The onslaught of COVID-19 has brought about some profound and fundamental changes in the business world. As the way people work, communicate, and socialize has changed, brands all around the world have pivoted operations to get through the lockdown period. Some businesses, in particular, those within physical retail, travel, and tourism industries are seeing massive declines. Others, especially those in games, media, and digital streaming are seeing massive increases in downloads, daily active users, and app sessions since the start of lockdown. Both situations bring their own set of challenges.

Swrve has seen 50% increases in monthly active users (MAU) for digital brands in games, media, and digital streaming since the start of lockdown. While this could be considered a win, it’s important to note that an increase in downloads and MAU doesn’t automatically equate to an increase in revenue. Smart brands know that in order to reap the revenue benefits of an increasing user base, brands must optimize to boost engagement and create unique experiences to keep users engaged past the initial download period.

Focusing in on the mobile games industry, let’s look at more research:

In China, in February the weekly game download rate increased by 80% compared to the same time period in 2019.  In the US, Verizon reported a 75% increase in video game traffic, and T-Mobile reported a 45% increase.

As a result, the gaming industry is starting to see spikes in new users as an upshot to this difficult period. But, as we mentioned above, increases in users do not directly equate to increases in revenue. So mobile games now have to be more strategic in how they nurture their new users (many of whom would install the gaming app on a freemium basis) to convert to paying customers.

A fantastic example of a brand leading the charge to optimize a huge influx of users, downloads, and app session time is Nukebox Studios.

Founded in 2009, Nukebox Studios is a full-stack mobile game development studio. With its complete and well-rounded production team, Nukebox Studios is working on developing and publishing innovative and original games for a global audience.

Within the first days of lockdown, Nukebox Studios saw a 30% increase in traffic on their premier game Food Truck Chef. Reacting quickly, Nukebox deployed mobile-first campaigns to manage and build on the surge in growth.

Driving Engagement

Challenge: How do you get new users’ attention in an extremely saturated market?

With a massive influx of new users it was imperative that Nukebox upped its game when it came to engagement and retention. To stay relevant, Nukebox leveraged the use of key vocabulary referencing lockdown, quarantine, and shelter in place orders. It also leveraged the use of rich imagery and emojis to help its messaging stand out from crowded lock screens and notification centres.

Result: Nukebox saw a 24% increase in engagement and stickiness in daily active users and a 6% increase in Day 1 retention.  

Growing Opportunities for Revenue

Challenge: How do you turn freemium users into paying subscribers?

With an increase in engagement and an influx of new users, one would be forgiven to assume that this would equate to a nice boost in revenues. However, with the vast majority of players delivering little to no revenue from in-app purchases, Nukebox needed a way to make sure that these new players would be inspired to spend. 

Based on individual gamer activity, Nukebox delivered hyper-relevant push notifications with various options that would elevate the gamer experience. For example, Nukebox highlighted discounts like twice the amount of gems for the same price in the game Food Truck Chef through rich push notifications.

Result: These relevant, targeted campaigns generated 4 times more revenue than traditional monetization campaigns. 

Going Back to Basics

Challenge: How to measure the results of mobile-first engagement?

When measuring the results of your mobile-first engagement, it’s imperative that brands master the five key pillars of the customer journey, before entering into more complicated use cases. By narrowing down its mobile-first strategies into the key areas of activation, engagement, retention, monetization, and advocacy, Nukebox was in the right position to scale their evergreen campaigns to accommodate the influx of new users. 

With Swrve, Nukebox was able to define their KPIs and instrument the Food Truck Chef app accordingly, which led to a better understanding of user behaviours and how they changed as a result of COVID-19. By analysing the right data sets and activating strategic campaigns in response, Nukebox could see direct value impacts to report against their goals.

What’s next?

As more and more countries begin to ease out lockdown measures, mobile games will start to see their MAUs drop. To avoid this drop in users, use the following tips for your upcoming campaigns, and see how they affect your app: 

Retain users acquired during lockdown with personalized and bespoke messaging—do not batch and blast these customers 

Inform your users of upcoming challenges and incentives to keep gameplay up through native in-app messages

Promote a referral scheme to leverage your existing game community and grow your player base

Swrve helps the world’s leading brands connect with their mobile-first customers to build lasting, valuable relationships. To learn more about Swrve, talk to one of our experts here.