In my post titled “How to distribute a Press Release when you have no money” I discussed a bunch of free and pay Press Release distribution services and which ones I submitted to, how much money I spent, etc. It’s been about a month now, so I figured I’d update with the results of the different services. Google Analytics makes it super easy to spit out this info, thanks Google, you’re my superhero!

Now before I start, keep in mind that I have NO ACTUAL PRODUCT/SERVICE. Until my first game is done, all I’m offering is some game development information. Because I’m not actually offering anything (like “follow my blog and get a free copy of my game”) I don’t actually expect to have many readers at this point. I’m expecting the numbers to be low in general. When I have an actual game up people can buy and offer feedback on and all that jazz, I’ll have more viewers.

Googling for my Press Release in general, I get 1250 results.  Now because generally the Press Releases, when posted, list their source, I’m using a VERY unscientific method of Googling for the press release plus the name of the PR service to get some numbers.  I’m not going to post actual numbers because honestly, there’s not a good way to track them.  Some of the sites have “This is how your Press Release is doing” statistics, but the interview I did lists some of the PR services which is skewing the results, and people reading the article VS clicking through the site is drastically different, etc.  Hypothetically, if one service gets the Press Release on only 2 sites but those are IGN and Gamespot, and another service gets the PR on 5000 sites but those are all obscure 5-hits-a-day blogs, the first service is better exposure despite the numbers.

I was hoping to be able to post the actual “the PR sent to this service made it to this many sites and all those sites gave me this many hits in total” numbers, but I feel like because my tracking could be pretty inaccurate, posting numbers wouldn’t be a fair representation to some of the services.

With that in mind, a summary of the general results:

- There’s no down-side to posting to all the free PR distribution services.  It takes a little time, but your release is out there.  The free ones don’t add up to much, I got around 10 – 20 postings (though was the best of the free services, netting around 50 postings…but then I’m still a start-up, so my PR was accepted there whereas it might not be for an established studio).

- Tons of people will read the headline, way less will read the full article, and way less will actually click-thru from reading the full article.  This is to be expected though, that’s just the nature of news.  But this does mean that the people who do click-thru are probably people who are interested in what I’m blogging about and will come back.

- I paid for the $80 package at PRWeb and it did the best, by a very large margin.  Like 5 times the free services combined.  I noticed when I was Googling for the article in general that like 90% of the time it would say “Source: PRWeb”, so there was a noticable difference in results.  Also PRWeb’s service automatically helped me re-structure and edit the Press Release so it would make it to as many sites as possible before distributing it.  It also tracks analytics (the jist is that I got a jillion reads the first couple days probably from being on the front page, but now as expected nobody is reading it).  On top of that, a guy from PRWeb phoned me up to ask how my experience was with the service, and offered to follow-up down the road to check in on if I want to use the service again or sign up for a frequent release setup where every X weeks a new release goes out.  All in all their service has been excellent.

Now the Press Release itself didn’t necessarily bring in a jillion hits, but it did get me some exposure which led to opportunities like Brodie Beta doing an interview article about what I’m doing.  That article got me about 100-200 hits in total over time.  But about 50% of those people have come back.  I figure that’s because it’s a pretty targeted setup…if you read that interview and click the links, odds are you’re interested in what I’m blogging about.  The article caused a spike, but after a couple days it goes back down to normal.  So after that I tried setting up an account on the Touch Arcade forums, because I found they have a great iPhone game developer forum and I dig meeting other developers.  That’s given me about 60 hits with about 50% coming back.  Again I figure that’s pretty targeted…if you’ve found my blog through the Touch Arcade developer forum, odds are you’re interested in game development blogging.

My most consistent results are through Twitter.  I update my Twitter when I update my blog and a lot of my traffic comes directly from there on a regular basis and it’s generally loyal readers checking the newest updates.  If I don’t update or Tweet for a few days, the hits drop down to around 10 – 20 a day, and when I do update and Tweet that I’ve updated, the hits spike back up to around 40 – 70 a day.  This makes sense, obviously.

Now I was all set to do this post a while back and end it about here, but out of the blue one day a monkey-wrench was thrown into the whole thing!  I was getting ready to go to the Global Game Jam when all of a sudden my site’s hits jump phenominally, breaking my site (it was down for like 15 minutes because it was being swamped with traffic):

I was like “wtf is going on??” and checked the Analytics.  A post of mine was linked near the top of the front page on Hacker News (basically a Digg style site) and BAM, a jillion hits.  In like 10 minutes I had 1000 hits and rising, and by the end of the day I had hit almost 6,000 hits.  By the next day my post had dropped down in the list a bit so the hits went down to around 2500, and by the 3rd day my post was off the front page and I was back to a normal amount of hits.

So while Hacker News got me a ton of hits, the number of those people actually interested in what I’m doing and coming back is like 1% of them haha People just see the thread title is near the top and click it to check it out and aren’t necessarily interested at all in the material.  The important thing is that 1% are now loyal readers that come back.  Before the Hacker News link I was getting a consistent 10 – 20 hits a day.  After it I’m now getting a consistent 30 – 50 hits a day.  It’s not much, but the shotgun blast of being linked on a large news site did clearly help.

So in conclusion?

- Do the free Press Release services, it doesn’t hurt at all and it’s free.

- Paying for a PR service did net me noticably more exposure than the free services.  I’m going to try the $140 PRWeb service next time (when my game is about to be released) that includes their Social Media distribution because I want to see how that works out before I make any final judgements on whether I ultimately want to pay for PR distribution or not.

- Interviews are fun and great exposure…adding “E-Mail me for an interview” at the bottom of my Press Release was a good idea, it shows I’m open for that kind of thing and exclusive interviews are good for news sites that need articles so it’s win/win.

- Twitter is awesome.  I’m not even a fan of Twitter, that damn Tweetdeck “new tweet” sound haunts me haha But if you’re a tech-related company and/or your market is wider than “the local zip code in my city”, Twitter is a necessary evil.  It is a phenominally fast way to network and spread information, and build a presence and relationship with your readers.  I have about 100 Twitter followers right now, and I only started my Twitter account about a month ago.

- Nothing beats being linked on a popular website.  This is the ultimate exposure.  I think a targeted popular website would be better than a general “tech news” site…like being linked on Destructoid or Touch Arcade‘s front page may result in less new visitors than being linked on Hacker News or Digg but would probably result in way more loyal readers who come back in the future.  But admittedly that’s based on logical assumption right now.  In the future if I get linked on other large sites I’ll be able to compare.

- It’s difficult for me to recommend paying for marketing services when being linked on a large site dwarfs the results by such a landslide.  I think if you pay you get a more targeted approach where 50% of the click-thrus come back VS 1% of them, so that’s something to consider.  And I’ll be trying out paying for a Social Media feature so that might make a big difference VS the traditional Press Releases postings…but ultimately you can do a TON of marketing for free.  So any of you out there going “I don’t have any money to market!!”, that’s not a valid excuse.  Quit being lazy, tell people about your games!

That’s it for now!  In the future I’ll update with more marketing numbers as I try more experiments.

- Quickdraw

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