Monday, June 20, 2016

Partner Showcase - Seattle Shakespeare Company

When you think of Shakespeare, you probably don't think of mobile apps.  But Seattle Shakespeare Company does.  For the past two years, they have used their mobile app to connect contemporary audiences with the power and vibrancy of Shakespeare and other classical playwrights.

We recently spoke with Communications Director Jeff Fickes to find out what prompted Seattle Shakespeare Company to pursue their mobile engagement strategy.

Jeff Fickes
Why did you decide to offer a mobile app for your patrons?
When mobile apps first appeared in the marketplace, I knew that I wanted Seattle Shakespeare Company to have one. We had meetings did some research, and then saw that the development was going to be out of our reach since we’re a relatively small company.

But I kept dreaming. I had been doing a lot of reading about the direction of consumer trends and everything I read pointed me in the direction of optimizing for mobile usage. We redesigned our website to be mobile responsive and optimized our email campaigns to be read on mobile devices. I still kept thinking about a mobile app.

Click on image for a closer look.
We’re a theatre company that performs in three different indoor venues, 13 different outdoor venues, and has a tour that performs all over the state. We are a mobile theatre company. I wanted us to be easily accessed where ever our patrons are and to be able to communicate with them whether they’re in a theatre, seeing a park show, or a student seeing Shakespeare for the first time with one of our tours.

Why did you choose InstantEncore’s mobile app solution?
I actually stumbled upon InstantEncore. I was searching around in the App Store to see what other theatre companies were doing in terms of mobile apps, and saw that some of the larger theatre organizations across the country (Guthrie Theatre, Arena Stage, and Berkeley Rep) were using InstantEncore. I immediately requested a demo and got very excited about the prospect of making a long term goal happen.

InstantEncore offers a great deal of flexibility and allows you to tailor the app to your own needs. It worked with our ticketing system and the pricing was within our budget. I didn’t need a lot of convincing. We started devising a plan for how we wanted to use the app and got it set up within a week or so after signing up.

Seattle Shakespeare Company uses
their app's At-The-Venue feature
to engage audiences at performances.
Click on image for a closer look.
How have you promoted your mobile app to your patrons?
We’ve promoted the app through lobby signs, curtain speeches, our website, email notices and program ads. We’ll most likely do a small facebook digital ad campaign in conjunction with our upcoming outdoor shows this summer, as we’ve found it to be very useful for locating which park show is performing where - since the shows are in a different location practically each night.

What are the main benefits of your mobile app for your patrons?
Aside from being able to engage with patrons on a device that many people have a personal attachment to, I believe it’s worked well for us from a branding standpoint. We were one of the first theatre companies in Seattle to have a mobile app.

Just the fact that a theatre company of our size who focuses on classical plays has an app says something about the company. It sort of shakes off the perceived stodginess of classical plays and gives people a digital interaction in addition to the stage experience.

I believe that patrons start to experience the play well before they enter theatre. They’re conceiving of it in their mind through the advertising images and words written about it. If they’re engaging with the play (learning about it and the company) through a mobile device and can do it where ever they may be (on the bus, waiting in line at the store, at home on the couch) we become much more a part of their lives. The perception of the work on stage takes on a different relevance because we’ve engaged with them on their terms, on their time. The art can seem more relevant to a contemporary world because the engagement was digital.

SSC uses push notifications to
send contextually relevant messages
to patrons. Click on image for a
closer look.
Which feature do you like best? Why?
I love the At-The-Venue feature. I believe that if a patron feels informed about the show they’re about to see, that their experience of it is better. We include video welcome messages, things to know, directors notes, cast bios as well as special offers to entice them to buy in our shop or make a purchase of their next ticket.

We’ve also run some very unique sales promotions (including a one day $12 ticket promotion in honor of the Seahawks being in the Super Bowl) that utilized the push notifications and custom tabs.

What’s the feedback on the app been like from your patrons?
We’ve gotten good feedback and have seen the app consistently utilized, especially on show days. I think that adoption has been slow and most of the people regularly using are “super fans.”

