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October 31, 2017

How to Create QR Codes that Deep Link into Your Mobile App

Smartphone Cameras and Contactless Commerce Renew Interest in QR Codes

QR codes were invented for industrial users not mobile marketers. This is why so many consumers experience QR failures, like QR codes being too small or not scannable. Download our QR code best practice guide to avoid common QR mistakes and create good experiences.

QR codes were first invented in 1994 by Toyota to assist in the car manufacturing process. The first QR codes were used to track vehicles and auto parts more efficiently with handheld scanners. Today, all types of companies use QR codes to engage consumers with mobile phones in many different ways. Companies are using them to open social app content, or to do business in messenger apps like WhatsApp. From the smallest to the biggest brands, QR codes are now an important marketing tool to attract and creatively engage with audiences. No longer just for product information, ecommerce retailers including Walmart and Amazon have even taken them a step further by enabling shopper-oriented activities like looking up inventory and product review information from print catalogs.

At the outset, the primary barrier to consumer adoption was the inability of mobile cameras on iOS and Android devices to scan QR codes. That meant consumers had to download a special QR code scanning app.  Now consumers just need to open their camera, point and click. This new capability combined with trends in contactless commerce is speeding up the adoption of QR code scanning among consumers.

Pro Tip: Check out our free QR Experience Playbook and QR Strategy Guide to learn everything you need to know about getting them right including density, scanning distance and how to brand and customize your QR codes. Avoid the most common QR code fails!

Deep Linking to Mobile Apps via QR Codes

How to Create a Dynamic QR Code with Mobile App Deep Linking Capability

Dynamic QR codes can be a convenient way to increase downloads and engagement of your app. The technology behind the QR code that opens your app to a specific page is called app deep linking. Deep linking platforms like URLgenius are designed for marketers and agencies and allow you to easily create QR codes to any mobile app. Unlike free bulk QR code generators or platforms designed for application developers, there is nothing to install and no development or SDK needed for app deep linking. A single QR code will open the Android or iOS app depending on what type of device does the scanning.

Consider this customized QR code example for the Coca-Cola Instagram profile. Whether you have an iOS or Android mobile device just open your camera to scan it. If you have an earlier version of an iOS or Android phone, you may need to open your QR code scanning app to scan.

Bulk QR codes for websites and mobile apps can be easily branded with your logo and unlimited color options

QR Codes and App Deep Linking

QR Codes and App Deep Linking

This QR code was created with the URLgenius platform. This is the link associated with the QR code:

https://urlgeni.us/instagram/coca-cola

The same concept can apply to your own app. When this QR code is scanned or the link is clicked from a mobile device, it will open the app to the right screen if the app is installed. If the app is not installed, the visitor will be sent to the fallback destination or in this case the Instagram mobile website. QR codes provide your visitors with a quicker and easier way to get to a specific screen or feature within your app. They can be used online or offline or anywhere your user is likely engage with your brand.

QR Codes and Fallback Settings

QR Codes and Fallback URL Settings

An important consideration for your QR code is the URL fall back setting. If your visitor does not have your app installed, should they be taken to your mobile website or to the right app store? It may depend on the goals of your campaign. If the objective is to increase app installs, you may want to set the fallback to the app store. If you think your visitor is unlikely to install your app at that moment, setting the fallback URL to your mobile website may be the best option.

Platforms like URLgenius allow marketers and agencies to control the fallback. You may hear that you need to install an SDK to have such control but URLgenius uses a more modern, cloud-based approach to app deep linking. You can simply change the fallback by platform and device in the settings for the link even when the link is part of an active campaign.

QR Codes and App Deep Linking

Tools like URLgenius let you control routing of QR code scans into app screens or fallback URLs (like website app stores) separately for iPhone, iPad, Android Phone or Tablet users.

Creating QR Codes Step-by-Step

QR Codes and App Deep Linking

Step-by-Step: Creating Dynamic QR Codes with App Deep Linking Capability

In this next example, we will create a QR code to a product page in the Amazon app. This is helpful for any Amazon Seller or Amazon Affiliate that is promoting products and storefronts. This is just one QR code but you could also use the API to create bulk dynamic QR codes programmatically.

Keep in mind, these same steps can also apply to your brand app. Just contact URLgenius and ask them to add your app to the platform. There is no fee to set up your app and you can create QR codes with app deep links and test them at no charge.

Follow these steps to create a QR code for Amazon:

  • Navigate to your target page on the Amazon website and copy the  product link from the address bar of your web browser.
  • You only need the root product link (e.g. www.amazon.com/dp/1640970487)
  • You don’t need to include the navigation tags.
  • Paste into the box on the URLgenius home page.

