11 tips for killer User Acquisition ops (Q4 version)

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Hey ho, let’s go. Here we go again! The previous article was so successful, so I decided to write a follow up. Which was even more successful. Brilliant! I will keep sharing these tips, don’t you worry.

Keep reading the tips to improve your UA. Simple, practical & efficient! That’s it, no bullshit! No fluff intro, straight to the point.

#1 Creatives -> icon –> screenshots = one seamless experience

Create perfect expectation flow for your players.

Creative & ASO/store alignment is a really important part of the whole mobile marketing strategy.

You are setting certain expectations for your players when they see your creatives.

You show them a creative concept A, but you have in your Appstore icon with theme B or C.

That is not going to work. Same thing applies for fake creatives. Same principle! Read about how to 10x your game revenue with fake ads here!

Keep this in mind when creating your ads and preparing Appstore visuals such as icons and screenshots. Create one seamless experience for your players.

Conversion rates are going to explode!

#2 TikTok (creative & performance) hack

You still underestimate the power of TikTok. I’ve been saying this over and over again in the last few months. Open up your TikTok account and start running the campaigns ASAP.

I know it’s pretty annoying not to be able to target every country, but when you have your account manager, you are good to go.

Anyway, there are other things I wanted to share. Mainly, performance is so freaking good. I can see 4x lower CPIs on TikTok when comparing to other channels (mainly Facebook) and the quality is even better.

Just few days ago, I opened up a Purchase campaign on TikTok for an action game. D1 ROAS 72% with $1.7 CPI targeting UK, DE & France as T1 campaign on Android.

Thats not all!

Start leveraging TikTok creative gallery and using their music gallery as well.

I run a split test for one creative using random music vs trending music on TikTok. (this is different game, not the example from above)

TikTok trending music had 20% lower CPI and 14% ROAS right away.

I guess here we have a winner of the UA for 2022!

#3 Low budget UA

Keeping the campaign structure super simple – using 1 network only.

Targeting you top 5 GEOs revenue wise in one geo bucket.

Most probably here I would go with Value optimisation or something that could give you the best possible results in simple structure.

If you have an ad monetised game, then AdROAS it is.

Even though I bitch about FB, I would start with Facebook from D0. Use this strategy until I see a decline in numbers.

Then move to Google and use tROAS right away.

You could argue that with low budgets you won’t be able to get enough signals, but honestly you don’t have too many other options.

With ad monetised games, start with Google AdROAS right away.

Target Top5 best GEOs in one campaign. Until you get some money back from the campaigns, try Unity AdROAS. Oh, btw! Did you know you can run Unity AdROAS campaigns with Singular now easily? Yep, that’s right!

Here, start with the best country (I would assume it’s the US).

You need to go through the CPI campaign, but it’s not going to take too long until you get to AdROAS.

Do this until you get comfortable with your cash flow and start opening up other UA channels with the same strategy.

#4 Passing the privacy threshold shenanigans

I am pretty sure you remember me talking about privacy threshold problems in some of the previous newsletters.

What could you do to start getting post backs and meet the privacy threshold?

increase budget (DUH!) (if I add “increase bid” advice I automatically become Google rep)

Run campaigns with considerably high budgets. Look at your CPIs on Android, multiply them 5-8x and calculate the budget.

Simplified, if you run $150-200/day on Android, on iOS you need to start at least on $500-600/day.

add countries

Consolidate countries and create geo Tier buckets. My current Tiers example:

T1: US, UK, CA, DE, FR, AU, KR, JP, CH

T2: DK, FI, NO, SE, NL, ES, IT, HK, SG, NZ

T3: PL, CZ, SK, BE, AT, IE, TR, UAE, SA, TW, TH

ROW

I usually group all tier 1 countries together not looking at the language, but only LTV (lifetime value), then create tier 2 segment and Rest of the World. This is based on LTV for a specific game.

