Friday, January 29, 2016

Best Practices for Encouraging Donations from Your App Subscribers

If your arts organization is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit, then you know the importance that donations play in funding. Your mobile app can be an incredibly powerful tool to help collect donations, but there are also some restrictions you need to work around.

Apple and Google both have policies against collecting donations within your app. To accommodate this, we actually need to take some special steps when linking to a Donations page. Simply linking to a URL isn't enough, because by default this opens in what we call the "In-App Browser." This browser lets the user view any webpage they are linked to, but it is still technically running in the app. Correspondingly, Apple and Google won't allow the app to collect donations in this manner.

So, lets take a look at a few best practices for linking out to your donation processing system:

1. Avoid using the "Custom URL Tab" feature to add a basic link to your donation page. Yes, this is the simplest and fastest way to create this link, but this tool will only open pages using the In-App Browser, which isn't allowed.

Bach Collegium San Diego's app clearly
articulates how mobile donations will
benefit their organization's work.
2. Use "Custom HTML Tabs" instead. In a Custom HTML Tab, you can add extra information to encourage patrons to make a donation.
  • This is a perfect place to list the different donation or membership levels and what benefits or rewards might come with them. Letting users know that even the smallest donation level carries with it some extra perk can convince those, who think they can't afford to make a large donation, to at least contribute something. Every dollar helps!
  • Write a paragraph explaining how the donations benefit your organization. Tell users what programs they will help fund, or which artists you will be able to hire from their gift. Don't let people think they are just tossing money into a black hole; make them feel special
  • Finish off with an exciting call-to-action. By now they've read how their donation will benefit themselves and your organization, now you need to get them to click that link to actually go make the donation. A simple "Click Here" is pretty un-engaging. Get creative with a sentence or graphic.
3. This is the most important part. When creating the link in the Custom HTML Tab, you need to set a special target to make sure that the link opens in the device's default browser app instead of the In-App Browser.  Follow these instructions depending on whether you prefer working in Design or HTML mode.
  • Design Mode: 
    • Highlight any text or content you wish to turn in to a link 
    • Click on the "Create Link" icon. (It looks like a little globe with a chain-link in front of it.) 
    • Paste the link to your donation page in the URL field. 
    • In the drop-down box next to where it says "Target," select "Custom Target." 
    • In the text box that appears, type _system 
    • Click OK.

  • HTML Mode: Working in HTML mode, just add target="_system" attribute to the donation link code.

Once you are done, save the changes you've made to the tab and your mobile app will now be compatible with both Apple and Google's donation policies!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Why Should I Download Your App? (and Other Questions to Guide Your App Promotion Strategy)

One of the questions that our partners often ask us is, "How do I get more people to download our app and use it?" Of course, the specific answer to this question varies from partner to partner based on how they promote and utilize their apps.

With a hat tip to the Socratic method, here are three questions you need to answer in order to advance your app promotion strategy.

1. Why should I download your app? 

Every patron expects an answer to this question before they download your app.  It is not enough to simply tell them that you have an app and instruct them to download it.
You need to give them a compelling reason.

  • What can I do with your app that I can't do with your website?
  • Can I access event-specific content in your app on the day of a performance?
  • Can I interact with artists and/or other patrons in the app?
  • Can I access special promotions and offers?
  • Can I receive alerts and notifications based on my personal information and preferences?
  • Can I listen to streaming music or watch behind-the-scenes videos?

What constitutes a compelling reason varies, but it should always be approached from the patron's point-of-view.  Remember, the question is "why should I download your app?" - not "why do you want me to download your app?"

2. How are you sharing that compelling reason with your patrons?

This banner appears in the lobby when the
Curtis Institute of Music has event-specific
content in their app for a performance.
List all of the opportunities you have to communicate with your patrons.

  • How do you communicate with patrons who are in your venue?  
  • How do you communicate with patrons who are off-site? 
  • How might you leverage each of these opportunities to share a compelling reason for downloading and using your app?
  • Here are some tips as well as examples from our partners.
Don't forget your patron's context.  That can have a dramatic impact on which compelling reason you choose to share with them.  For example, let's consider email messages.
  • If you are sending an email message to encourage patrons to purchase tickets for an event, then you might prompt them to download the app to view a teaser video or interviews with artists.
  • For patrons who have purchased tickets, you could send them a reminder email on the day of the performance to prompt them to download the app for access to special content about tonight's show.
  • After they attend the performance, you might send an email thanking them for their patronage and encouraging them to download the app for access to behind-the-scenes videos or recordings from the performance.
No doubt, you have several compelling reasons for a patron to download your app.  Presenting them with the most appropriate reason for their current context increases the likelihood that they will download the app at that point in time.

