Will worked at Branch for five years, coming in as a Senior Product Manager and eventually being promoted to Lead Product Manager. He managed Branch’s Universal Ads and contributed to the company Blog.
Dec 15, 2015
This blog post was originally published in 2015. You can also read one of our newer posts on how to use web to app banners on mobile.
Where do app users come from, and what makes them stick? We asked a group of panelists from Yelp, Jet, and Yummly that question at our recent event on “The Future of App Discovery.” The group kept coming back to the same point: a significant portion of their app traffic comes from intelligently redirecting users from web to app.
While we’re excited for app-only mobile search, here are some thoughts on how to help your existing web users make the leap to your app. If you only have an app and don’t have a mobile website, please read on. There are some useful tips in here for you as well.
Interstitials (full screen ads that either precede or take over the user interface) are polarizing. Users claim to hate them, yet product managers swear by their effectiveness. Google has declared them a scourge (despite the fact that some Google products used them until very recently), and is punishing sites that use them. However, interstitials that promote mobile apps generally convert well, and when done properly, can actually enhance the user experience.
Yelp gave us some pointers on how to keep your interstitials relevant and user-friendly:
Yelp does a great job of demonstrating its app’s value by highlighting strong ratings and superior user experience.
If you don’t have a mobile website (or if you do, but you don’t want to the hassle of generating dynamic interstitials) you can use Branch Deepviews. Deepviews use data from your deep link to dynamically create web pages that display app content to your user. This preview engages your customer before they have your app, and makes them more anywhere from two to six times as likely to download.
This iHeartRadio Deepview is dynamically generated based on what user will see in the app.
If users don’t engage with the interstitial, or if you decide it’s not the best experience, then make it easy for them to make the jump later with smart banners (an unobtrusive, dismissable banner that promotes a mobile app). Smart banners that promise the same content in the app offer a way for users to upgrade their browsing experience without losing track of their current place. Put a deep link behind the call to action to make the flow seamless
If you have good ratings, show those in your smart banner so customers are reassured that they’re going to get a good experience if they download.
Emails aren’t obviously connected to web SEO, but they can actually be a great tool for transitioning web users to your app.
If you already drive good traffic to your website, engage your users with compelling email campaigns. Yummly, for example, does a really good job of personalizing emails based on recipes their users have liked on the site. If you build up a strong following over email, use intelligent calls to action to make the transition to your native app.
Yummly uses a simple call to action at the beginning and end of their emails, encouraging users to “Get the App,” which is a simple and unintrusive way of driving downloads.
If you’re serious about moving people to the app, you can deep link from email content directly into the app or to the app store. Charlotte Russe, a popular fashion app, uses Branch deep links behind their web content that drives users with the app directly to the app, and those without the app to download it (you can also redirect to mobile web if you don’t want to drive users to the app store).
To re-engage app users who tend to spend time in mobile web, take advantage of Branch’s proprietary mobile website to app routing. Pinterest uses this to redirect users who load the mobile website, but already have the Pinterest app, into their mobile app. It works for any content, so your user will still find the content they were looking for in the app. Jet also uses this feature. When any users clicks on a product on mobile web, they’re taken to that product in the app, where search and checkout is much easier.
This is an easy way to boost app retention (looking at you, mobile product managers). If a user doesn’t have the app, you can keep them on mobile web, put a link to the app store (that will deep link after install) behind a button or interstitial, or show them a Deepview, depending on what’s best for your app.
For the past two years Google has required you to have a website to take advantage of app indexing. While they recently changed this to allow app-only content, it’s likely that app content with a corresponding website will be favored. This means that on your website, you need to specify where the same content lives inside your app. You can find Google’s instructions on App Indexing here (we’ve summarized it on our blog as well). Use App Indexing via the Branch Universal Object to turn your existing web SEO into app SEO.
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