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

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An Introduction to deep linking

Deep links are an essential part of the app marketer’s toolkit. They’re the pathways that connect users from campaign to app, streamlining user experience and exposing users to the right marketing, and the right pages.

Deep linking has existed for some time, referring to the practice of sending users “deeper” into a website. Instead of linking directly to the homepage, marketers use deep linking to highlight the pages that work best in the context a user finds that link. For example, you want users to share songs from your music app, so you can add deep links that enable links to open the song straight away, instead of just opening the app.

Creating this capability is more complicated than you might think, and this guide aims to give you the rundown of exactly what deep links can do. Getting your deep linking right is incredibly worthwhile, as it will make your mobile campaigns that much more successful.

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Two types of deep links

There are two kinds of links: default and deferred deep links.


Default deep links only direct users to an app if it’s already installed. If the app is not installed, the link can’t reach the endpoint of an app so an error message is displayed.

Default deep links are useful for retargeting campaigns where an app marketer is solely interested in finding users who have the app installed, and want them to return.


Deferred deep links are more complex than default deep links. They can direct users to the App or Play Store if the user does not have the app installed (or to another location, such as the app’s website for more information), and then open the original page that user was directed to.

So, for example, if a user downloads an e-commerce app after clicking an ad for a pair of shoes, but doesn’t have the app installed, they will first be routed to the store for download. When they open the app after install, the product page would be shown.

Deferred deep links are only made possible through a deep linking solution like Adjust’s. They’re created via an SDK integration, and more information on this, click here for Android and here for iOS.

Contextual deep linking?

You may have heard the term contextual deep linking. These refer to links that ostensibly provide additional benefit, by being able to store more information allowing marketers to do more with their content.

Contextual deep links are default or deferred deep links with added parameters marketers can add themselves. Such links don’t exist on their own.

How do deep links benefit users?

So, if deep links are the mobile version of regular hyperlinks, allowing users to move between different mobile views and apps, where can they go? Here are a few examples:

  • Website to App
  • App to App
  • Social Media to App
  • Search Result to App (using app indexing)
  • Mobile Phone Search to App
  • Ad to App
  • Email to App
  • SMS to App
Deep links make the lives of users frictionless. Say a user wants to share a product from our app with a friend. Anyone can send a deep link to that page, sending the user to the content they want without any hassle.

Without deep links, finding the right product or page would be a navigational nightmare.

For user experience, marketers can also prompt users to open your app from the homepage, and settings will then be saved to remember that user preference.

How do deep links benefit mobile marketers?

There are two real benefits that deep links provide to mobile marketers: retention and retargeting.

With less friction comes reduced user frustration and a better overall experience, helping to keep retention rates high. Deep links also help keep users locked into
a single mobile ecosystem, as every touch can be made to point back to the app for continued use.

Deep linking provides easy activation of lapsed users. Provided the user hasn’t uninstalled the app, an advertisement can take a user to a reward straight away, re-engaging the user for at least a few more sessions.

Ultimately, deep linking provides a versatile method of directing users through your ecosystem, creating a better user experience which can increase your sales, conversions and retention rates.

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