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How Kolibri Developed a Loyal Audience and Eight Figure Revenues to Soar to Success

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Kolibri’s Nate Barker and team share their story of success with applicable tips to help shape your business and user acquisition (UA) strategies. Read on to see how they grew from a few individuals working out of an apartment to become a 90+ person team, with eight figure revenues and 50+ million downloads in under three years.

“Success is achieved by total focus. This does not mean working twenty-four hours a day, forsaking friends, family, food, and sleep to achieve an objective. However, it does mean spending all of one’s energy on the most important tasks. These must be achievable tasks, just within one’s reach.”

When the founders started Kolibri, they initially tried to tackle an overly complex game − well outside of the reach of any small team. They soon decided to pivot to a smaller, more manageable game that perfectly delivered a few minutes of joy. Rather than take on an ever-expanding laundry-list of features, the team endeavored to launch only features that would have an immediately, measurable impact. This game − Idle Miner Tycoon was a resounding success.

Here are some key strategies that worked for us on our pathway to success.

Experiment, But Then Stick with What Works

When we started building our games, the “idle” genre was still untested. Most iterations of this game-type were simple clicker titles or business simulators. Those games were certainly fun (and we depend on the innovations they made), but they failed to capture the true value of players. As such, “idle” games seemed high risk with low reward and often amounted to quick projects that wouldn’t retain audiences.

There was no time to waste! But, experimentation was not wasted time. It took us about a year to truly understand that the games attracted passionate, loyal players that were hungering for long term content. Once we discovered that, we were able to build better games that offer on-going value for our fans. There are hundreds of millions of players out there, so give yourself some freedom to experiment until you get it right.

Get Players Hooked

Don’t get too far ahead of yourself! While you are busy architecting some grand metagame, players might be lost in your labyrinthine tutorial. Every second counts in mobile, so when starting a new project, just move through every step, ensuring that the experience is perfect. Our main focus with a new title is ensuring day 1 retention is 70% or higher. Once players are hooked, all other things are possible.

We are constantly surprised by how quickly our partners are longing to develop and improve their products.

Level-Up User Acquisition With Cost-Benefit Analysis

Every initiative involves costs. We try to be cost-effective about every UA decision, and we would advise any company to do the same. To remain lean and agile while ensuring that we are smart about how we spend our UA budget requires an ongoing balance. To achieve a sound UA strategy, there is no need to try to cover every channel. The most important ones are those that will attract your specific audience - whether other companies choose to use those or not. Balancing risk-reward is how idle games became successful!

We also prioritize our time accordingly. We spend the time and effort to automate our marketing. We calculate LTVs on a rolling, constant basis. From this we can increase/decrease CPI bids automatically, thus always ensuring we are scaling campaigns in an ROI positive route. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of marketing. CrossInstall does this for creative optimization, which has been extremely helpful in scaling our campaigns in the long term.

Embrace User Acquisition Agility

UA has been a very clear reflection of how agile this industry can be. We can’t be thankful enough for our UA partners’ seriousness on the idea of innovation.

It is hard to understate the value of playable ads in our industry. What was once a marketing gimmick is now a foundation of our advertising strategy. We’ve also begun testing out Google’s Instant App feature to give our potential players the opportunity to test out our titles before the commit to a download. We think this paradigm shift puts even more power in the hand of players, and ensures that we are honest and direct about the quality of experience. Also, they work well on both sides of the funnel for us - from attracting new players, to monetizing our existing players. The proof is in the pudding.

Consider Meaningful Measurements

To that point, LTV is the foundation for all other meaningful measurements. It is important to understand both the revenue from in-app-purchases, as well as the revenue from showing ads to users. Being able to attribute this revenue properly has been a challenge that has become our focus as of late. Once you know precisely what value a player brings to the game, it is easier to make adjustments based on company needs such as scale or margin (ROI) to campaigns. It is key to focus on initiatives that provide immediate measurable impacts.

Last But Certainly Not Least, Prioritize Your People

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Whether it be fans or employees, treating humans with respect and consideration is paramount. Growing our company to a stable 90+ people is absolutely our greatest triumph. It may sound cliche, but Kolibris are our greatest asset. The investment we make in every new member of our family pays off dividends. The industry is fraught with turmoil, so we’re happy to provide a stable launching pad for employees to work hard, develop their skills, and build great games.  

We’re also constantly impressed by the exuberance of our fans. No, really! We didn’t even want to add in app purchases until we started receiving emails from fans asking for ways to spend money in our game. Our fans constantly send us fan-art (even sculptures), videos, and their best ideas for how to improve the game. Their respect and admiration ensures we don’t lose focus. Instead, we ensure we are constantly guided by their needs and wishes.


Shhhhh…..Did You Know?

Kolibri chose their original company name, Fluffy Fairy Games, using a random name generator. While many individuals at Kolibri (and our team here at CrossInstall) developed quite a fondness for their original name, we think their new name is just as memorable and compelling. The word “kolibri” means hummingbird in German. It truly showcases the nimble-nature that helped them become a powerhouse in the local and worldwide game scene.

Thanks Kolibri for allowing us to be a part of and share your story! The company’s goal is to continue the Idle momentum by releasing 5 games in 5 years, and we are certain they will achieve that and far more. The only idle aspect about this team, is their games.


You can find them on the App Store and Google Play.