Chris Zukowski email marketing email strategy game email game email marketing game marketing Guest posts guest speaker kitfox games Marketing Marketing strategy Tech

The Secrets Of Their Email Marketing Strategy –

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Editor’s Notice: this publish was initially revealed by Chris Zukowski, Artistic Director at Return to Journey Mountain, who additionally builders video games which might be weird twists on basic genres. You’ll recognise his work in titles similar to Return of the Zombie King and Wizard Golf RPG. 

Boyfriend Dungeon is an indie recreation being developed by Kitfox Video games about courting luxuriously lovely weapons after which utilizing them to struggle monsters. It was initially introduced again in October 2017. On August 15th of 2018, the Kitfox group launched a Kickstarter for the sport.

The Kickstarter took the web by storm and went completely viral on social media. The Boyfriend fever even reached so far as basic curiosity magazines like Gentleman’s Quarterly. The sport was funded inside hours and when the Kickstarter ended 30 days later it earned 4x its preliminary objective. The group executed on so many ranges and in so many channels it was a very magical factor to behold. For extra info, take a look at these deconstructions that have been written by the staff.

I used to be honoured to be given the chance to be a advisor for his or her Kickstarter to assist them develop their e mail advertising technique. I labored instantly with their extremely gifted and diligent group supervisor, Victoria Tran. Collectively we developed a month-long technique for his or her mailing listing. Victoria then took that technique and did the onerous work of writing and publishing the emails by means of their Mailchimp account. The next publish deconstructs the e-mail advertising techniques that have been deployed through the marketing campaign. Even in case you are not launching a Kickstarter, most of the following pointers may be utilized to selling your personal recreation.

TL;DR overview of what our technique was for the Boyfriend Dungeon Kickstarter:

  • Ship emails to subscribers written from the viewpoint of The Dateable Weapons.
  • Attempt to get followers who weren’t already on the mailing listing to hitch by promising that each subscriber would obtain love letters immediately from The Dateable Weapons.
  • Ship a brand new distinctive e-mail to subscribers each week of the marketing campaign.

The emails

The next are the 5 emails that have been despatched out through the Kickstarter. The remainder of this text deconstructs the technique behind them.

Additionally right here is the open fee and click on by means of charges for every of these emails.

Record background

Because the founding of the studio, the Kitfox workforce has positioned most of their advertising effort on Twitter and e-mail was not a main technique of speaking with their followers. Regardless of it being a secondary technique, they did handle to develop an e-mail listing of over 6000 subscribers via a signup on their web site and by having a type obtainable in any respect the conventions they attended.

Previous to the Kickstarter, Kitfox would e mail their record on common about as soon as a month. The emails did a great job of introducing the staff and offering free giveaways similar to a track from Boyfriend Dungeon. Nevertheless, for brand spanking new recreation launches they sometimes solely emailed 1 time to announce the sport.

You’ll be able to see their again catalog of emails right here.


A couple of weeks earlier than the Kickstarter, I met with Victoria and listened to what their objectives have been with the Kickstarter and a number of the limitations they have been working inside. There wasn’t a lot time earlier than the beginning of the Kickstarter and a lot of the artistic staff was solely heads down on getting the sport prepared. We brainstormed some attainable choices for his or her e mail advertising technique.

They have been new to superior e mail advertising techniques comparable to lead magnets and autoresponders so I really helpful that they begin small: attempt to up the frequency of their e-mail communications and construct a relationship with these followers.

It was clear that they wanted to middle their e mail marketing campaign across the strongest useful resource at their disposal: The Boyfriends. The idea I introduced to Kitfox was for every week of the Kickstarter they ship an replace written within the voice of a special boyfriend character from the sport. Every e-mail would reveal a bit concerning the character and a bit concerning the recreation’s world. Every e-mail would even have a transparent name to motion to again the Kickstarter.

