Top #6 in App Store within 7 days. Here's how we did it...

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by Kobra, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. Kobra

    Kobra New Member

    Aug 27, 2018
    These are the strategies we used to skyrocket a clients casual game from #1218 to #6th spot in the App Store in less than a week.

    So the founder of an indie game studio reached out to me a few months ago. I can’t share his name, but let’s call him Miguel. Miguel was frustrated, tired and worn out.

    Why? Mega Tired and Worn Out. Need Help!!!

    His team of 9 rock stars love to build mobile games and they’ve built some really awesome casual mobile games. Yes, those addictive ones you play to make you look busy during meetings or in the back of your Uber to avoid small talk with the driver. But, although they were making some really cool games (13) with cool retention stats to back it up, they weren’t getting any blow-out successes.

    The problem was; they were awesome at game building, but marketing… not so much.


    “Saf, I’m tired”, Miguel told me;

    “I know our games are awesome and people love ‘em… but we can’t seem to get the exposure to take things to the next level”…

    “the morale of the team is at an all time low” he continued, “we’ve not even broken even after 2 years.”

    Great Games...Crap Marketing

    Poor Miguel was trying all sorts for the past 12 months to get his games out there, but nothing was taking off. You’re probably thinking “his games must’ve be crap”

    …but that’s the thing, they weren’t.

    They were beautifully designed, the gameplay was awesome, not too easy and not too difficult, perfect for the casual loo-break, back-seat Uber and no eye-contact on the subway type gamer.

    The retention stats for most Miguel’s games were fantastic, meaning that existing players were loving it and coming back for more.

    Where the Arab/Oligarch money at?


    He’d tried all sorts, hired an ASO agency to help out, they promised him the world but all they did was a few tweaks here and there, produced a bog standard report with some vague recommendations and charge $10k for courtesy.

    Miguel had also ran some Google Ad’s, Facebook Ad’s himself but without having the knowledge how to really optimise and scale, the Google and Facebook monsters just gobbled up his budget without giving anything back in return.

    So after blowing through nearly $30k on ASO agency retainers, Google and Facebook Ad’s there was no Arab or Oligarch type returns in sight. He was still eating noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner and was still sleeping in Mum’s basement.

    He nearly bit my HAND OFF!

    After reviewing Miguel’s games our team decided to take over his marketing operation. I re-assured him:

    “Listen, if we can’t get you amazing rankings within 4 weeks then you don’t need to pay us a penny.”

    “I’m in” he replied without hesitation, nearly biting my hand off.

    I was pretty confident we could achieve top rankings for Miguel’s game for the countries he wanted to target initially. We had ranked over 50 apps in Top #20 rankings in 2017 and gotten 9 apps featured on App Store homepage. So we’re pretty good at this stuff.


    Our goal was to achieve the following within 4 weeks :

    • Get a Top #20 ranking for 2 x Tier 2 countries*
    • And rank for 2–3 relevant keywords in the target countries. (Min Top 3 search ranking)

    *Due to our NDA we can’t reveal the game name nor the countries we targeted, however by Tier 2 countries we mean the following :

    Australia, Canada, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan

    We knew if we achieved the above, it would bring in an additional influx of downloads and create tremendous exposure. The high rankings would in turn get our foot in the door with many new influencers, bloggers and publications creating even more exposure.

    So how the hell were we going to achieve this?

    From our previous experience we already had a working blueprint to help achieve similar results with other clients.

    So, this is how :

    1. Clean up all the crap ASO stuff, and optimise it. Keywords, Title, Description, Screenshots and all that jazz.
    2. Facebook & IG Ad’s > Build new lookalikes and use our existing seasoned ones and target ad’s to them
    3. Use Influencers > We already had a list of over 550+ influencers we had worked with in the past. But for this game we wanted to add some fresh guys too. So we needed an effective outreach programme.
    4. Cross Promotion > Use our existing relationships with large publishers and cross-promote the game within their portfolio of popular games.

    PHASE 1 : Pre-Campaign Set-Up

    Social Media Accounts
    The game already had social media accounts setup so we didn’t need to set that up. However, the FB page and IG account only had a few hundred likes. We posted some cool funny game related meme content on it and ran some Page Like ads to take Page Likes to 2k+. We did the same with Instagram to build following to around 1.5k+.

    Build a website for the game
    Built a website on specifically dedicated to the game. We used this theme.


    • Tweaked it a bit, colors, logos etc to match game theme
    • Integrated IG feed to auto populate Instagram content.
    • Added Facebook Pixel so we could build lookalike audiences and also retarget website visitors.

    Clean Up Operation

    We cleaned up ASO stuff , by optimising the title and description and added some cool screenshots to app preview section. The previous screenshots weren’t that appealing and didn’t reflect the game too well.

    And oh yeh, we also added a gameplay preview video in the app preview section. This is a MUST!!!

    Instagram Influencer Outreach

    Our Aim was to get around 20–25 new influencers who’d be willing to promote the game on their feed/story.

    We searched for potential influencers through hashtags, similar followings/followers. We planned to use influencers with a following of more than 40K+ There are loads of shitty influencers out there with fake followers, so we had to weed out this trash.

    This is what we did:

    We used this tool to measure engagement rate of potential influencers :

    and checked if their stats corresponded with this :


    Then we used this tool :

    to check if the user following has increased gradually or suddenly. A sudden spike would suggest fake followers, which would mean an immediate NO!

