What to Expect for Content Marketing in 2016? Top 5 Trends.

Content marketing increased its influence during 2015 and became recognized by marketers as one of the top digial activities driving commercial results. That’s evident from The State of Content Marketing in 2015 infographic. Now it’s time to evaluate the trends and predictions by top marketing experts for the year 2016 and figure out some tips for businesses that can help them to improve their marketing strategy.

So, what’s new for content marketing in 2016? Let’s look closely at the following top 5 trend categories: Investment, Organizationsl Structure, Content Creation, Distribution and Measurement.

  1. INVESTMENT
  2. Businesses will invest more in content marketing that will provide sustainable ROI for them.

  3. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
  4. To address the growing content marketing needs, busiesses will need to hire dedicated specialists.

  5. CONTENT CREATION
  6. Marketers will experiment with new content categories paying much attention to interactive content like video.

  7. DISTRIBUTION
  8. Brands will integrate paid and earned content with their own more effectively.

  9. MEASUREMENT
  10. The key challenge for 2016 will be identifying content that drives more engagement and eliminating unsuccessful content.

Infographic: content marketing prediction for 2016
Infographic source: www.curata.com

Market research in the digital age. 2015 trends.

Market Research Industry Highlights 2015. Infographic.

2015 has been another remarkable year for the market research industry. Due to digital technologies, new advancements have been introduced into the process of research. The number of businesses and organizations investing in market research has also grown this year, which led to an increasing data turnover in the industry.

The following infographic shows the main market research highlights form 2015. You will see:

  • Key market research industry stats;
  • Market research revenue trends;
  • Popular research methods;
  • The industry’s biggest challenges;
  • Predictions for the future.

According to leading market research experts like Dan Matthews from Raconteur and James Murphy from Dissident, businesses no longer want to only find things out, but they are seeking for in-depth understanding of how the data they reveal can help them to make their customers happier with the products/services they provide, and to succeed on the market; the present-day market research uses a combination of both old-fashioned and modern tools which help to bring truly deep insights altogether.

Infographic: market research industry trends and stats from 2015

The infographic has been prepared by Neil Cery, market researcher and founder of Surveygoo.

Surveygoo is a team of marketing specialists in the UK providing affordable and professional market research services and tools.

Click here to see the Top 5 Content Marketing Trends for 2016.

Spying app for Android smartphones

Android Spying App Review: Improving Smartphone Monitoring for Business

Use of smartphones has become a pretty common thing nowadays. Even we see many businesses providing their employees with Android phones for official purposes. These Android phones are supposed to help businesses become more efficient with their work by helping their employees stay in touch with their colleagues at all times. Even employees can benefit with the help of an Android phone if they install an Android spying app inside their employee’s cell phone to keep an eye on them at all times.

The popularity of Xnspy:

One of the most popular Android spying app in the world is Xnspy. This amazing piece of technology covers really less space inside the cell phone of your employees and provides you with all the data that is stored inside their cell phone. You will love to know that your employee never finds out about the presence of this app inside their cell phone and you get to keep an eye on them with ease. This user-friendly app does not even disrupt any cell phone feature of your employee.

Sharing of data:

All the hTC, LG, Samsung, Motorola, Sony, Dell, Acer, Huawei and other Android phones work brilliantly with Xnspy. All these phones must have an operating system of 2.3 or above that. You need your personal log-in details from Xnspy to gain access to your member’s area. Everything that is stored inside your employee’s cell phone will be shared with you.

Record surroundings:

This is a really interesting feature of Xnspy. With the help of this feature, employers may record all the sounds that surrounding their employee’s cell phone whenever they want to. This feature works with the help of the Mic in your employee’s phone. Apart from this, the ‘Geo Location’ feature assists you in tracking the exact location of your employees. This feature works with the help of the GPS navigator inside your employee’s Android phone.

Call and SMS Logs:

All the outgoing and incoming phone call records of employees are provided to employers by Xnspy along with the total duration and the exact time of each and every call. Not just this, all the missed call records are also part of the data provided. Another option for employers is that they shall even record any particular call if they feel they need to. Same goes for all the SMS messages records as well. All the messages sent and received by your employees are shown to you easily by Xnspy.

Added perks:

All the pictures, video files and audio files stored inside your employee’s cell phone will be provided to you with the help of this Android spying app. Even all the contact numbers stored inside their phone will be shown to you along with all the e–mail messages, web browsing history as well as all the bookmarked pages.

