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.

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).

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:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

At The Event - Partner Spotlight: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Since 1896, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been enriching the lives of audiences with world-class music.  Now at the start of their 120th season, PSO expands this tradition by utilizing their mobile app's At-The-Event feature to enhance the concert experience for the 21st Century.  Their audiences now have easy access to a variety of event-specific content, social interactions with artists and patrons, and special offers.

At-The-Event Recap

The At-The-Event Checklist highlights
available content items and provides
one-click access for easy editing.
When setting up At-The-Event,  it is important to provide as many content options as possible.  You don't want to advertise exclusive or event-specific content to your audience without providing them with an experience that lives up to its promise.

At-The-Event has three main content areas:

  • The Info screen contains features such as: 
    • Check in (This feature doesn't require any setup, it just works!)
    • Things to Know
    • Program Notes
    • Artist Bios
    • Custom actions - links to other content tabs or websites.  
  • The Social feed aggregates posts from Twitter or Instagram with a defined #hashtag and adds posts made using the In-App form.  
  • The Offers area lets you showcase specific deals, promotions, and partnerships to your patrons.

Now, lets take a look at how Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra used each of these areas for their recent concert event - FUSE@PSO: Brahms + Radiohead.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Adjusting Your Mobile App to Facebook's Recent Changes

For those of you who have your mobile app configured to pull content from your Facebook Page into the Buzz area of your app, you may have noticed that your Facebook posts have not been appearing in your app.

What happened

Earlier this summer, Facebook made a major change to how they feed content to other web services by switching from RSS / XML code to JSON.  Correspondingly, the RSS / XML feed link you entered into the Buzz area of the mobile suite is no longer active.

What you can do

The infrastructure for the Buzz area currently relies on RSS / XML code to import content from social media and other sites, so incorporating your Facebook content into the Buzz section of your app is not possible at this time.

While we explore our options for reintegrating the Buzz tab with Facebook, we suggest creating a custom tab in your mobile app linked directly to your Facebook page.

  1. From the InstantEncore dashboard, go to Mobile >> Tabs.
  2. Scroll down past the list of current tabs to the section labeled "Add a Custom Tab."
  3. Enter a text label for the new tab.  You might use "Facebook," "Updates," or "Like us on Facebook."
  4. Select the icon to associate with the new tab.  We have included a commonly recognized Facebook icon in our library for you to use, if you like.
  5. In the "Content" area, select "Display an existing web page."
  6. In the URL box, enter
  7. Click on the "Create" button.
Your Facebook Page will now appear as a tab within your mobile app. It's that easy!

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.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Why Should You Use Push Notifications?

Mobile is personal. It’s a 24/7 connection to your patrons that places your content and messaging within arm’s reach anytime, anywhere.

Correspondingly, downloading your mobile app onto my smartphone is a personal act. I am investing in a relationship with you.

Maybe I went to your website on my phone to buy a ticket, and it prompted me to download your app. Maybe I attended a performance where you had special content available in your app. But once I have bought that ticket or attended that performance, then what?

What will keep us connected and encourage me to use your app again?

Push notifications are text messages linked to content and sent directly to your app subscribers. They're a powerful way to keep your patrons engaged, share timely information, and remind them of the compelling content at their fingertips.

When an app subscriber gives you permission to send them notifications, they expect you to do that. They also expect you to deliver value every time.

Push notifications are similar to broadcast emails and text messages in that the patron chooses to receive them. But how effective are they compared to email or texting?

In comparison to broadcast email:
  • Push notifications have a higher probability of reaching your patrons. Broadcast emails can get caught in spam filters or bounce back from servers and full inboxes. 
  • Because we keep our mobile devices within arm’s reach, we’re likely to receive a push note much faster than an email. 
  • Push notifications also have higher open rates and engagement than broadcast email 
When compared to text messages:
  • Push notifications are clearly associated with you – rather than a series of numbers. 
  • Because of this, mobile users are more likely to click through on a push note. 
Sending broadcast email often requires you to sign up for an account with a service provider like ConstantContact or MailChimp. The costs for those services are often determined by the number of messages you send. And with text messages, you end up paying a fee for each message sent.

Push notifications are already a part of your InstantEncore service. You can send as many messages as you like without incurring further expenses.

While push notifications have a lower opt-out rate than text messages, it’s not quite as strong on average as email.  In our next post, we'll discuss how InstantEncore's new opt-in screens help address this challenge by predisposing your app users to opt-in for notifications rather than opting-out.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Repertoire Section: Getting Creative with Work Titles

At the heart of any event listing are a few key pieces of information:  when is it, where is it, and what is it?

To answer this last question, each event entered in the InstantEncore control panel features a Repertoire section - a list of musical works to be performed during the event. These works are then tagged with even more information, such as the composer of the music and any artists or ensembles who are performing on it, letting the audience know exactly what is in store for them.
Click this image to see the complete Event listing.

But wait!  What if my event doesn't have classical music or any music at all?

Due to the wide variety of types of events, there is some flexibility in the system.  Here are some tips and examples for using the Repertoire area if you're not presenting classical music.

The Biggest Secret

When adding a new Work Title to the system, you can actually leave the Composer field blank even though it is listed as "Required Info."

In fact, we encourage you to leave this blank unless you are adding the name of the person who composed the music. Authors, choreographers, and others - though important - should be set in the Miscellaneous field if you wish to tag them.

You can then set the Title to whatever you want! Lets take a look at a few examples.


Dance and ballet can have strong ties to classical music, but the focus is often more on the dancers and choreographers than the people who perform the music.

Major ballets, such as Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker or Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, will be listed as normal music works.

Shorter, non-programmatic dance pieces can be added with "Dance Name (Choreographer)" in the Title field while leaving the Composer field blank.  This shifts the focus away from the music and towards the choreographer.

