App Hack: Tracking Desktop-to-Mobile Download Conversions

Tracking the referral sources of downloads for your native mobile app, and what people do after downloading, is difficult. The app store acts as a “black hole” and breaks the conversion funnel between a referral source (i.e. organic keywords) and a conversion inside your app (i.e. a purchase). I’ll vent write more about this later.

Most app landing pages have an “Available in the App Store” badge that links directly to their App Store page. The URL looks something like this:

itunes.apple.com/us/app/postalpix/id408642635?mt=8

The problem with this URL is that you can’t use it to measure goal conversion for downloads (we’ll assume that a visitor to your landing page who clicks on the App Store badge = a completed goal). To set up “URL destination” goals in Google Analytics, the final URL reached must be hosted on the same website. In other words, it must begin with http://yourcompany.com vs http://itunes.apple.com.

We use a simple hack at PostalPix to get around this dilemma. Instead of linking our download badge to the iTunes URL above, we link to http://postalpix.com/itunesdl.html. This page immediately redirects to the iTunes URL.

Our goal setup in Google Analytics is dead simple:

And that’s it! This will tell us the percentage of visitors to postalpix.com who click on the download badge.

It’s important to note that we can’t be 100% sure people who click the badge will actually download the app. Someone can simply exit the App Store page without downloading anything. So the solution isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than having no clue.

Here’s a recap of how to set up desktop-to-mobile goal conversions for mobile app downloads:

  1. Create an empty web page off your root domain (i.e. http://yourcompany.com/appdownload)
  2. Redirect the URL in #1 to your App Store page URL (i.e. itunes.apple.com/us/app/postalpix/id408642635?mt=8)
  3. Create a goal in Google Analytics (Admin > Goals > New Goal > Type: URL Destination)
  4. In “Goal URL”, insert everything after “.com” in the URL from step 1 (i.e. /appdownload)
  5. You’re done!
After setting this up, you’ll see a “Goal Set” link when viewing most reports in Google Analytics. Clicking on this will display conversion rates for whatever data you’re looking at. This is especially useful when viewing Traffic Sources reports because it shows you which sources bring you the highest quality visitors.