@MarioWynands, Managing Director of PikPok, knows a thing or two about marketing mobile apps. His game Turbo FAST just crossed the 50 million download mark, and his other games have seen similar success.
Most developers only dream of building apps that acquire millions of users. To help them navigate the road to success, Mario shared some of his insights into the marketing world with us.
Walk me through the marketing plan you used to get Turbo FAST 50 million downloads.
PikPok isn’t a company that believes in or utilizes much in the way of paid user acquisition, choosing instead to focus on moments of leverage.
Turbo FAST had some great opportunities to leverage. It was based on the Turbo movie from DreamWorks Animation, meaning a heavily publicized theatrical release, and the movie itself had tie-ins to the INDY 500. We planned the launch to come out a few weeks before the INDY 500, so we could have the initial “usual” burst and fanfare at release, then get boosted by the INDY 500 event promotional opportunities, then ride the build-up to the film release and throughout its theatrical run. This worked out extremely well for us, with planned key moments to leverage our promotional and social efforts, especially. Subsequent key points of leverage were the release of the DVD and Blu-ray for the film, and the launch of the Turbo FAST animated series on Netflix.
Our marketing campaign, as well as our update plan, worked these moments into a coordinated calendar. We allowed for “real world” events regarding the franchise to be synced with game promotional efforts and new content and features within the game itself. We even used the game as a promotional platform to drive people to other expressions of the IP, and expanded the game as the Turbo universe expanded, so users formed even deeper connections to the source material and made them more likely to keep playing and evangelising the product.
Additionally, we had a great launch partner in Verizon who brought additional resources to the table to help promote the title in exchange for brand exposure in the game. A large part of their commitment was fronting US $1 million in cash prizes for a competition we ran from launch. It was an amazing opportunity for the user base, and a huge driver of engagement and excitement to help create a critical mass of users early on.
“Very rarely does any team knock it
out of the park the first time.”
What was the most important facet of your team’s strategy?
Coordinating the game development with game marketing efforts, and then with the licensed franchise efforts, was key to amplifying awareness and engagement with the game. It created a feedback loop, which gained a sustainable momentum. Even now, more than a year after release, we continue to work closely with the DreamWorks animation and Netflix teams on the messaging, nature and timing of new content. The download train just keeps rolling.
You’ve clearly excelled at user acquisition. Tell me how you keep these users engaged and coming back to your app.
The simple answer here is quality. We are passionate about creating the best experience we can, and slave over the details. If your game is fundamentally fun, innovative and high quality, then that will keep your users coming back more than any individual trick or technique.
Is there anything you know now about mobile apps that you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career with PikPok?
We come from a boxed retail background, so there was a lot to learn about the mobile space. I think the biggest hurdle I personally had to overcome early on was understanding the dynamics of discovery in a crowded marketplace. It initially felt like we were doing the wrong thing by flipping our paid games to free and giving them away to millions of users – surely everyone who would have ever wanted to buy them now had the game. But the reality is the bigger your active fanbase, the easier it is to drive downloads, and ultimately revenues, over time. Being generous with our portfolio early on and over time created a platform from which we could launch future games.
What advice do you have for app developers trying to monetize their first app?
I think the best advice I can give is to view any first title as a learning experience, and structure your business so that it is not reliant on that first title being successful. There is so much to learn about mobile app publishing and monetization.
Chances are, any first title from a studio is going to experience a lot of problems and mistakes in the rollout and lifespan of the product. It will likely monetize poorly no matter what you try and how well you think you did, because there is so much nuance in actually getting it right. Very rarely does any team knock it out of the park the first time, but the experience can help you improve almost every aspect of your approach and process. Feed that learning (and any users you gain) into the next title, and feed that learning into the next, and so on.
How are some of your other top-performing games doing?
We’ve had great download success across multiple titles. Our Into the Dead zombie-themed endless runner is well over 30 million downloads, and our Flick Kick sports series is over the 25 million downloads mark. Our latest PikPok published release, The Maze Runner, developed by Sticky Studios and based on the Fox feature film currently in theaters, is off to a great start attracting millions of downloads in the first week.
“Kiip a great monetization solution,
but it is an acquisition driver as well.”
How has Kiip influenced PikPok games?
The most surprising thing for us about Kiip is how well users have responded to it. “Advertising” is usually something which users don’t react well to in any form, because it often distracts from the core experience and works against immersion.
The philosophy with Kiip being present in elation moments and rewarding the user for their achievements, whether that be with real-world rewards or digital goods, has seen a very positive reaction from our player base. So much so that we often receive messages asking when the next campaigns will run, and we have been witness to users posting online, prompting people to download the games in question to get the rewards.
Kiip a great monetization solution, but it is an acquisition driver as well.
Rewards lead to higher engagement among users and better monetization for developers. 84 percent of mobile users say they prefer mobile rewards vs. ads, and over 3,000 games and apps already use Kiip to monetize. Learn more about Kiip at kiip.me/developers.