3. Now that I've downloaded and used your app once, how will you prompt me to continue using it?

The answer here is communication.  But you're not starting from scratch.  Every time you encourage patrons to download your app for a compelling reason, it reminds your current app users of the great content available to them.  The compelling reason to download is also a compelling reason to open the app and use it again.

You do have an additional channel for communicating your app's value to its users.  Push notifications serve as a powerful tool for prompting your current app subscribers to use the app repeatedly over time.

Simply put:  if you have a mobile app, you should be using push notifications to communicate with your app users.

To learn more about push notifications and how you can make the most of them, check out the Enhanced Push Notifications Resource Round-up.

Not sure what to do next?

Contact us at We're happy to talk with you about your app promotion strategy, push notifications, and more.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Estimating Your App's ROI - Introducing "Tap Event" Tracking in Google Analytics

Over the summer, we enabled a feature in Google Analytics for your mobile app called "Events." This feature gives you the ability to track when a user taps certain buttons.  Tapping these particular buttons does not result in a new screen view within the app.  Instead, they lead to an external action.

Note: To clarify, these are NOT events like concerts, shows, or other performances.  They're user behaviors taking place within your app. To avoid confusion, we will refer to these behavioral instances as "Tap Events."

We track the following Tap Events from your app's event listings:
  • Get Tickets: When the user taps on the "Get Tickets Online" button to open an external ticket purchasing site.
  • Phone: When the "Call Box Office" button is tapped to automatically dial the number.
  • Map: When the venue address button is tapped to display the location of the venue on a map and get directions.
  • Program Notes: When the "View Program Notes" button is tapped displaying a PDF of the program (this button only displays if a PDF has been uploaded within the event's details).

To find these Tap Events in Google Analytics:

  • Log into your Google Analytics account
  • Go to the Property ID for your Native Apps
  • Finding the "Behavior" option on the left 
  • Go to "Events" 
  • Click on "Overview"

Viewing Your App's Online Ticketing Traffic

The most valuable piece of information here is how much traffic your "Get Tickets Online" button is receiving, which lets you get an idea of how much your audience is using the App to purchase tickets to your events. You will want to track this data after Push Notifications are sent letting your audience know that tickets are available for sale, when there is a special promotion, or on the days leading up to a specific event.

To view this data, click on the "Screens" section under the "Events" menu.  Each Screen Name corresponds to a different performance.  You can then click on the "Secondary dimension" menu, go to "Engagement", and select the "Event Label" option.

This will further break out the results by the different Tap Events and you can see how many times the "Get Tickets Online" button or the other previously mentioned buttons were tapped.

Isolating the Tap Events for a Specific Performance

If you'd like to focus on a specific concert or show, just click on the corresponding screen name, then "Event", and "tap". Now you will see a list of all Tap Events that took place for that performance.

Changing Targeted Date Ranges

Don't forget that you can also change the date range in Google Analytics.  The default is for the past month.  You may want to adjust this to see the Tap Event activity for a specific two-day period, the last two weeks, your entire season, etc.

To refresh your memory on some other tips and tricks, read our post Google Analytics: Understanding Your Mobile Audience. If you haven't set up Google Analytics yet, create a Property ID and get started!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Android Download Numbers Are Back!

You have been patiently awaiting the return of Android download numbers to your app's control panel. Wait no more!  Android downloads are back!

How to Access Your Android Download Numbers

  1. Login to your InstantEncore account.
  2. Go to Mobile >> Preview/Checklist.
  3. Scroll below your app preview area.
  4. In the Native Apps section, you will find download numbers for both Apple and Android.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

At-The-Event Resource Roundup

This is the future of mobile technology in the arts: creating an enhanced event experience for your audience.  At-The-Event gives you the tools for sharing event-specific content, increasing social activity, and encouraging ongoing attendance.

As we approach the start of the 2015-16 season, lets revisit At-The-Event:  what it is, how to set one up, and how to get people's eyes on it. 


At-The-Event Setup:


Spotlight from the Field:

Additional Resource: