Steam provides tons of stats and performance metrics – more than any other platform. But as much as they do, you could never actually close the loop on whether people were wishlisting your game. So for instance if you were doing a big marketing push and hired streamers, were sending out an email blast, spending big money on ads, and were getting people to retweet you, you could see tons of traffic and tons of wishlists going up. But you didn’t know which one of those were actually doing the heavy lifting. Streamers are expensive and bring a ton of traffic but are those new visitors just looking and then leaving without wishlisting? Nobody knew. 

Until Now. 

Last week Steam unveiled UTM which is a web standard for adding some extra info to the end of a URL so they can track and attribute actions to a specific group of people that came in on that url junk. 

A small test

So I reached out to as many developers as I knew to get them to do a little UTM test on their own Twitter accounts for their own games. They used UTM links, they tweeted about their game, and they used the #screenshotsaturday hashtags. 

Finally, I was able to answer my age-old question: How many wishlists does #screenshotsaturday actually drive?

Here are the results.

Turns out tracking 9 developers posting #ScreenshotSaturday to their thousands of followers yielded 5 wishlists TOTAL!

A couple of bits of background on the data: This chart is data from 9 developers each working on an unreleased game. I know this is not statistically significant; rather it is a slice of what it is like to market a game on Twitter. 

Observation #1: Nobody is logged in to Steam!  

Those big blue bars are the number of visits and the red bars are the number of tracked visits (ie people logged in.) I averaged all the blue vs red bars. It turns out on average 90.35% of these visitors are NOT LOGGED INTO STEAM. 

WHAT WHY?!!?!?!?!

According to this Omnicore social media report “80% of Twitter users [access] the platform on a mobile device.” 

Every time I try to access Steam from my phone, it never seems to keep me logged in and I never remember my Steam password. So my totally circumstantial conclusion here is that most Twitter users are on mobile, then when they click on your #screenshotsaturday link they are brought to Steam unlogged in and then rather than type in their password to wishlist your game they just navigate away and go back to Twitter.

I don’t know how to fix this. Maybe any CTA we send from Twitter should be to join our Discord because Discord always seems to keep me logged in. 

I couldn’t find data for Discord’s mobile phone vs desktop usage % but I must imagine it has a higher desktop usage because people use it to communicate while playing PC games.

This will be a future experiment!

Observation #2: Wishlist rate is super low even among logged in users

Even if I look at the rate of logged-in visits that convert to wishlists, it is super low (only 8.43% on average). One game got a 50% conversion rate but they had 2 logged-in users and got 1 wishlist so I wouldn’t exactly write a whole blog post about their awesome marketing tricks. 

The two highest-performing tweets got 2 wishlists each. These aren’t tiny followings either. One of the developers confided that the account that tweeted it had over 8K followers and they retweeted it from their personal account that had 12K+ followers. And their game is a really good, interesting, good-looking game with the kind of hook that is perfect for Twitter. 

Another developer confided that their tweet got great “engagement” – 38 Likes, 15 RTs and 3 Quote Tweets. It yielded 0 wishlists. 

The wishlist conversion rate from Twitter is very, very low. So if you just can’t get Twitter to work and it feels like you are shouting into a void, don’t worry, we all are. It is really hard to get wishlists out of Twitter. (Side note for what Twitter is good for check out my other blog post just about this topic).

I am going to show you how to do it.

How to Create a UTM Tracking link

It is actually very very simple. You don’t even need to do anything special in Steamworks to create it. 

Just take your game’s URL and add this to the end 

?utm_source=WHATEVER_TEXT_YOU_WANT

So if I wanted to see if people who click my tweets actually wishlist 1 screen platformer I would just say:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/791180/1_Screen_Platformer/?utm_source=my_twitter

I don’t even need to set that up in Steamworks first, it will just start reporting wishlists on my Steamworks dashboard. You can use whatever source name you want. Like you could say 

https://store.steampowered.com/app/791180/1_Screen_Platformer/?utm_source=that_dumb_website_we_call_twitter and it will work.

