What was once mainly a place for teens to upload trendy dance moves, TikTok reached the milestone of 1 billion users worldwide by September 2021 by masterfully attracting creators and viewers of all demographics to its platform. In tandem with this growth, it has also transformed into a significant arena for advertising, with all kinds of businesses and brands flocking to market their services and products to a younger, wider audience.
So really, it’s no wonder that you’re considering TikTok advertising as a way to increase app installs (or app re-engagement). Not only can you use TikTok ads to send potential customers to the right app store depending on their device, but you can also send current app users to specific content in your app (app re-engagement).
If you’ve already tried linking to your app from TikTok ads with a regular web URL that has app deep linking capability, you’ve probably noticed it doesn’t work (we’ll explain why in a moment).
You might be wondering, how does using an app-opening link behind your TikTok ad improve customer service? Furthermore, how does one measure the success of their campaign?
The key is to use a special app deep link from URLgenius that can open your app from social media. The same concept applies whether you’re linking to your app from Facebook, or when you want to link to open your app from Instagram.
Don’t be fooled by cheap alternatives to URLgenius! URLgenius links are made with a patented, enterprise-grade, cloud-based process that lets apps be opened from any channel. Not only can your URLgenius app deep links open your app from social media—including TikTok—our platform allows you to append Google UTM tracking tags to your app links, just like you do for a regular web URL.
It makes no difference what type of app you’re promoting—whether it’s travel, food and beverage, retail e-commerce, car rental, etc.—app deep links behind social media ads are a great way to reach consumers and measure app installs, sales, and other metrics.
To begin, think about the behavior of the link behind your ad in the context of your campaign goals. How should the campaign link behave optimally if the app is already installed? The app should open the correct screen in the app, correct? (After all, why would you send the person back to the app store?)
This is where you say, ‘Duh! Of course!’ Well, all you need is the right link behind your ad which will ensure that your customer is taken directly to the right place every time. You’d think that it’s common sense for a link to always behave this way, right?
If the app isn’t installed, the user should be sent to the right app store depending on the device. This is especially important if the goal of your app marketing is to get more people to install your app. (It’s ideal to avoid any additional landing pages, especially if your app doesn’t require any detailed explanation.)
So, what happens when a TikTok user clicks on the default app link embedded in an ad for one of their favorite brands? Even if the app is already on the device, the user is sent to the web login page, another landing page, or, worst of all, the wrong app store.
This leads to lost customers, revenue, and app installs. So, what’s the deal with that? This issue is an industry challenge for marketers when campaigns move customers between apps and websites. It’s not the fault of the link; it’s just that the technology behind it wasn’t designed for this use case.
On the other hand, suppose your goal is to increase revenue, no matter if the user prefers the app or website. In that scenario, where should the user be directed if the program isn’t installed? To maximize sales, it would be best to set the fallback destination to the web URL when the app is not installed.
Now, wouldn’t it be awesome if you had control over that fallback setting for your campaign link when your app is not installed and you could change it to match your campaign at any time? There’s only one right answer: Of course it would be.
So, how do app marketers solve for this issue? We’re going to show you step-by-step how to create one intelligent ad campaign link—complete with all the optimal routing behavior built in so you can match the settings with your campaign goals. First, a bit more on why your link isn’t opening the app.
Unfortunately, not all app links are created equal. So even if your app already includes deep linking technologies, you’ve probably learned that they do not work for you the way that you’d like them to in your social media ads.
As we mentioned before, a regular link that presumably would send a user to your app from TikTok is unfortunately not going to do so. This is because of something that the industry calls the ‘walled garden.’ To securely jump over that walled garden and open the right screen in the app, you simply need to update your links to give them the special capability to accomplish this goal.
For example, let’s say that a person (let’s call him John) is scrolling through his TikTok feed. He stumbles on an ad from one of his favorite lunchtime restaurants—Panera Bread. They happen to be advertising gift cards for the holidays, and Paul decides that this is the perfect gift for his other friend, who also loves Panera Bread.
Great! He clicks on the ad. As someone with the Panera app downloaded on his iPhone, he expects to be taken directly to it. If John was presented with a login or cluttered landing page, he’d probably give up and go on with his day. Yikes. That’s lost revenue!
Solving the walled garden phenomenon (the moment in which the app you’re in prevents you from opening a different app) is exactly the thing that we at URLgenius specialize in.
Consider this— even if John takes himself over to Panera Bread app later to purchase the gift card, your campaign will not get credit for it, because tracking would be lost. So when you report your ad campaign’s numbers and results, the extent to which the numbers represent your success will be inaccurate. All in all? This will make it difficult for you to convince your boss that you have a case for investing more in your future social media marketing campaigns. (When in fact, it did work!)
All in all, URLgenius app deep linking is the missing piece in your social media advertising campaign: A smooth app-to-app journey and the ability to accurately track the success of your campaign. Let’s get started!
First a note about Google UTM tags: You’ll be set to track how many installs your app is generating, as long as you have the Google Analytics SDK for Mobile Apps for iOS and Android installed. You can track app store visits, app installations, app opens, and app re-engagement through social media and other channels—all without installing or managing another third-party SDK.
You just need to create a campaign link in the console, which will append the right tags to your app store links for iOS and Android so that you can track and attribute app installations to your TikTok ad. Simply follow the steps below to add UTM tags to your app store links.
You can generate UTM tags for measuring app installations for your iOS app by creating a campaign link in App Store Connect. Create a fresh campaign link with the UTM tags for each app install campaign to track and attribute the results to your campaign.
Under ‘Sources,’ you can see a list of your app install campaigns and their results:
Make sure the way you name your campaign matches your plan when you make new app store links with tracking.
