While I was making Schizoid I was fairly quiet on the blog. People have asked me why and I never got around to answering. I just recently read Inbound Marketing - which is a decent book, though it's mostly common sense. (Here's how to make a Twitter account. Here's how to make a Facebook page.) It reminded me of the Schizoid days and made me wonder, "Yeah, why didn't I do much inbound stuff back then?"
You might think it was because I was busy coding, but the main reason was actually different. We had a PR guy and his strategy, a strategy somewhat left over from selling-in-retail days, was to offer exclusives to various print and web magazines. And he had the contacts where he could make that happen.
Which meant that on the blog I had to stay pretty quiet about what we were doing. I couldn't show off a new screenshot every couple weeks or anything like that - those screenshots were potential magazine exclusives.
And, on the whole, it seemed like his methods worked. We got plenty of exposure in various websites and magazines. And we had a whole lot of downloads in the early days of the launch. We might like to grouse about how we were still in Soul Caliber's blast radius, releasing just a week after it did, or complain that Microsoft could have promoted us more, but honestly, we had no business complaining.
Our conversion rate, though, was poor. And mostly that's our bad. The game wasn't as catchy as we thought it was. We also didn't spam people with an upsell screen after every level, which is commonplace now (and studies have shown that it works.) The game was too hard and even the demo was too hard.
But I wonder - if we had done inbound marketing instead - if we had tried building relationships with our future players via the blog, twitter, facebook, etcetera - might more people have given us the benefit of the doubt, gotten over the difficulty curve, found a friend to play with, because they want us to succeed, because, hey, that Jamie dude is following me on Twitter!
Eh, probably not. But it's fun to think about. Anyhow, I don't have the PR guy anymore or many contacts with the big websites, so at this point inbound marketing is all I've got. So I've been stepping up my efforts there, as maybe some of you can tell:
- I'm on Twitter - which is where I post day-to-day soundbites about what I'm doing.
- I'm on G+ - which is where I post longer stuff that doesn't make it to the blog. (And stuff about roleplaying because that's where all the roleplayers go.)
- I have a mailing list - which I haven't used at all yet, because I'm pretty much only going to use it to announce product launches and other Super Important Stuff.
- Happion Labs has a facebook page - and also if you wanted to friend me on facebook, I wouldn't turn you down.
- I've set myself a schedule to blog twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.
- I'm trying to make my blog posts more player-facing - articles for everyone! Like my 'Notes On...' game critiques, 'life hacking', tutorials for beginners, happiness, marketing (like this one) - and fewer stupid programmer tricks.
- I'm tracking my progress. I feel a little dirty doing this, but I've been measuring hits-per-day and how that converts to twitter followers, likes, subscriptions, etc. I've been doing this on a weekly basis. This allows me to see if some things work better than others - or don't work at all. Side note: see those cute little icons on the right side of the blog? I thought they'd increase my conversion rate. Nope.
Part of me feels a little squicky about the whole thing. I've been blogging for eight years here - and this is my third blog (before gamedevleague I had one on editthispage.com, RIP) - I've been blogging at least for a decade. And I always did it just because I liked it. It was fun; I liked the attention; and some people found it useful. Having an ulterior motive (above and beyond liking attention) is a bit weird. Not stopping me, though!