The Dateable Weapons are undoubtedly the distinctive promoting proposition for this recreation. Nevertheless, all of Kitfox’s trailers and media stored their particular person personalities of the BFs at arm’s size. The inherent format of e mail permits for 2 issues over social media:

  • The looks of 1×1 communication between the studio and the individual receiving the e-mail. Distinctive as a result of a love letter simply doesn’t have the identical intimacy when it’s despatched from a Twitter account to 10,000+ followers
  • Limitless area for textual content and pictures.

With e mail there can be the room and the time for the studio to actually put the boyfriend’s character proper in entrance of followers’ adoring eyes. This advertising marketing campaign was actually the primary time and place the place somebody might have some alone time with every of The Dateable Weapons and I needed followers to enjoy it.

My objective was so as to add a brand new advertising channel for Kitfox. E-mail supplies a extra intimate channel of communication as a result of it isn’t public like social media. E-mail additionally permits for extra phrases and extra footage and subsequently extra room to inform a narrative. This plan additionally makes e mail the one place the place you will get this content material, it wasn’t (and actually couldn’t) be shared on the opposite channels similar to Fb and Twitter.

The plan was a bit goofy, a bit humorous, and a bit attractive. It was completely aligned to what the sport itself can be.

Preparation for upcoming marketing campaign

Individuals not often simply hand over their e-mail handle. There have to be an additional incentive in trade for his or her e mail to interrupt the ice so followers will be a part of. These incentives are referred to as Lead Magnets and sometimes take the type of a freebie similar to a soundtrack obtain, early entry to a beta, or a digital e-book.

The Kitfox staff was already scrambling to get the Kickstarter launched so we didn’t have time to place one thing like that collectively. As an alternative, I although they need to attempt to pitch the promise of secret love letters from The Dateable Weapons because the lead magnet.

Victoria up to date the Kickstarter web page to promote the love letter supply (screenshot under.)

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She additionally up to date the publication signup web page once more to reenforce the supply.

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By the top of the Kickstarter marketing campaign, the Kitfox e-mail listing grew by 335 subscribers.

Sadly a typical lead magnet that makes use of a beta code or different sort of digital downloadable yields a lot greater outcomes. For instance, I’ve seen campaigns for a beta obtain yield 50,000 e-mail signups. With the insane visitors that the Kickstarter obtained I used to be anticipating the variety of new followers to be a lot larger.

I’ve a pair hunches for this. First: the chaos of the Kickstarter might have crowded out the decision to motion for the e-mail signup. By necessity, Kickstarter pages have to be pitching the sport and the subsequent reward tier. A separate callout for a downloadable good in all probability doesn’t make it by way of the noise. Perhaps it’s troublesome to construct e-mail subscribers throughout a Kickstarter?

Second hunch: If the lead-magnet was one thing extra tangible it might have yielded extra sign-ups. The e-mail signup name to motion that Kitfox used was “Get love letters from the Bae Blades.” Maybe individuals didn’t assume the Kitfox staff was being literal in that you’d actually be getting attractive notes from some completely lovely beings. Perhaps they only assumed it was your commonplace, boring, “right here is a few information” sort of e mail. Maybe a extra tangible obtain would have achieved higher.

For instance what if we had a PDF model of a 2019 calendar with every month represented by one of many dateable weapons. Or a zipper file containing a bunch photographs of the Bae Blades completely formatted for telephone or pc backgrounds. Would that sound extra engaging to you?

Takeaway Ideas:

  • Make your lead-magnet a really tangible factor. One thing they will obtain or performed with.
  • Be certain that the signup could be very outstanding all over the place individuals shall be coming in.
  • Ensure that the e-mail signup is the one method to get the bonus content material so that you simply drive individuals to the e-mail record.

Launch day

The launch day e-mail goes to be the one which will get probably the most interplay. It ought to be brief, to the purpose, and with a really clear name to motion. You don’t need something to face in the best way of you and your potential buyer backing your recreation. Your true, die-hard followers will again your recreation due to this e mail.