Don’t copy, do your own homework!

broader targeting strategies

Use broad targeting as much as possible, and consolidate lookalikes, interest or behavior with high overlap into larger groups.

experiment with campaign optimisation

With Facebook consider switching campaigns to AAA (Automated app ads) structure to help overcome the privacy threshold and start getting postbacks.

Use AAA campaign with MAI+Purchase optimization. As such, 50% of the time the campaign will optimise for installs and other 50% will optimise for purchase. Using this campaign type especially on iOS to get lower CPIs, but also quality players.

!!! Important !!!

Don’t make campaign adjustments in the first 72 hours after launching the iOS 14 campaign.

Wait until you see first data, then when evaluating overall campaign performance, please wait for an additional 24 hours (ideally 72 hours) so that the campaign can fully receive all SKAN conversion post-backs.

Expect a longer learning phase for the iOS14 campaigns due to SKAN delays and IDFA loss.

Let’s see what happens when SKAN 4.0 is fully live.

#5 Social media posts

Does your game have a social media profile? Facebook Fan page, Instagram or Tiktok? Hear me out, if yes! If not, start doing it now..

Review your social media posts. Look at the engagement – comments, shares & likes.

Get your top engaged posts from all social media (1-5 up to you) and add them to your business as usual User Acquisition campaigns across the board.

You can mix up Tiktok with Facebook and instagram. Both statics & videos would do the trick.

Look at the performance, measure and benefit!

This is very recent finding. I am giving out a very very very good performing tip. Why? Because I care (and also believe in karma)

 

Enjoy and share with others!

#6 Soft launch device performance

When in soft launch, be sure to think about the whole picture.

Run UA & evaluate.

But dig deeper into your data.

Be sure you are running campaigns targeted for players eligible to play your game on their devices.

What do I mean?

There is a shit ton of android devices and I am pretty sure games soft launched in 2022 have high requirements.

Dig deeper, look into the device performance. Exclude the devices based on RAM, not only OS.

I used to exclude 3GB RAM devices from the campaigns and performance improved quite heavily.

How do you do that? My former colleagues Martin & Tomas did the hard work for you and compiled this list – Request access! Add these to your campaigns and voila, exclusion list is there.

But we are in 2022, excluding 3GB RAM is not enough anymore. After doing some research, there is a hack. Pretty obvious one.

How to exclude older devices that don’t have 6GB RAM? Target only Android OS12!

Google Android 12 Requirements:

At Least 6GB RAM, 1080p Display

At least a 12-megapixel rear camera with support for 4K30 video recording.

With this, you can improve your D1 retention from 20% to 40%. You will stop acquiring players that can’t play your game. Easy!

Dig deeper!

#7 (I love) Seasonal creatives

Yeah, it is that time of the year when every rep in the world tells you to adjust your creative process to produce Halloween & Christmas creatives.

Honestly, such a waste of time and resources if you don’t do it right. Never worked for me in my whole career and I tried really, really hard. The UA god is my witness! 

It’s actually very similar to the fake ads experience I have been talking about in the last couple of months and ties into the very first tip in this article!

You need to create a seamless expectation flow for your players:

  • players see halloween creatives
  • they land into your app store page -> they see Halloween/Christmas screenshot (1st screenshot is enough)
  • don’t forget to use Halloween/Christmas icon & feature image
  • players install the game and they see a Halloween/Christmas content
  • Yay! everybody is happy!

if you know you are going to skip even one step from this list, don’t waste time and resources. Just skip the seasonal bullshit and stick to what works for you.

There is always additional question: How long should I run Halloween/Christmas creatives?

Well, as long as you see a good performance and you are hitting the goals.

#8 Soft launch KPIs

Soft launch KPIs are always tricky. What kind of retention should you aim for?

It’s not always easy to hit industry benchmarks 40/20/10 (D1, D7, D30 retention)

What if you have lower retention?

  • It’s all about the ratios between the D1, D7, D30 and even D60. I’ve seen games with shitty D1 retention (as low as D1 28%) hitting D60 retention 6-8%.
  • This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim for high retention profile.
  • Healthy retention profile helps you retain players and monetize them afterwards

What if you are have super high CPI?

