How to sell more games by running affiliate programs with streamers
When it comes down to it, people need to know about your game to buy it, and the more people that know about it, the more chance there is that someone will buy it. This is why marketing exists and plays such a huge role in any type of sale.
Over the last few years, influencer marketing has become a massive market as gamers have moved away from traditional entertainment platforms onto things like Twitch and YouTube, where the content creators largely decide what is promoted and when.
As such, many companies have moved to using content creators to promote their products, with games being one of the most popular and fitting options. Any triple-A launch will now have influencers leading the charge, with YouTube, Twitch, and other platforms drawing in millions of viewers to the game as it launches.
Oftentimes, this is done with full sponsorships and campaigns, which while effective, can be very expensive. However, another very good way of getting your game out there and increasing sales with influencers is by running an affiliate program, and here’s how you can do it.
What is an affiliate program?
As opposed to a traditional sponsorship where an influencer is directly paid in exchange for their services, an affiliate program is a way of promoting something by offering commission rather than a flat fee.
Usually, this is done by giving an influencer a unique link to your website, which tracks how many users come from that exact link. Then, if any downloads, purchases, or other deliverables are made, the content creator is paid a percentage of the sale or a fee per interaction. For example, if you’re launching a new game, you might work with an influencer and give them their own link, and every time someone purchases your game by using that link, the influencer gets 5% of the sale.
This is an incredibly attractive way of marketing your product, as it tends to be a lot cheaper than directly hiring an influencer for a promotion or campaign, while still giving you the advantages of using a content creator to get your product out there. Most of the time, you’ll only pay after the results are delivered, meaning there is quite little risk to it.
A ton of companies, big and small, are already doing this to great success. If you check out any large influencer like Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, for example, you’ll see a link on his Twitch page, directing you to Logitech’s store with an affiliate link.
How to run a successful affiliate marketing program
If you want to learn how to start recruiting some influencers as affiliates for your game, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s how you can do it, step by step.
Choosing the right influencers
First and foremost, you need to know how to choose the correct influencers for you. In relation to affiliate marketing, this will depend on your budget, the influencer’s reach, and the type of influencer they are.
Your budget is one of the most important points to focus on. The main attraction of affiliate programs is that it costs very little to nothing to start up for companies. It’s as simple as reaching out to influencers and offering them cash for every sale or click.
However, this also ties in directly with influencer reach. The bigger the influencer, the more they’ll expect to earn, and quite a few may even want an up front fee, in addition to the affiliate deal. You’ll need to consider how much you want to spend on that, if anything, and then tie that directly to the next point, influencer reach.
Next up, you’ll need to consider influencer reach - in this case, how much reach (or how many people they can influencer) you want your target influencers to have. You may think that the more the better, but there can be some drawbacks to looking to just the biggest content creators. The budget aspect, as previously mentioned, is key, but there are a few more.
The bigger the influencer, the more likely they already are affiliated with other companies, and you may just become one of many on a wall of links, some may even be exclusive with a company, or already working with a rival.
On the other hand, working with smaller influencers may mean more focus on you, and even if one influencer has half the viewers of another, if those viewers are more committed, or you are the centerpiece of their promotions, you may end up seeing more sales.
Last but not least, it’s vital to consider the type of influencer. This comes in two different categories, finding the correct target market, and the correct type of person.
Finding the correct market is simple enough, all you need to do is look for influencers that already create content on similar games. For example, if you’re launching a new card game, you may want to look to influencers that focus on games like Hearthstone, Magic the Gathering, or Legends of Runeterra.
When it comes to choosing the right person, it can be a bit more tricky. This one depends solely on you, and will be different for every company and game. It’s best to find someone well suited to your game. For example, if you’re launching a casual, friendly game for teens, it may be best to stick to influencers who avoid topics like drugs, alcohol, etc.
You can do this by digging into their content, with things like videos, stream VoD’s, and checking out their social media.
How to find influencers
When it comes to finding the influencers, there are two main choices, either you can do it yourself or use an influencer marketing company.
Generally, most affiliate programs tend to be done by the companies themselves, creating a direct relationship with the content creators. You can find and contact influencers in a variety of ways, from checking out their individual pages and finding their contact details, to going through the social media of a big company or other influencers and quickly tracking down many.
This can be quite time consuming, but building relationships by directly reaching out is key to creating successful partnerships, especially in something like affiliate programs, where there needs to be a lot of trust between the two parties to work together.
Some companies and websites do offer services to make this process a whole lot easier. For example, at our very own Lurkit website, you can easily find any influencer, sorted by games, in our game category. We also specialize in dealing with key influencer data, and you can contact us here to find out more.
Alternatively, you could choose to work with an influencer marketing company. These are talent management agencies that focus on content creators and help bridge the gap between companies and their talent. However, the main drawback of this is that they do charge a fee and you likely won’t be able to build as close of a relationship with each influencer, as the company would handle the communications.
This means that influencer marketing companies are not ideal for affiliate deals, but can be very useful if you’re looking to get in contact with some of the biggest content creators.
Advantages and disadvantages of an affiliate marketing program
Now that you know what to look for and how to find it to run an affiliate program, let’s break down some of the key benefits and drawbacks.
The biggest advantage of affiliate marketing is that it’s relatively risk-free. If you work with only affiliate deals with no up-front costs, you’ll only ever pay once your affiliates get results. A huge problem in marketing and advertisements tends to come from the risk, and if it’s worth doing.
While paying thousands of dollars to put up an advert or get a huge streamer to talk about your game on stream is likely to get people to see it, you never really know how many people will buy your game thanks to it. Meanwhile, with affiliate marketing programs, you know you’re getting your money's worth.
Additionally, it’s very cheap. You’ll only ever pay a set fee or percentage which you can control and get your game out there. Sometimes, you’ll have an influencer promote your game and share their affiliate link, but some of their viewers won’t use it, or they’ll decide to buy the game sometime later and not use the link.
Of course, as with anything, there are some disadvantages. The main drawback is that it is a lengthy time investment. It will take a while to go from step one to getting sales. You need to plan everything out, reach out to influencers, set partnership terms, provide ongoing management, and only then will you see the numbers coming in, and even then, lots of viewers won't immediately buy your game.
Another drawback is that it can be difficult to find the ideal affiliates. You can’t run your affiliate marketing program with just any influencers, you want the ideal target market and people that will represent your game well. Depending on your game it may be difficult to find the right people and, of course, time-consuming.
Overall, make sure to consider both the advantages and disadvantages before investing time into affiliate programs, and make sure you’re comfortable with how it’s done and able to wait for results.
Last but not least, remember that it should be used as an addition to your marketing strategy, rather than the sole way of getting your game out there. Sure, it is very effective and cheap, but every other game launch and big company uses traditional advertisements, sponsorships, etc. for a reason. It takes a good marketing mix to really succeed.