• Natalie Markovits

How to bring the voice of your players to the core of the organization

Hello and welcome to Affogata’s podcast: Let’s talk customer feedback. We had the pleasure of hosting Galina Fedulova, Marketing Manager at Wooga.





Galina works as a marketing manager at Wooga, the Berlin-based game studio of Playtika. At Wooga, Galina works for the game studio’s biggest title, June’s Journey, focusing on product marketing and player research. Joining Wooga more than 5 years ago, Galina has always been passionate about understanding the player community's voice and motivations as well as how player sentiment impacts product marketing strategy. Among her primary responsibilities is collecting and analyzing player sentiment by applying various user research methodologies and working closely with sentiment analysis platforms like Affogata. It’s very important for Galina not only to know how to track player sentiment but also to communicate it in a comprehensive way to various stakeholders, from product managers to designers, so they can apply these insights in their strategies and projects.


The video game industry expects another boom year in both excitement and sales, but with such big competition, it seems like gaming studios need to adapt quickly to the fast-changing industry and players’ needs.


Audio




Transcript


Host:


How does player feedback influence your day-to-day as the marketing manager at Wooga?


Galina Fedulova, Marketing Manager at Wooga:


The answer to this question may vary, as the nature of a marketing manager role is that it includes a great range of projects and responsibilities. For example, if we focus on developing a creative production strategy for paid user acquisition, then player sentiment would be an important research source to shape our creative direction: for example how to define a consistent tone of voice, messaging, or what selling points we would like to emphasize in our creatives.


For a product marketing manager working with player feedback, particularly to the right game, player feedback itself is a key point in developing successful strategic solutions, because it provides core insights about your audience. You will know who they are, what are the differences and similarities between them, what drives them to continue playing the game, and their pain points and expectations.


Of course, our game teams apply a lot of various data analyses, for example, a/b testing, and with player feedback, we either confirm their findings or give potential answers on what drives certain player behavior in the game, which is not always easy to define with the quantitative research only. In other words, it's like trying to find the answers to the "why" questions behind certain numbers. And in other words, understanding player feedback helps to create a balance between game profitability and customer satisfaction, which as a result positively influences user retention through customer loyalty and product sustainability.


And specifically for me, it is also very important to work with player feedback because it influences everything that I do. No matter if we develop a marketing strategy, a new project, or a new feature for the game, we always consider and keep our players in mind. At Wooga, well always thrive and plan accordingly in order to deliver high-quality content to our players that fit their needs and expectations and deliver value to them. And we are working really hard to work on two-way communication with our huge audience, where we consistently show our players that we care about them.


Host:


I really like the part where you mentioned that player feedback influences your day-to-day operations all the way because that really shows how passionate Wooga is to really listen to their players and their feedback, so I really like that about your answer. So, for the next questions, how important and intertwined in your opinion is the level of player engagement and the level of customer churn?


Galina Fedulova, Marketing Manager at Wooga:


Sure and I just want to mention that passion is our everything and gives a lot about the projects that we work on. But speaking about the level of player engagement and customer churn, it’s definitely very important, because it is a common truth that players who stay longer in the game most likely become loyal to it. The reason behind developing strong retention is pretty straightforward: the longer a player is retained, the more time they invest in that game, and the more opportunities we can create for monetization.


We also don’t want to underestimate the fact that players who stay longer in the game are less likely to churn as they develop an emotional connection with it. June’s Journey, in particular, can be a good example: we notice a correlation between player spending and their age of account: the longer this player stays engaged with June’s Journey, the higher chance they show high LTV. Thus, June’s Journey strategy is focused on continuously delivering new exciting content to players: whether it’s the new features, LiveOps events, introducing new chapters or collaborating with marketing for integrated activities.


Also, we constantly check our sentiment reports, specifically in Affogata, and we noticed that the most popular topic discussed in our community is to talk about new features, specifically when we introduce a big new exciting feature, for example, Memoirs, a collection-based feature. And we noticed that it stays popular from when it was released, until now, and it is one of the most popular topics in our community.


Host:


I actually was looking at June's Journey and the feature Memories and I think it is amazing because it reminds me of when I was a.child. I was a fan of soccer and I used to collect also photos of the players so it really makes sense that people want to keep on and create their albums. So, what are the best tactics to reduce player churn in your opinion?


Galina Fedulova, Marketing Manager at Wooga:


There are a few important tactics both on the product and marketing sides. First of all, understanding who your audience is extremely important: their motivations and values, demographics, favorite games, and game genres. Just understand different criteria about your audience. What I find helpful as well, is actually looking at your close competitors and their audiences, even if you just check their official community pages. It helps you understand what their communities appreciate or if you for example see some frustrations, it is very good for you, specifically, if you want to prevent negative sentiment in the future.


You also can (and I genuinely believe you should) make a churn analysis of your game: understand, where specifically you see players churning and figure out what can cause it. There can be different reasons depending on a user's progress in the game. For example, you can see that players may churn right after installing the game, you can check the UA and ASO strategies, and perhaps the conversion funnel can be improved.