  • What does super high CPI even mean? Different genres have different CPIs. If you have a puzzle game and you see $40 CPIs in tier1 or Tier2 countries, that is pretty high.
  • But, we need more information. What UA channels are you running? What is the campaign optimisation you are running – MAI / AEO or VO?
  • I always look on the CPI evolution (increase through time in SL) – What is the starting CPI, how does the CPI looks like after 7days, how does it look like after 30days?
  • if your CPI increases rapidly in first 7days, you most probably have very niche game and you will have hard time scaling.

Can you grow my game? Could it be ROI positive?

  • It can be ROI positive, potentially yes.
  • But again, what will be the daily spend. If your KPIs suck, you won’t be able to spend a lot of money per day.
  • What I actually want to say here is, you can have a profitable game with not being able to spend millions on a monthly basis.
  • Some companies are spending few thousands per day, making few thousands on top of it and they are okay.
  • You don’t need to spend millions to run a successful business.
  • There are always pros and cons.

#9 Building a mobile game with marketing in mind

Creative production is super important part of the UA. Not all creative concepts are easily created.

Starting a production of a game with outsourcing capabilities in mind can be very hard, but also very helpful for your marketing efforts.

Because let’s face it, your game won’t get any traction without User Acquisition.

What should you think about?

  • If your game is in 3D, preparing for 2D asset pack you could be sharing with agencies and consultants is a very nice bonus.
  • build your game with dev console in mind (or GOD MODE)
  • think about cheats, toggle off HUD, change camera angles

Organise your assets beforehand! There is nothing more beautiful than folder with organised game assets. This is what you should prepare:

  • Brand rules (does the brand have some non-go zone? / how to use the logo / what colours to use .. etc.)
  • Legal lines
  • Logos
  • Fonts
  • Gameplay videos
  • End screen / packshots / outro (if you already have them)
  • UI game elements (buttons, characters, icons, menu etc.)
  • Psd files and source files

If you are not thinking about this in advance, it’s not an end of the world. But! If you do, it will speed up the creative production and help your outsourcing partner quite heavily.

#10 Global launch goes wrong, now what?

Global launch is in it’s full swing, everything looks amazing. Until it doesn’t! Golden cohort is fading off, results are declining, creative fatigue hits you in your face.

What now? Panic mode: on! Turning off almost all campaigns, decreasing budgets by 70% at once because middle management doesn’t think we need to spend more when results are declining.

Well, fuck you middle management.

You know shit about UA, you only care about excel sheets and tables.

Let’s not panic at all. Why? Because you already knew this would happen anyway. You are well prepared!

Starting to turn off 10-20% of your not so efficient spend. Do it gradually.

Refreshing creatives is very much needed at this point, because your CPIs are increasing AF! You have multiple winning creative concepts from soft launch, so you are good!

#11 Bullshit tips fact check

Be careful what you read and what advices you follow. Always try to think about motivation of the author who provides tips and the context why he/she it doing it. E.g:

Marketing agency tells you you need to have different creatives on different channels, because it doesn’t work.

But is that really truth? How come survivor.io use the same creatives on all the channels and makes $2mil/day?

Why would they tell you a different story? To charge you more for those additional creatives. 

Some blogs or articles are just puff pieces from an agency. Usually starts with super long intro and then you can see a fragment of the article where you actually read few vague tips without providing any value

These article always end with “blablbla, you should use our service – please contact us here. WE will help you”

If you read this at the end, you know its a trap! Plus, you are never going to get any insightful tips only upsell.

Anything that I missed?

Oh wow! You made it until here! You must be very engaged. I like that type of players.. Ehm, people!

Please share this article with your industry friends. It would mean a world to me.

Also, subscribe to my newsletter. It’s so honest it might actually annoy you. If you are easily annoyed, please don’t subscribe.


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