Dancers can be added as Artists.  For their instrument, a "Dancer" option is available.
Click this image to see the complete Event listing.


Theatrical works are even more straightforward.  Again, leave the Composer field blank. Enter the name of the production in the Title field, and tag any additional relevant information.
Click this image to see the complete Event listing.

Popular Music

Oftentimes, popular solo artists or bands will not have a predefined program.  For these, you can use the "Program TBA" feature as provided, or if you want to be more specific, you can add something more descriptive such as "Program to be announced from stage" in the example below.
Click this image to see the complete Event listing.

Getting Creative

Sometimes your event just doesn't fit any predefined category.  Set a work title that briefly describes the event. This can be anything you want, but short, informative descriptions are the best.  Keep in mind that if it is generic enough, you will be able to use it again for similar events in the future!

This Saturday matinee concert featuring a mix of music and visual performing arts is best described as a "Free Event."
Click this image to see the complete Event listing.

The Elmhurst Symphony's Art of Conducting event is part of their "ESO Lecture Series."
Click this image to see the complete Event listing.

If you have questions on how to use the Repertoire area to best represent your event, contact

Thursday, February 19, 2015

5 Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few common questions that you may have run into while using InstantEncore. If you have any questions of your own, don't hesitate to let us know at

Q: I've just updated my email address, where do I change my settings so that I can continue to receive updates?

A: All you have to do is log in to your InstantEncore account and find the down arrow icon in the upper right corner of the website. From the drop down menu that appears, click on the "Settings" option.

On this page you can update your Username, Email Address, and Password. Just remember, changing your username will change the URLs for your InstantEncore platforms:


Q: I went to tag an artist on a video I added to InstantEncore, and I noticed that their last name is misspelled. How do I fix this? Should I just add a new entry?

A: If you notice any misspellings in artist names, work titles, venues, or anything else of that nature, just drop us a line at with the wrong entry and the correct spelling. We will do some research to see if the existing entry should be changed or if a new one is needed.

Only add a new entry if you are 100% sure that you are adding new and unique information to the database. This helps us keep everything in order and makes it easy for other users on InstantEncore to find the right information.

Q: The start time for my event has changed, and I can't remove the existing Date/Venue. How do I update this?

A: Events on InstantEncore always need at least one Date/Venue listed on them. So, add the new time for the event before removing the old one.

  1. Set the Date, Time, and Venue information.  Don't forget to include the Purchase Link if it is a ticketed event.
  2. Click the "Add Date/Venue" button at the bottom. You will see it added to the list of Dates/Venues. 
  3. Find the incorrect entry in the list, and click the red 'X' next to it to remove it.

If the venue has changed but the date and time remain the same, it will overwrite the existing entry and you won't have to manually remove anything.

Q. I've created a custom tab in my Mobile App, but after copying some content from my Word Doc and pasting it in to the design editor, it looks all weird on my phone.. Help!

A. You have to be careful when copying and pasting content into custom tabs. You can inadvertently bring over hidden HTML code from the Word Doc or website source.  This hidden code might behave differently in the app and cause your content to look strange or unreadable.

You can switch between the
Design and HTML edit
modes by clicking on the
appropriate tab in the
bottom-left corner of the
Custom Tab editor.
If you need to paste content from another source, I recommend switching to the HTML edit mode and pasting the text in there. This will strip out any formatting and leave you with just the pure text.

You can then switch back to Design mode and format it, adding in line breaks, bold/italics, and anything else.

It may seem like more work than just pasting directly into the Design mode, but you'll end up saving time and headaches.

Q. I love seeing how many downloads my iOS app has, but why don't you list the Android stats?

A. We would love to list the Android stats as well! Unfortunately, Google does not make it easy to bring this information automatically into the control panel. We hope they will change this in the future.

We do encourage you to stay up to date with this information, so once a month we welcome you to email us at to request your Android stats. I will personally look them up for you and let you know what they are.

You can also integrate Google Analytics into your App to get an idea of how many people are using it at any given time.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Using Your App's Offers Tab to Drive Revenue, Encourage Participation, and More

At-The-Event's Offers tab is a powerful tool help drive revenue in creative ways.  From discounts to merchandise to upgrades, the Offers tab can present deals to your audience which are specifically relevant to that day's event.

Lets look at a few general categories of Offers:


Discounts are perhaps the most straight forward Offer you can provide.  These include a percentage-based or fixed amount reduction on ticket sales, gift shop merchandise, concession items, etc.  You might even explore partnering with a local restaurant to provide discounts on meals to help drive customers to both businesses.

Alabama Dance Festival: 15% off Tickets

Detroit Symphony: 10% off Food & 10% off Gifts

Berkeley Rep: Free cookie with drink purchase

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: Dinner and a Show


Let your audience know about new recordings, apparel, or other fun souvenirs that they can purchase.

Bach Collegium San Diego: New CD Release

SFJAZZ: 'A Love Supreme' 50th Anniversary Shirts


You can also use the Offers tab to make your audience aware of fun activities such as parties, receptions, or artist signings.

UMKC: Pre-concert reception

SFJAZZ: 'A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album' Book signing

Special Access

The Offers tab can be used in creative ways such as giving your audience access to special opportunities exclusively through the app.  Making tickets available for pre-sale, upgrading your seat, turning a single ticket into a season subscription, and music downloads are just a few of the endless possibilities.

Dallas Summer Musicals: Pre-sale Tickets & Seat Upgrades

Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra: Turn your Ticket into a Subscription

CYSO: Music Download

Enter to Win!

Use the Offers area to promote competitions,  raffles, or other sweepstakes that audience members can enter by posting in the Social tab or filling out a form linked as a custom action in the Info tab.

The School of Theatre at Florida State University: Win Free Tickets