10 email tips for the online gaming industry

Online gaming has become big business in recent years and with that success comes the need for marketers to engage with gamers. Inevitably, email marketing forms a significant part of these campaigns.

According to market researcher Newzoo, the global games market is due to be worth $86.1 billion (£55.4 billion) by 2016 and the number of people playing will rise to 1.55 billion – up from 1.21 billion in 2013. While conventional console and PC gaming still account for much of this; online gaming is on the rise and looks set for further growth too.

With such a huge market to aim for, what can you do in your email marketing campaign to really connect with players and entice them to come back to the fold?

1) Audience

Think carefully about who your audience is. While gaming may be open to everyone, it definitely appeals to some demographics more than others. Understanding who you are talking to is almost half the battle, so do as much research as possible to appreciate who your reader is – you might also consider segmenting to target different customer profiles.

2) Motivation

This is clearly related to the previous point, but asks what will motivate your target customer to first of all open your email and then click your call to action. It may be surprising to you – if you do not personally play online games – to understand what sort of offer would prompt a conversion.

3) Timing

It is important not to subscribe to stereotypes unfailingly but when it comes to the timing of emails you should note that gamers have a habit of being night owls. It is always worth backing this type of idea with your own testing – do what you can to understand your customer’s schedule, as it will help with your messaging.

4) Current games

Sometimes you will want to persuade people to try something different – maybe a new game or mode – but remember you can harness a person’s attachment to a current game to do this. For example, offer an incentive for Game A if they complete two levels of Game B.

5) Behaviour

It is important to note that while several of your recipients may pertain to a similar demographic, they might be at different levels of engagement, so try to read into their behaviour. Perhaps one name on your list has not logged into the website for a while so would benefit from an incentive message, while another is completely new so would work better with a slightly different approach.

6) Insight

For a gamer it is not always a voucher or a freebie that will prompt them to open an email or convert – often a piece of valuable insight or an exclusive guide may be better. For a poker fan, an interview with a pro about a particular hand may be hugely engaging.

7) Mix it up

Online gaming fans are – by their nature – going to want to be entertained, so don’t bore them by sending the same type of message all the time. Mix it up with information, vouchers, industry predictions and personal messages even.

8) Player community

Always remember that gamers may enjoy single-player titles and spend time alone gamers, but that does not mean they do not enjoy being part of a community. If you can engage with recipients by talking about what others in that community are doing or have done then you can make a much stronger bond than by simply sending out sales messages.

9) Exclusivity

This goes to the very heart of what makes email marketing campaigns successful – the idea that the recipient is getting access to something that others cannot use, whether it be a limited edition product, extra discount or some other special deal. In gaming terms, allowing access to hidden games can be hugely successful, particularly if you do it by sending a code they can share with friends.

10) Spam

Avoiding spam filters is an issue for all email marketers but gamers arguably have it even harder at times. Spam filters are alerted to words like ‘free’ and ‘prize’ among other terms, which might actually be relevant to your offering but could see you fall foul of the system. Just remember that poor deliverability can impact future campaigns from your servers, so make sure you are monitoring this factor. Online gambling games may have particular trouble with this issue, but by testing and trying out different approaches you can see what sort of items are deemed okay by email service providers, using this to inform future messages.

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