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Mobile Deep Linking: What, Why, How

Native apps (also referred to as simply mobile apps) provide the best possible user experience and push businesses forward. But there is an opportunity to get even more benefits from this kind of app — deep linking.

But what is it? How to use deep linking? Why use it at all? In this blog post, we are going to answer all these tricky questions.

What Is a Deep Link in iOS and Android ?

We all get deep links almost every day — when a friend shows a pair of sneakers he wants to buy in an online shop or a colleague shares an interesting article on a news site.

Link is called deep when it takes you directly to specific content, not to the homepage of a website. Mobile deep linking is just the same, but instead of a specific website page, the link takes you to a particular place in the application.

Here is an app deep link example: if your classmate sends you an email with a link to your teacher’s profile on Facebook, after clicking on it, it will be opened directly in the Facebook application.

There are several types of app deep linking: traditional, deferred, and contextual.

Traditional Deep Linking

Traditional deep linking is a type of linking that works only in case the required app is already installed. Clicking on the link, you ask an app to show the content.

Traditional deep linking scheme

If the app is already installed on your device, it will be opened right away. But if you click the link without having the app, you will get an error notification.

Deferred Deep Linking

Deferred deep linking will not give up so soon if you have not installed the app yet. In this case, you will be first taken to the app installation page on the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

Deferred deep linking scheme

After installing and launching the app, the link will route you further — right to its content.

Contextual Deep Linking

Contextual deep linking works the same way as deferred but also contains a lot of useful data. It allows tracking the users’ OS, search requests they followed, the source the user came from, etc.

With the help of this data, companies get useful information for further app modifications and receive more detailed portraits of their customers, while users get more relevant content and a better experience.

Why Is Mobile Deep Linking Important?

Let us now see the most significant benefits of using mobile app deep linking.

Improved User Experience

The users’ way to content becomes faster, shorter, and more seamless. Searching for some goods on the web or clicking the link from your SMS, the user goes directly to the content in the app, bypassing the home screen and other steps.

Better User Retention and Engagement

The easier it gets to reach the content, the more often people turn to it and interact. Having data about those who already use your app, you can create special offers for them (available via a deep link) and provide a more personalized experience to engage and convince them to return to the app.

Facilitated User Onboarding

Deep app linking also allows improved onboarding. You can make personalized offers and recommendations to new users, relying on the data provided by contextual linking.

Re-engaging Users

Along with smoothing the relations with new users, mobile deep linking also helps to re-engage those who have already installed your app but have not launched it for a long time.

You can send them a deep link with a special offer or any other content that might induce them to visit the application.

Enhanced App Discoverability

Since Google indexes deep links, your app’s content will be shown in search engine results together with the related web pages. This can increase your brand recognition and bring new users.

Empowering Marketing

Since a contextual deep link can be placed anywhere — from social network posts to SMS — it opens great opportunities for your marketing department.

What can be deep linked to app

Gaining information about the user’s interests and preferences, you can strengthen marketing campaigns by providing personalized coupons and discounts with one click in the app.

Better Analytics

The app deep linking allows tracking the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, discovering more about customers and their behavior, highlighting the most clickable items and offers, etc. This all makes analytics more accurate and useful for decision-making in the future.

How Does Mobile Deep Linking Work?

Mobile deep linking uses Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) or custom URL schemes to navigate users directly to specific locations within a mobile app. To understand how it works, let’s immerse into the process step by step:

  1. Creation of Deep Links: To start mobile deep linking, you first need to create deep links specific to your mobile app. As we’ve already mentioned, these deep links are built using a URI or a custom URL scheme, which serves as a unique identifier for your app.
  2. User Clicks a Deep Link: When a user clicks on a deep link, the operating s