Deep Linking to the Amazon Shopping App

In just a few seconds you can create QR codes that deep link into any of a billion supported app screens - Instagram profiles, Facebook groups, YouTube Videos, Amazon product review pages, Spotify channels, Tiktok videos, and more

Deep Linking to the Amazon Shopping App

  • When pasting the link, notice the icon associated app is highlighted which tells you URLgenius understands the link type you pasted
  • Also notice the field containing four random characters.
  • Customize this part of the path for tracking purposes
  • In this case we will make it “nyc-2022”

Deep Linking to the Amazon Shopping App

Customize the QR link path name


g to the Amazon Shopping App

Creating QR Codes for Mobile App

  • Click the “Compose URL” button which takes you to the settings page which contains the QR code
  • Scan the QR code to test the app-open behavior
  • Download the QR code in various formats for use online or offline

Deep Linking to the Amazon Shopping App

Copy the QR code in SVG or PNG or JPG formats to provide to a printer service

Deep Linking to the Amazon Shopping App with URLgenius

Where to Use Your URLgenius QR Codes

  • Use QR codes on all your printed marketing material
  • Use QR codes to increase app installs and engagement
  • Include in print, online and TV advertising as a call-to-action
  • Anywhere you are likely to engage your audience!

Deep Linking to the Amazon Shopping App

QR Codes and App Deep Linking Metrics

QR code reporting is important understand how much engagement are driving and how many devices have the app installed. Here’s an example chart for daily visitors, clicks and app opens:

URLgenius QR Codes for Deep Linking Metrics

Track how many of your QR code scans open the app

URLgenius QR Codes for Deep Linking Metrics

  • Make sure your insights include QR codes scans vs. clicks
  • Approximate city and language preference are also important insights for optimizing your campaigns and content
  • Pro Tip: Beware of free bulk QR code generators which do not have app deep linking capability and may be collecting your customer data. Platform like URLgenius have taken a forward looking approach to privacy and are fully compliant with today’s strict privacy policies.

URLgenius QR Codes for Deep Linking Metrics

Track QR scans and usage by geography (city and country)

URLgenius QR Codes for Deep Linking Metrics

Dynamic QR codes are a great way to get your audience back into the an app to your content from different marketing channels. Think of them as another important marketing channel in today’s world of contactless commerce. about creating URLgenius QR codes for your app.

Comments

  1. Roelof

    Is it possible to design a QR code that opens an App on an iPhone when scanning the QR code?

    • Scott Allan

      Hello Reolof! Yes you can create a QR code to an app or a web page very easily with URLgenius. The only technical requirement on the app side is that the destination or feature you are linking to needs to have a URL scheme assigned. That is like an address in the app that URLgenius uses to route the user to the right page. See this blog post for more information. You can try it for free up to 5,000 clicks.

      https://app.urlgeni.us/blog/how-to-create-qr-codes-for-mobile-apps

  2. Cory

    Is it possible to link to an app installation from the QR code AND also prepopulate certain data points dynamically in the app based on info that was contained in the QR code?
    Example Scenario : I go to a Costco location in my town, I scan a QR code posted on the front door. It either opens the app that is already installs , or directs me to the app installation page to install it. Once its installed, that store’s location and info are populated as data points within the app.

    • Scott Allan

      Hi Cory – yes this is possible and would be dependent on the URL schemes in the app. You would need URL schemes (for iOS and Android) in the app that support all the location details. I’ll check with our technical team for other guidance they might have.

    • Scott Allan

      Cory – confirmed with our technical team that this possible. The URL being encoded as a QR code needs to contain the store tracking ID (e.g. “costco.com?store=123”). That tracking parameter needs to be appended onto the app URL scheme to activate in-app tracking when app is installed (eg costco://store=123). When the app is not installed, that same app URL scheme needs to either be passed along to app store for referrer tracking or stored as a cookie that the app can consult upon first app open. Platforms like URLgenius with built in QR code functionality can enable this experience and the analytics.

  3. Kevin

    Hello,

    Is it possible to deep link the QR code? I have an app that uses yearly subscription. We’d like our referral partners to display QR code physically in their store, or on live TV… then viewers who scan the QR code are redirected to the app page to download the app, this I understand is doable, but can we track from this QR code how many people who downloaded the app actually subscribed to our yearly plan? So that we can know how much money we owe to our referral partners.

    Thanks.

    • Scott Allan

      Hi Kevin – thanks for your question! You can do that with an app analytics package that supports the passing of parameters. For example, there is an SDK for Google Analytics specifically for apps that gives you more insights into attribution. Appending a parameter to the URLgenius link will give you that referral information. In addition, when someone subscribes, your app should pass a parameter that the user successfully subscribed. So it sounds like a combination of passing a referral parameter for the download and then another one for the subscription. Think of URLgenius as the conduit getting the visitors to the right app store or for opening the app to a certain place (via QR code or link) and then the attribution information comes from your app analytics solution. Do you have something installed for app analytics? Thanks!

