Branch Tools that Drive Desktop Web Visitors to Your App

Scott Fried

November 9th, 2021

Desktop website visitors will never stop being important but, all things being equal, your app is always going to be your most valuable platform for engaging customers. Customers are likely to spend more time and money on your app than on your desktop website, which makes app use very valuable to your business. This means that customers who use your app have a higher lifetime value than those who don’t, so getting desktop website visitors to download and use your app should be an important piece of your marketing strategy.

That said, driving traffic from your desktop website to your mobile app can be tricky. While the traditional web-to-app journey all takes place on the same device, the desktop-to-app journey involves extra steps and multiple points of connectivity. To many users, taking the leap might seem like an inconvenience — or even a dealbreaker.

Branch has made the transition much easier with products specifically designed to facilitate the jump from a desktop website to a mobile app. By making the journey to the app as seamless and easy-to-implement as possible, Branch’s products ensure that as many customers as possible are downloading — and using — your app.

SMS Forms with Branch Links

Adding a branded SMS form to your website will eliminate dropoff and increase retention by encouraging users to install your app. By creating the proper forms and integrating them into your desktop website, you can let users send themselves SMS messages that will allow them to easily download your mobile app. 

To start, you’ll need to create a form on your site that asks users to enter their cell phone numbers. Then, you’ll have to create a response embedded in the form that sends out an SMS message with a deep link to your app. When a user receives the SMS and clicks the link, it will take them there (or to the app store, if they haven’t downloaded your app yet).

You can set up a single link to use in every SMS, or generate unique deep links that get sent to each user via SMS messages. This is handy if you want to track the pages that are generating QR code engagement or deep link the user to a specific product page they were viewing.

To create unique QR code links, you’ll need to incorporate Branch’s web SDK’s deep link creation method into the form code. This will allow your site to generate a new deep link for each user. After setup, you’ll be able to get detailed insights on how each individual user made their way from their desktop computer to your app.

You will also need to integrate a third-party service to power your SMS delivery (i.e. Twilio, Plivo). 

Note: to avoid confusion, it’s worth mentioning that Branch previously offered a pre-built Text-Me-the-App (TMTA) feature. This product included basic SMS sending functionality within the Branch system, but has been deprecated.

Quick QR Codes

QR codes have become a popular method for bringing users from a desktop website to a mobile app due to their ease of use. They seamlessly bring users to your mobile app no matter where they are, and so one of the most useful places to incorporate them is on your desktop website. A user only needs to scan the QR code with their mobile device’s camera and they’ll receive a clickable deep link that takes them to your mobile app (or to the app store to download the app). With a Quick QR code, you will generate a single static link that you can use across all of your marketing channels including your website.

Creating a QR code for a Branch link is a simple process. First, you create a quick link using the Branch dashboard. This deep link leads directly to a specific page in your mobile app. By adjusting the feature, channel, and campaign tags, you can specify that users who accessed your app via this link came from a desktop-to-app flow. Tracking users in this way will allow you to gauge the success of your desktop-to-app efforts.

Once you’ve set the link up to your preferred specifications, you can go to the link preview page and select “Get QR code.” This will enable you to download the code, which you can then place anywhere on your website. Users who encounter it will have the option to scan it and either go directly to the quick in-app link you created, or go to the app store to download the app.

Dynamic Website QR Codes

For Branch’s Enterprise-Level customers, there’s a third option: creating Dynamic QR codes that are unique for each user. While they work the same way as standard QR codes — users can scan them with their phones to receive links that take them into your app or to the app store — these codes also offer far more in terms of user engagement measurement capabilities.

Like with customized SMS messages, the tags and data necessary for analytics and deep linking functionality can be embedded in Dynamic QR codes, ensuring that brands who use them can both direct users to the right in-app pages and measure installs, opens, conversions, and other click-level information in much more detail.

Best Practices for Success

With these three tools, Branch has made the process of leading users from desktop websites to mobile apps as smooth and easy as possible. With just a few clicks, visitors can download your app — which is valuable when it comes to driving revenue, engagement and loyalty for your brand.

Of course, there are best practices that should be followed in order to ensure that you get the most out of an SMS form or QR code. It sounds simple, but it’s crucial to make sure that any messaging that links to the SMS form or the QR code is displayed in a high-traffic area of your site — the homepage, for instance. You must also make sure that your app’s description conveys its value, otherwise new users who get taken to the app store may decide not to download it. Finally, make sure that your app works smoothly so that the desktop-to-app transition is as seamless and profitable as possible.

Ready to get started? Click here for the Branch documentation on SMS links and QR codes.

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Branch provides the leading cross-platform linking and attribution platform, offering solutions that unify user experience and measurement across devices and channels. Branch has been selected by over 75,000 apps since 2014 including Adobe, BuzzFeed, Yelp, and many more, improving experiences for more than 3 billion monthly users across the globe. Learn more about Branch or contact sales today.
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