January 24, 2023

How to Generate Links to Open Mobile Apps from Snapchat Ads and Stories

Snapchat app logo

Since Snapchat opened its platform up to advertising in 2014, the social app has proven itself as a fountain of potential revenue with a unique reach.

In fact, as of January 2022, the number of daily Snapchat users totaled approximately 319 million worldwide, with marketers being able to potentially reach 557.1 million users with ads. (Business of Apps 2022) – Business of Apps’)

And when it comes to Snapchat advertising—or any other social media marketing—it’s important for app marketers to stay ahead of the curve when expanding brand awareness, increasing app installations, and maintaining a steady stream of app re-engagement.

Snapchat app on smartphone screen

Whether you’re linking to your app from a Snapchat ad or a Snapchat story, it’s essential that you’re using the right link that can take users from “app to app.” When you implement this kind of deep link into your advertising campaigns, both potential and current customers can be taken to the right place. That could be opening the app to a specific screen, or routing the user to the right app store; or sometimes, you may want to send users to the right web page when the app is not installed. With the right link, you can decide based on the goals of your campaign.

Ultimately, this app deeplinking capability achieves two major things: 1) it makes the entire shopping journey more convenient for the customer, and 2) it makes your app marketing strategy more successful in relation to revenue and brand engagement. A single intelligent link that can do all of the above while removing any friction from the content journey allows the customer to buy the product or engage with content immediately.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Hm, my current Snapchat ad link to my brand’s app already has deep linking capabilities. What makes this any different?”

Well, have you noticed that these links aren’t opening your app when it’s already installed on users’ phones? Or potential users of your app are sent to the wrong app store that doesn’t correspond with their phone? Test it out (if you haven’t already, that is).

Landing page? Website home page? The Google Play store, even though you have an iPhone? All this is called ‘friction’ or any extra click that delays the user from taking the action you want them to take.

URLgenius lets marketers compose special links to create unique “app-to-app” link experiences that include extensive routing intelligence. It’s simple to build and test URLgenius links right away. Simply update the web URL you’re currently using behind your Snapchat ad so it can open your app directly from social media. URLgenius links can be used to open your app or the right app store from any social media platform (not just Snapchat, but also InstagramFacebookTikTokYouTube, etc.). When you think of ‘app-to-app’ linking, consider URLgenius as your option for easily transitioning your clients from one app to another.

Remember that when your Snapchat ads are optimized with these special app deep links, they will not only send your current app users to the right destination within the app itself when it’s already installed, but they will also send potential customers to the right app store on their smartphone device (iOS App Store or Google Play) so that they can download the app and you can measure your results, which we’ll get to in a moment.

Oh, and beware of free or low-cost competitors to URLgenius that have significant limitations. If you use free alternative link generators, the links you make are more likely to be broken, unreliable, and missing all the qualities you need for your social media app-to-app marketing plan to work.

Your URLgenius deeplinks will send people from social media sites like Snapchat to your app. Our technology also lets you add Google UTM tracking tags to those app links, just like you would to a regular web URL, so you can track how well your campaign is doing.

Lastly, we want to point out that URLgenius links can be used to promote any app, whether it’s for cosmetics, car rentals, fitness, or e-commerce retail. Overall, deep links that open your app from social media are a great way to make more money because that’s where most of your customers and potential customers spend their time.

Snapchat Advertising Strategies for App Marketing

So, given the context of your campaign’s objectives, how do you want your ad’s link to behave? To begin, the link’s behavior should be directly tied to the customer in question—do they not already have your brand’s app downloaded?

If so, the link should send them to the right screen of your app on their phone, correct? Right.

If they don’t already have the app installed, they should be routed to the right app store where they can download the app immediately. This is critical if you want more people to install your app, and part of that is eliminating any unnecessary clicks and landing pages.

Most marketers, however, don’t realize that they can create a link that can do all of that, so what do they do instead? They send all traffic to the website, even their loyal app users.

When clicked from a Snapchat ad, the regular link sends your audience to your website's landing or login page

What’s the downside of sending all traffic to the website? First, consumers prefer apps. Sending your loyal app users back to your website is not likely to increase sales, especially sales that can be directly linked to the money you spend on advertising. Plus, some of those clicking would be willing to install your app so you’ve just lost an app install as well.

So, what is the outcome? You won’t like the answer: lost customers and brand engagement. App installs and new loyal app users were lost. Revenue was lost. Unfortunately, this is an industry-wide issue known as ‘friction’ in the user path from the social app to the ultimate app destination. The key to reaching your campaign goals is to remove this friction and bring the customer to the appropriate spot (the right app store or the proper screen of the app).

This is not the fault of the link. The issue is with the technology underlying the default link. It was not designed to open your app or transfer the visitor from social media or go to the right app store. It seems simple and it can be with the right link, but regular web URLs just can’t do all of that.