Smooth running of your business is a blessing. An Android spying app Xnspy ensures a smooth running of your business by keeping you informed about your employee’s activities at all times.

Windows 10 settings to protect your privacy

Which Windows 10 Settings Should You Change To Protect Your Privacy?

In July, 2015, Microsoft released its “final” version of Windows: 10. Claiming it will change how its software is delivered in the future and offering an upgrade to existing customers for free (at least for a year), Microsoft seems to have thought things through thoroughly. The question is, have you?

With cool new features, such as Cortana and developer access to a uniform system to create apps on, Windows 10 certainly has a lot to offer (especially for free). If you’ve already upgraded, great, but that also means that time is nearly up to change your mind. Windows 10 offers the ability to “downgrade” to your previous version if you decide you don’t like it, but only for one month.

Still, what’s not to like? With a sharper, more modern interface and faster overall load times, Windows 10 is looking pretty good. The problem, however, lies in whether or not you have a vested interest in your privacy. All these new features come with a trade-off: Microsoft, like other companies, wants to record more of what you’re doing.

So what can be done?

Trade-Off

Regrettably the shiniest, most toted feature of Windows 10 is Cortana. By having Cortana enabled, you give Microsoft permission to record your voice, your typing, view your contacts, your calendars, and monitor your internet traffic. She can even read your emails, and I don’t mean dictation.

Fortunately, Cortana does have certain options to turn on and off. If you go to Cortana’s Notebook and access Settings, you can control what apps she has access to and what data she syncs with the cloud service. You can even delete everything Cortana has collected about you, resetting her effectively to default.

To Microsoft’s credit, they allow you to not only delete information Cortana has stored about you on your device, but also the data stored in their servers. They are very open about what uses Cortana has for your information (hopefully they’re being honest) and why it may be required for her to work.

That said, much of what Cortana does can still be done manually, including searching for things on the net and handling your contacts and calendar events. For the most secure results, you can always switch Cortana off, and it’s recommended that you do so if privacy is your number one concern. The setting stays, so you won’t have to do it more than once unless you decide to try her out again.

Settings

Perhaps the most promising thing about Windows 10 is the ease of access to its settings. On the bottom right of your task bar (if you’re using PC Windows), there’s a little message bubble that takes you to Notifications, where you can access All Settings.

Windows 10 settings

From here, there’s a whole section devoted to your privacy, appropriately called Privacy. Under this section, there are numerous options, a few of which are worth addressing, while others aren’t as important. We’ll take a look at each section to see what’s relevant.

  1. General
  2. Under General, the only setting you should have turned on is the SmartScreen Filter; everything else is just providing additional information that should really be kept private as much as possible.

  3. Location
  4. Location settings are something you may need to turn on and off occasionally, but unless you’re using GPS, they should generally be turned off. Do note that if you’re using Cortana, these settings must be enabled or she won’t work.

  5. Camera
  6. Under the Camera settings, you can adjust which apps are allowed to access your camera. On your mobile, you’ll probably have this turned on, as several apps do need access to your camera to function. On your home computer, this isn’t as often the case; you’ll need to decide when it’s appropriate, but at least there’s a handy list of apps you can turn on and off.

  7. Microphone
  8. Another section that Cortana requires is the Microphone. Not many apps need access to your microphone to function, but there are bound to be a few. Enable and disable only the apps you trust; otherwise leave it turned off.

  9. Account info
  10. Like Cortana, plenty of apps want access to your contacts. They aren’t always malicious, but you’re better off disabling Contacts for any apps you don’t totally trust.

  11. Calendar
  12. Though I don’t personally use the Calendar, some people prefer keeping their plans highly organized and dated. If you’d prefer to keep your schedule to yourself, disable this to keep apps from accessing it (but again, you’re going to lose some functionality).

  13. Messaging
  14. Unless there’s a really compelling app or you hardly use texts or MMS, you’d do well to keep this section disabled. There are probably legitimate reasons for an app to read your texts, but since we’re focused on privacy, you’ll want this turned off.

  15. Radios
  16. The Radios settings address the use of tools such as Bluetooth and are mostly okay to have turned on. If you’re in an unfamiliar area and carrying important data, you can consider preventing apps from controlling your radios, but remember that those apps won’t work properly.

