Using Sales Funnels In Mobile Games

Sales Funnel

Sales funnels are a concept used by those who manage and optimize sale of a product or service from a process perspective. The basic concept is that all potential customers start at the top of the funnel and are pared down as they move through the funnel if their needs or terms don’t align with the vendor’s offering, price, etc…

The goal is to optimize the process so that as many prospects as possible make it through the funnel and come out the bottom having completed a purchase.

In our experience, we’ve found it helpful to apply these concepts to the monetization of mobile games. At their most detailed, sales funnels can have ten or more steps, but we’ve distilled them down to the three essential ones needed to understand how they translate in to mobile gaming.

Note that in this example, our sales funnel deals only with players who have downloaded the game and started a session. There are certainly benefits to thinking beyond install, but we’ll save that for another time. In this case, the first division occurs when we examine the difference between players who are aware of IAPs, and those who are not.


Awareness Stage

It’s unfortunate, but more than one heavily-featured game has met with commercial failure because players didn’t know they could purchase anything. Whether this was for fear of coming off too sales’y or just an oversight, making sure that players know where and how to complete an IAP is the first step in building an effective sales funnel.

To increase awareness, publishers have the following tools at their disposal:

User Interface

The design of your game’s user interface plays a huge role in IAP awareness. Whether it’s a complex storefront or a simple “Disable Ads” button, making sure that players notice these elements will have a positive impact on your overall sales.

For more on UI optimizations, check out our Gamasutra article, “7 Easy Changes To UI That Improve In-App Purchase Sales“.

Push Notifications

Direct communication with your players is invaluable, especially if you’re running regular sales or promotions. Push notifications can let your players know that an IAP is on sale for the weekend or that the latest update includes new content for purchase. Every publisher should use them to get as many players as possible through the top layer of their sales funnel.

For tips on optimizing your push campaigns, check out “6 Tips For Effective Push Notifications“.

In-Game Offers

As a free-to-play game publisher, you operate a virtual business in the game worlds you create. You also control 100% of the advertising space in your games, and just like brick-and-mortar businesses, you need to employ intelligent strategies in order to make the best use of that space.

To that end, more and more top publishers are using dynamic full-screen offers to promote their IAPs. Though the technology required to operate this kind of strategy would typically be too expensive and complex even for high-level publishers, Fuse Powered offers it to our partners for free.

To learn more, download our whitepaper, “What Is a Player-Centric Platform?”.


Evalution Stage

Once players are aware of your IAPs, ask yourself if they have the information necessary to evaluate their value. Keep in mind that this doesn’t just mean explaining the IAP in a tool-tip. Games are emotional experiences, and players require an emotional understanding of what you’re offering before they can decide whether or not it’s for them.

In Clash of Clans players reach a point where their engagement is limited by the number of builders they have. An additional builder costs 500 gems, which can be purchased for $4.99. At this point they have two builders but there are more than two buildings that they could be working on. By this point, players have learned that constructing and upgrading buildings is the key to repelling attacks and collecting resources.

Before a player can move through the evaluation stage, they must resolve the following statement: “If I get X I can do Y.

In this case, “If I get another builder I can build faster.” Players already posses an emotional understanding of what building more means because they’ve been doing it since the start of the game. They posses both and Y and are therefore able to make an informed decision as to whether or not it’s for them.

Since this stage relies almost exclusively on familiarity with the game’s mechanics, it can take the longest amount of time to progress through, so keep that in mind when you’re designing the earliest stages of progression. How long does it take before players understand the value of what you’re offering? The further this moment is from install, the more players will have churned, meaning fewer players will be able to move to the next stage in the funnel.


Purchase Stage

The final stage of the funnel is the most straight forward. Once players have been made aware of the IAP and have evaluated its value, make sure that it can be easily purchased. A lot of the same optimizations used in the Awareness stage will contribute to moving players through this stage. Other than that, it’s up to the platform owners (Apple, Google, etc…) to make this as painless as possible.

In future posts, we’ll go into detail on how you can optimize this process and learn to react to players who are in the process of exiting the funnel before making it to the bottom. Follow us on Twitter for all the latest updates – @FusePowered

Evan Fradley-Pereira
Marketing Manager at Fuse Powered
Evan is an award-winning game designer, prolific blogger, and an adequate Hearthstone player.
He creates podcasts, videos, and articles that help people make better games.

You can contact him on Twitter at @fp_evan