What has customer support been like?
Customer support has been great. I like that the product continues to be developed with new features added.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Partner Showcase - Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has been enriching the lives of audiences with world-class music for 120 years.  In 2012, PSO launched their mobile app for Apple and Android devices.

We recently caught up with PSO's Joyce DeFrancesco, Director of Media Relations, to find out what prompted this established performing arts organization to launch their own mobile app and how have patrons responded to it.

Joyce DeFrancesco
Why did you decide to offer a mobile app for your patrons? 
When we began considering a mobile app, it was clear that mobile viewing of our site was growing. Having a mobile app would provide a better customer experience for our users.

Why did you choose InstantEncore’s mobile app solution? 
We reviewed a variety of options when selecting a mobile app solution. Instant Encore stood out because the framework is geared towards performing arts organizations. Also, they have a relationship and understanding of Tessitura, our ticketing database, if we should choose to integrate. 

PSO Mobile App
Click on image for a closer look
How have you promoted your mobile app to your patrons? 
We include a notice about our mobile app in our monthly e-newsletters and e-blasts about specific concerts. We push it on our social media and in many print publications.

What are the main benefits of your mobile app for your patrons? 
The mobile app provides our patrons with up-to-the-minute information about the concerts they’ll be attending and an easy way to provide them with links and access to even more information!

Which feature do you like best? Why? 
The push notification feature and its targeting function has been a wonderful way for us to get information and special offers to the patrons who are interested in a direct and noticeable alert. 

What’s the feedback on the app been like from your patrons? 
We haven’t received much feedback on the app, which we take as a good sign. When people don’t like something, they usually don’t hesitate to let you know! This is a “no news is good news” situation.

PSO welcomes app users to the concert with a geofence push notification.
Click on image for a closer look.

How easy was it to implement your app? 
The app was very easy to implement. We simply had to entered our concerts and created any pages we wanted. After that, we alerted Instant Encore, and they launched it in the app store.

What has customer support been like? 
Customer support is a breeze with Instant Encore. They are very responsive to any questions – from emergencies to simple inquiries.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Maximize Convenience and Customization for Your App's Home Screen with Cards

The Home screen is crucial for your mobile app's success. It's the first thing people see when they use the app. Making a good first impression sets the tone for their entire experience.

If they see old information or a blank screen, then they might assume the app has nothing relevant to them and delete it.

So how can you avoid this without spending too much time doing maintenance? With the newest option in your toolkit - the Cards home screen!

Cards combines the convenience of the What's New home screen's automatically updated content feed with the endless customization options of the Slideshow home screen.

Activating the Cards Home Screen

Turning it on is easy.  Go to Mobile >> Tabs, and look for "Home: Cards" in the Type column.  Enable the Display checkbox for that item.

Activate and manage the Cards option in the Tabs area.
Click on image for a closer look.
To manage your Cards tab, click on the link in the Text column.

Once the tab is set up, users will be able to scroll through a list of all available Cards that link through to your content.

Header Image

Examples of Header Images.
Click on image for a closer look.
The first feature of your new Cards tab is an optional Header Image.  This banner image can be whatever you like. Just make sure it isn't too tall that it eats up all of a phone's real estate. We recommend a 3:1 width to height ratio.

Some popular examples are:
  • A photo of your ensemble, performance venue, or building exterior
  • The logo and branding of your organization.
  • A major sponsor (Note: It will not link to their website)

Content Cards

Without having to do any extra work, this tab will automatically create Cards for your active At-The-Venue Experiences and for your upcoming Event listings.  There will also be Cards that highlight the most recent Music, Video, or Buzz content. If there is no content for any of these, then that Card won't display. Everything is taken care of for you.

Access specific content or view all.
Click on image for a closer look.

However, you still have the power to do more.  You can drag-and-drop them to rearrange their order. Managing them lets you customize their label or decide if you wish to hide it. You can even add Custom Cards to supplement what your new home screen has to offer.

Custom Cards

Custom Cards in action.
Click on image for a closer look.
Custom Cards are very similar to Slideshow Slides, just smaller (and in some ways better!). Instead of a full screen graphic, all you need is another 3:1 banner.

