E-commerce marketing
E-commerce marketing
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 min read
May 18, 2016

Why Deep-Linking is What App Marketing Needs


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Mobile marketing isn’t about banner ads anymore. Whether it’s the fact that 41% of the young customers use Adblock technology, or that only 52% of the customers allow Push Messages, people are resisting the traditional billboard-style ads that were once a mainstay of conversion and ROI. The issue is more than ads simply being ignored – (providers are used to single-digit click rates); it’s that customers are actively eliminating ads from their entire experience. This generation is growing tired of the hard sell.

Deep-linking allows marketers to innovate the way customers interact with their products. Companies will have an easier time reaching millennials who want the personal touch and are tired of pop-ups that interrupt the day. Ultimately, we’re now more capable of designing campaigns that help users. Imagine a new type of push-message that assists the user’s journey, providing utility over current simplistic “Come back!” calls-to-action. The potential for product sales is immense.

Wait, what is Deep-Linking?

Deep-linking is a technology that interconnects mobile apps the same way the Internet operates with clickable links. When the user presses a call-to-action (e.g. push notification, e-mail link), deep-linking is the technology that takes users to a specific area within the app itself instead of simply loading the app. In web terms, this technology is the difference between taking you to Target.com and Target.com/shoes with the push of a button.

That said, the technological structure of mobile apps is not the same as that of websites. Mobile apps currently do not have the ability to navigate effortlessly from one app to another by means of hyperlinks. Yet apps can now be opened to specific pages. Deep-linking greatly reduces the friction in bringing users to certain landing pages in your app.

Technical requirements:
  • In setting up deep-links in a mobile app, a custom URL scheme has to be created and registered with the operating system.
  • Routes to destinations or activities in the app will be mapped, the same way URLs are mapped on Web pages.
  • Expert developers can set up deep-linking in an Android or iOS app rather quickly. The Android Developer Documentation specifies how intent-filters are added to map routes, while on an iOS the open-URL method of the AppDelegate is initiated when a user deep-links within the app. When the mobile app is set to take deep-links, its structure must be presented publicly to allow third parties to drive traffic to the app.
  • The last step is to send out links directing users to the app (should they already have it), or to a mobile website (if they don’t have the app). Once this is done, marketers can disseminate the link through outbound marketing, be it social media networks, paid advertisements or e-mails.
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How does it impact my marketing?

Marketing professionals often talk about providing utility to their customers instead of directly selling to them. Thought-leaders like Jay Baer have even written best-selling books about how smart marketing means being helpful and not merely being an amplifier. Simply put, deep-linking gives marketers more tools to increase conversion (and to actually get millennials to care) by following the philosophy of help.

Before the concept of deep-linking, marketers effectively had only two alternatives with apps:

  • A link leads users to a standard landing page where they could download and install an app.
  • If users already had the app installed, a link would open the app but take a person only to a home screen.

Those options could not enable marketers to link-up users to screens beside the home screen, which limited their ability to connect users to significant content. Since the aim for marketers is to move customers through conversion channels, keep them engaged, and convince them to convert, deep-linking is the perfect tool to implement this. It efficiently eases some of the trouble when bringing users to specific conversion spaces in the app.

Using the earlier example of Target.com, picture someone wanting to buy shoes using Target’s app. They see a nice pair, but Wish List it because they aren’t sure of the price. Using deep-linking, Target can send that customer a Push Notification with the message: “Those shoes on your Wish List are on sale!” with a direct link to that product’s page. To the consumer, the notification feels like it was meant just for them and makes them feel special. Before deep-linking, that push notification would simply bring them back to the app and then have them look-up the shoes all over again.

Why is that small difference so important? Kahuna found that little change in customer experience accounts for an average of 66% rise in conversion. Seems worth a shot.

Where do I begin?

Every section of the app is a potential area that can be deep-linked. To take advantage of that, companies can start designing campaigns that convey a product’s value. If a customer took a look at each screen in the app, would they understand from that what each product does/means?

The URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) of each page in the app should also be determined. For those in marketing, that’s a conversation to be had with the developer. Begin crafting a holistic experience for each URI/page you find.


Old marketing and advertising methods don’t translate directly to this mobile generation of consumers. However, there are new tools emerging each day that help products connect with this generation. Advertising this way far more powerful, customized, and profitable.

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