Are you driving mobile engagement in all the ways you can? As a mobile marketer, you know it’s not only crucial to acquire the highest-quality users, it’s also important to deliver the highest-quality user experience.
Deep links are a powerful tool you can use to achieve both of these goals.
Read on for an introduction to deep linking, and how you can use this technology to drive downloads, engagement, and conversions.
An Overview of Deep Linking for Mobile Marketing
Traditional hyperlinks don’t work in an app-centric mobile world because they can’t connect a user directly to an app. This leads to slower growth, lower retention and poor conversion rates. Mobile deep links fix this problem.
Mobile deep links allow you to link directly to a screen within an app. It’s just like linking from one page to another on the web. If you are linking to your app from a mobile webpage, email, SMS message or social media, deep links will help you create an incredibly seamless experience. They do this by connecting your users directly to specific content within your app, instead of a generic welcome screen.
As a result, users get a frictionless experience - and you get increased downloads, engagement and conversions in your app. However, this works only if the user already has your app installed. If that’s not the case, you need to use a deferred deep link (see below).
Example 1: How Netflix Leverages Deep Linking
Here’s an example of a deep link in action for Netflix. The user in this video has received an email with a deep link about a specific show. After tapping the deep link, the user is immediately taken to the Netflix app - which opens on the show’s page inside the Netflix app, rather than the app’s generic home screen.
What If the User Does NOT Have My App Installed Already?
Standard deep links work well when users already have your app installed. But they are less effective when a user doesn’t have your app on their device. Deferred deep linking solves this problem. Deferred deep linking is the process of linking a user to a specific screen or location within an app after the user installs and launches that app for the first time.
Without deferred deep linking, deep links can only send a user to one of two locations. The first is a mobile web page, where the user is prompted to install your app. The second is your app’s listing page in the appropriate app store. However in both cases, when the user opens your app after installing it, he or she merely sees the generic welcome screen.
With deferred deep linking, contextual data about the user’s pre-install actions and characteristics is transferred around the app store directly to the app. In other words, the deep link is “deferred” - or waits - until after the user has installed the app. At that point, the deferred deep link springs back into action and behaves just like a regular deep link, taking the user directly to the content in your app you want them to see.
Example 2: How Etsy Delights Users With Deferred Deep Links
Here’s an example of a deferred deep link in action for Etsy. Using an interstitial ad, Etsy guides a new user to the app store to download the Etsy app. Etsy then uses the power of deferred deep linking to take the user to the page in the app for the same product that the user initially found via Google.
How Marketers Can Leverage Deep Linking Even More
Here are three ways you can use deep linking to increase downloads, engagement, and conversions in even more sophisticated ways.
1. Optimize Acquisition Sources
You need to understand which acquisition sources drive installs, activations, and conversions for your app. Without deep links, it’s impossible to do this for organic, non-paid channels. These include email, SMS messages, social media, the mobile web, and web.
However, with deep links, you always receive the right information about which acquisition source led the user to install your app. Deep links, such as the ones we provide at Yozio, tie the source of acquisition to downstream events triggered by the user, such as purchases, sign-ups, or other engagement events.
As a result, you can optimize the organic sources that really make a difference - and ditch the ones that don’t.
2. Optimize Organic Campaigns
Savvy marketers find out what works best through continuous experimentation. Whether it’s testing different offers, parts of your messaging, or ways of driving traffic from the mobile web to download your app, high-quality deep links will provide data about your users that makes it easy to optimize your organic campaigns.
3. Personalize User Experience (Even For Referrals!)
As a recent blog by Localytics illustrated, users now expect apps to be personalized just for them - including through customized content. Deep links are one of the most powerful tools to meet and exceed this expectation. By showing your users the right content at the right time, you increase activation and engagement. And deep links give you the data to do so.
One great example is personalized onboarding, which helps reduce friction and increase engagement even if the user did not have your app installed. For referral marketing programs, deep links transfer the user’s ID to your app. As a result, the referred user doesn’t need to enter a referral code anymore. Instead, he or she instantly sees a personalized greeting in the app making them more likely to engage.
Drive Engagement Everywhere You Can
In summary, deep links enable marketers to overcome one of the mobile web’s biggest limitations. They give you the ability to analyze and optimize marketing campaigns from organic channels in ways that were never possible before. Beyond this, deep links enable powerful personalization that creates a seamless user experience. All these factors make deep linking technology an essential tool for all mobile marketers.
About the Author
Lei Sun is Founder and CEO of Yozio, a mobile growth platform that helps marketers track, acquire, activate and engage new users through organic, non-paid channels such as email, SMS, web, mobile web and social media. Before Yozio, Lei was a core member of the Netflix subscriber acquisition team and led the real-time analytics initiative for the Yahoo! front page.