Let’s face it. Everyone posts on other roleplaying games when trying to advertise their RPG. Everyone tries to affiliate with other sites. Everyone does the same old, same old — you might want to try some new tactics with your roleplaying game! Even so, don’t forget your basic advertising techniques, either. Make sure you have a diverse advertisement strategy — relying too much on Facebook or Twitter or other forum posts is a bad thing.
RPG Member Recruitment
There are forums dedicated to roleplayers posting RPG request advertisements. RPG-D has several such forums.
While it is a more intense effort to do individual recruitments, your chances of recruiting someone who actually joins (Internet marketers would call this a “conversion”) are much higher than random advertisements. Random advertisements on forums have a low rate of “conversion” — e.g., many people may see your advertisement, but the number of people who click on that advertisement is low, and the number of people who go to your board is even lower, and the number of joiners is astronomically low.
On the contrary, recruitments, once you get into the process, generally do result in a person joining your game. You are faced with the problem of getting someone interested in the first place, of course — but this is a great tactic to take if you have a really personal, closely-knit game. You get to vet potential joiners as they examine your game.
RPGs on Social Media
Posts on social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and deviantART especially) are important. The aforementioned communities have huge roleplaying communities (or, at least in the case of Facebook, are simply huge services that pretty much everyone uses). You’re doing yourself a favor by posting on these places.
If you aren’t on social media yet, get there. This is a great way to attract new members. Post about what’s going on with your game — news, new characters, IC events, etc. You can also post RPG resources to these accounts — this is an excellent way to attract attention from outside of your game’s playerbase.
You can make use of apps like Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance, too. You don’t always have to camp some silly social media dashboard — though it does help if there’s a human checking in occasionally. A lot of the value in social media is derived from quickly responding to people who may ask you questions or respond to your posts. If you can’t do that or you don’t want to, that’s okay, too. There’s still some value in just having a social media account or two for newsposts and one-way communication. It all depends on your game, your personal administrative resources, and what you want to do.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for RPGs
Many people simply do a Google search when trying to find anything. When people are trying to find their next roleplaying game — that’s no different! New players often use Google, Bing, and other search engines to discover new games. It’s not all about the footer links and ad forum posts, after all. Learn a little basic SEO and make sure your site is as optimized as it can be.
You can create landing pages on your RPG’s website to catch certain keywords. For example, if you’re a medieval RPG, you might try to create a page that’s attractive to players who want to roleplay as valiant knights. Another page could cater toward players who want to roleplay as princesses.
Other SEO techniques involve ensuring your website is well-formed (e.g., not broken, quick to load, etc.) which is always a good thing — that not only helps you attract new players, it also benefits your existing players.
Paid Advertisement for RPGs
Got a little money to burn? Adsense is a great way to get started. Facebook is another often successful platform. Either way — it’s not incredibly expensive to advertise an RPG game to highly targeted keywords. Yeah, you’re going to pay big if you want to get in on the “rpg” keyword — but maybe “medieval text RPG” isn’t so expensive. If you do have the budget for paid advertisement, whether out of your own pocket or the kindness of your members, you may wish to consider some paid advertisement. There’s nothing quite like being right at the top, after all!
Still Other RPG Advertisement Methods
- Organize a contest to have your members advertise for you. Make sure you stipulate clear rules and have thorough explanations of what spam is. Harshly punish those who would spam. They are not doing your game any favors.
- Join an RPG topsites list — or several RPG topsites list. Combine with a member incentive to get your membership to vote, and you might be sitting pretty at the top of a large RPG topsite in just a few months.
Strategy for Advertising Roleplaying Games
Discover What “Converts” for Your RPG
So… you’ve tried literally everything, and the members still aren’t coming. What’s the problem? You may need to think about your broader advertisement strategy. To do so, you need data. Data is a must-have for creating an advertisement strategy. The core of what you need to know: what advertisement method is bringing in members?
In advertisement and marketing worlds, this is called “converting.” As an RPG administrator, your goal is to get more members to join. When someone clicks on an advertisement, sees you on Google, finds you through an Affiliate ring and then joins your site — they are converting. You just learned some marketing lingo! Hooray!
Anyway — the point is, when you are forming a strategy for advertising your RPG, you need to learn what is converting — in other words, what is actually working to bring in members. If you are already getting a lot of traffic from Google, for example, you might want to focus on posting more to social media. If you post more to social media and get a ton of new members, you know that social media is a successful place of conversion for your new members. If you post a lot to other RPGs in their ad forums, but you never get a single member from them — well, maybe you can stop wasting time on that advertisement channel (another marketing jargon term for you!).
Getting Data for Your RPG
Things like Google Analytics and similar analytics tracking programs can help you get more data about your RPG. Yes, yes, we all hate data tracking programs. They can do some creepy things. But they are useful for people who own websites — including roleplaying games. People don’t just stumble on your roleplaying game randomly anymore. We haven’t had a Yahoo! Directory for four years as of this writing, and it wasn’t been useful for site discovery for nearly fifteen. The internet is a lot bigger — and much like the real world, advertising and marketing strategies help put the right content in front of the right people. When used correctly, they aren’t inherently dangerous or creepy.
You can also use URL parameters to help you discover your channels. While there are tons and tons of helpful apps and programs to help you with URL parameters for analytics and tracking on your roleplaying game — they can be as simple as http://your-forum.com/?utm_channel=twitter or http://your-forum.com/?utm_channel=ad_forum_post. Basically, these URL parameters can be used in an Analytics program like Google Analytics to separate out your traffic. Given that a lot of RPG advertisement occurs on forum cross-posting, URL parameters may be especially helpful to forum administrators.