Launching Your Mobile App — Count (and Measure) the Ways

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.


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…



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