Now let’s say you are doing several things on twitter like you have a pinned tweet and you regularly participate in #screenshotsaturday and you participate in #wishlistwednesday you can add another utm tag called utm_campaign and get even more detail. Here is an example.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/791180/1_Screen_Platformer/?utm_source=my_twitter&utm_campaign=screenshotsaturday

https://store.steampowered.com/app/791180/1_Screen_Platformer/?utm_source=my_twitter&utm_campaign=pinned_tweet

https://store.steampowered.com/app/791180/1_Screen_Platformer/?utm_source=my_twitter&utm_campaign=wishlistwednesday

There is a 3rd tier of tagging that you can add to this and that is the utm_medium=THEMEDUM but I don’t know why you would need to parse that deep. You can get super far with the utm_campaign and utm_source.

Now when you tweet those links, Steam will be able to tell you down to the click which one of those links lead to a wishlist

How to double check your link?

Now you can just type up any utm_ tags you want and it will work, but I always fat finger something. Luckily, Steamworks has a little testing tool where you can double check your utm tags before you share them with the world. From the Steamworks dashboard and click your game > Marketing & Visibility > UTM Analytics tab > Test a UTM Link.

The info you get

Once you setup and send out your links, you have to wait 1 day. It is just like the wishlists dashboard – 24 hour lagging value. 

But 24 hours later, you get this reporting grid. 

It is basically a little grid of the steam’s marketing funnel reporting how many people followed through. 

Total Visits > Tracked Visits > Wishlists > Purchases > Activations 

Now if someone is NOT logged in to Steam they obviously can’t wishlist a game. So steam reports this by showing you Total Visits vs Tracked Visits. Tracked Visits are users who are logged in to Steam which means (Total Visits – Tracked Visits) = the number of people who saw your steam page but were not logged in and were like, eh I will just navigate away and not wishlist this game. (Get ready to cry when you see the next section).

How else to use the new UTM tracking feature?

So I love this new UTM feature. It is really cool. I came up with a bunch of ideas on how you can use it to get a better understanding of how your marketing is working.

Swap out all your links on your social profiles

On your twitter bio add a link with UTMs like this:

?utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=twitter_bio 

Pin a new tweet linking to your game with a new utm like this

?utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=twitter_pinned

Don’t forget to add them to everything!

  • Your Youtube video descriptions
  • Your mailing list auto responders
  • Your website
  • Your past kickstarters
  • Your future kickstarters
  • Your Discord @everyones 

Your goal is to figure out where people are wishlisting your game from. Update ALL your links.

Create a shared document for your tags

UTMs are useful only if you remember to use them. Please remind everyone on your team to ALWAYS include UTMs wherever possible. Create a shared document with the commonly used urls. For instance make sure you agree twitter gets utm_source=twitter and not something dumb like utm_source=the_twitters or utm_source=that_website

But don’t make your utms too complicated. Don’t try to make every tweet have a different utm_source because really, if you make your system too hard to remember, people will just stop using it and then you will have no data to look at.

Negotiate pay-for-sale deals with Influencers

Most streamers and let’s play influencers charge by the viewer. See if they will agree to split revenue with you. Maybe they get 30% of all purchases that come in from a UTM link you create for them. 

Note that we can’t attribute wishlist to sale from the click. So if the Streamer got them to wishlist the game but the fan didn’t buy the game until 3 months later, Steam cannot attribute that to the original wishlist or link click. 

Figure out how much it costs per wishlist

Before UTM, Reddit ads and Facebook ads were tricky because you can pay to send a bunch of traffic to your Steam page but you couldn’t determine whether it actually converted into wishlists. You could compare 1 week to the next, but it was imprecise especially if you were running other marketing activities. Now you can.

We can calculate how much a wishlist costs down to the penny. This will allow you to target your ads better, improve your steam page, and see what effects it has. 

Pair this with giving streamers UTM and you can actually compare what is the best use dollar for dollar in your marketing budget. 

Send secret love messages to your favorite developer

Since you don’t need to pre-create the tag in Steamworks you can create clandestine UTMs links for your favorite developer. Such as

utm_source=LOVE_THE_WORK_U_DO&utm_campaign=DONT_GIVE_UP&utm_medium=LOVE_CHRIS

Then click that link you just created and then wishlist their game. 1 Day later when they check their stats they will see your secret message.

Additional Reading

Header Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash