Searching for a winner

About a month ago, Phillip decided to release MapTap. The application handled well enough of his .7z files (not all of them though, but we’re working on that) so the launch made sense. Now, in order to promote the application, Phillip organized a giveaway: one single MapTap user would get a small bundle of games.

The giveaway was something Phillip planned for the launch, so we had a little ‘automatic registration system’ in place: once the user installed the application, while running it, it would retrieve an ID (numerical) and a key (alphanumerical). When the giveaway would end, Phillip would post on his site the winning ID, and the user that had that ID would send him his key, to validate that he/she is indeed the winner. Phillip would then send the games.

It didn’t work out.

He selected (randomly) the first ID, posted it on his web site and waited for 3 days for the owned of that ID to mail him the key. Nothing happened. He then selected another ID, posted an update on his website, and then waited some more. Nothing happened.

Obviously, when searching for a winner something went wrong. But what? Let’s walk through what is my list of suspects:

  1. some MapTap users didn’t know they had an ID and key assigned to their MapTap
  2. some MapTap users didn’t know that there is a giveaway in place
  3. some MapTap users forgot about the giveaway
  4. some MapTap users  don’t track
  5. some MapTap users didn’t get the application from, so they involuntarily joined the ranks of people at (2)

I don’t think that the first one is responsible though. I mean in his description of the giveaway, Phillip does mention where the ID and key can be read from.

It could be (2) (and by extension (5)), and that’s actually good news: word of mouth about MapTap is favorable. It means that the application has the potential of expanding the user base of the site, and Phillip would love to hear more about this.

It could be (4) (and (3), I mean if you forgot about the giveaway, you obviously don’t track the website), and this is a bit upsetting. Phillip wants the website to be the center of the user experience, while the app would just enhance the overall usability of users. They won’t need to manually install and uninstall the archives he posts, they just click a link and voila, the map is installed.

But if indeed (4) is the main culprit, then something needs to be done to make tracking easier.

One thing I suggested Phillip is to have some sort of configurable RSS feed. Just like you can filter the articles by selecting one or more tags, have something similar for RSS feeds. This way, people who believe that only map releases are important can subscribe only to that, and people who like polls and competitions can make a feed just for that.

If (2) and (5) are the main issue though, then Phillip is facing a nice opportunity to increase his user base. Question is, how should we do it? Again, some possible solutions:

  1. have a splash screen at startup, mentioning the website
  2. have a window pop up from time to time, hinting towards the website, or asking for feedback about either the app or the website
  3. have balloons in the system tray, mentioning the website, or pointing out links to new archives as they get added.
  4. or, more to this particular problem, have a pop up showing up on the winner’s computer saying “Congratulations, you won stuff!”

Obviously (2) and (4) are spamy. Avast does this when they update their virus signature database (well, they do something slightly worse with the default settings on, they’ll also play out a sound, a female voice saying that the virus database has been updated. Yuk!) and it feels bad. So we won’t do that. A splash screen (1) is however a good idea, and I’ll have that prepared.

What about balloons? This is where I have my doubts. Should we have them? And if so, what should be the message? Should we alert the user each time something happens on Should we just ‘watch’ an RSS feed?

Now normally you would run a poll and take the decision according to that. But the people we’re targeting are not visiting the website, for a reason or another. They do use the app. And doing the poll through a pop up from MapTap is a no-go (see the spamy aspect of pop ups mentioned before).

I guess we’ll experiment. Start with the splash screen and move do a balloon thing watching a feed dedicated for MapTap. We’ll see how that goes.


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