Monday, July 1, 2013


We have had more then 700,000 downloads of our apps since 2010, and we don't have any way to contact those people or know who they are outside of our apps.  For in-app engagement I highly recommend the Apps Fire Booster SDK which I did a blog post about awhile ago.  However, I think we need to be doing more to stay in touch with our users.  I talked with Jody Burgess who runs a strategic marketing company and she planted a bug in my ear about collecting e-mail addresses.

Newsletter Signup

I decided that collecting e-mail addresses would be a good idea, but I wanted to make sure we are adding value for that e-mail address and that we don't spam our users.  Ken and I decided to add a newsletter signup to Picross HD.

We added a simple signup process that will prompt users to signup for the Newsletter.  The signup offer will be shown after several launches of the App or upon request.

We are using a double opt in process that requires the user to ask to signup for the newsletter as shown above and via a confirmation e-mail.


We are using to manage the e-mail lists for us.  This helps us stay in compliance with different e-mail laws and manages all the opt-in and out stuff.  They also have a simple little api called ChimpKit on git hub.  I wish they had done a bit more work on it as it's just a very thin wrapper around their rest api, but it is still useful.

They also support localized e-mails, but I have had a hard time getting that setup correctly.  For this first pass, I'm just going to go in english, but I would like to support japanese better in the future as about half the Picross HD user base is japanese.

At the time of this writing, we haven't gone live with Mailchimp so I don't know how well they are going to perform until we get a few e-mail campaigns under our belt.

Privacy Policy

The one thing mailchimp doesn't really help with is in the creation of a Privacy Policy.  If you are collecting names and e-mail addresses you will need a privacy policy.  It cost about $650 to have one created along with a Terms of Use for our website and an End User License Agreement.

Free Puzzles

The main use of the newsletter will be to feature new free puzzles that can be played either via paper or via our games.  Here is an example of what the newsletter will look like:

We keep the e-mail really simple so that it has the best chance of being opened by various e-mail readers, but when you click on one of the puzzles it will open the puzzle in our puzzle view.

Puzzle Viewer

The puzzle view is interesting because it uses Javascript to give the user more options.  For example, if you have it open on an iOS device it will give you the option of installing Picross HD or if you have Picross HD already installed it will give you the option to play the puzzle directly in Picross HD.

If you are viewing it on a computer it gives you the option of download Picross HD through iTunes or print the puzzle.  You can even show the puzzle's solution so it's possible to play the puzzle with pen and paper.  We hope users will play it in Picross HD, but we want people to share our puzzles with their friends and have no barriers to playing our puzzles.

It was a little tricky to get it to work, just contact me if you would like me to share the Javascript code with you or you can view the page source to see it yourself.

The nice thing about the Puzzle view is we will also be able to do some social campaigns on Facebook and Twitter.  I plan on posting free puzzles to Facebook and Twitter which will bring people to the Puzzle viewer.  They will hopefully enjoy the puzzle and choose to signup for the newsletter or download Picross HD.

Cross Promote

In addition to Picross puzzles, we plan on making Hashi puzzles available through the newsletter.  We think people who like Picross puzzles will also probably like Hashi puzzles and this is a way to introduce them to Hashi puzzles and our Hashi app.

We will also use the newsletter to talk about upcoming releases and news we think our users may be interested in hearing about.


It's kind of amazing all the possibilities that open up just by having interested user's e-mails.  I'm excited to see how this goes over with our users and through our planned social campaigns.

Please feel free to follow me on twitter at @fivelakesstudio. I would love to hear about your app marketing experiences.  Also, feel free to signup now for our newsletter.  It may still be in a beta form, and it won't be able to open puzzles in Picross HD until the 3.4 version is available.  Other then that it should work fine.  :)

Thanks for reading and be sure to visit us at Five Lakes Studio.

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