How should I promote the game?

Hello friends, marketing experts and fellow developers!

Early in February, I launched a game called Balloon Hero - Valentine Edition hoping get some traction piggybacking the Valentine train. The game was appropriately themed with heart shaped balloons, cupid riding a hot air balloon, heart showers, etc. See this screenshot for example:

We got good reviews from people who downloaded it. More than 30% people who downloaded it gave a review, and a positive one at that. However, the problem is that we are not getting enough downloads. The download count is less than 200 which is abysmal. Among the various things I did for marketing includes:

[li] Posted on FB/Twitter groups[/li][li] Posted on various forums but they all suffer from the target audience problem.[/li][li] Event had a sponsored review done by Android Headlines along with twitter/fb/g+ post (Sponsored Game Review: Balloon Hero - Valentine | All, I got from this was probably 4-5 users and 1 extra back link.[/li][/ol]

I have seen absolute crappy games get 500k+ downloads. So, there is definitely something I am not doing right. Any suggestions from hands on experience regarding marketing strategies will be highly welcomed.

More than 30% of people who downloaded gave you the review? And its not that you bought them or did review-exchanges? And its not that you know these people and told them in real life to write reviews? I say its fake:) You can expect about 1% of ratings, and about 0,2% reviews (yes, 0,2%, ~150x times less than you got). But fake reviews do help, epsecially if they have keywords.
Anyway, you need ASO. A game like this should be released about january 20 (so it gets some momentum before valentines day, and it still might appear in the “new” section), with good ASO, focused on keywords “valentine(s)”, “valentine game(s)”, “valentine game(s) free” etc. Your title should be optimised for these keywords (for example Valentine Balloon Game) and in your description you should mention them 3 - 5 x. The video should show the gameplay faster, I had to wait a long time before I saw what the game is about. People are more interested in the gameplay than in “interactive background” for menu screen. Its a nice feature, but the actual gameplay is more important.

Good luck with the game.

Thanks for your reply. Let me clarify, I am not here to brag about my ratings or anything. I am simple asking for help regarding marketing. Sponsored review by AH was the only money I have ever spent on it.

I did try review exchanges but stopped after 2-3 because I feared the immediate uninstall after the review might hurt the ranking more than the review. That’s the same reason I didn’t want to go with paid reviews. As far as I know, there are only 10 people who downloaded it within my social circle, and only 2 of them left a review (I know the names of course). So, I do have a reason to believe the majority of reviews are genuine. Perhaps the review ratio is skewed right now because of low downloads. I am not sure.

Thanks for the tip about the promo video. I will have it re-done so that it focusses on game play.

i would second @allagainstyou for good advice on timing and help on ASO.

if you look around the forum there are lots of other ideas you can use for marketing… and I’m hinting to mainly paid stuff.

about the exchange reviews, in general I think its a more positive effect rather than a negative one. It’s a lot of effort but they get you downloads, ratings and reviews, you can even ask them to hold the app for longer in a coordinated exchange.

also reg. “Valentines” in general I think people should be staying at home or going out on a date. Something that facilitates a gift or special surprise would be awesome to leverage off. Note that I’m not crazy about valentines day itself, you don’t need that excuse to do something nice for a friend. Just that I think you can find other niches to build your app on yea. Good luck. =)

Well, I’ll also clarify. I am not here to argue with you. Your 30%+ of reviews is NOT indicating the good performance. It indicates fraud. These are not real reviews, no matter what you say.

Here, I’ll show you:

Ritu Bachhawat -> the user reviewed 2 apps in his history on Google Play, both are yours
Varun Bagaria, Dev Bagaria, Vaibhav Bagaria, shaloo b -> they reviewed only your game
Rj Bernaldo, PreOrder Comp, Aswathy J S, Rene Smith, Angel Vasa, Annie Leng Wai Peng, Kamran Ali, Purple Light, D J, Indu Maloo - these are accounts that do mass review - exchanges, in their activity stream there is A LOT of reviews for very unknown games (0 - 500 downloads) posted here on MMWA for review exchanges.
deepu s - not sure about this one, but most likely also fake
Radek Sevcik looks like fake account - he has 2 reviews, one is for your game, and another one for some very unknown halloween game, maybe its his own game.

You have 26 reviews according to AppAnnie, at least 5 of them are yours, at least 11 other reviews are 100% fake. Also, some reviews are displayed on AppAnnie but not on Google Play, maybe people removed their reviews? Also, I’m aware that you created a topic here on MMWA with your game link. The only thing is you got more reviews from MMWA than your topic has views! It had 9 views before I checked, and you got at least 10 reviews from review-exchanges on MMWA. Anyway, you have less than 10 reviews from real people. I didn’t bother to do exact research on the rest of your reviews, I just did a quick-scan and eliminated the obvious fakes.

