Every once in a while, a trend sweeps the nation and seems to get everybody hooked for an indefinite period of time. Right now, we’re seeing that happen with Pokemon Go, a mobile app and game catering to Pokemon fans of all ages. In a matter of days after the augmented reality monster-hunting app was released, Nintendo’s valuation increased by more than $7.5 billion, and now, the app has more than 21 million daily active users.

Clearly, there’s something interesting going on here. So what is it that’s making this relatively simple mobile game such a massive success? 

Takeaways from Breakout Success

These are some of the reasons why Pokemon Go is such a massive hit, and how you can replicate those factors for your own site’s success: 

  1. Find a way to generate income passively. First of all, Pokemon Go isn’t a game you buy. It’s completely free to download and play. Instead of generating income directly, it generates income passively, through the use of upgrades that users can pay for to enhance their experiences. It’s a good lesson that your income doesn’t have to be direct. For example, you can set up a specialty site to fuel extra income for your main site or offer paid advertising to increase your number of passive revenue streams. This hands-off method to generating revenue is less sales-intensive, and is therefore more appealing to modern consumers (not to mention, easier for you to manage).
  2. Know your niche. Pokemon Go has a handful of target niches, but it resonates with all of them strongly. One of the most effective niches has been 20-somethings, who have access and familiarity with smartphones, tremendous buying power, freedom of movement necessary to make the most of the app, and best of all—a nostalgic fondness for the Pokemon franchise. These factors make them a perfect target audience for the app, and they’ve helped support the app’s growth in other areas, such as with young children and teens. Identifying and specifically serving your niche can help you become more memorable and more relevant—so don’t make the mistake of optimizing your site for “everyone.”
  3. Perfect your brand experience. Would this app be as popular if any brand other than Pokemon were taking charge of it? It’s hard to say for sure, but our suspicion is no. Pokemon has spent 20 years building a brand that people can recognize, with characters and artwork that falls into the same style and gaming experiences that, while different, still conjure up the same feelings in their users. That level of brand consistency and brand loyalty is hard to achieve, but it’s important if you want to build a lasting reputation—or spark a fad among your most loyal users. Find an image that suits your company, and adhere to it without compromise. 

  4. Encourage interaction between people. Pokemon Go forces people to go outside. It encourages people to see each other, talk to each other, and even work together (as you must choose to join one of three competing factions when you reach a certain level in-game). This social element has helped to popularize the app further, helping it spread across social channels and encourage more people to participate. Your brand, too, should have some kind of socially interactive element—and not just between your brand and your consumers. Find a way to get your customers engaged with one another, such as through forums or social media contests and discussions.
  5. Keep improving. This manifests in a couple of different ways for Pokemon Go. First, understand that the original Pokemon games, released in 1996, were grainy, buggy, black-and-white nightmares. They provided a great experience at the time, but they’re grossly inferior to today’s standards of gameplay, and extremely limiting in terms of mobile experience. Pokemon, as a franchise, was unafraid to evolve, across multiple generations and in multiple platforms, and because of that, it remains a success. Even now, the team is working hard to fix bugs and correct server issues. Be sure you maintain that level of commitment to changing and improving your offers over time; your audience will thank you for it.

A Final Note About Trends

With Pokemon Go responsible for billions of dollars of growth, it’s natural to be envious of the app’s success. Whether this is the first of many new games and players feeding into the company’s long-term potential, or just the mark of a short-term fad remains to be seen. Regardless, Pokemon Go is doing extraordinarily well, and the principles behind that success are relatively simple marketing fundamentals you can adopt for your own site. 

Keep them in mind as you develop your strategies; you may not get to 21 million daily active users, but you certainly stand to benefit.

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