techniques include static ads, dynamic ads, and “gamevertising”: advertising products within the game environment. All types of in-game advertising are not limited to one format and can be executed across media on PC, mobile, or game consoles.

Rockstar Energy Drink Challenge x GRID 2

One highly successful example of cross-media in-game advertising was the Rockstar Energy Drink Challenge in the game GRID 2. Over a five-week period, players on Xbox, PlayStation, and Steam could participate in unique challenges that won them branded gift cards, headsets, bags, and shirts. The reaction from players was so engaging that RedBull had no choice but to respond with their Solo Q project. This campaign gave League of Legends players the opportunity to win branded PC setups.

Nike and Puma x NBA 2K22

While timely events can create a lot of buzz, there are other methods for generating interest around a brand or product with in-game advertising. As Nike and Puma are brands well-known among both professional and amateur athletes, it’s only logical that they would partner with Virtual Concepts, the creators of NBA 2K22. The partnership allowed players to choose which brands to wear and be endorsed by. For partnerships like this, it’s important to remember that in-game advertising isn’t always about achieving an exact revenue attribution goal—it can be just about brand awareness and bridging the gap between your gaming audience and what your brand delivers.

Colourpop x Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Given Colourpop’s success with Sailor Moon and Hello Kitty collections in the past, Animal Crossing: New Horizons seemed like the perfect collaboration for the beauty brand. And perfect it was, completely selling out the collections and individual items within one hour. With the immense success of the game, players were excited about real-world collectibles that were marketed as a way to style themselves like their favorite characters in the game.

Reach Gamers Where They Are

That’s the primary takeaway. Gamers trust the influencers and streamers they follow but don’t forget that gamers are consumers, too. To reach this special group of consumers through a D2C funnel, you need to tap into the relationships that they trust in an authentic way and place your products exactly where they are: in the games they love.

Twofivesix can help brands strategize their D2C campaigns and consult on how to engage with gamers and specific target audiences. Drop us a line to learn more about how Twofivesix can help with your D2C gaming campaigns and follow us on LinkedIn.


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