What is mobile app deep linking?

Mobile apps deep linking

If you are a developer or marketeer working in mobile, you’ve probably heard the term ‘deep linking’. But what is it, and how can you leverage deep links for your app or game? 

A deep link launches an app and opens a specific landing page within an app when a user clicks a link on a web page or another app.

Deep links can significantly improve user experience and conversion rates. Here are some of the typical ways developers use deep links:

  1. A song snippet on Facebook that takes the user to the track in the music app. Take this example link (https://open.spotify.com/track/3suUyj7jumc7N0sxNfsdPe?si=4d2a3eff3feb45d9) to try it out yourself. The link will take you directly to a song in the Spotify app.
  2. Directing a user from a special offer on your website to where they can redeem it in the app.
  3. A custom onboarding process for users coming from a friend’s referral link.

Types of deep links

There are two types of deep links that differ by functionality: 

1. Classic deep link – After clicking on the link, it takes the user to a selected place in an application. The app must be installed on the user’s device for this to work. (Think clicking on an eBay link that takes you to the listing in the app where you can bid.)

2. Deferred deep link – After clicking on the link, the technology recognizes the missing app on the device and forwards users to the App Store or Google Play Store (depending on the device they are using) or to the website if clicked on the desktop. After the app has been installed and launched, the deep link takes the user to the appropriate place in the app, just as it does in a classic deep link.

6 ways to use mobile app deep links 

Marketing campaigns
A sports news app will run a campaign targeting football fans. After clicking on the ad and installing the app, the deep will customize the experience for the new user by preselecting the category of football news. For basketball fans, it will offer preselected basketball leagues, etc.

Influencer promotion
YouTube influencers playing your game can place a personalized deep link in the video description. This unique link sends their followers into the store and, after opening the game, the influencer receives extra coins as a bonus.

Offline, using a QR code
You can use a QR code on a leaflet to attract new users to a loyalty club or app, for example. Those with the flyer simply need to scan the QR code using their camera to be taken directly to the page. 

Sharing a game
Players can share their favorite new games using an ID hidden in a shareable link. The new player and the existing player using the link can earn some in-game extras!

A customer making an order in your online shop receives an SMS confirmation once they’ve made a purchase. When they click on the link, it takes the user to the mobile app, where they can track the order status.

Cross-app promotion
An easy way to cross-promote your game is to put a deep link for a new game in your existing game. When players click it, it takes them directly to the app store, where they can download the new game. 

How to start deep linking

Developing your own deep linking solution and implanting deep links in your apps isn’t a trivial task.

Fortunately, deep linking technology included in mobile software can make the challenge a little easier. Every mobile app attribution tool (Appsflyer, Adjust, Kochava) has deep linking tools, as do specialized tools (Branch) and mobile app analytics tools such as Firebase. 

It’s worth spending time reading the documentation and guides of your preferred solution to understand how to design, implement and test deep links before deploying them. 

If you need any assistance in selecting the right tool or need some implementation support, don’t hesitate to reach out to the data team at AppAgent.

Would you like to learn more about the above-mentioned attribution tools? Check my previous article on What is the best attribution tool where you’ll find all the known pros and cons of each tool.

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