The Basics of Deep Linking
On average, people spend five to six hours on their phone on a daily basis, not including work-related phone use (Statista). That means for five to six hours a day, consumers are scrolling through advertisements, searching for services and products, and engaging with their favorite brands via mobile apps.
Nowadays, brands have unprecedented opportunities (5 to 6 hours every day to be somewhat exact) to engage with their customers, attract new customers, and earn loyal customers through their most personal devices.
Mobile apps that facilitate meaningful engagements and provide personalized customer experiences are truly the future of mobile commerce. Customers expect personalized app experiences and seamless connectivity between channels when interacting with brands—and that’s because it feels like magic.
Customers want a magical experience that feels as though it was created just for them. Deep linking through (and to) your mobile app plays a huge part in creating that customer magic.
What is deep linking?
“Deep linking” is how you delight your customers with a seamless mobile app experience, driving them from one channel, directly to your app. This feature allows you to link to a specific page or section of content in your mobile app, from a web browser or from another app.
You can also link from page to page within the app, or between specific tabs, offers, pages, products, or any services you want your customers to explore.
Think of a deep link as a highly specific URL for mobile apps. A typical hyperlink would bring a user to a specific page in the web browser, but a deep link opens the app for the user and directs them right to the page or product that they’re looking for.
By providing deep links within content to guide the user toward other relevant content, your app cultivates an intuitive user journey that can bring more awareness to certain products, nurture your customers through the buying journey, promote cross-selling, and provide a more personalized user experience.
Deep links consolidate the user journey to require fewer actions from users. Users don’t have to navigate to different pages or tabs on their own, and this convenience minimizes the chances of them dropping out of their journey before they make a transaction or perform a desired behavior.
From the acquisition stage to retargeting, deep linking is like setting up a roadmap to guide your customers through critical touchpoints in your mobile app.
Let’s say a retail clothing brand is running a campaign for BOGO jeans through social media. A user comes across the ad while scrolling through Facebook on their phone. The user, who already has the company app downloaded, clicks on the ‘shop now’ button under a specific pair of jeans.
This action triggers the brand’s mobile app to open automatically. The app immediately brings the user directly to the BOGO jeans tab, and more specifically, to the exact pair of jeans they clicked on. This is an effective deep link!
Deep links can be integrated between channels, including email, SMS, social media, web pages and other apps, as well as through push notifications and between other pages or tabs within the app to build more continuity in the customer experience.
How does deep linking work?
‘Deep linking’ is the general concept of linking between channels, but it’s adapted differently for Apple iOS and Google Android. At Plexure, we are experts in systems integration. Your marketing team can easily weave Plexure into your existing ecosystem using one of our pre-built integrations, or connect your marketing tools and POS systems using our SDK and API.
For the most part, deep linking on Android works similarly to Apple. The process of implementing links through the SDK and the default browsers used to open links when the user hasn’t downloaded the app yet are what differ.
Apple iOS uses ‘Universal Links’ for deep linking, while Google Android uses ‘App Links’.
iOS Universal Links
Universal links were implemented in iOS 9 and are exclusive to Apple devices. This deep linking adaptation associates a set of web pages to specific areas in the mobile app. If a user doesn’t have the mobile app installed, a universal link will be directed to the brand’s website or to the App Store through the Safari browser.
Universal links do not have redirects, which means they won’t take the user to a separate web page before directing them to the app. Universal links are intuitive as one link can trigger both the app to open or the Safari browser to open if the app isn’t downloaded.
Android App Links
Android’s version of deep linking, App Links, was implemented in Android 6.0 software version. App Links don’t redirect to a web page either, unless the app isn’t installed on the user’s mobile device. In this case, the App Link redirects the user to a URL in the web browser instead.
Your marketing team can work with your development team to create deep link URIs through our API. Once the developer creates a URL that will navigate users to the app, your marketing or development team can create a new navigation icon.
This navigation icon will link to a web URL, and allow a deep link app URL to drive users to a specific page, offer or tab in your mobile app. You’ll want to add a backup link as well to link to the web browser in case a user doesn’t have access to the App Store or Google Play, or is currently using the desktop version. This way, whether your customer is currently in your mobile app or surfing your app on a desktop, the links will still work.