Victoria crafted a superb launch e mail that was despatched the second the Kickstarter went stay.

Here’s a screenshot of it:

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What I like about this e-mail

  • The hyperlink to the Kickstarter is a button with a transparent name to motion: “Help Boyfriend Dungeon Now”
  • The button is situated virtually on the prime of the e-mail and visual with out scrolling on most units.
  • There’s an intriguing little bit of copy simply earlier than the CTA button. “(Take a look at the rewards!!! Physique pillow alert.)” Even when you don’t intend on backing the sport it does entice individuals to click on the button to see whether or not a physique pillow warning is actually warranted.

Nevertheless, the perfect factor Victoria did was add the next little bit of copy…

“Hey you , quickly I’ll be taking up to ship you a really particular love word.”

This message from Sunder is what known as an open loop. It’s the promoting equal of the cliffhanger on the finish of a TV episode. It’s the equal of the key ending that follows the credit of a Marvel film which hints on the subsequent movie. This open loop boosts the open price of your subsequent e-mail as a result of individuals will need to know what occurs.

It’s essential to do that as a result of a big inhabitants of people that comply with you aren’t tremendous followers however are fence sitters and wish extra encouragement to open the subsequent e-mail. The easiest way to try this is to ship extra emails…

In case you are considering that is some tacky hook and who would ever comply with this, it truly works. See this superior tweet from somebody who was clearly intrigued by that rippling, flowing, golden man chest.

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Don’t be afraid to make use of your e-mail record. Ship follow-up emails

Many builders make the error of solely firing off one e-mail saying “my recreation has launched” or “my Kickstarter is stay” after which by no means contact these followers once more. That may be a large mistake! Nearly all of your viewers isn’t going to drop every little thing the primary time they obtain your e mail. They want reminding. I satisfied the Kitfox staff to e mail their viewers at the very least as soon as every week in the course of the marketing campaign and promised that nothing dangerous would occur. They have been courageous and agreed.


The followers continued to open and to click on they usually didn’t unsubscribe in disgust.

The truth is, if the Kitfox staff solely despatched one e-mail initially of the marketing campaign they might have missed out on 66% of the visitors that their complete e mail marketing campaign would ultimately generate (that’s 1964 complete clicks)!

Many indies are afraid of their mailing listing. The worry is that weekly emails are too frequent, too determined, and that there can be a wave of unsubscribes as a result of your followers are feeling “SPAMMED.” That is an irrational worry. Your followers need to hear from you.

Right here is the proof…

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The next graph represents the variety of opens vs the quantity of people that unsubscribed. You see that little pink line bumping a couple of pixels above the axis? That’s the quantity unsubscribes. As you’ll be able to see there was no mass exodus. The mailing record didn’t collapse.

After sending 6 distinctive emails to 6868 subscribers, solely 2% of their complete viewers unsubscribed. 2%! Are you actually going to let that tremendous tiny 2% maintain you from getting 66% of your clicks? Don’t fall prey to the psychological lure of loss aversion (aka the irrational worry that it’s worse to lose one thing than it’s to realize an equal quantity.) Perceive that these 183 unsubscribes in all probability weren’t going to again the sport anyway so it’s good to get them off your listing (particularly since Mailchimp fees you per subscriber.)

I even requested Victoria if she acquired any any indignant emails from individuals who accused her and Kitfox of being evil cash grabbing spammers. Her response…

Victoria: “It was extra like individuals needed to have the ability to throw cash at us to get extra emails. :’)”

This is a vital lesson. Your followers actually like getting e mail from you as lengthy the emails are top quality and fascinating. Your followers WANT to listen to from you. You’re intriguing and are making cool stuff – that’s the entire purpose they gave you their e-mail handle within the first place. In the event that they didn’t need to hear from you, they wouldn’t have given you their e-mail handle. Don’t take my phrase for it, take a look at the next tweets from a glad Boyfriend Dungeon publication subscriber:

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Take a look at this line “you have been actually assured concerning the tone and voice of your product … if something my curiosity went up.” If Kitfox had despatched just one e-mail they might have missed this individual’s backing (and lots of others who weren’t so impressed to tweet at them).