  17. Other devices
  18. Naturally any section with “other” in its title kind of leaves things open. Under the first section on Syncing, it’s probably a good idea to have this off in public places, but it’s likely useful at home. Since anything could be under this section, you’ll have to read closely which devices are interfacing with yours.

  19. Feedback & Diagnostics
  20. You can’t really disable anything here other than whether or not to ask for your feedback, and it doesn’t seem as if there’s any real reason to anyway. Big companies do actually need feedback to know if their products are working well.

  21. Background apps
  22. Turning off background apps is mostly for power saving; if you’re plugged in or at a home computer, you can leave most of these on (unless you don’t use them).

Other Considerations

It’s hard to make any blanket statement about privacy in Windows 10, as plenty of other services are logging your information just as intently as Microsoft. If you want to maintain your anonymity, you’ll need to deal with outside parties too.

Considering setting up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) through Windows or acquiring a third-party service, such as ExpressVPN. A VPN allows you to use the rest of the internet anonymously by encrypting your connection and routing it through a remote server. Though it won’t likely prevent Microsoft from gathering your info, it helps against websites and hackers trying to keep tabs on who and where you are.

Author note

Caroline B.: I’d like to mention how grateful I am that TodaysWeb.net has decided to share my article on their website. Their page is a great resource for staying up to date on the latest social media, marketing, and business news. I would especially recommend that you check out this article listing 70 of the most useful websites.

The Payoneer Freelancer Income Survey 2015 Report

Freelancers providing legal services make more money than other professionals on the market – Payoneer reports

Despite a widespread belief that Information Technology is the industry attracting all the big money these days, things are a bit different on the freelance market. Here, profiding legal services is the most profitable business, and freelancers in this category work harder and keep the second highest level of income satisfaction across industries.

According to “The Payoneer Freelancer Income Survey 2015” results reported recently, legal service providers charge an average of $31 per hour. They are followed by engineering & manufacturing ($24.6 per hour), design & multimedia ($22.6), finance & management professionals ($22.4). IT & programming specialists are at the bottom of the list with their $22 average hourly rate. Yet, writing & translation freelancers are the complete outsiders being paid something around $17-18 per hour.

How much money different freelancers charge per hour
Average hourly rates for freelancers by industry – “Freelancer Income Survey” by Payoneer, 2015

It is not surprising that the lowest income satisfaction level was registered among the freelancers providing writing & translation services according to the survey – 43%. However, legal freelance professionals appeared to be only the second best in this respect (45.6%). The first place belongs to IT specialists and programmers (48.7%). Alongside this, the average worldwide income satisfaction level for all freelance categories is 46%, which shows that more than the half of freelancers are unhappy with their earnings.

How satisfied are freelance professionals with their income level? Stats by industry.
Freelancer income satisfaction level by industry – “Freelancer Income Survey” by Payoneer, 2015

Both legal and engineering/manufacturing specialists are the most hard-working out of all freelance categories. On average, they spend 39.4 and 38.5 hours per week working respectively. On the contrary, writers and translators work an average of 31.6 hours per week, which is considerably lower. It is evident that these stats correspond with the total amount of income and the level of satisfaction.

Average working hours per week for freelancers by industry - "Freelancer Income Survey" by Payoneer, 2015
Average working hours per week for freelancers by industry – “Freelancer Income Survey” by Payoneer, 2015

Another curious fact: the Payoneer team discovered that the rate per hour depends even on the freelancer’s workplace and job situation. As stated in the report, freelancers who work from offices charge an average of $22 per hour, while the home-based ones earn $1 less. Independent freelancers charge $20 per hour against an average of $21 charged by professionals working as a part of a company.

Sign up for Payoneer account

Payoneer, the global online payments provider, surveyed 23, 000 freelancers from 180 countries. If you want to check out more survey results, download the report from the Payoneer’s blog.

Would you like to receive payments from thousands of companies worldwide or send payouts to any of the 200 countries, in 100 currencies? Sign up for your Payoneer account now and order a Payoneer Prepaid MasterCard® card to withdraw funds with no trouble, whichever your current location is. If you use this link for registration, you’ll be rewarded with $25 on your card!

Sign up for a Payoneer account

Facebook pages for business

How to generate more leads from Facebook pages using free tools for business

The number of companies using Facebook as a platform for their online presence keeps growing. Small and medium sized businesses alone amounted to 40 million Facebook pages in April 2015, compared to 30M in June 2014.