You can take a look at the game FTUE (first-time user experience) and see if there are any pain points for players and address them accordingly. And, of course, if players stay longer in the game, it is very important to keep players satisfied and engaged and that is why working with player feedback becomes extremely important because you can first adjust your product and marketing strategies for these users, but also show them that you are listening to them.


I believe that losing loyal customers and their trust can be a very big lost opportunity for the game in particular because bringing players to this level when they become loyal or even game ambassadors it's a huge work and also creates a huge benefit for you. And that is why this is always taken into consideration at Wooga, and make sure that we keep our players engaged and satisfied through the entire game lifecycle.


Host:


Right, at the end of the day, retaining customers is way cheaper than acquiring new ones, so it is very important to listen to their feedback, retain them, and be able to provide them with different engagement features so they can stay for the long-run. How much of the player feedback from external and internal sources do you implement in creating new marketing strategies?


Galina Fedulova, Marketing Manager at Wooga:


To put it simply, a lot, as collecting and working with player sentiment is one of the company's strategic priorities. First of all, I extremely appreciate that we have very talented people in the community management and customer support teams, who work with the player sentiment on a daily basis. And their primary goal is to grow positive sentiment among our big diversified communities as well as mitigate and if possible prevent negative sentiment and that is why we grow very strong collaborations between marketing, customer support, and product teams so we can openly communicate our suggestions and also mention the possible risks of a certain feature release or update that the product team can take into consideration.


But talking about the external and internal sources, you can apply different methodologies as we do at Wooga. For example, we run on a regular basis regular surveys. It can be one global survey where we would like to define our audience and motivations surveys. Or it can be more focused on feature surveys, where we can also target the bigger target group or various player segments, in order to understand how they perceive a certain feature or how their feedback changes after some feature adjustments.


We also work with various tools such as Affogata, we really like working with it, because especially with games such as June's Journey, we have huge volumes of conversations and also very diverse groups. The platforms help us to track all conversations in all channels, but most importantly, categorize them between positive and negative sentiment and track it through time. Through Affogata's KPI of impact store, we can see how our sentiment has been progressing through time and adjust both product and marketing strategies accordingly.


We do a lot, which also includes usability testing, and working with our ambassadors as I mentioned above. We do have ambassadors for June's Journey, who are extremely valuable players for us because they are not only loyal to us, but also know our community so well that their feedback is extremely valuable and we always listen to them.


Host:


I really like the transparency that you're mentioning between your teams at Wooga, the customer support, marketing, and product teams because I have heard sometimes there isn't a connection so big between companies and that's where some things may be lost in translations, and some information and some feedback wouldn't get to others teams and I think the way you are working at Wooga really creates a great product for your players, and I think a lot of players can learn from you. And for our last question, we know the gaming industry is a very competitive one. How do you manage to stay ahead of the competition? How do you create marketing strategies that resonate with your players?


Galina Fedulova, Marketing Manager at Wooga:


I think growing collaborative practices is one of the competitive advantages of our company and constantly improving them. In general, everything starts with understanding what an essential part sentiment plays in successful product or marketing strategies. Honestly, it’s hard for me to imagine how to develop a game with strong retention without considering who your players are as well as what keeps them playing the game.


And it can work both for new games that you need to understand your potential audience, and still collect feedback to build a business case for a successful product launch. And for a live game, you always need to understand what sentiment is, how your players feel about your game, and how your community changes because when a game is changing and becoming more sustainable, your community changes as well. And constantly think about your players, as I already mentioned, no matter what you do. Whether you create a core or meta gameplay, you would like to introduce a smoother UX, or you are developing a communications strategy, you need to understand your audience so it fits best to your audience. And it also helps you create an emotional connection with your players, and expand your brand because your players start to associate with it.


I think right now, another competitive advantage that we are working on also is creating a centralized approach for working with player sentiment in general. And also, from the marketing management side, to learn how to deliver to the various stakeholders in a comprehensive manner because we are working with different channels, we need to understand for example what are the opportunities and limitations players have and to deliver this information in such a way that various teams, for example, product teams, UX designers, community managers know how to apply it to their decision making and their strategies.


And we also noticed that this approach we are taking at Wooga is really working, because when we work with player feedback and apply it for example in a feature development or feature improvement, it definitely shows positive results. For example, improvement in retention and monetization KPIs and not letting huge backlashes from the community happen, being transparent with the community, and keeping them engaged and loyal, definitely makes your games successful. Because after all, the longer we keep our players content, the more sustainable our games are.


Host:


I really liked the last sentence you just mentioned to end the podcast in a really nice way, I completely agree with you. And I think that is what makes Wooga an amazing gaming studio and we are really proud to be working with you, it's an exciting collaboration.


Galina, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to participate in today’s podcast. It was super interesting to learn about your take on the importance of customer feedback and how to utilize it to create the ultimate marketing strategies to build a positive brand reputation and increase player loyalty.


Thanks for all of you listening and don’t forget to visit us at Affogata.com.


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