The secret to successful deep linking: A mobile marketer’s guide

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What is deep linking?

Deep linking allows marketers to send users into a specific page within an app, and they allow users to move between the web and apps seamlessly.

Different types of deep links

Did you know there’s more than one kind of deep link? There are two kinds of deep links: default and deferred deep linking. Both have their uses, and with the guide, you’ll understand the differences, and be able to cater your approach to different needs, depending on what you want to achieve.

Universal Links

Universal links are Apple’s way of launching apps from a browser. They offer the same functionality but are the deep linking iOS equivalent. Implementation is also similar to non-iOS deep links as well.

If you want to know what really makes universal links different to deep links, in our guide, you can learn more than just the naming, and see why Apple decided to make their own solution - which we fully integrate. Download the deep link guide to find out more.

Adjust deep links

The guide will show you how Adjust’s technology enhances traditional deep linking with modern features that have become a necessity to any marketer.

A brief history of deep linking

A ‘deep link’ refers to any link that directs a user past the home page of a website or app to the content inside of it. The concept of deep linking has been around for some time, appearing in media from 2006 to describe the growing practice of providing search engines with visibility into pages beyond the home page.

In 2008, Apple released iPhone OS 2 (now iOS) and the iOS SDK, which enabled developers to submit home-built applications to the newly-created App Store. The introduction of apps brought new challenges for user navigation, such as how to get between the web and specific applications. Apps, unlike web pages, weren’t based on the same “document structure” as the web. iOS 2 could technically handle deep linking, but mapping to content and actions inside of an average app was tricky. It soon became apparent that while adequate in the age of desktop PCs, these URLs was insufficient for apps. However, this wasn’t a big issue at the time — the ecosystem was in its infancy, apps were seen as basic toys, and the ‘usefulness’ of deep linking was yet-to-be-discovered.

This all changed with the rise of mobile commerce six years later. Real people were making purchases on their mobile devices for the first time, and the potential for growth was (and still is) massive. With this rapid scaling came the need for better tools to drive users along the conversion funnel. There was still no right way to get users onto apps from traditional marketing and acquisition channels like web ads and email.

Several services, including Adjust, strove to create a solution for this need (we released ours in June 2015). For the first time, deep linking became a practical reality for many marketers, making campaigns accessible for users and UA managers alike.

Now deep links are everywhere and serve the essential functionality of taking users from one place to another, from SMS links to QR codes, from social media campaigns to direct advertising.