The rationale a number of emails work is that folks procrastinate purchases. And even when they don’t seem to be procrastinating, life simply will get in the best way. Once they obtain certainly one of your emails they’re doubtless out operating errands, at work, on the practice, on a street journey, or at dinner with their household. They may not be in a spot the place they will click on over to Kickstarter, keep in mind their password, after which pull out their bank card. It is advisable to remind them a couple of occasions to extend your possibilities that they are going to be in a spot the place they’ve the time to again you.

The e-mail knowledge exhibits this story too. Within the following chart you’ll be able to see because the marketing campaign went on, the open charges stayed inside a typical vary and the press by means of charges have been extremely constant. In truth, probably the most opened e mail was the third one (and that one wasn’t even a few boyfriend, it was a few girlfriend.) Extra frequent emails triggered individuals to interact extra with the content material. Not think about it spam.

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Ideas for implementing this

  • In case you are launching a recreation, a kickstarter, heck even an announce trailer, e-mail your listing as soon as every week. You’re lacking out on gross sales and consciousness if you don’t.
  • Don’t worry your record. Your followers need to hear from you.


Once you attempt to interact your viewers each week you can’t simply ship a barely reworded press launch time and again with a hyperlink that claims “again my recreation!” You will need to follow the method often known as give-give-give-ask during which you give one thing to your e-mail listing for each time you ask for one thing.

For Boyfriend Dungeon, we practiced “give-give-give” by offering fascinating backstory to every boyfriend. Victoria and Tanya (their artistic director) did a superb job weaving extra backstory into the e-mail. An ideal instance is that this e mail the place the dateable weapon provides you her origin story and a taste of her character. The e-mail even goes on to offer some behind the scenes element of the making of the sport.

View this e mail right here.

Equally, the refined Isaac was written with a completely totally different writing type displaying off his beautiful diction. See it right here and search for the good character constructing.

Ideas for implementing this

Your artistic staff have to be answerable for your advertising. Get your head author in control of the emails. Make your artist sketch present artwork. Consider your publication as an extension of your recreation the place you weave the story into the emails. Don’t simply copy and paste your press launch in your e-mail. Don’t simply ship a notice to your mates that claims “Purchase my recreation.” As an alternative, present them why they need to purchase your recreation.


This content-first-approach makes individuals belief your emails. Then, the subsequent time they see an e mail from you they know they are going to be getting some perception right into a recreation they’re already enthusiastic about. They’re pre-playing your recreation of their heads. This turned evident when Victoria acquired the next e mail from a fan.

The textual content:

“I’m signed up for the newsletters and I by no means received the Isaac one? And I want to as a result of I really like these character love letters so might I perhaps be resent one! Now if it didn’t come for anybody but, that’s high quality! I simply don’t need to miss them! Thanks a lot for every little thing and have a terrific day!!!!”

See the unique tweet about this e mail

This individual was ASKING to be marketed to. It appears unusual till you see how Kitfox wrote their emails. They wove the sport into the emails. Victoria was shocked – this was the primary time somebody has requested to be re-sent one of many firm’s newsletters. The response this fan had is strictly the objective of e-mail advertising.

Why does this work?

As a child, the longest time period of my adolescent life was the experience residence from the toy retailer with a model new recreation. The anticipation was intense. The one factor that would fill the void was studying the sport’s instruction guide. I used to be enjoying the sport in my thoughts as I learn the phrases and appeared on the footage from the sport. The identical factor is occurring to your viewers as they lengthy to play your recreation. They need each little bit of content material they will. Give them the kind of info that may permit them to dive into the world even when the sport shouldn’t be able to be performed.

