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