Your iOS app store URL with UTM measurement tags should look like this:
It is important to note that iOS app store links with campaign tracking include “pt” and “ct” parameters, which stand for “provider tracking” and “campaign tracking,” respectively. The “pt” field is your provider ID, whereas the “ct” value represents the name of your campaign. These values cannot simply be appended. These tags must be generated in App Store Connect using the campaign tool, or your campaign won’t be measured.
The procedure for adding UTM tags to your Google Play link is quite similar to that of the Google Play Store; however, the application is known as the Google Campaign Builder.
When you construct the campaign URL, Google will detect that it leads to Google Play and will direct you to the Google Play URL Builder.
The process for building app store links with UTM tags for Google Play is similar. Your app store links don’t require UTM tags to create your app deep links, but it is the best way to monitor how well your campaign is performing!
Start at the URLgenius home page, where you will notice a box where you can add a web URL to generate an app deep link with attribution that opens your app, while falling back to your website or the appropriate app store if not installed by the potential customer. This is the URLgenius app link composer or builder.
Copy and paste your app’s iOS app store or Google Play link into the field on the URLgenius home page. In this example, we’ll make an app-to-app deep link to the Panera app gift card page (but this could be any screen in the app that you like):
Fill out all of the sections, including the app store links, as well as the URL scheme (or app address) for the screen you want to open when the app is already installed. If you don’t know what the URL scheme is, leave it blank and enter it later in the link’s settings.
This will not be necessary every time. Once your app is added to the platform, the composer can be set up to recognize your app and links, and your app’s deep link will automatically fill in all the needed information. Customize the link’s end to match your campaign, then click “Compose,” which will lead you to the settings page where you can copy your URLgenius deep link to use in your campaign.
Scan the QR code to see how the link behaves. You can also utilize your brand’s domain for your links, which is easy to set up in your account’s settings. To access this link later or to change the link settings, go to the menu and pick the link.
There are various advanced options tabs on the settings page. You can set the fallback URL to the website or app store in the routing tab. You can also update or add attribution measurement tags. Remember that your attribution tags must be put to your backup URL as well as the app URL for iOS and Android. If you’d like to see a demo or have any questions regarding adding attribution tags, please contact us.
In addition to reporting, there are further capabilities linked to driving more app installs.
Do you need a QR code for a multi-channel campaign? Every URLgenius deep link comes with a QR code, and the number of scans is kept separate from the number of clicks. These QR codes are an excellent way to simultaneously track and increase app installs.
Behind the QR code, your URLgenius link works to open your app to the right screen or take you to the right app store if you don’t already have it. Click “QR Settings” to download and personalize a QR code for your app.
So now let’s review what you can achieve with your campaign link!
While planning your social advertising campaign, you may think that you’ll need to create two separate URLs for two ads: one for your iOS app and one for your Android app/Google Play link.
With URLgenius, you can generate a single intelligent link that will lead the user to the appropriate app store based on their device. If your software is simple, there’s no need to send traffic to a landing page first—you just need to bring them to the right app store in that very moment.
Note: the more clicks and processes you remove from your customer’s journey, the more app installs and re-engagement you’ll receive, which means you’ll meet your advertising goals much faster.
If you’re debating whether your app marketing approach should focus on app installs or app re-engagement, we’d ask: Why limit yourself to just one of these goals? When the app is not installed, your visitor should be taken to the app store, but you can also specify which screen the application should launch to when it is installed.
You may want the app to launch to a category screen or other specialized screen where guests can engage with specific content. You can create a single campaign link (i.e., an app deep link) that accomplishes all of the above.
Remember that sending traffic back to the app store is futile if someone has already downloaded your app. Set the link to access the home screen or a deeper screen within your app. Even if only a tiny fraction of customers have your app loaded when they click your TikTok ad, they’ll appreciate that you spared them a step by launching it instantly to the right screen (boosting conversion!).
Depending on the aim of your campaign, you may want the backup URL to point to the corresponding app store or site URL. Your marketing staff should be in charge of this setting. For example, if you have an e-commerce app, your goal may be to boost revenue at times, but it may also be to increase the number of app installations at other times. Giving your marketing team control over the fallback URL, whether you want it to go to a web URL or the app store of your choice, can help you improve your campaign and achieve your objectives.
After you’ve decided on your campaign’s goals and desired link behavior, there’s one more thing to consider. Many apps make use of deep linking technology, and marketers may wrongly believe that their web URLs will open the app from TikTok and other social apps, only to be disappointed. Remember that this is due to a phenomenon known as a ‘walled garden,’ and your links simply need to be updated. This happens because TikTok (or any other app) keeps you within its embedded browser, rather than immediately opening the target app (in this case, your brand’s app), resulting in you being stuck on the login page!
‘Deferred deep linking’ is a term that some, if not many, app marketers may be familiar with. When a user launches the app for the first time, they are taken to the offer screen. For this complex use case, deep links in the URLgenius app can be adjusted.
Deferred deep linking does not require the use of an SDK; instead, a few lines of code are added to your project. Please contact us if you wish to test this advanced use case. URLgenius also offers code-free strategies for improving app installs, such as how to design app install banners for iOS and Android.
More app installs, more app engagement, more money—do we really need to say more? It’s time to use URLgenius to maximize TikTok advertising for your app. Remember, no SDKs or technical resources are required.
We’re here to help! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries concerning multi-channel app deep linking and QR codes for your app.
If you found this content helpful, check out some of our other popular how-to posts about linking to apps from different marketing channels:
App Marketing, Deep Linking, Social Marketing
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