App marketing strategies for hardcore and mid-core gaming apps

Differentiating between hardcore and mid-core gaming apps is essential to tailor effective app marketing strategies. This article explores successful tactics, KPIs, and performance measurement methods for these genres.

In the rapidly evolving app marketing world, catering to the unique characteristics of hardcore and mid-core gaming apps has become crucial for driving user engagement and revenue. In this comprehensive analysis, Adikteev delves into the strategies that have proven successful for these genres, explores the key performance indicators (KPIs) that app marketers should track, and examine the pros and cons of different performance measurement methods.

What are hardcore and mid-core games?

Hardcore gaming apps are known for demanding a high level of investment from players, featuring immersive and complex gameplay. This category includes massively multiplayer online role-play games (MMORPG), multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBA), and first-person shooter games. Notably, players of hardcore gaming apps exhibit deep engagement with the virtual world, often leading to offline discussions and a high level of investment in the app. These hardcore players are among the most committed and dedicated users in the gaming app market.

Mid-core games strike a balance between casual and hardcore genres. They share some features with hardcore gaming apps, such as world-building and resource management, but they typically offer simpler controls and require slightly less investment from players. As a result, mid-core gaming apps attract a larger and more diverse user base compared to their hardcore counterparts.

Utilizing effective audience segmentation and strategies

One overarching strategy that has proven successful for mid-core and hardcore gaming apps is targeting payers and lapsed payers. Most revenue in these genres comes from highly engaged paying users who make repeat purchases. In hardcore gaming apps, these payers are pivotal in driving the app’s success and revenue generation. In contrast, mid-core games may have a larger user base that never makes a purchase. Still, it’s essential to focus on retaining the smaller group of payers who contribute significantly to revenue.

Adikteev’s research on hardcore and mid-core gaming apps indicates that repeat purchasers generate 97% of in-app revenue. In comparison, only 36% of users targeted make a single purchase, contributing to a mere 3% of in-app revenue.

Users who have made a first purchase are highly likely to make a second one, becoming repeat payers; therefore, it’s important to encourage repeat purchases to ensure sustained app usage among paying users. Push notifications, email campaigns, and retargeting with a multi-pronged approach can drive conversions. Analyzing the effect of retargeting through uplift tests allows marketers to accurately measure the impact on user behavior.

Studies show that 70 – 80% of new installers churn on the first day. Targeting and activating these users early in their journey is crucial to identify potential high-intent users and ensure optimal utilization of the user acquisition budget.

Optimizing activity windows for success

Determining the optimal activity windows for app marketing strategies requires thoroughly auditing user behavior and audience segmentation. While a universal activity window that works for all mid-core and hardcore gaming apps is difficult to pinpoint, some patterns have emerged as effective. Targeting payers between 1 and 14 days and focusing on day 1 users (those who have just downloaded the app) is fruitful.

For instance, approximately half of repeat purchasers make a second purchase on the same day as their first, and this number decreases to 25% between 1 and 7 days. By upselling these users early in their journey, app marketers can increase the likelihood of turning them into repeat converters. Furthermore, users who make a second purchase within 14 days of their first purchase are much more likely to convert a third time. After 22 days, the likelihood of making a second purchase drops from 77% to 54%. The specific difference between day 1 and day 22 may vary depending on the app but can be crucial for optimizing marketing efforts.

 Use effective KPIs 

Some common KPIs include Attributed ROAS, Attributed Activations or Purchase CPA, Uplift on Open, and Uplift on Purchase or Purchase Value. Attributed ROAS and Purchase CPA are popular metrics as they are easy to set up and optimize, enabling granular optimizations by publisher, creative, and other factors. On the other hand, attributed ROAS may not account for incrementality, and a separate incrementality test may be required over a more extended period.

Uplift on Open is a reliable metric, especially for frequent events like app opens. It helps gauge the effect of retargeting campaigns over time without significant test noise or sharing sensitive data. Similarly, Uplift on Purchase or Purchase Value provides insights into the monetary impact of retargeting campaigns over time. Yet, results for whale-based games may be volatile and noisy, and obtaining statistically significant results may require patience.

Identifying the core group of high Lifetime Value (LTV) purchasers is paramount to building a successful retargeting campaign for mid-core and hardcore gaming apps. Payers, lapsed payers, and new installers emerge as this vertical’s three most common success stories. Encouraging first- and second-time purchasers to make repeat purchases is essential for maximizing revenue. Moreover, early activation of new installers is critical to prevent potential high-LTV users from churning prematurely.

For developers seeking expertise in app retargeting, Adikteev offers a complementary pre-launch analysis to provide app marketers with a clear understanding of their app audience before launching any campaigns. By partnering with experienced retargeting experts, app developers can implement custom strategies and advance their gaming apps.

App marketing for hardcore and mid-core gaming apps requires tailored strategies to cater to the unique characteristics of these genres. App marketers can drive user engagement and revenue growth by employing effective audience segmentation, targeting payers and lapsed payers, optimizing activity windows, and using relevant KPIs. Embracing the insights and expertise of retargeting partners can be the key to unlocking the full potential of gaming apps in the competitive app market.

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