Three ways the gaming industry can avoid a case of the Cyber Mondays

How to optimize player onboarding this holiday season

In 2016, Cyber Monday went down in history as the largest online sales day ever with shoppers spending a record $3.39 billion online over the course of the day.

For console game publishers, it’s part of the most anticipated time of the year with big titles like Call of Duty: WWII, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Star Wars: BattleFront II, Forza Motorsport, and Super Mario Odyssey all released in the October to December window.

Meanwhile, with a record $967.6 million in game app sales between Christmas and New Year’s Day last year, mobile game publishers see the largest surge after gifts have been unwrapped.

Regardless of whether players are purchasing games ­on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any day in between, limiting new player churn and building long-term loyalty is key for publishers looking to maximize holiday season success.

So, how can your company build a lasting relationship with players over the long-term, leveraging loyalty for wallet share? Hint: It’s all about the onboarding.

With this in mind, here are three ways for gaming publishers to build relationships with their players this holiday season.

Early Rewards Spur Long-Term Loyalty

Engaged players are repeat players. And repeat players spend money. But how do you build that engagement quickly? Experimenting with giving gamers rewards early, and often, in the game can drive early engagement and loyalty. An excellent game onboarding experience gives tiered rewards for joining, usually either in-game currency or special items that improve the initial game experience. These rewards can also be given as a player levels-up, driving them to play more often in order to move further along in the game.

Providing in-game currency for players to spend to gain power-ups gets them excited about the game. But it’s not just the transactions that count. If gaming companies want to retain customers, they need to truly understand what makes that customer tick. Many marketers make the mistake of just blasting all lapsed gamers, without homing in on what makes a particular gamer loyal to a brand.

Birds of a Feather: Encourage Social Interaction

Games are getting more social than ever. Even while playing on cell phones or laptops on the subway, on the couch or in the lunchroom at work, today’s players want to know what their cohorts are doing. Witness the success of PewDiePie’s Let’s Play videos on YouTube, a channel full of hundreds of hours of him playing popular video games. Capitalizing on this kind of engagement requires AI-fueled insights based on more than just backward-facing data and analytics.

Adding an in-app chat component or creating a game community encourages players to come back not only to continuing playing, but also to build lasting relationships with other players.

These social interactions and groups can also provide added rewards to the players who join. The incentivized relationships build engagement by providing a gaming experience that players want to to return to over and over again. Social connections of customers has been shown to increase the consumption of games. These interactions work across the entire customer social ecosystem through intentional sharing campaigns. In a 2016 study from Columbia University, HEC Paris, and Amplero, researchers were even able to quantify direct ROI on non-targeted connections of targeted users—a ripple effect, in other words.

Detecting Can’t-Miss Churn Signals

Preventing player churn is an essential part of the on-boarding process especially in a market where there’s always something else waiting to catch your player’s attention. And the best way to prevent churn, is to predict it. Use data markers such as login data, time spent in-app, or social interactions to get a good idea of which players are more at risk to abandon your game and figure out ways to entice them back. Acting on this data early on, rather than after they’ve lapsed completely, means you’re more likely to re-engage the player and get them excited about your game again.

Many companies simply blast every lapsed customer with a generic turn-around offer, without having insight into why they lapsed in the first place. Targeting discounts, upgrades, and engagement offers to each customer and customer segment is critical to build long-term loyalty

Ultimately marketers need to uncover the reasons for potential customer churn. Asking questions such as why a customer is at risk and what offer or incentive directly addresses the risk, is a great starting place for addressing the retention challenge. Faster and more effective access to data can even predict how likely the customer is to come back and how much they’ll spend upon return.

It can be difficult to win and keep consumer loyalty in the best of times, but it’s even harder during the hectic holiday season. Consumers are bombarded with ads on tv, online, on the radio, and in store for every type of game imaginable.

Marketers who view customers as relationships more than a series of transactions, and who care about retention more than acquisition are less likely to offer glitzy short-term deals that fizzle as quickly as gamer interest. It’s just no longer enough to aggregate data on customer interactions.

Today’s marketing clouds and gaming intelligence platforms often struggle to continuously optimize the player experience based on technology limitations and resource constraints.

While gaming publishers and developers have been using AI-powered non-player characters for decades, the advent of AI at the core of their marketing and product stack is enabling new breakthroughs in player revenue and retention.

To learn more about how gaming publishers are leveling up player relationships, download our 2017 AI Marketing Guide for Gaming.

About Lynn

Lynn Batson is an analytics and marketing leader specializing in mobilizing data to drive transformational KPIs at the enterprise level.

With a background spanning CRM and analytics leadership positions across gaming, financial services, and media industries, Lynn helps drive enterprise-level artificial intelligence marketing initiatives for major brands. She works with marketing teams to map strategic business objectives, existing data ecosystems, and customer engagement channels with the Amplero AIM Platform to maximize revenue and retention metrics.

She’s also a Reiki master.

About Amplero

Headquartered in Seattle, Amplero is an Artificial Intelligence Marketing (AIM) company that enables business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers at global brands to optimize customer lifetime value at a scale not humanly possible.

Unlike traditional rules-based marketing automation systems, Amplero's Artificial Intelligence Marketing Platform leverages machine learning and multi-armed bandit experimentation to dynamically test thousands of permutations to adaptively optimize every customer interaction and maximize customer lifetime value and loyalty.

With Amplero, marketers in competitive, customer-obsessed industries like telecom, banking, gaming and consumer tech are currently seeing measurable lift across key performance indicators—including 1-3% incremental growth in customer topline revenue and 3-5x lift in retention rates.

For more information, contact us today or follow us on Twitter.