Deep linking is a link that goes “deep into an app”, to a specific content or experience, not directly to app homepage. The problem with mobile apps is that they are different from mobile internet. When you open a web page in a browser if you right click on that page and choose “View page source”, you will see the HTML code for that page. For creating a link to a specific page you just have to copy the URL from the browser bar. With mobile apps is harder than that, because there are different languages and you can’t copy anything to move between or into apps. Another thing is that users have to download an app before they can see its content.
But deep linking is the solution for this. With deep linking you can give existing user what they need and send them back into the app, but more important, you can get more users by engaging them with a great experience after installing the app.
Why Is It Important?
The most frustrating situation is when an app announces a giveaway and, for that, you just have to install that app or, if you already have the app, you just have to click a button to open the app. But, instead of a layout with the promised gift the user is sent to the homepage of the app with no clue for the prize. The answer for this issue is that the app must have deep linking and, after the click, it should open a page with instructions for user’s benefit. This is an essential feature for a long-term relationship between brands and customers.
Working Algorithm (How Does It Work?)
First, mobile marketers will discover the best channels that drive organic users, like mobile web, social media, emails or SMS messages. After that, they can use those to convince potential users to open the app over and over again by providing substantial content and using deep linking.
An advanced form of deep linking is called deferred deep linking and it is used when the app is not installed on user’s phone to avoid an alert message saying that the app can’t be found. In this case, the user gets an URL that tries to open the app from the user’s device and if that doesn’t work, it will open the App Store for the user to install the app. After the installation, in order to open the app on the specific page, it needs a deep link service provider to be called from the app with a special code. That provider will fetch the deep link which was used to install the app.
How to Build Mobile Deep Linking to Your App
In order to set up deep links in a mobile app, developers have to follow a few steps according to their platform, Android or iOS.
For the Android developers, the entire process is described in the official documentation site Enabling Deep Links for App Content. This tutorial teaches developers to use intent filters to allow deep linking to the content in any of the app’s activities. There is a sample code on how to add into the AndroidManifest.xml file an intent filter with three elements: <action>, <data>, <category>.
iOs developers can handle deep linking with Bolts Framework. Details about the Framework are on Github. If they don’t want to use the Bolts Framework, there are other ways to build deep linking like Objective-C: Custom URL Schemes on iPhone Development 101 or Deep Linking in iOS on blog.originate.com.
How to Use Deep Links to Increase Mobile Engagement
Mobile deep linking is a very powerful tool if the app provides useful experience and additional benefits to convince the user to download it or to use it very often. For example, Yummly and Instacart use deep linking to move ingredients from Yummly recipes to Instacart shopping cart. So, they make their users’ life much easier.
Another major benefit for users when a developer uses deep linking is that they save a lot of time using just the elements that are important for them, not the whole app. Freelancer.com is a freelance platform with thousands of jobs for every category and it would be a tedious process to look through all of them when somebody is looking for a job. That’s why the app sends every day an email with a list of the most important jobs recently posted according to the user’s skills.
When the user browses the list and he finds something interesting for him, he just clicks the “Bid now” button and with a deep linking the Freelancer app gets opened at that job post. The user saves his precious time and just places his bid. After clicking the back button he turns to that email list and he can keep searching for another job.
Deep linking is useful to move your customers between email account or mobile browser and mobile app. After they are convinced to install an app for its interesting content and engaging features, that doesn’t mean that they will never use the mobile browser again to reach your products. As Adexchanger highlights, mobile consumers use mobile browsers and apps equally so, use deep linking to drive them back into your app. That is why mobile deep linking is a strong partnership between developers and mobile marketers in the advantage of user acquisition and user retention.