Sunday, October 06, 2013

Linking to your app in the store

It's easy to create a link to an app in the store.
You just view it in a browser and then just copy the URI and then you can paste it for all to reuse. Don't you?


Unfortunately it's not that simple.
Let's consider the URI for the popular app, Facebook.

The above is what I see. Notice the bit in bold? "en-gb" that's region specific and because the site knows I'm in the UK.

If I was I was in the USofA (or it didn't know where I was) then the "en-gb" would be "en-us". If I was in Finland then it'd be "fi-fi", etc. In theory this is a good thing. It means I can point people to appropriate, region specific, versions of the apps page so they can, if need be, see it in their language. Plus it lets me check how an app is displayed in different regions/languages.

So what's the problem?

The problem is what happens when trying do install an app from a region specific link that isn't your region.
Clicking install is fine, but then you'll see a screen like this.

That's not good.
But it's just an extra step as the user is redirected to their own regions store page. No big deal. Right?
In fact there are two problems here.
  1. This is an extra step in the process. One important fact about the number of steps involved in a web based purchase is that the more steps there are the number of people who complete the process gets lower. In fact, taking steps out of a process means more people will complete it. Conversely, adding steps means more people don't complete it. (As an aside, this is one of the reasons that Amazon's 1-click purchase option is so important to them.)
    If someone has started the process of beginning to buy/install/download my app I want to do everything I can to help them to complete the process. It's worth money to me.
    While I can't change the site, I can help potential customers avoid this situation by making sure they don't go to the wrong region in the first place.
  2. Notice the text in the above screenshot. Particularly the term "buy". If I had a free app that someone was attempting to install I'd be worried that the introduction of the term "buy" would introduce doubt into their mind about what they were doing.
    "I though this was a free app. I don't want to pay for anything. Perhaps I'll stop."
    I don't want anyone who has expressed an interessed in installing one of my apps to end up thinking this.

So what can be done about this?

Fortunately there is a solution. 

The site provides a way for having a region agnostic URI that links to an app. These take the form:{GUID}

So, for Facebook it'd be:

It's very similar to the original one above as the largest part of the URI is the GUID anyway.

Just make sure you give people the region agnostic link when promoting your apps.

Does this really matter?

Well, in the grand scheme of things there are more important things to consider in terms of building and promoting a great app but it's so small it's easy to get right.

What about on device links?

On device it's a better story. Windows Phone will detect you're navigating to an app in the web version of the store and redirect you to the store app. At which point there are no region specifics to worry about other than the availability of the app in your region. If it's not available to you then you wont be able to purchase it regardless.

Again, this is so easy to do correctly and ensure a good experience for people who are viewing, and hopefully, ultimately, downloading your app then there should be no excuses.


  1. This article was originally called "Linking to your app in the marketplace" as I wrote the original draft in April 2012. At the time WP8 had not been released and the place you got appps from was called the "marketplace". With WP8 it was renamed to the "Store".

  2. OSO Systems10:22 am

    If the user is not logged in to the store, the region-agnostic URL leads to the US Store, so the process still consists of too many steps in the most typical situation:
    1. Click the link (region-agnostic) => goes to the app page in the US Store.
    2. Click install/buy => goes to sign-in screen.
    3. Sign in to your store account => goes to the "Can't buy app" screen (still in the US Store).
    4. Click "Check my Store" => goes to your region-specific page for the app.
    5. Click install/buy in the store for your region.


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