There are many ways to structure a marketing team if you’re a mobile gaming company. The way you go about a marketing team will depend on the size of your company, your needs, your business structure and growth plan, to name just a few. However, there are some basic roles that a marketing team in mobile gaming should strive to have as the company grows. I will be listing these roles and their responsibilities in this article so keep on reading to learn more about them.
Please, note that the article is about roles, that is to say, positions in a team, not the people who occupy them. There can be more than one person with the same role/position in a marketing team, but the role remains the same, no matter how many people are in it.
Organic vs Paid Marketing
Before we get into the roles and responsibilities of a marketing team, I wanted to draw your attention to this distinction. It is very important to keep in mind that there is no free marketing per se. Doing marketing for free means that you don’t invest anything into your marketing activities. However, while you may not be paying to get your users through ads, you’re still paying the person who’s doing your marketing so the money invested is the one that goes for someone’s paycheck.
On the other hand, there are different types of investment, financial being only one of them. Therefore, even if you’re not paying any money for your marketing activities, the person doing the tasks is still investing his or her time into it, thus not making it free.
I hope this whole “no free marketing explanation” makes sense. Now, the distinction you do want to make is that between the organic and paid marketing. Organic marketing means that you’re not paying people to market your app or game (I don’t mean your employees here) and you’re not investing in ads to get your product to its end users. Hence, organic marketing means that users are coming to your game through a search they do, word of the mouth, a suggestion, etc.
Paid marketing, on the other hand, is kind of self-explanatory and it usually refers to paying for ads (for example, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or many others) to get your app or game to the end user.
Now that we have clarified the difference between organic and paid marketing, we can get into the roles and responsibilities of a marketing team when it comes to mobile gaming.
Marketing Team Roles and Responsibilities
App Store OptimiZation (ASO) Specialist
If you’re just starting out in the world of mobile apps and games, this is probably the first role you should hire for your marketing team. An ASO specialist is usually in charge of the organic activities in your marketing team. Different companies assign various roles to an ASO specialist, but here are the ones most commonly used:
- Create and execute on the organic strategy – develop, manage and track ASO strategies for Google Play, Apple App Store, App Gallery, etc.
- Set up and track ASO KPIs – defining the organic marketing KPIs on a quarterly basis and making sure the goals have been met
- Run A/B tests on the store consoles – defining tests for store page elements to find the best set for organic growth
- Store page optimization – doing the keyword research and writing a product description to ensure the best possible ranking of the app or game, as well as monitoring and improving the app or game ranking
- Use a number of ASO tools to set up, monitor and report on progress
- Work closely with the paid marketing team to sync progress and KPIs towards the overall marketing goal
While the list above states the basic responsibilities, different companies may expect more or less from an ASO specialist. For example, some companies may have a copywriter role which is in charge of writing a project description so an ASO specialist would not have to do that. On the other hand, if a company is small or just starting out, an ASO specialist may be in charge of social media activities as well.
As a company grows, it may require a larger ASO team. In that case, I’d highly recommend to have an ASO lead in addition to ASO specialists. This position keeps all the standard tasks of an ASO specialist with an added responsibility of keeping track of all ASO activities across the company’s portfolio.
Paid User Acquisition (UA) Specialist
In order to achieve the next stage growth, your company will need to start with paid marketing activities at some point. Once you’re ready to invest money into your user acquisition, you should start thinking about hiring a Paid UA Specialist. This role is in charge of your paid marketing activities, which in most companies means running paid ad campaigns to reach new users or re-engage the existing ones. Here are some of the most common responsibilities of a Paid UA Specialist:
- Create and execute on the paid marketing strategy – develop, manage and track paid UA strategies to reach optimal scale and growth
- Set up and track paid marketing KPIs – defining the paid UA KPIs on a quarterly basis and making sure the goals have been met
- Plan and run paid ad campaigns on various platforms, such as Google, Facebook, ironSource, TapJoy, AppLovin, etc.
- Use various measurement and analytics tools to track campaign performance and adjust accordingly
- Analyze paid ad campaigns’ performance and reporting on it
- Devise strategies to improve paid UA activities to achieve growth
Depending on the growth you want to achieve and your marketing budget, you may need to have more than one person in this role. For example, if you have a large portfolio or a game with millions of users, you may need to hire UA specialists per ad platform as each platform has its own way of running ads and reporting on them. On the other hand, you may want to hire a Paid UA Specialist per game and have this person run all platforms. It really all depends on your project structure and growth plans.
Finally, just like with ASO, in case your paid UA team grows, you may want to get a UA lead. This role can be filled by your best paid UA specialist or by a more experienced person you’ll bring on board. The important thing is to have someone to monitor all paid UA activities and report to the marketing leadership role.
Once you get into paid marketing, you’ll need to hire a data analyst. You may have the need for this role even before you start your paid marketing activities, but once you do get your paid ads running, you’ll definitely need someone who can track your data and offer suggestions based on what the data is saying. Some of the more common responsibilities of a Data Analyst include:
- Collect and analyze data coming from both organic and paid marketing
- Create data reports summarizing the results and suggesting further action points based on the current numbers
- Work closely with the paid and organic marketing teams when it comes to setting up KPIs and planning growth and scale strategies
- Full ownership of the game/app analysis cycle: define, set up, monitor and analyze game events, analyze complex sets of data indicating user behavior in the app or game, identify and communicate novel trends and potential app/game improvements
Please, keep in mind that the last responsibility listed here has more to do with the development team than marketing, but as it is such an integral part of what a Data Analyst does, I thought it would be useful to have it on the common responsibilities list. It also goes without saying that should you have the need to create a whole data team, you will need to appoint a Data Lead as well.
