What Are Mobile App Deep Links?

It’s hailed as “the future” of mobile advertising.

It’s a marketing tool that makes advertisements richer, re-engages inactive users and simplifies conversions.

And it’s probably something you haven’t incorporated into your app. According to one study, only 22% of the top 200 apps incorporate it into their marketing strategy.

So what is it? Deep linking.

deep link

Image source: Flickr, user: Jinx!

Definition

Deep links are hyperlinks that lead to a specific piece of content within an app. This isn’t the homepage, but often a product page or landing page a marketer wants to highlight.

Say, for instance, a retail shop wants to sell a jacket they’ve overstocked. When a user logs into a mobile app on their phone, an in-app advertisement can deep link directly to the jacket’s product description page. This bypasses the home and search pages within the shop’s app for more effective navigation. The relevancy of this goes one step further when brands target users based on past actions. If a user has looked at an item online before, that brand can deep link back to the product page as an extra nudge to get the user to purchase it.

Deep links aren’t just for existing users. If a new user doesn’t have the app downloaded, the deep link will send them to the app’s page in the app store. After they install the app on their phone, they are directed to the deep linked page, eradicating the need for further search inquiries. For context, if a user clicks on an ad for a jacket that isn’t deep linked, the app will then funnel the user to the shop’s app and require them to manually search for the jacket from the home page. There’s a chance they could find the jacket, but also a chance they could lose interest halfway through the search, especially if the multiple pages load slowly.

Deep links are applicable across all apps, but especially effective in mobile commerce. Deep links can appear in push notifications, in-app notifications, emails, social media and within other apps.


“Deep links simplify the conversion funnel.


Benefits

Mobile web use has been declining, while mobile app use continues to spike, now occupying 86% of the average US mobile consumer’s time. Users are browsing less and picking up their phones with singular missions in mind and a lower tolerance for distractions. Marketers shouldn’t reach users with irrelevant ads; they should target users with specific content that directs to their app.

Deep links are primarily used in mobile advertising as a way to engage users who have installed your app, but are not repeat or active users. With deep links, you can direct users to the desired conversion actions, like purchase pages.

Through deep links, marketers can direct users to low-traffic pages or promotions. When users click deep links, they don’t have to fumble through navigation to get to that page (for example, clicking a link that sends them to the home page and then having to search for the relevant content). Instead, deep links simplify the conversion funnel. This makes sales quicker and the app navigation more efficient.

Deep links also have uses that extend beyond direct advertising. Developers can utilize deep linking to drive traffic to their apps with cross-app campaigns and affiliate partnerships. David Lee, a performance marketing blogger suggests, “Instagram could deep link into FaceTune to allow users to retouch their photos before posting them. Sosh could deep link into the OpenTable app to book reservations based on your friends’ availability. And Mint could remind you to buy groceries on InstaCart if you haven’t gone to the grocery store in a while.” If you optimize your app with deep links for the best possible user experience, your traffic will likely increase.

Implementation

The nitty gritty of implementing deep links can get pretty complicated. In short, deep links require using a uniform resource identifier (URI). A URI is the address for an app on a mobile device, similar to how a URL is an address for a website. When a user clicks a URI, it links to a particular location within a mobile app, rather than loading the app and directing the user to its homepage.

Each operating system – iOS, Android, Windows, etc. – requires different deep link technologies. Developers can implement deep links themselves, or use a third party source such as DeepLink.me that also supports engagement analytics and retargeting features, so you can check stats every step of the way.

Wrapping up

If deep links weren’t a part of your mobile engagement strategy before, it’s time to consider adding them. As mobile app use rises, deep links gain traction. Right now, they makes for better app discovery, engagement and conversion with richer opportunities. In the future, when deep links are adopted at scale, they will make navigating between apps similar to how we navigate between web browsers, with more fluid pathways.

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This is part of Kiip’s ongoing Developer Success Guide.

Kiip is a leader in the field of app monetization. We enable developers to reward their users with advertising they enjoy. We want all developers to be successful in their ventures, so we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide with industry observations, best practices and expert advice.  

To learn more about monetizing your app, visit kiip.me/developers or email us at success@kiip.me.

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