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KPIs to Track When Marketing to Gamers
KPIs are the backbone of any winning marketing campaign. No brand marketing strategy can progress without it. We’ve discussed measuring success in gaming campaigns before in more of a broader outlook. This time we’re looking into gaming KPIs to help you know which ones you should use in your next campaign.
Before launching a campaign, you must look at other campaigns’ data. Begin by asking yourself what’s succeeded and why. You can achieve this by studying examples in great detail. This will inform you on whether it’s worth marketing your products and services to gamers.
While reviewing successful campaign data can take time, it’s an essential step that you cannot skip. Your campaign will likely fail to reach its full potential if you do.
The excellent news is that gaming-related KPIs are like traditional marketing KPIs. As a result, you can use several methods that tie into larger specialized strategies.
Gaming Influencer Campaigns
The type of content you ask gaming influencers or streamers to create will determine the KPIs you use. Gaming influencers are on a variety of platforms from which you can launch a campaign, including Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. But, success in one medium does not translate to success in another as gaming influencers have specific ties to certain platforms and create different content depending on where they post it. So, it’s important to focus on attainable KPIs across all channels.
If live streaming is part of your campaign, there are a number of channels you can use, including Twitch and YouTube. Two of the most important things to take into account are viewer count and viewer retention. Viewer count isn’t exactly what it sounds like; it is the number of viewers watching the live stream at one time. Viewer retention, also known as audience retention on some platforms, is the average percentage of a video that viewers watch.
While streamers with bigger audiences are helpful in getting eyes on your products and services, don’t ignore smaller channels. Often smaller channels have niche viewers that can turn campaigns into actual sales. We talk about this more in our guide on how to incorporate gaming influencers into your next campaign.
Before you reach out to a streamer, know your KPI goals because this will help your company reach a specific business goal.
When reaching out to a streamer, you should look for the balance between viewer count and viewer retention. Viewer count without retention can signal a loss in viewership. At the same time, retention without the viewer count can show a lack of growth. Getting as close to 100% is what you would hope for, but realistically, viewer retention in the 50 – 60% range is the target.
The other major aspect of live streams you should think about is social sharing. Clips from the live stream can be shared across multiple social media platforms, including Instagram to Discord, to allow the message to live after the stream ends.
How Successful Were They?
Instagram is a huge platform with billions of users. While algorithms can make campaign planning difficult, it has the power to reach audiences very well. For example, iJustine has 1.6 million followers on Instagram and reaches thousands of people globally. While attending Comic-Con 2019, she teamed up with Lego to post sponsored content on her Instagram. The ad promoting Lego’s special editions of Spiderman, Stranger Things, and Batman had over 20,000 likes. Just mentioning these products on her Instagram encourages viewers to buy, especially when they feel a connection to an influencer.
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Then there’s TikTok and YouTube. TikTok is the biggest platform for short-form video content, and its reach is astronomical. Gen Z’s usage surpasses that of Instagram and has had a “1157.76% user increase in its global user base between Jan 2018 and July 2020,” Brian Dean of Backlinko says.
This means there’s a lot of opportunity to get the attention of viewers. And since Twitch changed its streaming rules, gamers can live stream on TikTok and YouTube now. TikTok even provides a guide on how to market gaming content on its platform. Although TikTok gaming is in its early stages, iamBrandonTV, an award winner streamer, is now playing games on TikTok and Twitch.
YouTube, on the other hand, is a platform that has been a hub of pre-recorded gaming videos and has attracted millions of views in the gaming categories. With videos that are recorded beforehand, the brand and content creator can spend more time coming up with creative concepts. While known best for pre-recorded content, YouTube has made efforts to become a competitor in the live stream gaming space and has gotten many notable streamers to switch platforms entirely. With Twitch changing its rules, many streamers have begun streaming on both platforms.
Tried and True KPIs
The social media examples you’ve read above have KPIs you’d find in any campaign. You can define influencer and social media marketing success through impressions, engagement, and reach.
If you’re focused on growth, then a good KPI to keep track of is the number of impressions from a social post. Keeping tabs on how many times your content shows up in someone’s feed gives visibility into how far-reaching the content is. According to Karin Olafson’s Hootsuite explainer, impressions don’t mean that the person noticed or read it. So, think of an impression as an advertisement.
Engagement is another way to measure your success. People use social media for connections, so it’s a reliable method to bring brands and people together. Some examples of engagement include likes, mentions, and retweets.
But keep in mind that each platform has its expectations on engagement metrics. Buffer’s Mike Eckstein explains engagement as a direct line to a target audience that builds relationships, “develop[s] empathy, and, ultimately, build[s] a better product.”
Then there’s reach. HubSpot defines reach as the “number of people who choose to see your content and engage with it through likes, comments, or shares.” You see this with viral Twitter threads where it reaches people, and people interact with it, good or bad.
Take this recent gaming tweet by Maximillian Dood. In this tweet, he made a joke based on an alleged Bloodborne tweet. It got over 1,000 retweets and 14.2K likes which helped it get visibility to other like-minded gamers. All viral content will have a combination of impressions, engagement, and reach.
The Fornite x Jordan ads in 2019 worked well on Twitter, receiving 16.9K likes, 1,897 retweets, and 421 quote tweets. Then in 2021, the Air Jordan XI cool grey collaboration post on Instagram had 1,421,298 views and 333,800 likes.
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One side of gaming marketing is the content creator side – live streams and social media influencing. The other side is doing in-game advertising.
In-Game Advertising Campaigns
Similar to gaming influencer campaigns, the first step is knowing who your target audience is and what games they like to play.
If you’re a brand looking to market to gaming audiences in the fighting game community, a creator such as Maximillian Dood known for playing Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, would be a great choice. Want access to a diverse Sims community? Creators such as Ebonix and Xmiramira are good choices as they represent the community as leaders of diverse content. No matter the audience, it’s vital to choose the gamers that have the audience you need, big or small.
Once you know the audience, then the next step is deciding what gaming medium you want to use. You can choose mobile, PC, or console gaming, and depending on the campaign; you can use multiple types. No matter which one you choose, your advertising can be in the form of audio, static, and banner ads as you see fit.
Apart from traditional ad options, as mentioned above, there are interactive options as well. These are great for trying to hit a certain engagement goal. A mini-game centered around the product is an effective method to use because it’s approachable and relatable.
In the mini-game world, the Tony Hawk x Stride ad features an alternative world that asks the question of what would have happened if Tony Hawk didn’t land the 900. This took the form of an unfinished game that never was released but had interest from people who supported Kickstarter to play it. And this made waves as a way to promote content.
Another example of this comes from old-school games such as Pepsiman or Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool, which were made to get people to purchase products. The concept of using games to market isn’t new, but they do need to be innovative to match the interest of gamers today.
The KPIs, in these cases, had something valuable, either reach, engagement, views, clicks, or ROI in some way that made it worth trying to meet audiences where they are.
KPIs in gaming campaigns are hard to measure, but there are classic and influencer marketing KPIs that you can use to measure a successful campaign in the gaming world. All it takes is an explicit goal of the kind of KPIs you want to see as a marketer and a defined plan with the right people and ads in place.