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Early engagement segmentation (the little black book): part 3 of dating strategies for player retention

By on January 29, 2013
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This is the third and final post in a series of guest posts by John Cheng of Playnomics. To learn more, see the first two posts: How to ask someone out and calling them back.


Most game owners intuitively understand player segmentation is important. However, knowing where to start can sometimes be daunting, given near limitless possibilities for how to segment your audience, not to mention the looming hurdle of figuring out what to do with those shiny, segmented groups after you’re done with the grouping part…

In a publisher-as-bachelor dating metaphor, few truer words can summarize the player anayltics conundrum. It’s not easy, but it’s not that hard either. Analyzing your audience sounds more subjective (and more difficult) than it actually is, and past that, it’s just a matter of customizing messages for whatever purposes you can. What kind of messaging?

“Segmented engagement messages” are the pieces of communication you send to specific groups of players. They are powerful tools for improving early lifecycle retention. Think of them like those comments you make to let people know you listen to what they have to say, and care enough to remember.

You can use segmented engagement messages to improve early lifecycle retention in various ways. A few smart ways, for example:

  • Send help – to players who failed to complete the tutorial, etc.
  • Send gifts – Target players with high spending potential with exclusive content
  • Send things at the right times – in general, whatever the message.

Utilize custom milestones (targeted to match the specific needs of your gameplay experience) to help communicate with players at their most vulnerable. Poke the fire when it’s hot, they say. This is proven not only to increase player engagement in the game, but
outside the game as well (back in the real world).

That means nifty things like: more opportunities for interaction, increased viral sharing, broader spread for your messaging, better
overall awareness for your game, AND higher conversion rates and ROI from cross-promotion efforts.

As a players dig deeper and deeper in to your game, you want to (gradually) expose more value and highlight more features to them. In any game, certain content – things like additional backstory, special offers and VIP programs – offers different value to different types of players, and should be promoted to them differently. This is how users can get the things they care about and inherently makes them feel special. It’s how we operate throughout the Playnomics network, so I speak from experience when I tell you segmented messaging works.

If you’ve got solid content targeted at the right player segments, you’re over halfway home, but it’s also important to deliver those messages at the right times. Be sure to target messages against engagement (10th session, 20th report, etc.) rather than just time (e.g.
one day, two days, a week…). Player behavior and game usage give you far better context for when to trigger messages. Furthermore, when asking players to do something that benefits you (e.g. tweet, like, mail a friend) always pair the request with a moment of value, like: “You’ve tracked over 10K hours! We’d love it if you…” or “This was your 10,000th point, why not…”

In summary: For early player retention efforts, always be a more charming version of your usual self. I can’t think of a single way to spend a couple of hours that has more impact than to configure a good early player retention strategy. Regardless of the tool you use, make this an area of focus. Don’t bookmark it under “something to talk about at our next strategy meeting;” it’s way more important than that.

About John Cheng