The global eSports market revenue is projected to reach $1,790 million by 2022. Its compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2017-22 is expected to be 22.3% and most of this revenue is generated by sponsorships. With numbers like these, eSports marketing has become a priority for non-endemic brands.
eSports refers to competitive gaming or video gaming. And it has a huge fan base among millennials. According to a joint study by Twitch and Neilsen, in the US, eSports fans are extremely loyal (following eSports for at least four years).
Brands like Red Bull and Intel were the only players in this domain until recently. But now, even non-endemic brands like Mercedes and Coca-Cola have jumped on the eSports marketing bandwagon. The interactivity element and low competition are the fundamental interest drivers. Twitch is one of the major streaming platforms for eSports, and currently, it has a low volume of ads. Sponsored ads have a high success rate on Twitch since streaming fans are more immersed in the content that they watch. The live chat and contest features further up the interactivity quotient.
9 of the Best eSports Marketing Strategies:
1. Find the Right eSports Audience
You need to understand the eSports community so that you can design an on-target marketing plan. To assume that all eSports fans fall into the same category is absurd. Just like traditional sports, eSports can be classified into many different genres. Audiences can be categorised by the type of games they like.
Some of these are:
- Player vs. Player (PvP)
- First-Person Shooter (FPS)
- Real-Time Strategy (RTS)
- Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)
- Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG)
If you know who you want to target, you can create content that will appeal to them. You will also be able to reach out to eSports teams that are liked by your target audience. If your goals match with those of the team you sponsor, it can result in a long and mutually-satisfying collaboration for both stakeholders.
2. Identify the Right Channels
Once you know your customers, you have to find out where they are spending most of their gaming time. Then, you will need to scout for the eSports teams that are most popular and offer great sponsorship opportunities.
More often than not, gamers prefer to spend time on video game streaming platforms. The most popular platforms are:
- YouTube Gaming
- Bigo Live
- Gosu Gamers
You can compare the subscription plans and user counts of these platforms. Target the platforms where your target customers are active and where your competitors aren’t. You also need to check out reviews of shortlisted platforms.
3. Partner with eSports Influencers
Influencers can help you improve the reach and penetration of your eSports events and campaigns. But you need to find influencers that have the same audience as yours and are active on your chosen platforms.
There are many influencer marketing tools that can help you narrow down your search by identifying influencers with the right specs. Let’s take a look at an example of how an eSports influencer can boost your sales:
Shroud is one of the top streamers on Twitch and YouTube. He partnered with the clothing brand, JINX, to promote their bomber jackets. The jackets had Shroud’s insignia and were promoted on the brand’s website as well as Shroud’s Twitch account.
Influencers can help boost your content’s visibility. You can feature your partner influencers in ads and live chat sessions.
4. Launch an eSports Team
Teams are groups of gamers who are passionate about the same game and stream their gameplay consistently. A Twitch team can have any number of members.
Here’s what a team on Twitch looks like:
Contrary to popular belief, starting an eSports team is well within the reach of small brands. There are many great eSports teams that haven’t got their due in terms of sponsorship. They will gladly work for you if terms and conditions are agreeable.
If you’re wondering what this means for your brand, let us explain. Whenever these teams stream content, you will get premium advertising spots in their stream. Similarly, when they engage with fans, you get first digs at it. You can literally call the shots and steer campaigns in your direction.
You need a Partner status on Twitch to create a team. Or, you can partner with someone who has this status. To get members to join your team, you can search for streamers in Twitch Facebook groups. Advertising on your social accounts and websites can also help spread the word.
5. Host Team Events
It’s advisable that you start from a small scale if you’re a newbie in the eSports niche. You can visit nearby pubs and gaming arcades to look for businesses that may be interested in co-sponsoring events.
Here are some types of events you can host on Twitch through your team:
- Mini tournaments: You can split your team and pitch them against each other. Promote the event on your social media channels and encourage your team members to do so too. You can host a giveaway to get more people to view the tournament.
- Multistreaming events: If your streamers collaborate and interact with one another regularly, your team will garner more viewership.
- Podcasts/webinars: Have a weekly or bi-weekly show where you invite your team members to share trade secrets and sporting advice with viewers.
- Team meetings: Make your team page a bubbling, active space by hosting regular team meets where you brainstorm ideas to improve your broadcast. You can create a Discord server to network better with your team. Team members can post questions and exchange notes using the dedicated server.
6. Use an Agency for Team Building
If you’re hard-pressed for time and need a helping hand to build your eSports team, you can engage an eSports influencer agency that will connect you with the most relevant and reputable eSports team on your chosen platform.
Agencies assist you in influencer discovery and campaign management. The only drawback is that they can be more costly than creating a team from scratch.
7. Co-Sponsor an Event
If you want to grab eyeballs by piggybacking on the popularity of a high-profile streamer on Twitch, you can think about co-sponsoring one of their events. The advantage is that you get a ready-made fan base that is deeply invested in the content you’ll sponsor. Another pro is that you build credibility on the platform which can earn you more viewers, sponsors, and streamers.
GameStop, which is a big-name sporting equipment retailer, teamed up with OpTic Gaming, an eSports powerhouse, and two other brands for hosting events in 2019. All the events targeted Texan gaming communities which are GameStop’s target demographic.
They held gaming classes and clinics in GameStop’s local stores. In-store sales and brand image improved tremendously for GameStop.
8. Focus on Content Marketing
Content marketing can help establish your brand in the gaming industry. Blogging about valuable gaming information is sure to earn you a loyal fan following among eSports aficionados. You can get your partner influencers to create exclusive content for you and promote it via their channels.
Meanwhile, you can promote your content through your website, social accounts, and in-stream ads. Make sure to add a compelling CTA at the end of your blog post to drive readers to take the desired action. If your content is well-researched and fresh, there’s a fair chance of it going viral in gaming communities.
9. Evaluate and Revise Your Strategy
The whole exercise of eSports marketing is futile if it doesn’t give the desired results. So, it makes sense to evaluate your campaigns periodically. You need to have realistic expectations, especially if you’re associated with smaller influencers and streamers.
If you’re expecting a high ROI, you can invest in video ads that are played pre, mid, and post-roll. The Twitch Affiliate Program and Twitch Partner Programs may cost a bundle but give assured returns. In any case, you will have to monitor your campaigns and realign your strategy where needed.
eSports marketing is an out-of-the-box marketing technique that has great potential for brands from all industries and of different sizes. If you’re serious about this type of marketing, you need to adopt the strategic approach that we’ve outlined in this post. Armed with this information, you can get started with eSports marketing now.