If you have a smartphone, you are familiar with the “regular” way to launch an app: You click on the app icon on your home screen, and voilà — your app launches. Nothing fancy here. However, there are other ways to launch an app.

Using email links or Tweets to drive customers to re-engage with a new release of your app or push notifications to drive awareness about the season-end clearance of women’s scarves are just a few of the valuable tools in the app marketer’s arsenal.

Although previous blog posts discuss how to measure Push Notifications and Launch App Campaigns, a comprehensive solution that includes all of them — including regular organic launches — has yet to be documented. In this post, I share how to measure how your mobile app is launched and any related campaign information that might be contained therein.

Begin with the End in Mind

Before diving into the technical details of how to implement this solution, let’s take a look at what a sample report might look like.

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Here, we can quickly compare which app launch types are most common — and more importantly, which ones are most effective in driving engagement and conversion. In particular, pay attention to the organic launch type and how it compares to other launches types, because it serves as a baseline or a control group.

Although the above report is valuable in assessing the effectiveness of the major app launch types, underlying each type (except organic) is usually a variety of campaigns. For example, a similar report to the one above showed that there were 10 different Facebook campaigns that collectively made up the 9,281 launches.

Digging into the Details

Now that we have a better understanding of the types of reports and insights a comprehensive solution will generate, let’s dig into how to do it.

All of the app launch types shown above — except for organic and push notifications — use URL schemes. URL schemes are similar to the common “http://” that we are familiar with on the Web, but in the case of mobile apps, URL schemes take on a more custom form, such as “myAppScheme://.” (To learn how to create your own custom URL scheme, see the Launch App Campaign blog.)

The table below shows example URL schemes and their respective app launch types. These special URLs would be used in marketing efforts within the respective channels. For example, the QR code URL scheme would be encoded into a QR code image that, when scanned by a smartphone user, would launch the designated app (assuming they have the app installed).

App Launch Type URL schemes (examples)
Facebook myappscheme://mycoolapp?fb_campaign=abc123
Smart Banner myappscheme://mycoolapp?sb_campaign=def234
Web myappscheme://mycoolapp?web_campaign=ghi345
Twitter myappscheme://mycoolapp?twit_campaign=jkl456
Email myappscheme://mycoolapp?email_campaign=mno567
QR Code myappscheme://mycoolapp?qr_campaign=prs678

Here is the iOS code sample for this solution, which uses Adobe’s iOS SDK 4.x. (Android code is very similar in content and structure.)

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Conclusion

For today’s app marketers, simply knowing the number of app launches doesn’t provide the insight needed to encourage app users to re-engage with their app. However, putting in place the comprehensive solution described here will give these marketers the edge they need in measuring and optimizing their app launch campaign efforts.

1 comments
BryanVorkapich
BryanVorkapich

Great article Carl, thanks. Instead of coding in the conditions for each possible Launch Type, could we just pass the Launch Type in a separate query parameter to pass to a var or even just pass a single unique campaign code and just use classifications to identify Launch Type (similar to web analytics campaigns)? 

Thanks