Initially, you may not need a graphic designer for the marketing team only. When starting out, you can have the graphic designer from the dev team do some design tasks required in the marketing team. Nevertheless, as your team and activities grow, you will need to hire a designer just for the marketing team. Listed below are some of the responsibilities of a graphic designer belonging to the marketing team.
- Design image and video material for social media and digital marketing activities
- Design image and video material for paid ad campaigns
- Create graphic assets for A/B console tests
- Search the Internet and marketing tools available for inspiration when creating new graphic assets
- Work closely with the ASO and paid UA teams on understanding test and/or campaign results in order to improve graphic assets used in those aspects
- Develop a basic knowledge of measurement and analytics tools in order to be able to read data pointing to the graphic assets
The last responsibility is very important. Even though graphic designers aren’t require to understand data or analyze anything, I believe it is quite useful for this role to know how to read data regarding the graphic assets. This means that a graphic designer could access some tools to see what the data is saying about their work. It is one thing when someone tells a designer “This image was good. Can you iterate?” and a completely different thing when a designer looks at the data and understands why the image was good and how to iterate. However, like I said, it’s not necessary but can come in handy.
The role of a graphic designer usually requires a creative person who can think outside the box. Therefore, this role can be beneficial to the marketing team in more than one way. If you learn how to cherish and inspire this creativity at work, you’ll have a great asset in your team.
Social Media and Email Marketing Specialist
This role may not be a typical role for the marketing team in mobile gaming, but I wanted to add it here just to be aware of it. I haven’t run into many mobile gaming companies having this role as a part of their team, but it doesn’t mean the role doesn’t exist.
Depending on the team size, portfolio and/or the app/game, the role of Social Media and Email Marketing Specialist can be turned into two roles. On the other hand, the responsibilities of this role can be given to someone else in the marketing team, i.e. ASO Specialist or even UA specialist, if the tasks require a small percentage of their time. Here are some of the responsibilities of a Social Media and Email Marketing Specialist:
- Create and execute on the social media strategy – develop, manage, and track social media and email marketing activities for optimal reach and engagement
- Define social media and email marketing KPIs on a quarterly basis
- Create and publish posts on social media
- Create email marketing funnels
- Monitor and analyze the marketing activities performance
- Suggest improvements based on data at hand
As you can see, having someone responsible for the activities listed above requires a larger project at hand. Many apps and games don’t have communities so it may not make sense to hire someone even part time to complete social media tasks. Finally, email marketing tends to be a trend for SaaS or other software oriented companies, but not so present in the gaming industry. Nonetheless, this trend may change in which case, you know what role to go for.
Marketing Manager/Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)/ Head of Marketing
Last but not least, you’ll need someone to run your marketing team. The reason I listed three names for this role is because it will depend on the size of your team. Typically, the initial role is that of a Marketing Manager. As the team grows and the responsibilities grow, the role turns more into the Head of Marketing or CMO. Here are some of the responsibilities of this role:
- Plan and execute on the marketing strategy of the portfolio – define, manage and track marketing KPIs for each and every project and each and every subdivision of the marketing team
- Track project progress, making sure everything runs on time and within the budget
- Communicate with the CEO, CTO and CFO to sync progress
- Build relationships with external partners
- Oversee internal communication channels and create suggestions for improvement
- Work with the HR team on employer branding strategies
- Devise a professional growth plan for the marketing team – together with the team member, plan conferences, workshops, and other learning opportunities for professional growth
The role of a manager requires someone who is goal-oriented with good organization and communication skills. In addition to that, it requires the person to be good with time and people management in order for everything to runs as smoothly as possible. You can read more on what the role of a project manager requires here – it’s closely related to the role of a marketing manager.
When hiring or appointing a marketing manager to a team, it is very important to find someone who can balance the business and people aspect of the role. In my opinion, being able to balance the business goals with people growth is one of the most important responsibilities of a marketing manager/ CMO, which makes this role quite challenging. Yet, having met some wonderful marketing managers, I can say that achieving this balance is very doable.
To bring this article to an end, building a marketing team is exciting and challenging at the same time. Initially, you don’t really have to invest much into your marketing activities as some of them can be quite simple. Nonetheless, if you plan to scale and grow, you will need the help of a marketing team.
If you cannot afford to grow an in-house marketing team, there are many agencies out there that can jump in to help with the marketing activities. I tend to think that having an in-house marketing team is always a better option but I do understand that it requires a lot of time and effort that may not fit into your business plans. Be that as it may, if you ever decide to build a marketing team, I do hope that this article comes in handy for you.
Truth to be told, I wrote this article not only for the business decision makers, but also for those leading a marketing team or being a part of one. My goal was to shed some light on the roles and responsibilities within a marketing team in order to inspire you to keep growing and changing as a member of the gaming industry just like the industry itself’s been doing thus far. I hope I have managed to achieve this goal along the way.
As always, I am excited to read your thoughts and impressions so feel free to comment below or contact me directly.
Until the next article, keep learning and growing.
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