Let’s shift gears for a moment—say your marketing aim for this Snapchat advertising campaign is to increase revenue regardless of the customer’s preference for the app or website. In that case, setting the fallback to the website when the app is not installed is the best way to optimize for revenue.

With the URLgenius app deep linking platform, you have full control over the backup destination for your campaign link. You can change it at any time without having to build a new link.

But, seriously, why is your URL not launching the app? Don’t worry, we’ll explain.

My Mobile App Has Deep Linking, So Why Is My Snapchat Ad Link Not Opening My App?

Even if you have an app link with deep linking capabilities, this does not guarantee that it will function for all use cases, especially social media. Instead, when a buyer clicks on your ad’s link, their purchasing experience is halted by something known as the ‘walled garden.’

For example, let’s say college student Liz is tapping through some stories on the Snapchat Explore page. In the middle of a video she’s watching, she is targeted by an Ulta advertisement featuring their latest promo—a free 23-piece beauty bag with a $75 purchase.

Perfect timing! Liz has been telling herself that she’s been due for an Ulta makeup and skincare haul. And a 23-piece bonus gift bag full of cosmetics and other beauty goodies? Forget about it. So she clicks on the ad, expecting to be taken to the right screen in the Ulta app that she already has on her phone.

Liz, a loyal customer, is already signed into the app and had expected it to open to the correct product page so she could buy it right away. Ugh. She’s instead sent to a website where she can create an account and sign up to receive emails from the retailer.

Liz realizes at that point that she does not have time to search the website or even open the app to find the specific promo she’s looking for. And there you have it, guys. A missed sale and an opportunity for app re-engagement. It’s all due to the walled garden phenomenon, in which Liz is ‘walled in’ within the Snapchat app because the standard Ulta link does not open the app immediately to the goods.

Wouldn’t it be great if the link immediately realized Liz had the app installed and just opened the app to the right screen?

When clicked from a Snapchat ad, the URLgenius deep link sends your audience to the correct screen in your brand's mobile app

In this case, the website experience is made worse by the fact that even if Liz decides to find the promotion she wants to buy manually through the app, your unique social media campaign will not get the credit it deserves because the tracking was lost with the first chance. Even though your app marketing strategy technically worked, this won’t help you in the long run, especially if you’re trying to convince your boss to keep putting money into similar social media marketing campaigns.

Once again, URLgenius comes in handy in this instance. Our app deeplink technology can mean the difference between your plan succeeding or failing—a boom with a smooth app-to-app chain of events and a bust campaign without.

And now the time has come to get started with our step-by-step lessons on how to: 1) produce Google UTM tags for your app store links if you want to track app installs and 2) generate those exact app deep links.

How to Generate Google UTM Tags for Your iOS App Store and Google Play Links to Track App Installs from Snapchat Ads

First, a note about Google UTM tags. You’ll be able to measure how many app installs your campaign link is generating as long as you have the Google Analytics SDK for Mobile Apps for iOS and Android installed. Without installing or managing another third-party SDK, you can track visits to the app store, app installs, app opens, and app re-engagement through social media and other channels.

You just need to make a campaign link in the consoles, which will add the right tags to your app store links for iOS and Android so you can track and attribute app downloads to your Snapchat ad. Simply follow the steps below to add UTM tags to your app store links.

By making a campaign link in App Store Connect for iOS, you can make UTM tags that can be used to track how many times an app is downloaded. Create a new campaign link with the UTM tags for each app install campaign so you can track and attribute the results to your Snapchat campaign.

Under ‘Sources,’ you can see a list of your app install campaigns and their results:

Google UTM tags

Make sure the way you name your campaign matches your plan when you make new app store links with tracking.

generating campaign link

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.

generating campaign URL

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.

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 measure how well your campaign is performing.

Step-By-Step: How To Generate and Add a Link to Your Snapchat Ad to Open Your Mobile App

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).

URLgenius home page - Snapchat ad to mobile app link generator

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 Ulta app promo page (but this could be any screen in the app that you like):

URLgenius-generated Snapchat ad to mobile app link

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.

URLgenius-generated Snapchat ad to mobile app QR code

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 on 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.

URLgenius-generated Snapchat ad to mobile app link - app routing by platform and device

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.

URLgenius-generated Snapchat ad to mobile app QR code customization

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!

One Snapchat Ad Campaign Link for iOS and Android

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 at 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.

Meeting Your App Marketing Objectives

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 Snapchat ad, they’ll appreciate that you spared them a step by launching it instantly to the right screen (boosting conversion!).

Controlling the Fallback URL for App Links

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 Snapchat 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 Snapchat (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

‘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.

Create Your Custom Mobile App Link for Snapchat Advertising With URLgenius Today

More app installs, more app engagement, more money—do we really need to say more? It’s time to use URLgenius to maximize Snapchat advertising for your app. Remember, no SDKs or technical resources are required.

We’re here to help! Contact us at 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: