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Deep linking is when a link sends users directly into a specific point in the app experience, rather than an external website or app homepage.
Deep linking works by mapping out every screen of the app in a similar manner to a website. This means that every individual webpage has its subsequent screen in the app, so customers can transition easily from web browsing into the app. For example, if a user searches for a product on a mobile search engine and already has the app installed on their phone, clicking a link will take them directly to that specific product in the app. By removing a step from the transaction process, deep linking helps to maintain user attention and improve conversion rates.
Deep linking is not restricted to mobile websites alone; it can also be used in push notifications and email marketing. This adds value to the notification by providing the user with relevant content and increases conversion rates.
The value of deep links come down to their impact on user experience. Deep linking makes the customer journey feel seamless by allowing users to move from website to app, or between two separate apps, in one click. Not only does this expedited process reduce the churn rate, but it also increases conversions as users can be directed to the exact page they need to be on to convert.
Deep links are great for a variety of apps. Retail apps can deep link users to their shopping carts, to purchase items they abandoned. Travel apps can deep link users to promotional pages, such as a flight sale. News apps can deep link users to trending content or a breaking story.
Marketers can also use deep links to advertise new content or app updates. Rather than forcing users to navigate the new changes alone, marketers can send a push notification with a deep link directly to the feature and pair that with a short string of in-app messages that explain how it works.
While a standard deep link will take users directly to the desired content as long as they have the app downloaded, a deferred deep link will take users to an alternative destination if they don’t have the app installed on their device. In this case, the destination in question is usually the app store where the app can then be downloaded. Once the app is installed, the user will then be referred to wherever they were navigating to initially. In other words, deferred links delay the deep linking process until after the app is downloaded.
Studies have shown that deep links can improve user retention by up to 2x in the first 30 days, so it is certainly worth pursuing.
However, marketers can use deep links to reach users at every stage of their journey. They can send a push notification to a new user with a deep link to a profile creation page — setting the stage for gathering interests and sending personalized communications down the road. They can link search queries to deep links to engage users who search on mobile browsers. They can retarget users who left items in their shopping carts by including deep links in an email drip campaign. And marketers can also reach their users by using deep links to capture referrals via incentives, such as giving users credit after referring a friend.