Monetization - 8 min read  - April 21, 2020

7 Tips to Grow & Retain Mobile Game Users Amid the Coronavirus Lockdown

At Appodeal, we want to help you mitigate the potential negative effects that this confinement can cause in the long term. For this reason, we have prepared the following list of tips.

From our last post, we learned about the impact that the COVID-19 had on mobile games and apps during March.

While some gaming apps have benefited in this first phase of global lockdowns, if this situation does not improve soon, your ad revenue may get a low hit in Q2 of 2020 without proactive actions.

At Appodeal, we want to help you mitigate the potential negative effects that this confinement can cause in the long term. For this reason, we have prepared the following list of tips. 

This way, you can keep growing your user base, as well as improve your retention rates.

1. Check your User Analytics on Covid-19 Affected Countries

If your app has an international reach, one of the first things you can do—if you haven’t already— is to analyze how the pandemic is impacting your users residing in the most affected countries: China, USA, Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey and so on.

This lockdown is keeping people inside their homes with lots of spare time. This new routine is changing the behavior of users with mobile apps and video games.

It is very likely that, in the analytics for your mobile video game, you may now detect new user-flows, longer user sessions, and also more daily sessions.

Once you detect how the user behavior of your app has changed, you can use that new data to elaborate on new approaches to increase your revenue. 

Improve your Marketing Campaigns, optimize your Push Notification strategy, and adapt your Ad Placements to improve your monetization. You can also detect which features users are interacting with, collect data usage, redesign them, and promote them to new audiences.

The insights you find at this point will help you a lot in the following tips.

2. Send Push Notifications to Reactivate Dormant Users

You already have searched for new patterns and user behaviors in your app, and yet your KPIs remain the same. There doesn’t seem to be any noticeable changes before and after the lockdown. 

With all the changes happening around the world, your players have a lot on their plates right now, and they may simply forget about you. 

Have you already sent a Push Notification to remind them that your app exists?

A little nudge to remind them that your awesome app exists wouldn’t hurt. It might actually be welcomed during these times.

But be careful. Not everything is acceptable!

Send relevant messages to your users. Connect with them through this challenging situation that we are all experiencing. Find ways to cover their new needs, promote features that you have detected your users interacting with the most, and above all, give them something valuable.

You will find in your analytic tools what your users are waiting for from you.

3. Create In-App Events & Promos to Build Up User Loyalty

You have sent your Push Notification, and, as expected, you see a good number of inactive users are now returning to your application. Your KPIs improve. Great!

However, after a few days, your metrics stop growing, and you are back to the way you were before. If you want to prevent that from happening, you must prepare your action plan.

Your users will devour your app, and you better be ready with some new content for them. Plan in-app events, marketing promotions, or trial features. You can even add new features to your user experience. Try to connect all those new activities with the specific situation that humanity is facing these days: Covid-19. 

You may think that your video game or your app can’t support this type of marketing actions, that your users are not interested in hearing anything like that from your product.

Think again.

In recent weeks, apps that were completely paralyzed by the Covid-19 have been launching dozens of messages and marketing events to engage with their users. Take as an example the second-hand sales apps, completely unable to operate since its core-business is now frozen. They are creating weekly content, like raffles and contests, and they are engaging with their users in all possible ways. 

It is time to be creative. Show your users that you really care and you’re here for them, too.

If you do it right, not only will you boost your short-term retention, but you will also improve your User Loyalty and get better metrics in the long run.

4. Send Your Users to Channels Where You Can Build Long-Term Relationships

Once you put into action your events and marketing promotions, you will get all kinds of reactions from your users.

Your app will probably receive positive feedback, good reviews, questions, suggestions, and even comments from users who have went through bad experiences and unexpected errors.

When this happens, and be sure it will happen, we must always try to direct each user to the channel in which we can give them the best user experience.

If you automate engagement actions in your marketing channels (in-app messages, social media, etc.), you should check that your users reach the platforms that you want them to go, and understand how to use them.

It sounds obvious, but a lot of mobile app developers still have a margin for improvement in this area.

Many indie devs believe that their users have seamless experiences because they hardly receive support tickets. And yet, when you dive deep in their App Stores and social media, you can find lots of unsolved complaints and bug reports that go entirely unnoticed. 

This is a pattern that will definitely grow during this lockdown. 

Now that users have plenty of time to spend in your game app, and share their experiences, they will try to contact you through channels that you may not be tracking.

Now it is the best time to analyze the engagement ratio on your channels: your social media, community forums, App Store, etc.

Find out if your users reach the support platform you have chosen. Are they comfortable and using it correctly? Or, on the contrary, are you receiving all sorts of communications through other channels that maybe you did not anticipate?