At the same time, only 2 million of SMEs advertise actively on Facebook. Considering the fact that organic reach for posts by pages was declined last year, it looks like the rest 95% of companies are either finding alternative ways of reaching more people or keeping their Facebook pages just in case.

Apart from just posting updates, promoting posts and buying likes or clicks, a lot can be done to turn a company’s Facebook page into a lead generation booster. Using a few simple tools, it’s easier to achieve more specific goals and increase the effectiveness of your promo campaign.

Lead generation tools on Facebook pages for business
Facebook page lead generation tools

Call-to-action button

This agile tool allows to direct potential customers to any desired landing page right from a company’s Facebook timeline or any other page tab. After adding a call-to-action, it is displayed right of the Like button. Facebook provides 7 standard calls to action, any of which can be selected and edited anytime:

  1. Book Now – best to use for online event- or ticket reservation.
  2. Contact Us – link this call-to-action with the Contact us page on your website.
  3. Use App – promt your visitors to download a mobile app right away. Also shown when your app is listed in Facebook App Center and associated with the page.
  4. Play Game – this button is displayed on app pages of both canvas and mobile games listed in Facebook App Center. Optionally, it may be added to any other type of a Faceook page.
  5. Shop Now – send Facebook visitors right to your online store.
  6. Sign Up – perfect to grow your mailing list or take visitors to a campaign-specific landing page.
  7. Watch Video – drive more traffic to your YouTube channel or let your Facebook page visitors learn more about the product/service you’re promoting with video testimonials, guides and reviews. If you’re running a pre-launch promo campaign for your app, service or product, link the button with a video teaser.

Call-to-action buttons also work in Facebook’s mobile app and mobile web version. What is more important, it’s easy to figure out which call-to-action works best on your page with statistics for button clicks during the last 7 days.

Edit call-to-action button menu on a Facebook page
Edit call-to-action button menu on a Facebook page

Special offer custom page tab

Tabs are a wonderful tool to take your Facebook page to a new level. If you want to promote your special offer even more effectively on Facebook, you’ll definitely need to extend the limits of standard page tabs. Years ago, custom tabs used to be built with FBML (Facebook Markup Language). Now, displaying custom contet is carried out with the help of an iframe, which loads any web page developed and hosted outside of Facebook within a specific page tab. This works similar to a web app on Facebook and lets you use basically any functionality, any design elements you want. Read more about the process of creating custom page tabs in this tutorial.

Note that custom tabs will only work in the desktop version of Facebook. However, with tabs you are able to run very specific promo campaigns. Supposing, you’ve created a special offer landing page you’d like to direct visitors to and generate leads with (your landing page must have a contact/sign-up form). Here’s an idea how Facebook page tabs can be useful in this respect:

  1. Create a special offer tab displaying the content of your landing page.
  2. Go to Facebook Ads Manager and create a new ad campaign. Choose the objective for your campain: Promote your page.
    Promote your page - new Facebook ad campaign
  3. Set up targeting options for your audience, specify budget and scheduling, choose up to 6 images (see the Facebook Ads Guide). Then, expand the Advanced Options section and select the desired landing view. It allows you to set a specific page tab which will open after a person clicks on the ad. In this particular case, you’ll need to send people to your Special Offer tab:
    Select landing view for your Facebook ad
  4. In Ad preview and placements, remove the Mobile News Feed, as custom tabs on Facebook apply to the desktop version only. There’s no need to pay for irrelevant likes which will not follow the special offer tab clicks.
  5. Remove mobile news feed ads on Facebook in the new campaign menu

  6. Provided your campaign is optimized for likes (check the Budget & Pricing section in the new campaign menu), you’ll only pay when a person likes the page. But you won’t be charged for clicks on your ad, which happen more often than likes. Clicks will lead users to your custom tab where they can get detailed information regarding your offer and sign up if they’re interested. Even if an ad click doesn’t result into a page like, but the lead is submitted via the special offer tab, you will reach your business goal. This means that you can receive many of your leads from such type of an ad campaign for free.

Posting offers on the page timeline

Here’s another awesome tool to promote your unique proposal. An offer is a special post format which appears on the page timeline and in the user newsfeed. It can be created from pages for local business and places with at least 50 likes.