You should be more honest here on MMWA:

  • we are the developers
  • we tolerate review-exchanges
  • we tolerate many techniques between white-hat and black-hat, and many of us even black-hat techniques
  • we do not tolerate misinformation and lies
    - you want honest feedback, how can you get one when you provide false data? It decreases your chances to get accurate answers

Session length and retention indicate how engaged your users are and how is your app doing. LTV and ARPDAU are indications of how good you monetize them. If you don’t track these values, you can’t say how your app performs. Also, with such a low downloads numbers, this data still wouldn’t be too accurate (but it still could give some insight, better than studying fake 5 star reviews count).

[b]My feedback:

  • work on ASO
  • think about timing
  • release the same game, a little re-skinned next year in mid january
  • use Google Analytics or Flurry to know your session length, dau, arpdau, retention
  • change the video as I suggested
  • don’t try to “promote” your game on MMWA - I mean, if you want to - go ahead, just don’t expect to get many downloads from users here. We are developers, not the gamers.
    Good luck.

Thanks for your detailed answer and your suggestions. I have never analyzed an app the way you did but I will give it a try at the bottom to allay your concers/issue noted by you. But first, the important stuff.

Your suggestions are great.
[li] I did release it before Valentine this year but I suppose, I need to give it a bit ore time to truly ride the keyword bandwagon.
[/li][li] I did use keywords but then again its an art and I am sure it can be improved. I would love to hear more suggestions. I have read blogs and articles but shared experience is always invaluable.
[/li][li] The video will be redone soon.
[/li][li] Analytics -> I will try getting this one in then next update. Which one do you suggest? Unity Analytics, App Annie, or Google Analytics? The game is made in Unity so I will have to see if there is a Unity plugin.
[/li][li] I totally agree. Its best to use MWAA as a platform for feedback instead of publicity. Learning by doing.

I never claimed that my game is doing great. Surely, an app with less than 200 downloads is not doing great. If it was doing great, I wouldn’t be here asking for suggestions.

Now, regarding being honest. Its rather premature to just accuse someone of being dishonest based on certain assumptions. I was being honest.
[li] CoC Spam -> The people with last name Bagaria are family members of a guy who is part of the same clan in Clash of Clan as me (nick: Bo, Clan: India). I have neither met them nor known them via other channels. The feedback I received from my clan mate is that they liked the game. So, I take them as genuine users acquired with the help of friends and family sharing the game. Since, I don’t know them personally in any way, I wouldn’t classify them as my reviews.
There are supposed to be a couple more people from the same clan who downloaded the game and left a review or at least they said they did but I can’t find their names in Play Store any more. These are actual users because I received feedback from them. Unfortunately, most of them gave it to their kids to pop the balloons(not my intended audience or may be I was just targeting wrong). I don’t know the names of all of them because most of them use fictitious nicks.

I did go around spamming Global Chart and a few other clans. If I were to put a number on it, I would say about 20-25 downloads from it but I don’t have a way to assess the amount of reviews I got from the spam bit besides the ones I know. I didn’t think CoC marketing was worth mentioning as one of the methods. I don’t think they can be classified as “my” reviews because these same people didn’t even bother to download my other game when I mentioned it to them. Quite sure that its one of the CoC guy who gave a 1 star but I can’t see the name because they didn’t leave a review.

[li] Reviews from people I know - As I mentioned in my previous post, I only know two of the people in there (R.Bachhawat and Indu Maloo -> look at the last name).

[li] Review Exchanges - I did admit doing review exchange a few times (2-3 max), so I am not sure why the other you listed would review it for free. But if they truly are, then its a loss for me as they don’t actually play the game. I would give them benefit of doubt given the fact that I know that that there shouldn’t be more than 2-3 review exchanges unless they did it for free (I highly doubt that).

If everything could be deduced from statistics, this world would be a boring place. I can’t force you to believe what I say but I do believe the reviews are quite genuine. But these reviews are nothing to be proud of if the app doesn’t get any downloads. So yea…just don’t accuse anyone when you don’t know the entire story.

@pmaloo You stated you get so many reviews, and all are positive. Well, these reviews are NOT natural reviews that you get from generic users.

  1. the reviews from your family and friends from CoC (or any other friends) are not objective at all, I call reviews like these fake
  2. the reviews from friends of your good friends or family (hey, check this out, my son created a game, give it 5* and write you’ve never played better game, please, please) - I call these reviews fake as well
  3. you state you did 2-3 review exchanges, I see you get most of your reviews from people who mass-download apps from MMWA and mass-review them (with low quality reviews, no feedback, most probably never launched the app), no matter how you get them - these are what I call fake reviews
    In your case, reviews from points 1 - 3 are vast majority of your total reviews. Its not that I despise fake reviews, I have them too. You wrote about these reviews as if it indicated a great game, and I just wanted to tell you it just indicates that these are not honest reviews and you can not make any assumptions at all based on these reviews. I have ~300+ downloads and only 1 real review. That review is also not helpful at all. Its in my native language, with a lot of grammar errors, misspelling and no puncation marks but I’ll translate it (unfortunately, I can’t copy the grammar and the misspelling):

I don’t know whats going on, I installed and I had to uninstall whats going on the first one who tell me gets hand up under the description! I ask again what is it about ? And I recommend MSP for tablet, my name in MSP is Alexandra Lekler because my name is not Thomas Lekler and I am the owner of this tablet and please remember to answer my question what is it about?
Thomas Lekler

The app is a Name Generator (english only):
I can’t make my description or screenshots more clear about what the app does. The screenshots show exactly what the app does, and “Name generator” is written 35 times on the app store page. Its in the title. And the first lines of description are:

Name Generator BestName is a free application that will help you to generate names. Generating names has never been so easy!

