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How Pokémon Go’s Marketing Mistakes Cost Them Millions of Users

A month ago, it was the norm to see everyday citizens roaming around, intently glued to their smartphone screens as they chased virtual creatures around parks, streets and coffee shops.

These days, this scenario is not so common.

Yes, trends certainly die out; phases come and go, and people move on to the next newest-and-shiniest product to grace the rotating carousel of goodies on the market. However, a major catalyst for the sudden recoil of Pokémon Go fans was not simply the end of its popularity peak, but the app’s poor marketing management.

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So, what exactly happened?

On July 30, the game’s developer, Niantic Labs, introduced an update that removed a key feature from the app.

As with any new project, there are always going to be kinks to iron out, updates to implement, and improvements to be carried out. Essentially, this is what Pokémon Go was aiming at achieving in rolling out its latest update. However, what the developers forgot to do was inform their fans of the changes. The result? Players were left in the dark as one by one, the glows of their increasingly inactive mobile screens turned off.

Communication with your customers is essential

In today’s digitally-saturated world, mutual conversation is a major pinnacle. Online platforms have given all members of society the opportunity to voice their opinions; it’s no longer a case of advertisers instructing consumers how to feel and act, but instead, an interactive podium where customers happily engage in two-way discussions with marketers.

When marketers fail to realise and acknowledge this aspect of the digital sphere, customers are left feeling overlooked and abandoned.


You can’t disregard the power of social media

Following the debacle, disgruntled Pokémon Go users were quick to hit their social media accounts, sending messages of discontent whooshing through the virtual realm. Of course, with the magic of hashtags and trending topics, the level of consumer dissatisfaction quickly escalated as more and more cheesed-off players banded together to share their opinions on public forums. After all, one of the key elements of social media is its ability to bring together communities of likeminded individuals.

Learn to prioritise

On top of all of that, Pokémon Go marketers failed to address their customers’ concerns, instead deciding to capitalise on a Tweet posted by celebrity musician Soulja Boy in regards to his appreciation for the game. Apparently, the chance to show off positive PR sprinkled with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood was more important than tending to hordes of upset customers.

Collectively, these core mistakes ended up costing the app about 3 million users in addition to demands for refunds of in-app purchases and an ugly collection of one-star reviews on iTunes and Google Play.

What should the app have done differently?

There are four key lessons marketers can take away from Pokémon Go’s poor management of consumer affairs…

steps to smart marketing

By Trish O'Loughlin

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