There are over 1 billion app installs happening everyday. Go-to-App has replaced Go-to-URL for most smartphone users. Next frontier for app owners is to get users to engage with their apps often. Deep Linking is one such tool to aid that.
What is Deep Linking: It’s URL equivalent for mobile Apps which helps in making user land on a specific page/screen inside an App.
Why Deep link?
Deep link helps every App which has multiple screens, products or sections. So instead of making every user open your App’s main screen and then manually navigate, deep links can take them directly to the desired page.
Some of the app types which can benefit from it:
Shopping Apps: Allow users to land directly on a product page, advertised or promoted outside the app.
One can create direct campaigns for individual products for better conversions. It can either be done manually for select products or by using App’s product feed to create dynamic product level retargeting similar to what we see on desktops.
Travel Apps: Deep linking in Travel Apps can allow users to go directly to Hotels, Tickets or Holiday booking sections.
Even a specific hotel deal or specific air sector could be promoted taking user to a page with those sectors or hotel details pre-filled. Boarding pass/Booked tickets can be opened directly from the confirmation email sent, allowing for faster access.
Music Apps: It can leverage the benefits of deep linking to allow App owners to push albums or hit singles directly.
Imagine a campaign on Facebook using its targeting methods for all Abba Fans and clicking on it can take users directly to the collection of Abba Songs.
Similarly Gaming Apps, Food Apps, News Apps would find so many use cases for it.
This benefits both pre-installed app users or new users: In all the references mentioned above, you would be assuming that deep linking works only for Apps which are pre-installed on the phone. That’s a wrong assumption, deferred deep links can carry forward the saved request. If user does not have the app installed on the phone then (s)he is directed to the App store and on opening the App post installation, in the same instance, user is taken directly to the deep linked page or screen.
Opportunity for new form of Advertising: Ad-Networks can also offer CPE (Cost per engagement) models in addition to CPI (Cost per install) allowing advertisers to run campaigns to get back their existing users or directly engage new users. Some networks have already started rolling this model for advertisers by integrating with their product feed and serve a product based advts based on in-app behavior.
Affiliates who have helped desktop commerce in a big way can now finally replicate the same model on mobile using attribution + deep links. Most analytics tools will allow you to measure conversions through deep links using an event to track such calls inside an app.
Coming Soon, Search results with deep links: Well this is the future of mobile search. Imagine you searching for best pasta in town in Google mobile search and the search result leads you directly to a page inside Yelp App listing down popular restaurants near you. This eliminates the need to maintain a mobile browser site altogether. So SEO experts will need to evolve quickly to master this search algorithm.
This is still in invitation phase and you can find more details about it here https://developers.google.com/app-indexing/
How to do it: Here is a quick overview of the technical bit (refer links at bottom for more details):
Apps use URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) and intent filters to reach the desired page. You need to make changes to AndroidManifest.XML. You need to define format of the URI which is unique to your app. For example, youtube://, twitter://, ebay:// are URI formats for their respective apps.
Sample Deep Link format used by Paytm:
This link tells the phone to open a product ID 194851 inside the app and if app is not installed then take the user to app store on Paytm App page.
Similarly in iOS, you can define these parameters in app’s info.plist file using Xcode editor.