Knowing where your new players came from (which user acquisition source) and knowing something about them can be a powerful way to maximise that first session experience in order to maximise initial retention.
SWRVE is a platform that allows you to perform split testing (A/B testing) in social/mobile games and they provide regular webinars on all manner of subjects relating to games analytics. Here’s my summary of their advice in relation to adapting your game based on where the new players come from.
The main acquisition sources are likely to consist of ‘organic’ (social/viral), incentivised installs, promoted adverts/media and cross-promotions. Each of these tell you, generally speaking, that those cohorts of users have a propensity to respond more or less to different elements in game and in different ways.
Players that were acquired through genuine organic (FREE!) sources e.g. through discovery via the Facebook newsfeed or notifications or by a direct message from a friend are most likely drawn in by the social interaction aspect. In this case, SWRVE argue, you should ensure that any social elements in your game are exposed to these players very promptly. This might include opportunities to visit friends’ worlds, donate resources, gift in-game items etc or it might be to challenge them in, for example, a social quiz game. Make sure that these features are available and promoted in game early on to leverage this player behaviour preference.
Players that are acquired through incentivised means (e.g. when they receive free resources in one game in return for installing another game) are commonly thought of as ‘poor quality’ traffic and used most often as a means to get AppStore visibility in order to then acquire better users in a more organic fashion. SWRVE argue that you should still aim to maximise retention from these sources by, for example, ensuring that the core value of your game is exposed to these players with the maximum of haste; let them know why your game is fun immediately. Additionally as you know that these players respond to incentives; offer them rewards straight away (earlier than other players).
Players that are acquired through non-incentivised adverts/promotions in other games clearly have the propensity to chug out of one game in favour of another. To that end, showing them in-game ads to 3rd party games is not a great idea unless you like losing the players you just paid $5 CPIs to acquire. Make sure that in-game ads and cross-promotions are switched off in the first few session to these players; give them a chance to get engages…or better still, to start paying. If after multiple sessions these players show no sign of converting to becoming a paid player then you can switch those promotions back on in order to monetise the traffic from them.
As a subset of the above group, where players have come to you via a video acquisition source then you can assume (again, generally) that they have a preference to video-based media….so use video in the game to keep them engaged. This might be for tutorial elements, scene-setters or for moments of delight when they level up or defeat an opponent.
As an addition to the above, where users have connected via the Facebook API and where you have added demographic information about them, then you can use this to further make your game personalised to individual players in order to improve your KPIs. Examples may be with in-game mentor character choices/genders, colour schemes or language style).
Naturally, SWRVE advise that you don’t just make sweeping generalisations when electing to adopt any of these strategies; make sure you test alternative strategies on statistically identical groups and prove which approaches deliver the optimum KPI improvements. Then ramp up across your entire user base.
You can see all of the previous SWRVE webinar recordings online at http://www.swrve.com/blog/category/webinars