The most important thing we found out from our State of Independent Games report was that a lot of the indie devs in our community either didn’t understand marketing or didn’t do enough of it.
This isn’t their fault, though. There’s very little overlap between the skills needed to make an indie game and the skills needed to market it.
Don’t worry, though! In this article series, we’ll look at fundamental aspects of marketing and how you can use it to make sure that potential players hear about your game, get excited about it, and, when the time is right, buy and play it.
What Is a Purchase Funnel?
The purchase funnel is a fundamental marketing concept that shows the stages potential customers go through before buying a product. These are also called AIDA funnels due to the names of the stages:
Put simply, a customer becomes aware of a product before becoming interested in it. This interest can develop into a desire or wanting to buy the product. Finally, they’ll take action and buy it.
By understanding this, you can ensure that your marketing materials and messaging are suited to where each potential player is in this process.
And a Conversion Funnel?
The term conversion funnel is also often used. This model can expand on the traditional purchase/AIDA funnel and is usually used in e-commerce, making it a good analogy for indie devs as most will be selling their games via digital distribution.
The conversion funnel is often shown to have the following stages:
- Traffic sources
- Top of funnel (TOFU)
- Middle of funnel (MOFU)
- Bottom of funnel (BOFU)
The first four levels can be aligned with the AIDA/purchase funnel and the fifth level applies to post-purchase marketing. This is the model we prefer to use because it’s more applicable to digital distribution and the abbreviations are fun to say!
While a customer or player moves through this imaginary funnel towards a purchase, there’ll be several moments where they engage with or interact with marketing content and messaging from a brand, business, or product.
In marketing, these are known as touchpoints, but you can think of them simply as anytime a player sees or engages with your game’s marketing content.
Generally speaking, the more touchpoints a customer or player encounters and engages with, the more likely they are to buy the product. The more times they’ve engaged, the closer they’ll likely be to the end of the funnel.
Applying Funnels to Indie Games
You can use funnels to represent the journey your potential player will go on before buying and playing your game to better understand how to market your game to them.
The reason a funnel is a good model is that it starts broad and narrows down. Sadly, not everyone will make it all the way through the funnel, and understanding this will help you adjust your marketing strategy and content to them.
Let’s go through the stages a typical player could go through.
The awareness or traffic sources stage is how players find out about your game. This is how players who’ve never heard about your project will know that it exists. This content will need broad appeal and scope as you’re likely to lose a lot of potential players at this stage.
Typically, players will find out about projects from media outlets, content creators, search engines, or even your own socials. Since audiences across these will be diverse, the content you provide them (directly, through press kits, etc.) will need to be suitable for many different kinds of audiences.
Top of Funnel (TOFU)
Once a player is aware your game exists, they may want to find out more about it. This is when they’re likely to complete actions like following social accounts or visiting your website/storefront page.
Again, you need to remember that players at this stage aren’t necessarily really engaged with your game and probably aren’t really that serious about buying it.
At this stage, you need to engage with potential players. You can do this through things like social media and your website. With socials, you can directly interact with them, discuss aspects of the game with them, and grow their interest in your project.
Your website, on the other hand, is a place where you can control the content and messaging around your game. A storefront is all well and good for showing off your game, but a website allows for greater control and can house things like devlogs, your press kit, mailing list signups, etc.
Middle of Funnel (MOFU)
When players start getting interested in your game, you’ll need to feed this interest. At this point, they’ll already know what the game is about, the genre, etc.
Even though players are more engaged with the game at this point, they can still fall out of the funnel, especially if they can’t further engage with the project.
At this stage, it’s a good idea to get players to complete actions that allow you to continue engaging with them such as signing up for emailers or wishlisting the game.
In our experience, this is where a lot of potential players are lost. They find out about a project and maybe even become interested in it, but this interest is never nurtured into desire and eventually, they either forget about the game or never reach the stage where they’d be willing to buy it.
Bottom of Funnel (BOFU)
The last part before purchase is easily the most difficult part as this is where you’re asking people to open their wallets and buy your game.
As we said, the more they’ve engaged with your marketing and messaging, the more likely they are to buy your game.
Potential players who are following you on socials, signed up for your mailing list, and regularly visit your website for updates on the project are much easier to convert.
By matching your marketing content to where potential players are in your funnel, the more success you’ll have converting them into players and fans of the awesome game you’ve made!
For more help with marketing your indie game, support us on Patreon or check out our Indie Bandits Marketing Clinic session specifically on purchase funnels!