  4. Wagengang

    Hello,

    I am not exactly sure how to pose this but, would it be possible to use a single qr code that could somehow link to different individuals profiles on an app or website?

    • Scott Allan

      That might be possible with a QR code but URLgenius was designed to deep link or route traffic to a “page” in an app (iOS or Android) vs. the mobile website or to the right app store if the visitor does not have the app installed. But you could also setup a URLgenius link (QR code) to route visitors to different websites based on their geo-location and the language preference setting in a browser.

    • Scott Allan

      Also our technical team said that depending on the URL architecture of the website and the app, yes you could use a single QR \ URL that once clicked checks the device’s local cookies and logs that person into their account. Amazon’s order history URL is a good example. Anyone can click this generic public URL and it will log you into see your order history -> amazon.com/gp/css/order-history That URL could be encoded as a QR and placed in a catalog to then enable anyone to see their history etc.

  5. Kai

    I’m intending on using QR codes to point to different profiles within my app to allow profiles to connect with one another phone to phone. What is the best way to go about this? I’d like to wrap the confirmation into the actual action of scanning the QR code since no one is likely to scan your phone without your permission in the first place. Thanks so much for the help!

    • Scott Allan

      Hi Kai – thanks for your patience. I think you could do this with URLgenius. The most important thing to look into are URL schemes for iOS and Intent schemes for Android. Think of that as an address in the app for iOS and an address for Android. Another thing to consider is embedded browsers. If you’re using an embedded browser you just want to make sure to understand how it handles URL schemes and opening apps. To see how URLgenius works, just a URLgenius link to your Instagram or Facebook profile and look at the settings page for the link. You will see the app address to the profile by device.You will also find the QR code on that page which you can download. It would work in a similar way for your app. Hopefully that helps!

  6. FERNANDA DE OLIVEIRA

    Hello, I’m creating an app from an excel spreadsheet. This will be a simulation of a travel agency. My idea is to generate a specific QR code on the app for the client customized trip cost. (the trip final cost will depend on the client’s requirements). Is it possible to be done? Thank you very much in advance for your help.

    • Scott Allan

      Hi Fernanda – Yes you could do that. You can just paste the link to the spreadsheet into @urlgenius which will return a URLgenius link. The settings page for the URLgenius link includes a QR codes that you can download. You can signup and try it with a link to any spreadsheet and let us know if you have any questions. Thanks!

  7. Belle

    Hi there!
    I’d like to know if it would be possible to create a deep link that stems from a site only accessible to someone who’s a member.
    If it is, what integrations/triggers need to be put in place to make the following process feasible:
    The deep link on the QR code will lead to:
    IF MEMBER and hasn’t deleted their cookies
    > Visits Site
    > Automatically logs in (assuming that person who scans is a member)
    > Arrives at specified Landing page
    OR
    IF MEMBER and HAS deleted their cookies
    >Visits Site
    >Prompts user that they’ve been logged in and needs to re log-in
    > Arrives at specified landing page once log-in is successful

    • Scott Allan

      Hi Belle – URLgenius lets you append parameters to your deep links. For example if you appended the UTM “checkregistration” but your website would need to interpret that parameter and use it to check on your side if the user is a member or not. However there at this time we do not have a way receive back information from your site and then route the the user to a different places that depend on that information (member and deleted cookies or not be a member etc.) That would take a bit more programming.

  8. Nickie White

    Can you tell me if it is possible to have a QR code install an app and then open it or if the QR code must first link the customer to the app site and they have to click through to install the app?

    • Scott Allan

      Hi Nickie – the QR code could not install the app automatically but what you could do is setup a QR code that will open the app if it’s installed (iOS and Android) and if it’s not installed your visitor would be routed directly to the right app store depending on the device clicking the link. It could also have “deferred deep linking capabilities” which means if they choose to install the app they would then be brought to the intended page in the app when they initially clicked on the link.

  9. Henry Ong

    Is that possible to have deferred deep linking after user download the app ?

    • Henry Ong

      How it work ? example of coding ?

      • Scott Allan

        Hi Henry – please check out our blog with lots of step-by-step examples and information.

    • Scott Allan

      Yes – with your app that you own. But not a third party app that you do not own (the owner of the app would need to implement such a feature).

  10. Damien D

    Hi!
    Is there a way to automate a process where someone fills out a custom profile. That profile details are converted to a QR contact card. That QR code is generated and stored in an invisible place in the profile. If the profile owner wants to share their contact details, they share a link where the qr code is converted automatically to a vcard and provides an option to import the contact details into your phone?

    • Scott Allan

      Hi Damien! That’s a great question. You would need a application developer to build something like that for you. The URLgenius platform has an API that developers can use to create QR codes and links programmatically. The QR codes are dynamic so you could change the destination for the QR code at any time to open an app or a website. I hope that is helpful.

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