Offer created from a facebook page

There are pretty many ways to customize the offer. Facebook allows to add the following information:

  • Title;
  • Description;
  • Image;
  • Start & expiration dates;
  • Claims limit;
  • Online redemption link;
  • Terms and conditions.

Check out the Creating Offers Guide in Facebook Help Center.

Creating an offer menu on a Facebook page timeline

The best practice is to enable offer online redemption via the special offer landing page or online store. After a customer clicks on the Get Offer button, he or she receives an offer confirmation email. Customers’ details are not shared with the publisher, that’s why it’s necessary to provide them with a clear instruction how to redeem the offer, and prevent them from frustration. The easiest way to do this is to specify a link which they can follow to let you know they’d like to use the special.

Just like other types of posts, offers are displayed on both mobile and desktop. Besides, you can pin the offer to the top of the page timeline to give it more exposure. Then, any visitor that gets to your page will see the offer at once, whichever device type he or she is using.

Offers can be created not only from pages, but from Ads Manager as well. When creating a new ad campaign, it’s possible to use a special advertising format in order to get more people to claim your offer.

Get more people to claim your offer with Facebook ads

Optimizing the ad campaign for offer claims helps to increase its effeciveness for your business and save marketing costs. You won’t be charged for clicks which don’t produce leads.

Optimizing Facebook ads for offer claims

PHP web programming

Do-It-Yourself PHP Tool for Scraping and Grabbing Web Content

Hi folks. Today we will learn how to scrape data from websites using just a few lines of code with PHP.

First, a couple disclaimers:

Using this method you can parse just any HTML website, however, that is not always the best idea. For example, if you want to get data from YouTube or Twitter etc., you should look whether the site or the service doesn’t have an API for this sort of stuff.

If you want to learn more about modern API’s you can check this guide on CodeAcademy:
www.codecademy.com/en/tracks/youtube

or read more on Wikipedia:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_programming_interface

Since we are using PHP, you’ll need a web server to run a script. If you don’t have one, you can install a local server. You can get it here for free.

To scrap a webpage for data, we basically need to know an address of a webpage we want to look into and a specific part we want to grab.
If you are not familiar with the DOM, you can find out more about it on Wikipedia.

DOM – is a representation of an HTML page comprised of elements organized in a tree structure.

It looks like this:

PAGE:
Element a
Element b
      Element b1
      Element b2
Element c
Element d

So, the logic of our code looks like this: we need to grab the page by the address and then get the value of the Element b2 (bold), which is the child of the Element b.

In this article we will scrap the website called Product Hunt:
www.producthunt.com

If we look at this website, we’ll see that it contains ideas for products for three days (today, yesterday, the day before yesterday). Our task is to get three things from today’s list of ideas: idea name, idea tagline and the link to the product.

Let’s start coding. We will be using Goutte library, which you can download on GitHub.

Simply put the .phar file in your script folder and copy the script below:

<?php
//adding the library. you can use js.composer for that
require_once 'goutte.phar';
use Goutte\Client;
    $client = new Client();
    //getting the page and putting it into a $crawler object
    $crawler = $client->request('GET', 'http://www.producthunt.com');
    // the page has 3 divs with class="day". 
    we need to grab the first one(it would today's ideas)
    $x=$crawler->filter('.day')->first();

      //each day has 10 ideas. we need to grab each one's title,tagline,link
      $x->filter('li>div')->each(function ($node) {
      //$title = text value of a DOM elenent with a class="post-url"
      $title=$node->filter('.post-url')->text();
      $tagline=$node->filter('.post-tagline')->text();
      $link='http://www.producthunt.com'.$node->filter('.post-url')->attr('href');
      //printing the results
      echo $title;
      echo "|";
      echo $tagline;
      echo "|";
      echo $link;
      echo "<br>";
      });
?>

This is the result we are getting:

Web scraping php script result
Click on the image to enlarge

So, as you can see, it’s a very simple process, one that you can do even if you are not a programmer. Was this article useful? Maybe you have questions? Hit us in the comment section below.

P.S. To better understand how to access DOM elements and their values check the documentation on Symphony.com.

Mobile Internet share will grow up to 91% by 2017

Mobile Internet will almost kill Desktop by 2017. Is your website ready?

