7 Tips for Building an Audience | Casual Game Revolution

7 Tips for Building an Audience

7 Tips for Building an Audience

Whether you are a board game publisher, retailer, designer, or reviewer, if you’ve got a message, you need an audience. When I talk about an audience, I mean people that you can reach at will. Just because someone has shopped at your store doesn’t make them your audience member, unless you have contact information and permission to use it (such as an email address or Facebook or Twitter follow). Your audience is comprised of interested people who you can notify about new products, news, events, and updates without having to rely on them to come to you looking for the information.

So, how do you get these elusive audience members? This is one of the biggest questions in marketing. Here are just a few ideas to help you grow your reach.

1. Be visible. You can’t gain loyal followers if no one can find you. You need to be able to be found on social media (I recommend starting with Facebook and/or Twitter) and potentially at industry events. At the very least, you need to start a mailing list for news, updates, and perhaps even a newsletter. Once you’ve established where your audience can find you and follow you, then you’re ready to start reaching out and growing your audience.

2. Ask people to join your audience. This may sound simple, but too many people seem to skip this most important part of growing a following. You need a Facebook page, Twitter, or email list, and then you need to ask everyone you can if they would like to join.

How do you ask them to join? Collect opt-in email addresses at trade shows or in your store and post your social media profiles on your website, signage, and any flyers you hand out.

3. Run contests. This is a great way to get followers. You can run contests in lots of ways. If you have a store or are at a trade show, you can easily have people fill out a little slip with their contact information or simply provide a business card. Have a box to check for them to opt-in for news and updates. Then choose a winner from among the entrants. There are also a lot of great ways to run contests online. One of my favorites is using RaffleCopter. It is free to use and lets you make a really nice contest form that you can share and post in lots of ways. I recommend letting people get additional entries by liking you on Facebook, following you on Twitter, and subscribing to your mailing list.

One note about contests: I recommend giving away something related to your specific topic. If you are a casual game designer, don’t give away a set of miniatures. If you are a game retailer, don’t give away tickets to a football game. Give away something that will attract the audience that will be interested in what you have to offer. This will build a better quality audience that will be interested in and respond to your message.

4. Offer incentives for your audience. Let people know that you’ll be sharing special insider information, deals, events, or other perks on twitter or via email. Those who are interested in what you have to say will be eager to sign up and glad that they did. I’ve also seen people randomly choose a newsletter subscriber to win a free game each week (similar to the contest idea) and they had great success with this.

5. Give something away for free. This is different from the contest, in that you don’t have to be selected at random to receive a free gift. Instead, everyone who signs up for your mailing list will get it. For this, I recommend something that is inexpensive or free for you such as a gift certificate or discount coupon, a free print-and-play game, or an eBook on something your audience will be interested in. Again, I recommend keeping the freebie relevant to your message so the people who join your following are likely to actually be interested in whatever else you have to share.

6. Run a crowdfunding campaign. This is a tricky one, because it's difficult to be successful with this if you don’t already have an audience. But if you do have an interested group of fans that will back your project, you can get a lot of attention for your game, brand, or cause through various blogs, news sites, and podcasts that give attention to crowdfunding projects. Again, don’t miss out on the opportunity to ask all of your backers to join your mailing list, and follow you on social media.

7. Once you have an audience, make sure you stay in contact with them. Don’t let them forget about you for too long. Of course, you don’t want to annoy them with too much email or too many social media posts, but you’ll want to send regular messages. Email messages are most likely to be read if they are less than 5 lines long. Let people know about the new game you’re stocking in your store or publishing, your presence at an upcoming event, a sale going on at your store, or an award you recently won. If you own a store, send out a tweet an hour before you start an event, letting people know they can come join in. Even if people don’t actually come, it gives them a positive reminder that you are there and are welcoming them to come anytime. The possibilities are endless once you have a captive audience.

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