Ideas for implementing this

  • Write fascinating content material that isn’t simply asking individuals to “BUY BUY BUY.”
  • Make sure that the topic line is obvious that they’re getting this superior content material.
  • Weave the story of the sport into the emails.
  • Get your artistic workforce that will help you create the e-mail content material in order that it’s an extension of the sport.

Cross Promotion

Since e mail is so excessive performing you must all the time attempt to transfer your social media followers to hitch your mailing listing. Through the marketing campaign, the Kitfox Twitter account marketed the boyfriend emails. It’s a good way to encourage people the advantages of becoming a member of that listing.

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The Last E mail

Inside the final 12 hours of the marketing campaign, Victoria despatched the ultimate e mail for Boyfriend Dungeon. The aim of this e-mail was to get the procrastinators to lastly determine to buy.

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Take a look at how Victoria factors out that “It’s your final probability to … get Kickstarter-exclusive merch earlier than it’s too late!.” This line is a transparent reminder of what you miss in case you don’t again. It elicits the “Worry of Lacking Out” response to get individuals to behave.


This e mail truly had a relatively low open price however a comparatively excessive click on by means of price. I think that solely individuals who had not but backed the sport have been those who opened this e mail.

However there might be two different causes that the e-mail didn’t carry out in addition to the others. The primary is that the e-mail topic line didn’t trace that there can be story-based content material so the parents who would usually open to learn a letter from the dateable weapons weren’t .

One other issue might have been the ALL-CAPS topic line of “ONLY 24 HOURS left.” Many e mail suppliers like Google will mechanically throw emails with ALL-CAPS topic strains and the phrase “FREE” into the SPAM folder of the recipient.

No matter the reason for the decrease open fee, don’t assume that simply because this e-mail had fewer opens than the opposite emails it shouldn’t have been despatched. It nonetheless despatched 363 potential consumers to their Kickstarter web page.

Ideas for implementing this

  • It is very important ship a “final probability” e mail, even when it doesn’t carry out in addition to the opposite emails.
  • Keep away from utilizing ALL-CAPS or the phrase “FREE” in your e-mail topic line.
  • Add a little bit of your recreation’s content material within the Final probability e mail simply to maintain individuals opening it.
  • Though Kitfox didn’t do that I might even advocate sending a last ultimate e-mail 2 hours earlier than the top of the Kickstarter and ship it solely to a subset of the record who didn’t open the earlier “final probability” e mail. As we noticed with the almost non-existent unsubscribe charges it actually doesn’t harm to ship one other letter and you may in all probability get a couple of extra backers.

So what number of clicks did this e mail marketing campaign usher in?

A well-run e-mail record is definitely fairly predictable. You’ll get a few 25%-40% open price and a 5%-15% click on by way of price. The Kitfox group did a superb job operating their e-mail listing and we will see they hit these numbers within the following chart. In the long run, the e-mail marketing campaign generated 1212 complete clicks to the Kickstarter web page.

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That’s good, however actually, how a lot cash did the mailing record usher in?

Nicely, once you dig into ultimate Kickstarter funding report (see the next picture), you will notice that massive purple wedge referred to as “Direct Visitors” is the only largest proportion of pledges (over $76,000 CA). And guess what, publication visitors rely in the direction of that phase.

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Nevertheless, so does any discussion board hyperlinks, SMS messages, or emails to family and friends. We additionally don’t understand how a lot every mailing record referer pledged. “Direct Visitors” is a big, unknowable scramble of pledges.

A “Direct Visitors” answer

Kickstarter has a repair to unravel the Direct Visitors pool thriller. Sadly, you need to set it up earlier than you begin sending the emails. This particular function known as “Customized Referral Tags.” Principally these are customized URLs that assist Kickstarter pinpoint the supply of the visitors. All you do is generate a customized tag URL, then in every e-mail blast you employ that URL as the decision to motion button.

