What is deep linking?
Deep linking is linking. But instead of linking pages on the web to other pages on the web, deep linking helps apps work like the web. That means people can click on a link on the web, in an email, in a text, or anywhere else including in another app, directly into specific functionality on a specific screen in an app.
The result: mobile marketers can create customized experiences that seamlessly continue customer journeys, app onboarding experiences, mobile commerce conversions, and more. Just one example: a mobile web ad for a product that links right to the product purchase page in an app you already have downloaded, or even — in the case of deferred deep linking — into a product purchase page right after you download the app for the first time.
Another use: deep linking is often used for re-engagement campaigns via email or SMS, drawing lapsed users back into your app with tailored offers. You can also use deeplinks to pass data to an app, like a promo code or a product identifier.
As mentioned earlier, deferred deep links are another type of deep links that work even if a user does not have your app installed yet. (In other words, the deeplink is deferred until the app is installed.) After the app is installed, the user will be taken to the correct screen or functionality in your app.
Another key component when implementing deeplinks is, of course, measurement, which is required if you would like to analyze the performance of a specific user experience or channel. (All of which is built into Singular’s deep linking product.)
Of course, deeplinks work differently on Android and iOS. Each operating system provides its own mechanism for implementing linking functionality. (Apple’s iOS has Universal Links; Google’s Android has App Links.) Singular’s deeplinking module leads the industry in terms of functionality and can be used easily and seamlessly to implement and measure deeplinks across all mobile platforms.
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How do mobile marketers use deep linking?
Deep links are used by mobile marketers in order to both create a seamless user experience and to accurately measure campaign performance.
They’re also better for user experience. Deep links help reduce churn and increase the likelihood of an install by taking users directly to exactly the content or screen they need inside the target app with a single click. This allows marketers to create more sophisticated campaigns.
For example, if they are targeting a specific feature within an app, deep links can take users directly to the correct page. By creating this seamless user experience, in-app deep linking can significantly improve conversion rates and retention rates.
Another common use case of deep links for mobile marketers is in retargeting campaigns. For example, if a user views a particular product but does not buy it, using dynamic retargeting with a deep link can take them directly back to the product screen for a seamless conversion. Or to their shopping cart, with an optional coupon, if they added it to cart.
In the context of mobile analytics and attribution, deep links provide marketers with more granular insights into each campaign’s performance. Deep links not only drive engagement by linking to specific content, but you’re also able to track the source of these conversions. With a deferred deep link, for example, a single natural user action can attribute the conversion to a specific engagement.
Ultimately, deep links are used to remove friction for users by directing them to a page of interest without having to navigate there manually
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How does Singular use deep linking?
Singular Links technology was built for deep linking on both iOS and Android. It’s one solution for everything, making mobile marketers lives easier.
Whenever you create a tracking link in Singular it is automatically compatible with deep links and deferred deep links. This includes the ability to create deep links with Apple Universal Links, Android app links, and Android intent technology.
With the Singular SDK, developers have several options to enable deep linking, including:
- URI Schemes: URI, or Universal Resource Identifier, is the legacy deep linking method in which the developer registers a “scheme” for the app. For example, if the deep link is “myapp://path/to/page?pageid=1”, the device will open the app whenever a user clicks a link that starts with “myapp://”. If the app is already installed on the device it is opened and the reset of the link is parsed to direct the user to the desired page. URI schemes do not work with deferred deep linking, meaning that if the app is not already installed it will result in an error.
- iOS Universal Links (iOS 9+): Universal Links are an improvement on URI schemes that do allow for deferred deep linking on iOS. To enable this, the developer first verifies their web domain (e.g. “myapp.com”). When a user clicks a deep link (e.g. “https://www.myapp.com/path/to/page?pageid=1“), the device will know to open the app. If the app is already installed, the rest of the link is parsed and the user is directed to the desired page. If the app is not installed, the user is first taken to the verified web domain, and then to a specific page after installation.
- Android App Links (Android 6.0+): Android app links are also an improvement on URI schemes that allow for deferred deep linking. Similar to iOS Universal Links, the developer first verifies their web domain to serve App Links. If the app is already installed it is opened, the rest of the link is parsed, and the user is directed to the specific page. If the app is not installed, the user is taken to the verified web URL using their default browser.
In summary, Singular offers mobile marketers a complete solution to generate and track deep links for existing users and deferred deep links for new users. Deep links are essential to a seamless mobile experience, and as new marketing channels and platforms emerge, deep linking becomes increasingly important In addition to the user experience, pairing analytics and attribution with each deep link allows marketers to create more advanced user acquisition campaigns.
It is important to note that with iOS 14.5 and new privacy requirements, there were some consequences to deeplinking and deferred deeplinking. In iOS 17, that will continue. In-app, marketers can check for App Tracking Transparency status and therefore know what is allowed and not allowed in terms of marketing measurement and tracking. On mobile web, that’s not as possible.
It’s not entirely clear yet what all the consequences of iOS 17 will have on deep links, so check back here for updates.