Blog How deep linking works: Five key benefit...

How deep linking works: Five key benefits and best practices for optimal results

Deep linking is a tried and true method of improving key KPIs such as and conversion rates retention rates. By enabling users to move from the web to a specific location within your app, deep links optimize the user journey, reducing friction and making the process as simple and user-friendly as possible. Let’s look at how to maximize the benefits of using deep links with best practices to consider when implementing your next campaign.

What are the benefits of deep linking?

There are so many reasons deep links are an essential part of a mobile marketer’s arsenal. These can be highlighted by the five key advantages of using deep links below, each contributing to one of the industry’s most powerful tools to drive improved engagement.

1. Deep links streamline the user experience

Once you know how to deep link to an app from any mobile ad, including smart banners, email, and push notifications, a single click connects a user to your chosen destination. There’s no signposting, no multiple guessed paths, and no irritated customers who are forced to locate an item or specific page themselves.

2. Deep links collapse the user funnel

Reducing friction should never be overlooked—after all, this is arguably the most powerful benefit of deep linking. When clicking on a deep link, a user is sent directly to a specific in-app location. As well as improving UX, this also means you can optimize campaigns around a single page, stage, or catalog without worrying about user navigation.

3. Deferred deep links bolster your UA campaigns

A key question covered in our deep-dive into deep linking was, “What happens if a user doesn’t have my app?” With deferred deep links, your campaigns can acquire users and send them straight to where you want them—even if they don’t have the app installed on their device.

With deferred deep links, a user who clicks an ad but who doesn’t have your app installed can be directed to the applicable app store instead. Then, that user is automatically sent to the intended destination after they’ve installed the app. This boosts your conversions, as providing users with the content that drove that install as soon as they open the app significantly decreases the chance that they will give up looking for the content and close the app.

4. Deep links deepen your measurement and data analysis

Not only can you use deep links to drive engagement, but you will also be able to see the source of those conversions. In one action you can improve your return on ad spend (ROAS)  and ensure users are directed to the right in-app location (with an accurate way of knowing where the engagement can be attributed). Plus, the parameters which you add to a deep link allow you to better organize your analysis for more detailed insights.

5. Deep links convert better than any other link

Not only are deep links a smart way to improve the user experience, but their conversion rates far surpass other links, which improves return on investment (ROI). With deep links, you’re also likely to see heightened retention rates, which in turn is likely to increase your users’ lifetime value (LTV).

Best practices for deep linking

There are many ways to use deep links to great effect, but also many ways to misfire. So let’s break down everything you need to master the art of deep linking.

Retarget, retarget, retarget

Deep links are really clever for retargeting strategies. Consider e-commerce apps, which can leverage deep linking to send users directly to a preferred destination based on browsing behavior such as a category within a catalog, or to an item for which they’d previously added to their cart but not purchased Or gaming apps, which can use deep links to bring a user back to where they left off in a level.

Getting more direct access over where you’re sending the users who have your app installed means more power over their mobile experience.

Use deep linking for referrals and rewards

Whether you’re targeting new or existing users, using deep links combined with incentives (and a convincing creative) encourages users to open your app. Implementing a referral program with deep links to specific rewards can help encourage referred users to purchase quickly after install. Although the specifics vary, incentives can be used to great effect for all verticals. For example, gaming apps can offer in-app currency while e-commerce apps can reward customer loyalty with a discount on specific products.

Mobile app referrals deep link examples from bank, e-commerce, and sleep verticals.

Don’t allow your links to break

Whether it’s a feature release or just fixing bugs, an app is in a constant state of change–and if you have deep links pointing to a page that’s no longer there, you have to be wary of what might happen.

Mobile deep links aren’t as easy to redirect as they are on the web, mainly because users will update apps at different rates, meaning a deep link will work for a portion of your users, whereas others are directed to an empty page. Needless to say, this is bad news for UX. Adjust can help with this, as Campaign Lab allows you to test your deep links for the correct version of your app.

Don’t ignore the breadcrumb

One clever feature specifically on iOS is the use of ‘breadcrumbs,’ which allow users to navigate quickly between a page or an app they’ve just visited and a suggested destination. If clicked, the user can jump from app to web, and back again.

Safari breadcrumb on a mobile phone.

If a user clicks on a universal link (note the difference between universal links and deep links) on the left side to navigate forward, iOS looks at the user’s most recent inputs in order to decide whether to open an app or a website. This user choice sticks, as iOS will continue to open this destination even if the user didn’t intend to go there in the first place.

If a user has clicked a universal link to your app and opened your site in Safari (via the breadcrumb button), iOS will remember that choice, creating a potential problem with a user’s journey if they want to return to the app. This means the user is stuck on Safari.

There is a setting to change this on the user end, set by tapping on the smart app banner on a web page, or pressing and holding until options open on the link, selecting the ‘view’ or ‘open’ CTA. However, there’s no way to reverse this on the developer side. Many users have come up against this problem, and it can cause them to abandon the experience entirely, never to return.

If this error occurs often, you may consider adding a smart banner to your mobile website to redirect users to the app. This can be effective in manually redirecting users back to a better mobile experience—making use of deep links in the process.

Deep link recurring re-engagement campaigns

Common for education, e-commerce, health and fitness, and food and drink apps, performance tracking is a popular means to keep your users aware of their achievements. For example, performance tracking emails for a fitness app could tell a user when they’ve surpassed their workout goals. Deep links can then be set up to a page where users can update their performance goals, or view a log of their hard work. As well as providing a useful reminder for users, this is also valuable for brand awareness. Tracking progress tends to be popular with users, as it’s one of several common marketing psychology methods, but another great advantage is that you can create content with relative ease beyond the setup process.

With every new email or push notification, you’re likely to have more users returning to your app, or at least remembering their own personal stake in your platform.

Encourage sharing of event completions

There are few tools as powerful for driving re-engagement as positive reinforcement from friends and peers. By making it easy for people to share content they enjoy–and rewarding them for doing so–you can embed your app into the user’s social circle. Carve a message from a successful event completion, complete with a deep link to share. With significant uptake, you may not only see your engagement increase, but also the number of new users trying your app for the first time.

Examples of social sharing deep links from mobile apps.

Think, for example, of language app Duolingo, which allows users to share their progress and streaks. This deep link could take their friends to the same language that this user is learning, or to their own performance tracker in-app, which shows progress within the monthly quest, within friend quests, and within daily quests. Or, look at health and fitness app Blogilates–users are encouraged to share a sweaty selfie after their workout, which is accompanied by a deep link to the daily workout page in-app.

Ready to get started applying these deep link best practices within your own app’s strategy? Request a demo to get bespoke advice on how Adjust can help take your deep link analytics to the next level.

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