“The world’s online population will grow up to 3.5 billion people by 2017″, Forrester Research predicted in 2012. At that time, there were 2.4 billion people across the world using Internet on a regular basis – via desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Just some curious facts:
In January 2015, the number of worldwide Internet users already exceeded 3 billion people, according to Satista.com. Mobile devices made nearly 79% of the global web traffic at the conclusion of 2014, and their share is expected to overpass 91% (more than 3 billion people) by 2017.

Naturally, not having a website optimized for mobile will mean (and it already does) loosing a lion’s share of audience, leads, and customers.

Basically, there are two main options to make a website mobile-friendly for visitors: use responsive design or create a stand-alone mobile version.

Mobile Internet growth by 2017. Infographic.
Advantages of responsive design. Infographic provided by RebuildNation.

Let’s see the difference between a responsive website and a stand-alone mobile website:

The difference between a responsive and mobile website.
Two approaches to developing a mobile-friendly website. Infographic provided by AMgrade.

How to make the right choice? The best strategy for a mobile-friendly website depends on your specific business goals. As always, it’s up to you to decide!

Also, check Top 5 Content Marketing Trends for 2016.

CreckJack - a startup to support content creators

CreckJack: a place for crowdfunding talents and kickstarting creative ideas.

Everyone has a talent or a big idea they would like to take to the next level.

This is the motto put forward by CreckJack, a new social crowdfunding platform for content creators. It appeals to all possible types of craftsmen and creative people: musicians, visual artists, designers, photographers, youtubers, and much more. On the other hand, it grants an even broader audience with access to a rich depository of creative content.

What makes CreckJack different from Kickstarter?

  • With CreckJack, artists may get funded even without having a single project. Instead, they are encouraged to collect money for supporting their talents.
  • No time limits for crowdfunding campaigns.
  • Premium content for sponsors.
  • A unique mix of social and crowdfunding platform with simple and user-friendly design.

How does it work?

The idea is simple:

  • Artists create profiles allowing them to attract funds from their fans, who become sponsors. They share content via CreckJack network, setting different visibility levels for their posts: public and sponsors-only.
  • Sponsors get access to artists’ premium posts and receive personal rewards from them, including lessons, hangouts, and invitations for events.


CreckJack story

CreckJack team: founders
CreckJack founders: Dima Kerpov (right) & Nikita Chernykh (left)

Our mission is to support content creators, we strive to connect creative minded people and everybody who cares about interesting, unique and creative things.

CreckJack was founded by Dima Kerpov and Nikita Chernykh (Nick), who met after moving to Toronto, Canada.

Dima is CreckJack’s CEO. He is 24 years old now, was born and grew up in Vinnytsya, Ukraine. In 2012, Dima moved to Toronto, where he finished Business Department in Centennial College and co-founded CreckJack a year on.

Nick is a 21-year-old technical co-founder who moved to Toronto from Irkutsk, Russia, in 2011. There, he studied programming in Centennial College.

The CreckJack concept originated in February 2013. The founders started the development of the idea in Spetember 2013, and the official startup launch date is November 25, 2013.

Alpha release coming soon

CreckJack’s team gets ready for the two major milestones this year:
Alpha release will most likely come about by the end of May 2015. Beta release is scheduled for early fall 2015.

Can’t wait for CreckJack to launch officially? Then, you have two options: subscribe for opening to be notified via email as soon as the platform is released or apply for alpha testing to get early access to CreckJack’s features and help to make the service better.

Go to CreckJack’s official website for details: www.creckjack.com

Indie games kickstarter cover

5 Tips To Market Indie Game Apps On A Shoestring Budget

This is a guest article provided by Shruti Lele.

The later part of the last decade saw herculean disruptions in the mobile technology space. With the launch of the first ever Apple iPhone in 2007 and subsequent launch of Android phones, the world of mobile technology was forever changed. Today, there are over a 1.5 Million number of apps in both the app stores combined and have together been downloaded over 160 Billion times. These numbers are indeed staggering and show the state of the mobile app ecosystem today.

The era of the indie game gold rush

According to Statistica, the top 5 Apple app store categories as of March 2015 were the following:

Top 5 iOS Apple App Store categories in March 2015

It is evident that of all the apps in the app stores, game apps are the clear majority. Most app developers, whether it is the indie developers, medium sized app development shops or giant game development firms, are trying to ride the popular game app wave.

