3 Lessons that SMEs Can Learn from the Online Gaming Industry

If there is a true growth market to observe in the modern age, it is the online gaming sector. This market was valued at approximately $35.5 billion in 2013, for example, and this figure is expected to reach $45.8 billion by the end of this year. By 2018, the number will have risen to $56.05 billion (representing a 62% increase in just five, short years).

Such growth is to be admired, and something that most small businesses can only aspire to in the current climate. Interestingly, however, there are a number of universal lessons that SMEs across a host of sectors can draw from the growth of online gaming (and the way in which technology and innovative thinking is leveraged to drive profitability).

3 Key Lessons That SMEs Can Learn From Online Gaming

With this in mind, here are three key, strategic lessons that small business can heed from the rise of online gaming and its market leading brands: -

  1. Create the Illusion of Free for Your Customers
Just as online gaming hubs thrive without the limitations of space, so too players benefit from an absence of rigid pricing. This is because many games are distributed for free, with in-built and tiered purchase options designed to monetise the title over a sustained period of time. An iteration of the freemium business model, this creates the illusion of free entertainment for players and affords them choice in relation to how and when they spend their money.

Of course, many of these in-game purchase intuitively present players with a choice between money and time, as they can either complete freely accessible, time-consuming tasks to progress or simply buy an item that enables them to accomplish their goals quickly. Such an approach subsequently drives higher levels of consumer spending, without compromising on the buyers' experience overall.

Some businesses have already integrated variations of the freemium model, including Amazon with its innovative Prime Membership. It is certainly a viable option for small businesses in the modern age, particularly those who are looking to compete with larger brands. The key is to identify which products or services within your business should be distributed for free, while the optional charges that you include must offer some form of direct value or benefit to the customers.

  1. Use Analytics and the Principles of CRM to Improve Your ROI
If your business is to successfully leverage the freemium business model, it is crucial that you have a clear understanding of your customer behaviour and profiles. This is something that online game developers analyse in-depth, as they access real-time, community game feeds to truly understand the key motivators and spending triggers for players.

This is a pivotal lesson for small businesses to learn, particularly in an age when analytical CRM software is so readily accessible. Such technology can store huge swathes of accurate customer data, from basic geography and demographics to information surrounding values, search preferences and even click-through rates for specific types of content. Such intricate data sets have huge value, particularly as SMEs look to create content and CTAs (calls-to-action) for audience segments.

By successfully integrating this technology into your business, and empowering your customer service team as reactive marketers, you can build detailed consumer profiles that inform every pricing decision that you make.

  1. The Continued Importance of Mobile
Over the course of the last 18 months in particular, mobile has become an increasingly dominant driver of online gaming revenues. Interestingly, tablet usage is growing at a faster rate than smartphones in this space, with the annual total generated through this platform set to double to seven billion Euros by the end of 2017 (it was 3.5 billion Euros just three years ago).

This reflects a dominant consumer trend and behavioural trait, which is likely to gather further momentum as all mobile devices becoming increasingly sophisticated and diverse in terms of their applications.

For a small business owner, this means that mobile technology must become an even more seminal component of your growth plans during the next decade. An obvious area to focus on is website design, as responsive and quick-loading landing pages will help to optimise conversions through mobile channels. Beyond this, your SME may also benefit from creating a branded mobile app, which can provide customers with instant access to core products and services.

This is more cost-effective than in previous generations, as the cost of mobile technology and components has fallen dramatically as demand has risen.

Overall, these lessons can dramatically enhance your business, while enabling you to leverage data, flexibility and mobile technology to optimise their impact.

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