When creating the anchor text for the deep link, or deciding where to insert deep links, it’s important to consider the user journey. Map out your customer touchpoints to determine where you want your customer to navigate, from page to page.
Maybe your brand is promoting a new app feature on its website. The “learn more” button can direct users straight to the app, to the specific page that discusses the feature or enables the user to activate the feature.
The anchor text used for the deep link should be relevant to the content that it’s embedded in, and relevant to the action you want your users to take.
Contextual Deep Linking
Deep links can either be traditional links, deferred deep links, or contextual deep links. Contextual deep links direct users to the app if the app is already downloaded, or right to the App Store or Google Play if it isn’t yet downloaded.
With traditional deep linking, users who haven’t downloaded the app yet, are shown an ‘error’ when they click on the deep link, rendering it ineffective.
Contextual links will take the user directly to the app store, then once the app is downloaded, it can display a personalized welcome message, bring them to a specific page, or automatically redeem a promo code.
Contextual deep links are also able to store customer data, including which channel the user came from, which customer referred them, or which offer they selected to redeem, and pass this information through to the App Store for an immediately personalized experience upon download.
A URI scheme or (Uniform Resource Identifier) scheme is the default tactic for deep linking on both iOS and Android devices. URIs use a thread of characters or numbers to identify a URL.
While a URL may direct a user to a specific page on a web page, URIs are more specific, directing users to a certain location or piece of content within an app. The typical format for a URI may be: myapp://path/to/content, while the typical format for a URL may be: http://www.example.com/index.html.
The URI is what enables a deep link to be directed straight to a certain area in the app if the user has the app downloaded already. If a user doesn’t have the app downloaded already, a simple URI will not direct the user to the App Store or Google Play store.
This is why iOS Universal Links and Android App Links created their own method for optimizing URIs to prompt users to download the app without requiring any additional steps.
What is deep linking used for?
‘Deep linking’ is another cog in the mobile personalization machine. It’s how your brand cultivates a more meaningful connection with your customers by fostering a seamless, convenient user journey.
Cultivating a Seamless User Journey
Consumers want convenience. It’s as simple as that. The user journey should be as frictionless as possible.
As commerce brands continue to deepen their level of personalization and look for ways to improve the customer experience, they’re finding that customers want to take the fewest steps possible to get from point A to point B in their mobile app (or from their website to their mobile app).
Linking to various pages, products or unique locations throughout a company’s app or website encourages users to explore more pages and offerings, and directs them to other relevant app content or pages that the user may be interested in.
Deep linking makes a user’s app experience feel more personal, as the user is seamlessly directed to relevant app content that aligns with recent searches or interests. Deep linking can be especially beneficial when reevaluating your mobile ordering solution; mobile order & pay has become a critical feature, in high demand from customers.
Your brand can run advertisements on social media or search engines to promote desirable mobile ordering options, and deep link to your app to seamlessly connect your customer to the menu or to special promotions.
Boosting the Customer Experience
Through deep linking, your brand can better optimize all touchpoints across the customer journey to provide users with support or helpful information and relevant offers or recommendations.
You want customers to visit your mobile app, because your app is completely optimized for customers, and web browsers don’t necessarily allow for this level of personalization.
From the interface to the personalized content displayed, every feature in your mobile app is intentionally designed for your user. (And if you’re thinking, “My app isn’t that personalized for my customers…”, then we invite you to book a demo with Plexure solutions.)
Increasing Conversion Rates
Deep links can be used as a vehicle that drives users through the conversion funnel, from awareness and onboarding, to the point of sale. By driving users directly to the type of content or offers they’re seeking, the chances of the user straying out of the sales funnel are minimized.
Deep linking essentially gives your brand the best chance to secure a sale. Not only does deep linking drive users to take desirable actions, but it allows your marketing team to track the source of the conversions.
By tracking the attribution sources and conversion sources, and using these insights to measure performance, your marketing team can make informed decisions to fuel future strategies by determining which sources are generating the greatest return. This data can be leveraged to allocate ad spend more effectively and saturate your efforts where they’ll be most impactful.
