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We wanted to test whether gamifying giving might engage young men in giving for Red Nose Day 2013, by creating ‘Britain’s Biggest Fart App’, a smartphone based game which enables you to make a friend’s phone fart (whilst making an SMS donation to Comic Relief).

Downloaded 100,000 times for Red Nose Day, 60% of game players were under 30 and 53% of them men and almost half were first time fundraisers.

You might also be interested in gamifying giving or the science of farts.

How do you get 100,000 downloads?

Design it in. Great marketing is designed into a great app.

There are 4 challenges – people finding your app, getting them to download and initiate the app, getting them to come back and play or engage more than once in your app and finally to share the app with friends.

So let’s take that in reverse:

Design into your app reasons to share

With Red Nose Day we only had a few weeks to make an impact and get engagement but games take months to build audiences. We had days.

Firstly the game was built around making a friend’s phone fart – a peer to peer idea from the start.

Secondly we designed in a requirement when you initiated the app that you had to share with your facebook friends that you are playing the game. Telling users what to do always carries a risk of backlash and some were grumpy about this feature, but it meant the first 1000 downloads got shared with 20,000+ facebookers.


Make your app sticky – give me reasons to come back and play again

The game was designed to celebrate farting achievement, with special edition farts and local and national rankings and fun reasons for you to engage and come back to play more or check progress. For more on gamification click here.

We made it fun and pretty gross.

This generated considerable word of mouth, the most valuable kind of marketing.

Take a look at your app, what are the great features your users are excited about (you did test regularly with users at every stage of development right?).

The pressures of a deadline for Red Nose Day and delays in Apple approval seriously ate into our test time, so we didn’t discover until after launch that it was vital for game players to know who had sent them farts, which we corrected within days of launch, but crunching user testing meant we missed a vital trick.


Get the first user journey right: You only have one chance to make a good first impression.

If your app doesn’t download and start up smoothly first time it’s game over for that customer. In a world of 200+ mobile phone standards it’s essential to make sure your app downloads and opens up smoothly and is intuitive and easy to use.

Testing this super essential first journey is key.

Our desire to link the app to users’ facebook feed meant users had to give a double permission. Firstly to access facebook on their phone and then secondly to link it to the app, effectively they had to go through the same permissions screen twice. This horrible piece of mandatory UX (user experience) confused and annoyed over 35,000 people. We lost them. They got stuck in facebook permissions hell and gave up.

If we’d known we were going to lose one third of our audience 10 seconds in maybe we might have thought differently about the game design.

Finding your app – 50% of your project budget should be marketing.

In a world of over 1 million apps in the Apple App Store (400,000+ which have never downloaded once) the competition for users attention is fierce.

Whatever you are spending on an app you should be spending again on marketing. To find out what you should be spending it on click here.

TheGivingLab offers innovation consulting, consumer research and digital design to help charities change and grow. Contact us:

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