Using SMS to Drive App Downloads

4 minute read

Team Mobile Messaging

Square, Bank of America, Groupon, Michaels and other brands are using mobile messaging to drive App downloads. Text calls-to-action on websites and physical signage successfully drive app downloads for two reasons: first, mobile messaging provides a simple method for delivering a link that can be saved for later. Second, using mobile messaging for app downloads is an effective way to increase conversion and opt users into a mobile database for cross-channel communication.

Link Delivery & Opt-In:

We see mobile messaging as the workhorse of many marketing campaigns, even campaigns that focus on downloading an App. Driving your company’s app downloads usually occurs with physical signs, on your website, and through social media. When using mobile messaging on a website you can use a “send to phone” widget, or simply place a call to action on the page, like you would for a physical sign. One of the great things about using a website form field is you can simply have a checkbox that will automatically opt a user into a mobile messaging loyalty program.

Below are a couple of examples of brands using text call-to-actions to facilitate app downloads.

Example – Form field to text link

One of the simplest ways to build a mobile subscriber database, while driving app downloads, is to add a simple form field on your website that triggers a message with a link to download the app. In the example below, Square uses a simple form field to send an app download link.

The Pizza Hut example below does not focus on App downloads, but it shows how to get consent to send promotional messages on a web form. Adding in a checkbox for a loyalty program is well worth it because it easily adds people to your mobile subscriber database.

Pizza Hut Signup

Example – Text call to action on a website:

If you cannot add a widget to your website, simply use a text call-to-action. Check out the example below with the associated mobile flow. Notice how after delivering the app download links, all you have to do is reply “Y” to be opted into Michaels’ mobile loyalty program.


Michaels Mobile Flow

Text call-to-action on physical signage

The final example shows a text call-to-action on a physical sign. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to promote your app and increase more app downloads.


Why you want customers to download an app via messaging

When Apple debuted push notifications in 2009, they quickly spread throughout the app ecosystem and caused my phone to become a hot mess of annoying alerts. Adding geolocation added a whole new level to the over-notification problem. Soon enough I could barely leave my home without a slew of location-specific notifications going off constantly. It’s no surprise push has become less prevalent.

Companies that utilized push notifications learned a harsh lesson about mobile; the second you over message, deliver an irrelevant notification, or message someone at the wrong time, the user will sever the relationship. Like so many other people, I did not navigate to the settings of the App, I just deleted the App and moved on. No more notifications, problem solved. Using mobile messaging to get people to download your app will create a secondary channel to communicate with your customer, because sometimes channels break down.

Push + Text Messaging = Cross-Channel

By utilizing a send-to-phone widget on your website, or using text calls-to-action, you can easily create an effective list of cross-channel customers. This segment of your user base can be engaged with a mix of push notifications for location and app specific notifications, and SMS & MMS messages for account reminders, promotions, and deals. Mobile messaging is an incredibly powerful channel, therefore using text messaging in conjunction with your app strategy is essential to a successful cross-channel campaign.

Take a few minutes to check out a quick demo of our platform and learn more about using SMS to drive App downloads!

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