Mobile Deep Links

Is this the future of mobile?

App Links

It’s your mom’s birthday next week, and you haven’t purchased a present yet. After work, you go to and begin looking through the jewelry and New York Times bestselling book lists for inspiration. You can’t decide on what to purchase, so you send links of a necklace and the book you found to your brother. He likes the necklace, but he sends back an article detailing how the particular metal of the necklace can increase cancer risk. You both decide to purchase the book.

This method of sharing information is natural today. We take it for granted that the Buzzfeed article, “10 Puppies You Need to See Today” will bring you directly to that article and not to the Buzzed main site. The next step is to apply this process to mobile app in the form of App Links.

Who cares?

Over the last couple of years content has shifted away from being discovered on the web to being found on mobile devices. Alongside this trend, we’re seeing that the time spent consuming media is accelerating towards mobile. This means that people are spending more time on mobile without the same rich, frictionless experience that they have on desktop.

Not only are people consuming more media on mobile, but the platform where this content is being consumed is also changing. Five years ago, you would pull out your iPhone 3 and Google “good steak recipes;” then, read the content via a responsive or mobile-optimized website. In fact, the first part of this funnel hasn’t changed. Most mobile users discover content by searching on the mobile web. However, with native mobile applications becoming more popular, we now spend almost 90% of our time on mobile in applications. As you can see, there is currently a disconnect between where we are spending our time (in mobile applications), and how we are discovering content to occupy this time (on the mobile web). App links are one piece of the puzzle to continue facilitating the transition to a mobile first consumer.

How this affects you

Driving downloads simply is not sufficient anymore to have users monetize in your application. Today, the average number of applications a typical user will engage with over a week has remained constant at 3.7 applications since 2009. Therefore, re-engagement to make sure you are one of these applications is imperative. In fact, companies with less than $10M in annual revenue have a median churn rate of 20%. Unsurprisingly, companies earning more revenue see this figure drop to a more respectable 8.5%.

From a business point of view, app links can help keep a user around longer as well as open up new traffic to your application from previously unavailable channels. To use app links effectively, you should think of the following buckets or users.

  1. Players that have not played in seven days
  2. Players who have not played in 30 days
  3. Highly engaged users who have not played in 28 days
  4. Engagement targeted towards people who have installed the app within seven days of installing.
  5. Always-on Engagement — targeted towards very specific niches of people (high value users, dormant users) promoting new levels, sales …etc

Starting with you VIP users, one strategy to keep them engaged includes giving access to exclusive material or “sneak peeks” at upcoming features. Or access to deep discounts for repeat customers on a mobile eCommerce application. This could be a push notification that links to the application’s content (demonstrated below).

Another bucket are people who are highly engaged in your application but haven’t converter yet. This is an opportunity to offer a discount via a sale; for these users, you could also incentivize social sharing of your application to gain more users (who may later monetize). Finally, you may also use deep links for new user acquisition to decrease the friction of monetizing. You can see a example of Zappos using this technique below.

Alongside these more traditional ways that advertising has begun thinking about deep links, additional sources are becoming present. With app links, it easier for apps to communicate with each other. For instance, what if your smart watch communicated with your fitness app to create personalized workouts based upon your activity level for the day and week. The workout is pushed to you, thus saving you time from curating a workout. This are some of the ways that the “Internet of Everything” will use communicate with each other and use new technologies such as deep links.

How to use these techniques

To launch a successful re-engagement campaign, at Ampush we’ve seen the following tactics work well.

  1. Launch ads with copy targeted for engagement. For example, “Come back and collect all the coins for the weekend special!”, or “For a limited time, top players will be entered in a lottery to be flown to meet our team!”, or “Region eight has just been unlocked, play today!”.
  2. For creative, make sure you highlight an in-game event, or new content that has been updated.
  3. For targeting, mentioned above, be sure to try all combinations of groups to determine the best for re-engagment. For example, a hardcore game could re-engage players who haven’t played in 30 days, while a casual game might be better targeting players who haven’t played in 7 days.

Using these techniques, at Ampush we’ve seen 80% lower CPIs ($1.5) vs CPE ($.30 (Cost Per Installs for our new user acquisition campaign, and Cost Per Engagement for our re-engagement campaigns) for our Android campaigns. For some mobile gaming clients, we’ve seen 28-day new user acquisition ROAS (return on ad spend) just over 10%. However, the same client sees 28-day ROAS on re-engagement campaigns at 425% for iOS campaign and over 330% for Android campaigns. Outside of digital advertising, an email win back campaign from CNET saw a 3.67% CTR compared to the industry average of 2.76%. Finally, “Statistically speaking, the cost of acquiring a new customer is five to ten times more than retaining an existing one.”As you can tell, 2015 is the year of engaging your users in your application.

Moving Forward

App links (deep links) are one step to increasing the mobile experience for consumers. As the world moves onto mobile and wearable devices, facilitating access to information is going to be paramount. This includes push notifications to your Apple watch with 4.5 or higher rated yelp restaurants during dinner time. Or, another example could be improved retention rate using targeted Facebook ads to educate users about new features that are coming in your product. The world is moving towards an experience where people’s apps communicate each other, providing context to the actions we partake in on mobile. Not only does that improve the experience of using a mobile device, but it is a necessary transition toward providing the right information to users at the correct time.