You will be able to add a Headline and Description to give your users an idea of what content they will access through the Card.  This should just be a short paragraph at most. You will want to have multiple Cards visible on the screen at the same time to retain the Cards feel.

The Action Text should be a short phrase that tells users what you want them to do. "Tap Here", "Read More", "Learn", etc.  Then, provide an In-App URL to another tab or content item, or even an external URL. The entire Custom Card will act as one large, easy-to-tap button that links the user to that content.

This gives you the power to do whatever you want. Link to another Custom Tab with parking information, highlight a specific Music Album, link to your most popular Social Media platform, or highlight a Season Sponsor. 

One other big change from the Slideshow Slides is that in addition to being scheduled, you can leave the date fields blank to have the card always display.

Additional Resources

Video: Managing the Cards Home Screen
Video: Adding Custom Cards to Your App's Home Screen
Partner Example: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (for best results, view on a mobile device)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Automatically Enhance the Audience Experience with At-The-Venue

Since 2014, InstantEncore's mobile suite has enabled performing arts organizations to enhance the audience experience with event-specific content released within their mobile app on the day of the performance.

Our new At-The-Venue (ATV) feature uses automation tools to make this easier than ever before. With At-The-Venue, you can automatically generate an ATV experience for every event in your calendar AND identify specific content to be included in every ATV experience.

ATV's automation tools help you to consistently enhance the audience experience for every event, amplify the relevancy of your app for patrons, and save staff time by reducing app management tasks

Sync ATV with Your Events

Prior to the release of At-The-Venue, app administrators needed to manually create experiences for events on their calendar. Now, you can synchronize the creation of ATV experiences with Events in your app.  And all it takes is the click of a button!

Click on image for a closer look
  • In your account, go to Mobile >> At-The-Venue
  • In the Checklist on the right, click on Sync with Events
  • Click on the Enable Sync button
Once you enable the sync, an ATV experience will be generated for each upcoming Event. The follow items will be automatically included in the experience:

Monday, May 9, 2016

10 Tips for Managing Geofences - Connecting When and Where It Counts

Geofences allow you to create location-based triggers around your venue. Think of it as putting a ring around your theater, concert hall, museum or other venue. When your patrons cross the geofence ring, they receive a customized message on their phone prompting them to open your mobile app.

Here are 10 tips for maximizing the effectiveness of your geofences:

Getting Started

Create one single Geofence.
1. Keep it Simple.
There will always be some give and take with determining a user’s location. Especially when considering all of the technologies and factors that go into it. As an example, avoid placing one Geofence around your venue, another around the parking lot next door, and a third one for the coffee shop across the street with which you have a partnership.

Even if a user parks in the lot and grabs a cup of coffee across the street before heading into the event, they might end up receiving the event notification first, then one for the coffee shop, and lastly for the parking lot at which point they’re already in your lobby.

TIP: Use one Geofence to surround everything and then supply parking and coffee shop information as part of the At-The-Venue (ATV) Experience content.

2. Encompass the Entire Venue. And a Little Bit More.
The size of your Geofence is important. The minimum diameter is 200 meters (or about 650 feet) which will cover most small to medium sized venues. Increase the size as needed to cover larger venues. But don’t make it too big as users who have the App might receive a message even though they are not attending the event.

TIP: First, adjust your Geofence so that the entire venue is inside of it. Then expand it to add some buffer room. An extra 50 to 100 meters wouldn’t be unreasonable.

3. Managing Multiple Venues.
A single venue is easy. Create your Geofence, set an Any Time or ATV message, and you’re done! But for our partners who present at different venues, Custom Messages are key.

TIP: You can use these to create time-specific messages at each Geofence for each event. This will help you avoid sending messages to people if they happen to arrive at a location when you don’t have an event going on there. You can also mix-and-match. Setup a main Geofence with an Any Time message and Geofences for special venues with only Custom Messages.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Introducing 4 New Features Now Available for Your Mobile App

InstantEncore is continually improving our mobile solutions platform so that we can deliver maximum benefit to arts organizations and their patrons.  This week, we're releasing four exciting, new features for your mobile app.