Increasing App Downloads
Deep links can reach users while they’re at critical moments in the customer journey. By the time a user clicks on a deep link, he or she is already interested in your brand’s products or services and is looking to make a transaction or browse through your inventory to learn more about your offers.
While the user is active on his or her mobile device and is in a buying or browsing mindset, deep links can direct new users right to the App Store or Google Play store, and all they have to do is simply click the download icon to continue to your app.
By giving the user fewer chances to opt out of the customer journey and requiring only one to two clicks to download your app, the chances of the user following through with the app download increase.
When it comes to digital user experiences, 38% of U.S. consumers say a convenient experience is most important during the research phase, toward the very beginning of their buying journey (Statista). Nowadays, most consumers take to the internet to research and compare different brands, products or services—which means your consumers want convenience during the app-downloading phase of their journey.
By providing a convenient, seamless app-downloading process through deep linking that takes the user directly to your mobile app in the App Store or Google Play store, your brand is meeting the psychological needs of your consumers and leveraging these behavioral insights to drive users to download your app.
Deep links can play a key role in a powerful retargeting strategy. Retarget users who were previously interested in your products or services, but dropped out of the funnel before they converted to a sale.
These personalized links can be used to nudge inactive customers, reminding them to take the next step in the transaction process or to return to their cart. Paired with Plexure analytics solutions, deep linking gives your marketing team access to a myriad of information and customer data that can be used to nurture a user through the customer journey.
For example, if a user clicks on a deep link embedded in your campaign, then trails off, you can retarget this user with a dynamic deep link that brings the user to the exact point where they dropped off in their journey.
This retargeting technique supports a seamless user experience that requires minimal effort from the user and can foster a sense of familiarity between your brand and your customer.
Gaining Data Insights
Marketers want allllll the data—and for good reason. Data provides marketers with the information they need to continually optimize a customer’s experience, refine offers, recommendations and messaging to align with users’ recent behaviors and current interests, and to make more informed marketing decisions.
By providing deep links to your app, you’re giving your customer the personalized experience they want, and your customer is rewarding you with more data that can be leveraged to improve their experience.
More than 50% of consumers are willing to share information on products they like in order to get personalized discounts (Retail Touchpoints).
83% of consumers are willing to share their data to create a more personalized experience (Accenture).
(See the 10 key mobile marketing stats.)
Your customers are willing to provide you with the sacred data your marketing team needs, in return for a more personalized experience. Through contextual deep links, your team also receives data about which channel the customer navigated from or who referred them to your brand, to gain insight into your most valuable channels and your most valuable customer profiles.
Why is deep linking so important?
Deep linking allows your brand to gain a genuine understanding of how your customers find your app, and what they do when they click on your link or navigate through your app.
Understanding your customers’ behaviors on an individual basis enables you to influence their actions to drive additional desirable behaviors.
Deep linking builds more continuity between your mobile app and the marketing channels your brand uses to engage with potential customers and existing customers. Marketers can deep link advertising messaging and digital engagements to drive app downloads, boost mobile engagements and increase conversions.
Your marketing team gains a 360 degree perspective of the behaviors that surround certain actions, including link clicks, app installs and customer referrals. These insights can be used by our artificial intelligence and machine learning engines to continuously optimize touchpoints and create the most impact through every engagement.
Plexure Solutions for Personalized Magic
Personalization truly is magic—well, it feels like magic to your customers. Personalization is built on constant streams of invaluable data, extracted from your customers through machine learning engines that learn your customers’ behaviors then relearn them again and again as they evolve.
We help brands to create these moments of magic with their customers, by harnessing the power of data to deliver highly personalized mobile experiences at scale. As a leader in customer engagement, we work with some of the world’s largest brands to build premium customer bases and increase sales.
We worked with Super Indo to design a mobile app that invigorated its member base by providing deeply personalized engagements. This app boosted our grocery client’s loyalty program, offering seamless, convenient experiences for customers on a 1:1 scale.
Learn more about how Super Indo transformed its customer journey with our personalized mobile marketing solutions.
Ready to find out what deep linking and highly-personalized mobile experiences can do for you and your customers? Check out some more of our successes, or better yet—schedule your demo.