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Launching iOS apps from an Email Newsletter

Alex Williams

The inevitable accent of Mobile devices becoming the #1 email client has produced some interesting challenges for us email marketers. One such is challenge is how to work with apps, namely how to launch them from an email message. Apps aren’t going away anytime soon, so we need to figure out how to address them in our mobile email client strategy.

This post will look at launching apps from emails in the iOS mail clients (iPhone, iPad, iPod). While it’s not as easy as we would like it, it can be done.

There are a few ways to achieve this, as URL aren’t visible in apps, but they are in there in a mutant form. The most common way is a subdomain or custom URL or URL shortener. Normally in a domain configuration, this is achieved from the user agent in the browser and redirected to the app launcher shortcut (more on that in a second).

Here’s an example how Vevo uses this technique: Here is the Vevo share URL link for “Party Rock Anthem”.

  • If accessed from your desktop, it will take you to “Party Rock Anthem”.
  • If you click from your iPhone AND have the Vevo app installed, it will open that video inside of the Vevo iOS app on our iPhone (after your 15 second commercial of course)
  • If you click from your iPhone AND don’t have the app installed, it will take you to the Vevo app download page on the Vevo app store.

The app launcher shortcut is what the the url’s redirect to when the user agent detects an iOS browser (http://www.vevo.com/watch/lmfao/party-rock-anthem/USUV71100390). Linking to specific content inside apps, and passing the tracking from the email to the app is more advanced. We here at Trendline have tested app launching url’s and the results are positive. Conversion tracking is a whole other story.

App developers need to register a custom URL scheme with Apple for this technique to work. Routing this behind the scenes is the best method for email and the social web, I would not recommend using the launcher shortcuts by themselves in an email campaign, as the links would not work unless exact criteria was met.

An important component of your CRM strategy going forward is going to be fleshing out a profile with current mobile device. It allows for unique opportunities in messaging, creative, and segmentation. Instead of asking someone “Text, HTML, or Mobile”, just ask them what device they have “iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Other”. People are proud of their phones, they’ll tell you. Check in every 6 months, as people change plans every 2 years.

You can do one of two things as an email marketer right now in this fast changing landscape – you can wait around for standards and research to tell you what to do, or you can figure out a way to do what you need to do right now and drive results. At Trendline, we go with latter.

If you have questions, leave them below in the comments section.

About the Author(s)

Alex Williams

SVP, Principal, Solutions & Strategy. Portland, OR. Follow Alex on Twitter

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