1. Automated At-The-Venue Experiences

Creating At-The-Venue Experiences (or ATVs) are a powerful way to connect with your patrons. Your ATV can prompt them to check-in on social media, deliver program information, showcase upcoming events, present them with promotional offers, and more.

And now, it's easier than ever to create an At-The-Venue Experience. Every time you add an event in your account, you automatically generate an ATV for that event, and schedule it to appear in your app on the day of the event.

Managing At-The-Venue content is easier, too.  If you have content that you'd like in all your ATVs, you can set it up once and have it automatically added to any Experiences you create.  You can also copy existing content from other ATVs in your account.

And of course, you retain the ability to add custom content to specific Experiences or create new ATVs from scratch at any time.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Partner Showcase: Dallas Summer Musicals

As the preeminent nonprofit presenter of Broadway theatre in North Texas, Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) produces, presents and promotes excellence in live musical theatre with year-round performances for diverse audiences of all ages.  Since its launch in October 2014, the DSM mobile app has garnered nearly 7,000 downloads from patrons.

We recently talked with DSM's Amanda Farrow, Marketing & Social Media Coordinator, about their mobile app and how their patrons have responded to it.

Amanda Farrow
Why did you decide to offer a mobile app for your patrons?
We were looking for a way to engage our patrons while they're in the theater and give a more in-depth look at the touring shows we bring to the Music Hall. We also wanted an easy point of reference for our patrons to get more information about tickets and a behind-the-scenes look that our website didn’t offer. Additionally, we wanted to send instant alerts and the push notification feature was exactly what we needed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

InstantEncore, Inc. Appoints Chris Montgomery As CEO

San Diego, March 1, 2016 – InstantEncore Inc. has appointed Chris Montgomery as Chief Executive Officer. Montgomery begins his role immediately and will be based in San Diego.

Montgomery brings a wealth of experience across the mobile, digital media and the performing arts sectors. He is keenly aware of the changing dynamics of the mobile and live entertainment experiences and will be responsible for accelerating growth, harnessing innovation and re-defining what the performing arts experience means in the future.

“Chris comes to us with a wealth of experience in both the arts and technology worlds - a truly great fit for InstantEncore. We couldn't be happier to have him on our team, and it bodes well for our future”, said Evan Schumacher, CTO of InstantEncore. “Chris also has strong vision and leadership abilities that will help us further develop our mobile solutions platform and innovate across the performing arts sector.”

Prior to joining InstantEncore, Montgomery held leadership positions across a number of music and technology related companies. As EVP, Commercial Development for the Royal Conservatory he lead the expansion of the famed music curriculum across North America. As Head of North America and Global VP of Marketing for EMI Classics, he managed the legendary catalogue of EMI Classics recordings and worked with countless recording artists, ensembles and venues around the world. He began his music industry career at BMG Entertainment in Toronto.

Montgomery has also held a number of key international digital media positions. At Diamond Multimedia, he was on the team that launched the first portable mp3 player (Rio) and spinout, He launched the first on-demand subscription service at, and following the acqusition of by Vivendi Universal, was appointed SVP, Digital Media based in Paris. He progressed though the organization to CEO, Europe. He has also consulted in the areas of digital media and strategy to companies ranging from Target, British Telecom, and Sony. As a recognized expert in the areas of music and digital media, Montgomery has published case studies and has spoken at leading industry conferences.

Montgomery earned an M.B.A from the University of Edinburgh, a B.A. in Education from the University of Toronto and a B.A. in Music from the University of Western Ontario. Montgomery is also an Honorary Professor at the University of Edinburgh Business School and sits on their International Advisory Board.

About InstantEncore Inc.
InstantEncore is the leading provider of mobile solutions to performing arts organizations around the globe. Our partners use the InstantEncore platform to power their mobile apps, enhance live experiences and create deeper relationships with their audiences. InstantEncore partners include Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Curtis Institute of Music and Dallas Summer Musicals. With Tessitura™ Network, Inc., our partners include the New York Philharmonic, The Shaw Festival and Santa Fe Opera.

For more information, contact:
David Dombrosky, Chief Marketing Officer

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: