Monday, July 13, 2015

Enhanced Push Notification Resource Roundup

Enhanced Push Notifications have been available in our Apps for about a month now and, as we prepare for the 2015-16 season, this is the perfect time to make sure your settings are updated and that you're ready with all the tools you need to make Enhanced Push Notifications a part of your successful marketing strategy.

Here is a list of tips, suggestions, and how-to videos that cover every detail of the upgraded push notification system:

Introduction and Overview:

Enhanced Push Note Setup:

Sending an Enhanced Push Note:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Setting up a Facebook Call-to-Action Button

The 1.50 update brings some great changes to your Mobile App, both on the surface and under the hood.  One less than obvious update has been the inclusion of what are known as "Deep Links".  These are links that let you direct people to specific tabs in your app from external sources.

Now, Facebook has added a "Call-to-Action" button which allows you to easily add an important task as a button on your Page's banner image.  Lets look at how we can use Deep Links with this button to let your Fans effortlessly access your Mobile App from your Facebook page.

First, go to your Page and find the "Create Call to Action" button.  It is important to note that this is for Pages, and not your personal Timeline.

When you click on this, you will see a pop-up box which has a "Choose a Button" menu.  Open this and select "Use App".

Once you have selected the type of Call-to-Action, there will be a place to enter in two URLs.  One for your website and one for your mobile website.  Because we want to focus people's behavior on using your Mobile App, create a SmartURL (remember those?) for this purpose and add it to both fields.

The next screen will let you setup your iOS Deep Link.  Use the format instantencoreCID://deeplink/#home where CID is the same value used in the SmartURL.  The Backup Destination will be automatically filled in from the website field.

The Android Deep Link setup is similar, but you will also need your Android Package Name. To find this, just go to your main control panel, copy the link for the Android App, and use the end of the URL that starts with "com.instantencore".

So, becomes just com.instantencore.bcsd2go_5109242.  Again, the Backup Destination will be automatically added.

Click the final Create button and you will be all set.  Your Facebook fans will now have easy access to your Mobile Apps!

  • If they already have your app installed, it will immediately open it.  
  • If they don't yet have your app, the SmartURL will intelligently direct them to the proper platform.  
  • If the button is clicked on a desktop or laptop computer, it will give them links to both.

Finally,  if you have a campaign going on for a specific event or initiative, you can go back to edit the "Use App" button and update the App Links to go to a specific content item or tab in the App.  Just replace the #home at the end of the Deep Link with a different "In-app Link" using InstantEncore's App URL Builder, available at the bottom of your list of Tabs in the Control Panel.

BONUS: Facebook offers some insights on how many times the button has been clicked.  Just look for the "This Week" box to the right and click on where it says "Use App"

Monday, June 8, 2015

7 Tips for Customizing Your App's Welcome Screen

As we mentioned in a previous post, the Welcome Screen for your app is a great tool for encouraging new app users to stay connected via notifications.

To get you started with this tool, we have provided you with a default message:
Enhance your <app name> experience with personal notifications.
We will only send you relevant messages with insider info, special deals and pertinent updates.
We encourage you to adopt, edit, and add to it so that the message is unique to you and appeals specifically to your app users.

7 Tips for Customizing Your Welcome Screen's Message

1.  Thank your patrons for downloading your app.  Many patrons will visit your website on their mobile devices.  Those who download your mobile app are interested enough in your work that they want to give you a presence on the most personal of their devices.  It's always a good idea to thank them for that.

2.  Use special formatting to draw the user's eye to parts of the message you wish to emphasize.

3.  Affirm for your app subscriber's that your messages will meet their wants and needs.

4.  Let them know that they can customize their information and interests to tailor the notifications they will receive. It can also be reassuring to let them know that they can change their selections at any time.

5.  If you have specific types of notifications you will be sending out, let them know.  There are a few options listed in the default message, but feel free to include other types that apply to your app.

6.  Encourage them to help you give them the most relevant notifications by answering some questions.

7.  Add simple instructions for customizing notifications both now and later.

No matter how many adjustments you make to the Welcome Screen's message, be sure to:

  • Encourage app users to maintain a deep connection with you
  • Assure them that you will not spam them with irrelevant messages
  • Let them know that they can control which notifications they receive
Questions?  Contact us at

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Push Notification Interest and Category Suggestions

Setting up your Interests and Categories is a crucial step in activating the power and flexibility of Enhanced Push Notifications. It is also important to have them setup before your App is published, so that when your users open it for the first time they are greeted with the personalized notification settings they are expecting.

Which do you think looks better?

Quick Tips

  • Interests are topics that an audience member should be able to opt in to as many as they wish.
  • Categories should only have one possible answer that an audience member can give such as their age range or location.
  • We recommend having 10 or fewer Interests and Categories total to avoid overwhelming users.
  • Use short Category labels so that the entire label can be seen.
  • Don't get TOO personal with your Category options, as many people value their privacy online.

