User acquisition has become increasingly challenging for mobile marketers ever since Apple introduced its App Tracking Transpency (ATT) policy in April 2021. Companies have since been forced to seek permission from app users before tracking their activity across other apps and websites for advertising purposes, meaning they now lack much of the valuable data previously used to build highly-effective UA campaigns.
There are many steps marketers can take to mitigate these issues, such as identifying the best time to request permission from users for ATT, although user acquisition will remain a difficult prospect in the coming months. With that in mind, mobile marketers should focus on identifying better ways to push monetization opportunities to their existing audiences.
One way to do that is by designing an effective strategy for in-app purchase (IAP) offers. As we’ve written in some of our earlier blog posts, these offers are an integral part of F2P monetization, and there are several different approaches on the market. Some aim for well-rounded offers that appeal to a broad audience, while others zero in on players in specific situations to maximize the appeal and increase the likelihood of a successful conversion.
However, the most effective targeted IAP offers work well across many genres. Below, we’ll go through four basic strategies for targeted IAP offers that do just that, with specific trigger timings and unique appeal, while looking at how these have been implemented in some of the top games on the market.
Progression and milestone rewards
When players have achieved something great in the game, such as reaching a significant milestone or completing a tricky level, providing them with an opportunity to invest in the game is an excellent way to keep the momentum going. That’s why many of the top mobile games recognize the achievements of their players by rewarding them with exclusive offers.
Blizzard’s dungeon-crawling MMORPG, Diablo Immortal, does this to great effect. After completing different dungeons or unlocking high-difficulty versions of dungeons, players are presented with a specific one-time bundle offer of valuable materials with no time limit. Earlier achievements in the game are rewarded with bundle offers of better value than later ones, pushing players to become invested sooner.
The match3 puzzle game, Pet Rescue Saga, also has a good example of a reward-based IAP offer. Similarly to most match3 games, Pet Rescue Saga ramps up the difficulty level at regular intervals as players progress through the campaign. Users who clear one of these challenging levels receive a ‘missing toy’ for an in-game toy box. If they can collect enough toys, they can fill the box, triggering a low price point one-time bundle offer of boosters and gold.
Another way to encourage users to take up a reward-based IAP offer is to make it a limited-time deal to create a sense of urgency and exclusivity. Better yet, by having the bundle’s content directly relate to the player’s achievement, marketers can help users with their current goals.
The match3 puzzler Best Fiends demonstrates this well. When players unlock a new character, a limited-time ‘Welcome to the Family’ offer is triggered, containing valuable resources for upgrading said character topped off with 10 hours of VIP perks.
Likewise, Rise of Kingdoms’ 4x successor, Call of Dragons, rewards players with a tempting limited-time offer of Artifact upgrading resources right after managing to collect a total of six epic rarity Artifacts.
Enhancing crafting mechanics with IAP offers
Crafting mechanics are commonplace across the entire video game market, whether those mechanics involve creating precious resource items or forging powerful new weapons and armor. Players often have to spend hours ensuring they have all the necessary items to craft a recipe or upgrade an object, which can become tedious.
Offering them the chance to boost their crafting gains through IAPs can effectively increase revenue, as users feel they ‘earned’ their rewards rather than purchased them. For example, when a player merges objects and manages to create higher-level objects in MergeDragons!, a purchasable Dimensional Jar will sometimes appear carrying a duplicate of the high-tier or otherwise rare merge result object.
The same logic can also be applied to other in-app purchases. When players make their first IAP transaction in Coin Master, they are offered an Adventure Pack containing many essential resources for a special price, encouraging them to spend that little bit extra for even more rewards.
Using IAP offers to help players complete tasks
As we discussed above, players often feel more inclined to spend on IAP when it’s towards a goal they’ve already made substantial progress towards on their own – it feels less like cheating or taking a shortcut. That’s why offering players exclusive deals can be effective when they’re close to reaching special milestones or achievements.
For example, in MergeDragons! and EverMerge, players can merge five (or six) items to get two ‘next-tier’ rewards – this means spending significant time hunting for five of a specific object. When players are close to a complete set, the games occasionally parachute in an IAP offer with the missing piece(s), making for an incredibly tempting deal.