Indie game developers are a special breed of app developers that are very innovative and passionate about gaming. It was somewhere around 2008 that the indie game world first experienced massive success with games likes Braid and World of Goo, which then started the era of the gold rush towards indie games. More recently the mobile indie game world saw the phenomenal success of Flappy Bird. It was stuff that indie game developer fairy tales are made of. The game became a global phenomenon in a matter of few weeks, raking in more than a whopping $50,000 per day. From then on, every indie game developer worth their salt started believing that they could develop the next big successful indie game and achieve gaming glory. If an indie developer sitting in Vietnam could achieve such success so could anybody right?

However the reality was a little bit different. Let’s look at some statistics:

  1. The average indie game developer makes less than $500 per month while it takes an average of $6000 to develop a game. (According to AppVee)
  2. Gartner projects that by 2018, less than 0.01% of consumer mobile apps will be considered financial successes by their own developers
  3. 95% of indie games are not profitable (According to Indiegamegirl)
  4. 500 new iOS games and 250 Android games appeared in their respective stores every 24 hours (Venturebeat)

What does this mean for the indie game developers?

While there are many challenges in the way of indie game developers, the biggest one is having unrealistic expectations. What indie game developers need to understand is that they don’t have to only look at the two extremes: complete failure or epic success like Flappy Bird, and that there is a happy middle where their games can slowly succeed with time.

Mobile gaming continues to dominate the app stores, generating the maximum revenue compared to any other category. According to a study published by Newzoo, the estimated total revenue of mobile games industry in 2014 is at $25 billion out of which $4 billion is gained by Apple and $3 billion by Google.

Global Games Market Report by Newzoo, Q3 2014

Source: Estimated Mobile Games Market Growth for 2013-2017 by Newzoo

Clearly, mobile games are here to stay and there is a huge market for indie game developers to tap into. With the right marketing plan and exposure, indie game developers can achieve app success.

Marketing indie game apps on a shoestring budget

One of the top challenges indie game developers face is app discoverability, which is a challenge across all app developers. It takes aggressive and consistent marketing to make an app stand out and get noticed. A big myth that a lot of indie developers have is that marketing an app requires a gigantic budget. That is just not true. For the best results it is recommended that indie game developers should start marketing their game long before it is actually released. Marketing usually takes time to plan and implement and it’s best not to lose precious time once a game is launched. If the foundation is laid properly, it will help get the maximum exposure for the game and increase it’s chances of success.

Here are some tactics that every indie game developer can use and most of them are completely free or have marginal costs:

1. Create a website and blog

This is the first most important task you need to do as an indie game developer. If you are a serial developer you should have one main website which lists all your games and then individual pages for each of the games. As a best practice it is important to have landing pages for each specific game that should feature high quality screenshots, overview of the game/top features and links to download the game. In addition the page should include social sharing icons and the trailer of your game.

The main goal of the website is to increase awareness about your game and get people to download it. It is thus crucial provide a seamless user experience where the readers are able to learn more about the game and easily download the game if they like what they see. Here are some examples of great landing pages for games:

QuizUp mobile game landing page
QuizUp: https://www.quizup.com/en
Dots mobile game landing page
Dots: http://weplaydots.com/dots/

A blog is where developers can write interesting stories about the process of game development, update their players about new releases or in general keep in touch with the player community. It helps loyal users keep in touch with the developers. Consistent blogging can not only help build a loyal community but also increase organic reach with due to SEO. In this age of search and social, it can’t be emphasized enough just how important it is to have a website and a blog for your indie game.

2. Create a short trailer

Trailers have been all the rage for a while now and it is a tried and tested best practice. It is the fastest most efficient way of showcasing a game and it is a must have for a website. Trailers are a great tool to entice gamers and help build the first impression in their minds. Here are some tips to help you create awesome trailers for your game app:

  • Hardware and software needs: You can create decent trailers just using your laptop, a video editing software like iMovies and some screenshots of your game. There are various tools and softwares in the market that you can choose from if you are looking to create high quality videos and are ok to spend some money. Gamasutra posted a great article on creating trailers. Check it out to learn more.
  • Keep it short and sweet: The trailer video should be attention grabbing, short and sweet (ideally no more than 90 seconds) and include real in-game footage. A good trailer can help convince a gamer to download your game so make it good and make it short. No one has the time to sift through long boring trailers and you will likely lose the gamer of your trailer is too long.
  • Include game title and your company name: It is recommended to include your game’s title and your company name clearly in the trailer. This helps with brand recall and helps players remember who you are.

