For those who know me or regularly read my blog, you know I feel that marketing social games should not be limited to performance advertising (e.g., ads on social networks). I actually plan on discussing the marketing topic in further detail in the weeks to come. Today, however, I wanted to talk about how analytics are still the foundation of a successful international social media marketing strategy. In fact, there is a better opportunity to gain competitive advantage through analytics with traditional marketing than performance marketing.
I discussed in another post that social game companies should have a comprehensive social media strategy that is not limited to focusing on the game and the ads. Once this strategy is implemented, you need to put the same analytic vigor behind it as you do the actual game monetization. You may find that polls on a Facebook fan page have a much stronger effect in Norway than they do in Australia, or that people are much more likely to “Like” a post in Portugal than in Russia. This is only the beginning of the analysis, as you can break it down by demographics, payers versus non-payers, spreaders versus non-spreaders (those who use viral channels), etc. This data then should be used to refine the use of social media in each territory.
It is not only in social media marketing where analytics provide a competitive advantage. As social game companies explore more marketing options, particularly outside the US where it is often much more cost effective, analytics can be used to measure and refine these different marketing tools. Often when companies create television ads, they assume direct results cannot be measured. That thinking is simply lazy. By monitoring closely traffic around each TV spot, the game company can obtain virtually the same information they pick up from a social ad. You can measure the demographic of the traffic, track their lifetime value, see if they are new customers for your company, etc. Based on these results, you can change the ads, change when the ads run and change the frequency of the advertising. This analytic vigor is important for any offline advertising; you just have to be creative in how to measure it.
As I mentioned earlier, using analytics effectively to direct and execute your marketing plan actually is more valuable than relying on it for Facebook ads. All successful social gaming companies already employ a sophisticated performance marketing program. It is the cost of doing business in the space. Although they all probably think they are the smartest or the savviest, everyone approaches it pretty much the same way and I doubt any company has a particular advantage over its competitors (other than the size of its performance marketing budget). Conversely, few if any companies use analytics to drive other elements of their marketing strategy. Thus, even an underfunded company can out-perform its competitors by analyzing and acting on the right metrics, or the Moneyball model applied to social gaming, as a way to beat wealthier competitors.