What is Deep Linking?
Deep linking refers to the practice of sending a user to content within an app, not simply to the home page. For brands, deep linking makes it simple to provide personalized recommendations for users and navigate them to the specific product pages or promotions that they are most likely to engage with.
App developers have been able to incorporate deep links since iOS 2.0 in 2008, and the practice has grown in sophistication and prominence in the many years since. Today, marketers are able to use deep links as a way to provide dynamic content that is highly relevant to each individual customer’s journey.
With deep linking you can:
- Send users from an email or mobile web page to an app
Deep links can guide users to your app from another channel, such as an email newsletter or a mobile web page. For example, a streaming video app might send a user an email encouraging them to pick up on the next episode of the show they’ve been watching. The email could include a deep link pointing directly to that episode, which will open within your mobile app. If the user doesn’t have the app installed on that device, the deep link can prompt them to download the app and then redirect to the link from there—a practice known as deferred deep linking.
- Personalize onboarding and content sharing
Deep links can be used to share customized landing pages developed for each user. For example, if you send a user an in-app notification offering a promotional discount for sharing a coupon code with their friends, the deep link will go to a landing page that prompts the user to send messages that say, “[Name] gave you $20 to spend on snacks,” for example.
- Add a coupon code automatically
Rather than sending your user an email that includes a code they’ll need to type in at check out, you can send them a deep link to your app, where the code will be automatically inputted. That ensures that they won’t forget to add the coupon code and makes it easy to provide personalized discounts and offers.
- Send users back to their abandoned cart or viewed product
By tracking a user’s journey, you can see exactly where they dropped off in the sales process. Maybe they viewed an item or added one to their shopping cart, but didn’t complete the purchase. In either case, you can use deep links to encourage them to pick up exactly where they left off.
- Use QR codes through direct mail or in-store displays
By using the camera on their mobile phones to scan QR codes, customers can follow deep links from printed displays, such as mailers or posters at in-store locations. For example, many restaurants have cut down on paper menus by displaying QR codes directly on their tables, which can direct customers to view the menu or even order their food directly on the restaurant’s mobile app or site.
- Share deep links via social media
For users who follow you on social media, incorporating deep links into your social post is a great strategy for getting users out of a third-party platform such as Facebook or Twitter, and into your ecosystem. Incorporating deep links that offer a discount will encourage them to download your app and fill out their profile information, helping you gain access to more user data and get the opportunity to market to them directly outside of your social media channels.
Benefits of Deep Linking
Incorporating deep links across all of your marketing channels provides a powerful way to incentivize mobile app downloads and usage or mobile site engagement. For ecommerce brands, they also enable you to push your customer directly to the point of sale, adding an item directly to their shopping cart to reduce friction in the online purchase process.
Because you’re able to dynamically create personalized landing pages and content for your deep links, you can use your them to generate content that’s tailor-made for each customer, incorporating their name, location, preferred products, and other details to customize marketing content across landing pages within your app.
This results in a customer journey that’s customized to what each buyer is looking for, streamlining the customer journey and making it easier for them to find exactly what they want. As a result, you’ll be able to drive higher engagement rates and more conversions.
Deep Linking as Part of a Cross-Channel Strategy
By adopting a comprehensive cross-channel marketing strategy, you’ll be able to encourage app downloads and in-app purchases by deep linking through all of your other marketing channels. You can use email marketing, SMS messaging, social media, and push notifications to send sequenced marketing messages that send customers to specific pages on your mobile app, encouraging them to complete an action there.
Using an integrated cross-channel strategy, you can ensure that you’re reaching your customers based on their unique communication preferences. If one customer rarely opens email messages but often follows links from SMS, your marketing sequence will be optimized to prioritize SMS messaging. Or, if you send an email marketing campaign to a customer but they don’t open it within a day, they’ll receive an automated follow-up via push notification, increasing the likelihood that they’ll click on the link.
By combining cross-channel marketing and deep linking, you can help your customers engage with the right content for them across the channels they prefer to use, increasing their engagement and customer satisfaction with their brand experience.