3. Get on the social media bandwagon

Yes you heard right. Social media is not only for the millennials. Social media marketing is a great free way to spread the word about your game and help generate word-of-mouth interest for it.

Here are some tips to help you kick-start your social media presence:

  • Create social media pages: First thing to do would be creating some social media pages for your indie game. Do some research beforehand to find out what are the social media channels that indie game players spend the most time in. Pick the top 2-3 most popular channels like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and create your pages there accordingly.
  • Optimize your social media pages: Each social media page must include a brief description of your game along, trailer video, links to the website and to the app stores. In addition, you should make sure that you use high-resolution screenshots and cover pages for your social media pages. Keep in mind to incorporate the image guidelines for each of the channels.
  • Actively engage in conversation: Make sure you consistently post across all the channels. Be sure to post things about other games and/or industry news in addition to stories about your game. No one would like self promotion and you are to make sure you put out content that your players will be engaged in. Once you start building a community and start getting players interact with you, make sure you actively respond to all the messages. It helps your potential players to get to know the human behind the game.
  • Optimize posts: It is ideal to post during peak times like 11am to 11pm EST. It has been found that posting at 11am on a Monday works best. You should post multiple times through the day to be able to reach the maximum number of people. You can use tools like Hootsuite to schedule tweets and posts.

4. Reach out to the press

It is a very important and effective skill to know how to contact press. Everybody does it but not everybody does it well. Getting press coverage by a game journalist or getting featured in a game specific publication can be invaluable in getting the much-needed exposure for your indie game. While there is no magic pill to do it right, here are some tips on how to get the basics right:

  • Create a press kit: Journalists get thousands of emails on a daily basis and often don’t have the time to go through different links. It is extremely important and useful to have a press kit ready that they can download with the click of a mouse and get all the necessary documents they need to get about your game. Things to include in the press kit are: screenshots of your game, trailer/video of the game, team/company info page, any press mentions/awards received, links to social channels and logos.
  • Create a wish list of journalists and publications: Do your research and create a list of journalists who cover indie games and write for the type of publications that you want to be featured in. This step is very important because getting featured in the wrong type of publication doesn’t help as the audience of that publication might not be ones who are interested in indie games. Create an excel spreadsheet to list down the names of the journalists and also note down links to their social media accounts and the publications they write for. Maintaining a spreadsheet like that helps keep track of everyone you need to contact and ones who already have been contacted. It helps to start building a relationship with your target journalists by following them on social media and engaging with them long before you need something from them.
  • Draft an introduction email: It is always helpful to draft a generic introduction email to send to journalists so that you don’t waste time drafting a new one every time you need to reach out to a new journalist. Make sure the email is to the point and crisply answers why you are reaching out to the journalist. Remember, journalists get thousands of emails about “the next best game” so your email must be able to stand out from the others. Keep the email brief, pleasant and include a line about why they should care about your game.

5. Build relationships with the indie developer community

This is an absolute must if you are a newbie indie developer. It really helps if you build relationships with fellow indie game developers. This community can be an invaluable resource in learning new things, getting support, cross promoting and much more. There are various forums and groups like the Indie Games subreddit, that indie developers participate in. Make a list of the top forums and groups you want to start engaging in and then make it a habit to carry on regular conversations and slowly build relationships with the fellow indie folk. Also, make sure that you extend any help and support you can because that will go a long way in building strong relationships and those developers will be more than happy to return the favor when you need it.

Conclusion

Marketing indie games is almost as important as thinking of the game idea and developing it. To summarize this article, must-have steps to start marketing your indie game are:

a. Create a website and blog
b. Create a short trailer
c. Get on the social media bandwagon
d. Reach out to the press
e. Build relationships with the indie game community

Remember, no matter how great your game is, it won’t matter if no one hears about it. So if you think you have the next big indie game, start marketing it now!

Shruti Lele

Author Bio:
Shruti Lele is a Sr Digital Marketing Manager at Personagraph, a mobile user insights company. She has a keen interest in all things digital including search, content, SEO and social. More recently she was responsible for conceptualization, deployment and content creation of a knowledge academy at Personagraph. For more interesting articles on the mobile ecosystem please visit Think Tank.
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