If you haven't yet set them, here are some suggestions that might make filling these out a little easier.  Keep in mind that the goal is to not copy over ALL of these, but to pick and choose ones that would be relevant to your performances and to your audience.


General Information
News and Reviews
Concert Announcements
Music and Video Recordings
Deals and Offers
Exclusive Content
Weather Alerts
Live Broadcast

Early Music
New Music
Musical Theatre

Full Ensemble
A Cappella
Chamber Music
Fully Staged
Semi Staged
Dress Rehearsal

Main Season
Weekend Concerts
Lunch Time Concerts
Summer Festival
Special Events

Online Classes


Age (option 1)
  65 and over
  55 to 64
  45 to 54
  35 to 44
  25 to 34
  15 to 24
  14 and under

Age (option 2)
  60 and over
  50 to 59
  40 to 49
  30 to 39
  20 to 29
  19 and under

Birth Month

Location (local ensemble/performer)
  Home City
  State/Province (outside City)
  Country (outside State/Province)
  World (outside Country)

Location (touring ensemble/performer)
  North America
  South America

  Season Ticket Holder
  New Patron


Monday, May 18, 2015

A Better Way to Encourage Opt-Ins for App Notifications

In the previous post, we talked about the benefits of using push notifications to communicate with your patrons.

The challenge with push notifications is persuading people to opt-in for them. Many people opt-out of receiving an app's notifications because they think they'll be bombarded with an endless series of sales pitches. But, what if you could alleviate their fears and empower them to choose the types of messages they want to receive?

InstantEncore's new enhancements to our mobile service allow you to do just that. Let's take a look at what's changing and how you can leverage those changes to strengthen your connection with mobile patrons.

What's Changing?

For most apps available on the market today:

  • Android users are automatically subscribed to notifications.
  • Apple users are presented with a notification opt-in screen immediately upon opening the app for the first time. 
For Android users, receiving the first notification can be disruptive. Why am I getting this message? When did I give them permission to send me this?  This disruption can trigger an Android user's fear of spam and prompt them to manually turn off notifications.

For Apple users, receiving the required opt-in screen immediately upon opening the app for the first time is like asking someone for a second date before you've gone on the first one.  Since Apple uses the same default opt-in screen, it comes off as generic and can predispose a user to tap "Don't Allow" out of habit.

So, how can we change this process to be less disruptive, less presumptuous, and more unique to the app experience?

With this month's update, your app's notifications opt-in process will feature three new elements designed to alleviate users' fear of spam, help you get the right message to the right patrons, and increase the likelihood that a user will elect to receive your notifications.

Welcome Screen

When someone opens your app for the first time, they will see your Loading screen followed by a Welcome screen.

The purpose of the Welcome screen is to prompt the user to stay connected with you, communicate the value of your notifications, and reassure them that you will not spam them with irrelevant messages.

We have prepopulated your Welcome screen with default text, but we encourage you to edit the text so that it is more specific to your app and the types of messages you will send to patrons.

Information Categories

When a patron taps on "Next" at the bottom of the Welcome screen, they are taken to an area where they can enter personal information and indicate their messaging interests.

You create the information categories and their possible answers. App users are intuitively prompted to select the answer which best applies to them.

When you create your categories, focus on information that will help you target the most relevant patrons and provide them with content they value.

We recommend limiting yourself to two or three categories, so that you don't overwhelm the user.

In the example above, we created the category Patronage. How might we use this category to send targeted messages?  Here are a few possibilities:

  • Send special messages with behind-the-scenes content as a season subscription benefit.
  • Create a subscription campaign focused on app users who frequently attend events but are not subscribers.
  • Invite occasional attendees to return with targeted ticket specials.

Remember, app users are prompted to select the answer which best applies to them. So generate your list of possible answers with that in mind.


In addition to providing personal information, app users can also select the interest areas for which they want to receive notifications.

When generating your list of interest areas, focus on the types of messages you will send. Here are some possibilities:

  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Artistic genres or disciplines
  • Specific performance series
  • Educational offerings
  • Ticket specials
  • Volunteering

By default, app users are selected to receive notifications from all interest categories. They can deselect any categories which do not interest them.

Again, consider limiting yourself to a handful of interest areas so as not to overwhelm users.

Then, what?

Once the app user has provided some personal information and indicated their messaging interests, they tap on "Get Started" at the bottom of the screen.

Android users will immediately begin using the app.  By providing them with the opportunity to opt-in and adjust their message preferences, your Android subscribers will no longer find notifications to be disruptive and unsolicited.

Apple users will now be presented with the required opt-in screen. By waiting until this point in the process to present the required screen, Apple users are more invested in staying connected and more likely to opt-in for notifications.