With this Name generator you get thousands of high quality names to choose from, and countless possibilities with unique merging system that converts our app to random name generator.

I could add the video, but I don’t think it would stop Alexandra Lekler from posting her review :slight_smile:

Anyway, good luck to you.

I’ll say it again: I don’t accuse you of getting fake reviews, I don’t mind them. I just HAD TO say these reviews are not honest reviews and you cannot think that having these 5* reviews means something. Don’t judge the app by these reviews (and having you mention these reviews with bold text means you take them seriously - dont do that).

Such a low downloads number means just one thing - your ASO is bad. You want to rank for the Valentine keyword (or you wanted to, in february), you have it in the app title, yet you mention it only once in description. Your description is short, so not so many keywords there. Stuff more keywords in the description and repeat them up to 5 times. And check on AppAnnie how your rank for these keywords changes. And how it affects your daily downloads. You need to rank decent on some keywords, not 100+, but <50 for strong keywords and top5 for weaker, “long tail” keywords. If you want to learn aso, AppAnnie is very helpful (meaning: it helps you to track your rankings for your keywords).

Before to get more app installs, you have to improve your app’s quality. I recommended you to do app store optimization(ASO). I have seen your app and find that you have a beautiful design, but I thought your app name need to be optimized. You can add some main keywords in title and subtitle to increase your app search ranking. Indeed, the app reviews and ratings are also essential to affect users’ experience, there are some tips about getting reviews and ratings:

  1. ask for help to your friends and relatives

  2. reviews and installs exchange( you have to consider the equal quality of competitors’ app)

  3. incentivize users to leave positive reviews and ratings(useful)

  4. hold a time-limited install activity to attract more app installs( for paid app)

  5. buy app reviews from app-reviews provider

Methods Of Promotion:

• Contextual advertising in Google is effective in that it covers a broad target audience. However, it is necessary to expect that the effect it brings is not fast, but long and stable.
• Interest in the app increases reviews. For this you can order a paid option from advanced bloggers or write a letter-appeal. In the message, try to communicate the information succinctly and briefly, indicating the main differences, advantages and reference. Do not forget to thank for your time. The optimal length of the “message” is up to 1000 characters, over the message it risks to remain unread.
•Link Building. Links in this case it is better to make out with the description of the application, and not just with the indication “download here”. Chip: for tracking referrals and analytics, it’s important to connect Google Analytic or a similar service. Then you will see which sources bring more audience and you can make a strong emphasis on them.
• Paid installation services where you pay for the number of downloads.the position of the application in stores is affected by the number and dynamics of the installs. With the help of specialized services (one that provide my company) you can get the download program, will improve its position in the stores.
Reviews and ratings. Reviews is the reflection of your App’s quality. Besides organic users pay a lot to App’s reputation via reading rigorously other users’ reviews. In order to create positive image - order the reviews in trusted company Keenmobi.
• Create satellite applications. These are those that do not directly compete with yours and can contain a link or information. Thanks to this method you get an additional audience. The peculiarity of this method is that it also needs to promote the satellite application.

Progress is good, having at least a small budget, as these methods bring a speedy result. However, free methods are also effective, but require more time for implementation.

For any promotion service (installs, reviews and ASO) - check the site: or for fastest reply contact us at Skype: “keenmobi”

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Hi there, promote app on platforms of social media and forums are good ways, but not so efficient, because over 65% users discover new apps by searching keywords in the app stores, and most of them just browsing the top 10 apps, the higher your app rank, the more people it will reaches, the more people it reaches, the more downloads your app will get.

Then the best way to market app is boost your app ranking with those keywords which have lots of traffics and high download rates, of course, the keywords must be related to your app, or eveything is useless. But this kind app is hard to rank for, generally speaking, it’s a long time project, but there is a “shortcut” for it, it’s buy keyword search installs, which can boost your app ranking in hours, if your budget is enough, it’s really worthy. Of course, if your budet is limit, you can target those keywords which with low competition and low traffic, which are much easier to rank for.

Buy app reviews is also a good way to promote your app, because over 95% users prefer to download an app which has much more positive reviews, especially for new apps. For example, there are 2 apps with the same functions, one has thousands of positive reviews, and the other one has hundreds of reviews, which one will you choose?

You can also Apply for Awards. Participating in app awards is the most recommended channel, it can give you tons of press, exposure, reviews and plenty of downloads. I would highly recommend you take advantage of it.

Besides, you can also alter the app stores, data shows that, if an app is submitted on other relatively less popular stores, it will increase the expected downloads 200% more compared to Google Play. So don’t only rely on Google Play and App Store.

Hope these methods are useful to you.