    (therock IG looks pretty legit)

    After they passed these tests we then contacted with DM’s similar to this :

    (we obviously tailored the message depending on the type of influencer)

    “Hey (name)
    Loving your content .. It’s awesome | inspiring | gorgeous
    Especially this photo.. OMG so cool | beautiful
    (insert photo of something they’ve posted)
    How much do you charge for shoutouts?”

    Out of 312 DM’s we got 52 responses. From the 52 we filtered them to 19 that we could use for this campaign.

    So : —

    • 19 new IG influencers
    • 15 previous IG influencers
    • 7 previous Twitter influencers
    • 5 previous Snapchat influencers
    Total influencers used for this campaign : 46

    Range cost per influencer 2x post shoutout = from $30 — $150

    For outreach campaigns we also usually use this powerful tool : For this particular campaign we never used it.*

    Final checks...(before campaign launch)

    Finally, we double and triple checked to see that user tracking analytics were working. Once, we were happy with that, we were ready.

    So 23 red bulls and 33 and a half cups of coffee later, (Adam decided to spill half a mug on his Bullet Journal), we were ready to launch our campaigns and move on to Phase 2.

    Note : Because the game had already been launched and we had sufficient user metrics , we were happy to launch directly to Tier 2 countries. For untested games/apps we usually do soft launch to Tier 4 countries to gather retention, monetisation, user data etc. Only after the metrics look decent and promising we’d launch to Tier 2 countries.

    PHASE 2 : Take OFF Time!

    “To achieve massive results you need to take massive action.” — Some wise dude

    So our strategy was to launch all campaigns together at the same time.

    Influencers :

    Their brief was :

    1st post : Funny reactions

    Post funny reaction videos of themselves playing the game. Post this in their stories and/or on their feed

    2nd post : Beat my score strategy

    “whoever beats my score in the next 2 hours will get FREE (merchandise/goodies)”
    “I bet you guys can’t beat my score… (post a screenshot of game score)”
    Other similar stuff to try and generate as much engagement and virality.


    Facebook & Instagram Ad's

    We tested multiple ad creatives but only 2 worked really well :

    Ad Creative 1 : Mashup Video
    We mashed up with 4–5 influencers content and created a video ad challenging the audience e.g “90% can’t get past level 80. Can you?” — and other similar challenging copy.

    Ad Creative 2 : Gameplay Video
    This was a video of the gameplay. A nicely crafted 30–40 sec video showing the main parts of the game.

    For both ad’s we ran :

    • Page Post Engagement Ad’s targeting the target country/demographic to build up social proof
    • App Install Objectives to target country/demographic

    We then built these custom audiences :

    • 75% video viewers
    • 95% video viewers
    • Website visitors
    • Page Engagers
    • Post Engagers
    (Retarget all of the above. It’s a MUST. You’d be stupid not to)

    Then from these custom audiences we made ( 10 x 1–10%) lookalike audiences for our target countries.

    We also used our existing seasoned gaming lookalike audiences which we’ve built over the past 18 months. (this gave us ultra low CPI’s)

    We ran £15 budget per adset and reviewed after 24 hours. Killed the underperforming ones and scaled the winners using manual bidding and 4 x duplication increasing the new budget to £25 p/d.

    To help with automation we used (This is a Godsend…seriously)

    Email Blast

    I got in touch with some friends who work with some game review sites,blogs, forums etc. They reviewed our game and loved it. It met their cool, viral and funny standard so they decided to post a review on their site and blast out a promotion email to all their subscribers “Highest score in the next 24 hours wins X”. This brought in some crazy traffic.

    At this stage we started to see some real progress and jumps in the rankings.

    48 hours had passed and at this stage started to see massive jumps. From #1218 spot to #452 in target country A and #1391 to #494 in target country B in the overall category.


    We were now ready to switch on our cross promotion strategy to take things to the next level.

    Cross Promotion

    So over the past year or so we’ve developed some awesome relationships with a couple of game publishers and have been using them to promote our clients apps. We’ve managed to negotiate a fixed rate ad-buy with them, so basically we’ve pre-bought part of their ad inventory on some their high traffic popular games. They ran our ad’s only to the two Tier 2 countries we were targeting. This strategy gave us the overall lowest CPI.

    They ran the ad’s for 3 days… and this is what happened.


    The game exploded.

    The high rankings also boosted some of their other games :

    Some other notable jumps :

    Game 2 > #1431 rank to #89
    Game 3 > #1327 rank to #128
    Game 4 > #1482 rank to #72
    Game 5 > #916 rank to #107

    We knew we could get this game in Top 10–20 within 4 weeks but we surprised ourselves that we achieved it so quickly.

    Miguel was happy. We’ve launched multiple successful campaigns for his games since then for multiple App stores. He is one happy-chappy, still eating noodles and living at Mum’s.

    I hope this was useful and would be happy to answer any questions in the comments section.

    Originally posted on Medium :
  2. psj3809

    psj3809 Moderator

    Jan 13, 2011
    Without naming the game i always find these types of stories a bit odd.

    Plus if it is all true its a shame that anyone who pays a bit of money can get an average game to the top 10 of the app store
  3. Brianna Taeuber

    Jul 24, 2018
    Its amazing what a solid marketing plan and a knowledge of SEO can do.
  4. Vikki Li

    Vikki Li Active Member

    Sep 5, 2018
    nice work!

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