EverMerge also features ‘Creature Completion’ offers that pop up when players are close to collecting an entire ‘creature chain’ – which unlocks a special area. The one-time offer contains premium currency and the missing creatures you need to complete the chain. The game also notices when players run out of energy, which replenishes over time, during task progression; this offer gives a small amount of extra play energy so users can complete the grind.
The match3 puzzle game, Project Makeover, also features these offers as part of its Timed Makeover Challenge. To progress in these challenges, which last one to two weeks at a time, players must collect event tokens by completing main levels. Those struggling to finish the makeover are targeted with an extension offer, which increases the length of the event so they can obtain the completion rewards. Players who purchase the offer also boost their Event Token earnings when they clear levels the first time.
Providing a second chance through IAP offers
Regardless of the game or genre, failing to complete a level or losing all their lives is designed to be frustrating. It’s also why being offered a second chance for a low price when things aren’t going to plan can be so appealing, especially if it means saving hard-earned experience points or a lengthy win streak.
This is commonly encountered in Match3 games, which offer a soft currency payment users can make to continue playing after running out of moves in a level. Royal Match takes this further by offering a cheap bundle of premium currency (needed to continue) alongside a booster on top of the extra moves when players are about to fail. They’re given just 60 seconds to decide, leaving little room to hesitate. Lily’s Garden also utilizes a similar (albeit less urgency-inducing) tactic with the Moonlight Offer, a bundle paired with extra moves that occasionally appears.
These types of offers aren’t exclusive to just match3 games. Players who have missed a limited-time tournament in Golf Clash are offered a low-cost ‘5x value’ bundle that makes up for some of the rewards that would have been available had they played the event, allowing them to catch up with their friends quickly.
Bonus offers: randomly-generated IAP bundles
While they’re unlikely to be as effective as targeted bundles, as long as they’re not highly intrusive, there is no harm in throwing the odd, unexpected offer at players just to keep them interested. This might be in the form of a surprising offer after first logging into the game, which provides general resources to ensure they won’t run out during their play session, or a special deal to wake up a player who has been idling for an extended period.
Here are a few examples of how these randomly-generated offers work in some of the highest-grossing mobile games:
- When logging in to Wordscapes, the game occasionaly makes a simple 24-hour offer. The Double Coin Sale offers a low price point and “2x VALUE!” for coins used to purchase in-game hints.
- Candy Crush Saga occasionally starts random Levels Rush mini-events, where players are promised 25 premium currency for completing 25 levels by the following day. The offer is not monetized, but the player is more engaged, committed to clearing the levels, and using boosters when needed.
- EverMerge’s one-time offer Invigorating Pack sometimes appears upon login, offering a good amount of energy to keep the session length restrictions at bay.
Targeted in-app purchase (IAP) offers in mobile games present a valuable opportunity for monetization and player engagement. Despite the challenges posed by user acquisition in the era of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy, mobile marketers can shift their focus to implementing effective IAP strategies. By understanding player motivations and employing various tactics, developers can maximize the appeal and conversion rates of targeted IAP offers.
The following strategies can be employed to create compelling and successful targeted IAP offers:
- Progression and milestone rewards: Recognize player achievements by offering exclusive deals when they reach significant milestones or complete challenging levels. This keeps the momentum going and encourages further investment in the game.
- Enhancing crafting mechanics with IAP offers: Provide players with the opportunity to boost their crafting progress through purchases, offering a sense of earned rewards and enhancing their gameplay experience.
- Helping players complete tasks: Offer exclusive deals to players who are close to reaching special milestones or achievements, providing additional support and tempting them with valuable rewards.
- Providing a second chance through IAP offers: When players fail a level or run out of lives, offer affordable bundles or extra moves to give them a second chance and prevent frustration.
- Randomly-generated bonus offers: Surprise players with unexpected offers to maintain their interest and engagement, such as providing additional resources or limited-time events.
By implementing these strategies and tailoring IAP offers to individual player segments, developers can create targeted offers that resonate with their audience, increase player engagement, and drive revenue.
For more inspiration on integrating IAP offers into your game’s LiveOps strategy, make sure to check out our recently launched Live Events Tracker tool on the GameRefinery platform!
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