5. Give Virtual Credits for In-app Events or Features

Recently, we all have heard about companies, freelancers, and “offline” business owners around the globe that have not been able to continue with their activities. This situation is leading them to have problems maintaining their salaries.

Locked at home and unable to work, many people will cut down on their spending, which will, sooner or later, be reflected on many mobile apps and games. Your metrics may start showing how your VIP & Loyal Users are lowering the frequency of In-App Purchases, and the ARPPU decreases.

In a context like this, it is highly important to retain our VIP Users. Otherwise, if your most valuable players lose their premium privileges, they may feel unmotivated, start playing less frequently, and ultimately uninstall the app.

One way to avoid this is to give them virtual credits or currencies. 

The same way banks give loans, most of the mobile games have virtual currencies that developers can leverage

You can open a free pass to premium game levers in exchange for a percentage of their rewards, or open a piggy bank where they store the earnings they acquired on those premium features.

Giving users virtual credits, however, does have its pitfalls. A poorly thought out approach can unbalance your game economy and negatively affect the user experience. But those devs who take the time to test virtual credits with their VIP users so that they can keep their current status may get a better chance to retain them.

This way, your most valuable and loyal users can continue engaging in current or future events and enjoy all the benefits of premium In-App features.

6. Extend Premium Services to Increase Loyalty and Retention

Recently you may have heard about brands that are extending premium services to their loyal users. Online Universities are opening free courses, or streaming companies offering premium videos to regions profoundly affected by the coronavirus. Even some stores are offering essential goods for free, like food and soap, to those who are struggling.

If your mobile app or game has a premium service and you notice that many users are canceling their subscriptions, you can turn this problem into an opportunity.

Some mobile apps are releasing their premium services for free to certain regions during these tough times. Some other games are sending automated messages to those users who unsubscribe from their VIP programs and give them personalized discounts, or even to extend that premium service for a short period.

This may not increase your app revenue right now, but, by allowing your users to get used to your premium service, it may convince them to acquire it again once the lockdown situation fades away.

If you struggle with PR (Public Relations), here’s an excellent guide on How to Develop a Successful PR Strategy in 2021, by Vlad Orlov from Respona.

If you give it a try, be sure to coordinate it with a proper public relations strategy. Solidary actions usually get people’s attention & positive comments on Social Media, and users receive them with great enthusiasm. Share it on social media and get the press and the relevant media to talk about it if possible. 

Who knows if your app may even go viral and increase, not only your User Loyalty and Brand Reputation, but also, the number of Organic Installs.

Rewarded Ads IAP Revenue - 7 Tips to Grow & Retain Mobile Game Users Amid the Coronavirus Lockdown

7. Power Up your Rewarded Ads to compensate for the decrease in IAP Revenue

Another consequence that may follow due to the lack of financial liquidity of your user base is that they begin to consume more rewarded video ads to maintain their privileges.

Rewarded video ads gave your users access to premium or paid features. If they now have a hard time opening their wallets, they should be able to pay for it with another “currency”: time. 

Now that your users have plenty of time, and they will probably want to keep enjoying your app like before the coronavirus lockdown, the idea of watching more rewarded ads will feel more welcome.

The Coronavirus lockdown is giving you the perfect environment to A/B test your ad placements, optimize the ad frequency of your Rewarded Videos, and even offer new rewarded in-app features.

Powering up your Rewarded Ads, and we could include here the two previous tips too, can benefit you in the long-term by:

  • Increasing the tolerance of users to receive more ad impacts and marketing communications
  • Improving the conversion funnels of premium features for your VIP users
  • Boosting your Long-Term Retention and the User Loyalty of your overall community.

(Extra +1) 8. Never Lose Hope

It is easier said than done, but still, we have to keep our hopes high. 

The feeling that I had in the last days after speaking with several Game Indie Devs is that, despite being in the middle of a new and unexpected global situation, the coronavirus is giving us all an exceptional opportunity to learn and iterate.

We must use this time to improve your mobile games and apps. Rethink your ad and monetization strategy, fix measurement issues, try new waterfall setups, configure new price floors, and be sure that your maximum demand is included in your mediation setup.

Prepare your tech stack, strengthen your relationships with your existing customers, and be creative. Contact our support team in case you have any questions or issues with your monetization performance.

Now is the time to turn your app into a top-earning hit!

All these tips are aimed to help you boost your retention rates with your loyal & VIP Users, and reactivate inactive users.

Be sure to check out our other article with more tips on “how to Acquire New Users”.

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Marc Llobet
Marc Llobet