Skip to content

5 Lessons Pokemon GO Can Teach You About Digital Marketing

Pokemon GO is taking over. After its US release July 5th and upcoming release in other countries throughout the rest of the month, it now seems like everyone’s trying to become a Pokemon Master. According to SimilarWeb’s Digital Vision, it’s been downloaded by

“5.16% of all Android devices in the US. If that doesn’t seem like much, consider that by Thursday, July 7th, Pokemon GO was already installed on more US Android phones than Tinder”.

In addition, more than 60% of those who have downloaded the app in the US are using it daily.

Pokemon GO is an app that uses your phone’s GPS and clock to make Pokemon “appear” around you. It also uses your camera so you can “catch” them in real time, of course depending on your location and time. It takes the plot of Pokemon games where you try to catalog as many Pokemon as you can in your Pokedex for scientists and implements the quest to become a Pokemon Master. The difference is that you can do it in the “real world”. People are catching Mareep in parking lots, Nidoran in convenience stores, and Tangelas in malls.

Believe it or not, Pokemon GO has a lot to teach us—and I’m not talking about whether or not your apartment complex has a Rattata infestation. The way that Nintendo has created this virtual reality and the way you play the game is a brilliant example of how to conduct a successful marketing campaign. Here are 5 lessons from Pokemon GO you can use to digitally promote your business:  

1. Location Is Key

via TheVerge

When you’re playing Pokemon GO and you’re not where the Pokemon are, you start walking to make sure you get there. If you’re strolling through a park and you see there are some Blastoise if you start moving left—you go left. Why would it be different in marketing? You need to target the consumers in the places where people actually are buying your product. When you catch Pokemon, you don’t stay in the same place hoping one will just pop up—you go to the place where it’s well-populated. As a digital marketer you have the power of analytics to show you which customers you need to catch and how to target them with the right ads.

Let’s take this point further. You’re not going to go to a different country to find Pokemon; you’re going to look near your home. Just as people search for Pokemon while walking near their favorite stores, their places of work, and around their neighborhoods, people are also trying to find your business on their smartphones. When people want to find somewhere to shop or eat, they’re trying to find the business that’s closest to them. By targeting locations near your business and registering your address and information to Google Maps, you can help your customers find you.

2. Have a Flexible Approach

via Pokemon Wiki

When you’re trying to catch a particularly difficult Pokemon or battling at the Gym, you need to be able to adjust the technique you’re using. Is the Pokemon too far away to throw the ball accurately? Get closer. Does the ball keep missing and rolling away? Try not to throw it so hard. Is tackling not working? Try using the ‘Slash’ move or something more powerful.

Just like battling and catching Pokemon, it’s important to have a flexible marketing Strategy so you can take different approaches to different problems. Just as you look at the type of Pokemon to see how to attack it, you should also look at your analytics to see how you can fix a marketing problem. Analytics can show you how long people are staying on your site, what demographics are ending up on your site, and what search terms are leading people there. All these findings can help you refine your approach. If the most people found your service using a particular search term, test that out and try to amplify it. If people aren’t lasting long on your site, try to determine if there are performance issues. By using data to form multiple strategies and testing new tactics, you can get closer to being a marketing master.

3. Don’t Let the Bad Guys Win

via MyAnimeList

Anyone familiar at all with the Pokemon universe is aware of the threat of a criminal element, or Team Rocket. Pokemon trainers are sworn to protect their Pokemon, keeping them happy and safe, as companions. Team Rocket is known for abusing Pokemon by enslaving them or poaching them for parts. Niantic, developer of the app, does not include Team Rocket in Pokemon GO, but you don’t need to add a criminal element to the “real world”. There have been accounts of criminals using the app to track people and mug them. This involves muggers going to places where a lot of Pokemon are and attacking users distracted by playing the game. In addition, the app has had major issues with security. As Tech Crunch reports:

When you use Google to sign into Pokémon Go, as so many of you have already, the popular game for some reason grants itself (for some iOS users, anyway) the highest possible level of access to your Google account, meaning it can read your email, location history… pretty much everything.”

That means the application could see and modify nearly all the information in your Google Account. While players do have the option not to sign up with Google and create a “Trainer” account, the servers have been so overwhelmed that many players just used Google.

While Niantic has stated they are addressing the security risk and Google is already working to reduce the permissions, there’s a lesson here about the importance of keeping your customers safe. Make sure your online shopping experience is secure and easy to use. Not sure what’s rustling in the tall grass of your code? Make sure to get a programmer on the inside to make sure your platform isn’t leaving the door open to hackers. To learn more on what dangers could be lurking, check out this blog post on eCommerce security or request a code audit to find weaknesses in the platform you’re using. In addition, if you have any questions about security and app permissions for your own products, feel free to contact us for help.

4. Let the “Real World” Inform Your Virtual One

via TheVerge

Pokemon GO is one of the most innovative things Nintendo has done with the franchise in at least 7 years, if not longer. More or less, new releases of Pokemon have felt the same since 1996. The places the characters traveled to become Pokemon Masters changed names and more Pokemon were added, but it often seemed like the same plot every single game. It was clear that they wanted to bring Pokemon out into the physical world in 2009 when they bundled experience-gaining Pokewalker pedometers with every copy of HeartGold and SoulSilver, but you still couldn’t see Pokemon in your world. Now, you can see Pokemon in your everyday life, find them in real locations, and see them in your smartphone camera. It brings a “real world” experience to something wholly virtual.

Whatever you’re trying to market, whether a standard website for your business or one that hosts an eCommerce platform, it’s important to merge that “real world” feel. It’s hard to imagine, but many people actually discover products and services outside of a smartphone or computer screen: from posters and billboards, seeing the products in their friend’s homes, and hearing people recommend things in spoken conversation. To bring that real-world feel back into the sphere of technology, try using social media. Maintain an active presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Pinterest to help customers find you within the virtual worlds they inhabit every day. That way people can tag you and post reviews on your business to help you reach their friends. This helps people see you the way they would in the “real world”—and hopefully they’ll get just as excited about you as when they realize there’s a Jigglypuff near them.

5. Don’t Do It Alone

Pokemon GO is a lot more fun when you’re running around with a group of friends because you can support and challenge each other. Just as you shouldn’t wander around at night by yourself because you think there might be Gyrarados at that creek behind your house, you shouldn’t take marketing risks alone. For example, if you’re running an eCommerce store, you should have a programmer on the inside to make sure your code is secure and clean. The best case scenario is having a full team helping with marketing, content, design, and everything your site needs to pull leads. Don’t you wanna be the very best? In the Pokemon universe, Ash had Misty, Professor Oak, Brock, and countless friends along the way. That in mind, you should have dedicated designers, marketers and programmers on your team.

Whether you’re trying to be a Pokemon Master or Marketing Master, it’s important to be aware of your environment, integrate virtual and tangible experiences, and to work on a great team. If you want more help, consider adding Atlantic BT Marketing to your team. From analytics to user engagement to brand discovery to successful online advertising, we can help you catch ‘em all.

The Atlantic BT Manifesto

The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Complex Web Project