It’s been 10 years since Apple first made mobile deep linking technology available with the release of iOS 2.0, and to this day, marketers depend on it to cultivate the kinds of immersive mobile product experiences that keep users coming back for more.
For those unfamiliar, mobile deep links are URIs (a close cousin to URLs) that can be used anywhere a URL would be including paid ad placements and owned content. Instead of directing users to a page or resource on the web, mobile deep links direct users to an application on their mobile device. Better still, they can be formatted to include parameters that apps can then accept (assuming they’ve been developed to do so) to direct users to specific views within the app rather than simply having them land on the standard splash screen. Variations of the standard deep linking functionality include conditional and contextual links, which allow developers to add basic if/else logic to a single link’s destinations.
While not quite cutting-edge technology, mobile deep linking remains a fundamental tool in the resourceful mobile marketer’s arsenal. It plays a pivotal role in reducing funnel friction, boosting engagement, and driving retention for all sorts of applications. Professionals from all verticals have come up with creative ways of using deep links to benefit their key performance metrics, including a few that have become widely accepted as industry standards. Developing a solid understanding of modern mobile deep linking best practices is an ideal way for marketers to unearth new efficiencies that can save them time and money while keeping retained.
Deep Linking For Shopping Apps
Promotions, sales, and discounts are all pillars of m-commerce marketing. Online shopping events like Amazon Prime Day see retailers shattering revenue records, and the numbers suggest things have only just begun. In 2017, Chinese e-commerce retailer Alibaba generated more than $25 billion during Single’s Day, a 39% increase over their 2016 numbers on the same day. Even more impressive is the fact that 90% of these sales were made on mobile devices, which enjoy much higher adoption rates among younger demographics in the APAC market where the company enjoys market dominance. Deep links had a huge role to play in their success.
Mobile properties like the AliExpress app command massive install bases around the world. Deep links used in paid promotions and retargeting efforts allow the e-commerce giant to pull traffic from shared digital spaces like social networks into the highly controlled experience of a mobile application. Better still, marketers can pair deep links with the dynamic product advertising functionality provided by the digital marketing duopoly of Facebook and Google. Combined, marketers can create an intuitive, low-friction funnel in which customers see ads for products they’re likely to purchase, click on them, and are pulled directly into the app’s product page where they can complete the purchase.
Deep Linking For Music Apps
By allowing users to move directly from shared virtual environments into specific albums, artists, or playlist selections, deep links open up a world of possibilities for music app marketers and the artists who populate them. Companies like Linkfire have built entire business models on top of the functionality made available by deep linking technology. As its web copy explains, Linkfire lets users “Use one link to automatically route fans to the music they love, in the apps they love. With more than 50 different music services supported, we make it painless to set up.” Combined with mobile deep linking functionality provided by mobile platform providers, Linkfire’s proprietary technology expands on the base offering in an effort to solve issues of user friction resulting from the increasingly fragmented music streaming landscape.
Deep Linking For Lifestyle Apps
As one of the most diverse categories in the app store, lifestyle apps bridge the gap between the real and digital worlds to provide users with value in a variety of unique ways. As they’re often tightly integrated with owned and co-created content, deep links have a huge role to place in fostering compelling interactions between apps and their users. The experts at Branch explain how a cultural event app called Dojo makes particularly great use of this feature. “Dojo is a lifestyle app for London and Paris. When a link to a specific event is shared with a friend, the receiving user is taken to a deep view where they can view relevant information about the event. After clicking the CTA, the user is deep linked through install to the original event.” These kinds of deferred deep links require a little more technical overhead, but provide users with the kind of intuitive interactions that can set an app brand above their competition.
Deep links provide immense value to marketers of curatorial apps and experiences. The primary purpose of shopping, music, and lifestyle apps is one of information architecture, wherein the app’s curators try to connect users with their objective with minimal friction. Deep linking allows these publishers to foster seamless experiences by making their own contribution nearly invisible. It’s these intuitive, value-driven experiences that marketers can use to win brand loyalty and driven retention across their mobile app portfolios.