Then, when a subscriber clicks that button then backs your Kickstarter, they’ll present up in a customized class within the last Kickstarter report as an alternative of within the mysterious Direct Visitors pool. You possibly can even set every e-mail to have a unique referral tag hyperlink so you’ll be able to understand how a lot cash every e-mail earned. This was such a missed alternative and I’m kicking myself for lacking it. Don’t let this occur to you if you run a marketing campaign.

Here’s a submit about how to try this.

Ideas you should use

Use distinctive referral hyperlinks for every channel of your advertising. You in all probability also needs to do it from fb too since there are lots of ways in which visitors can are available.

E mail is nearly as good as gold

A person’s e mail tackle is such a prized commodity that once they can’t throw cash at you, they may throw you their e-mail tackle.

Nicely earlier than the Kickstarter launched this man was excited to hitch the e-mail listing.

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This fan’s response actually exhibits you ways excited individuals are to get emails from you. They love you and need to hear from you! Don’t allow them to down.

In abstract

Boyfriend Dungeon is a type of video games that makes you query why you need to even attempt to make video games as a result of you’ll by no means provide you with an concept that good. Doubly so as a result of the group’s capability to implement the sport is simply nearly as good as the thought. Triply so as a result of they’re so good at constructing a group that rallies to again them. I’ll have coached them on some advertising techniques round e-mail, however their success actually was all of the exhausting work over a number of video games and round a genius idea.

These are the large classes you’ll be able to take from this Kickstarter:

  • Construct your e mail marketing campaign round no matter your recreation’s strongest asset is.
  • Weave the story of your recreation into your e-mail marketing campaign in order that your followers will take pleasure in opening them.
  • Don’t be afraid to e mail your listing a number of occasions throughout a launch or a Kickstarter marketing campaign. So long as you deal with them with respect, your followers truly love getting emails from you.
  • If utilizing Kickstarter, use Customized Referral Tags as a way to decide the place your contributions are coming from.


Within the months following the Kickstarter, the Kitfox staff has continued the custom of writing each publication from the viewpoint from one of many datable weapons. Their final one was written from the perspective (and voice) of the cat character Pockets.

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Perhaps it’s as a result of it’s a cat. Perhaps as a result of it’s hilarious. However the followers beloved it and this e mail earned click on charges approach above common for his or her listing. It additionally earned nice suggestions corresponding to this

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What ought to Kitfox do subsequent?

The kitfox group has waded into the world of superior e mail advertising and the water was heat. Their followers didn’t simply endure their extra frequent emails, they revelled in them and fell in love. Right here is how one can swim out deeper into this technique:

  • Get a greater lead magnet – As we noticed, the decision to motion of “get love letters” wasn’t compelling sufficient for many individuals to hitch their mailing record. Experiment with a couple of different extra tangible downloads and extra individuals will enroll.
  • Setup an autoresponder – For those who don’t know what that is, I wrote about them on this article, verify the part “Setup automated emails.” As Boyfriend Dungeon will get nearer to launch extra individuals will join their e-mail listing. Nevertheless these individuals didn’t know concerning the recreation through the Kickstarter and subsequently by no means skilled the candy phrases of Sunder, Isaac, and Valeria. To repair that, arrange an auto responder that may ship new subscribers the prevailing content material on a set schedule. The Kitfox group simply wants to vary out the decision to actions that pointed to the Kickstarter in favor call-to-actions reminiscent of “Be a part of our Discord” or “Wishlist our Recreation.’
  • E-mail extra! – The staff has been very according to their once-a-month schedule. Nevertheless, within the final couple of months earlier than the sport formally launches, I might advocate emailing each different week. And whereas the sport is on it’s preliminary launch sale, once-a-week. So long as the emails are top quality, the followers will love them.

For those who thought this Kitfox story was compelling and you’re questioning how one can get began with e-mail advertising, I wrote a mini eBook on all of the kinds of emails that you must ship. You will get a free copy right here if you join my e mail record.