Deep linking: What is it, why does your app need it and how to use it

What are deep links? Why do you need them? Find out all about it in this GetSocial article about deep links and their benefits for mobile apps.

When the internet came into being, the only way a user could move from one web page to another, was a hyperlink. Now, imagine the same in today’s date - it is impossible to even think of the bunch of hyperlinks one would have to create.

But when it comes to applications, deep linking is still a newbie in the industry. Even though deep linking has existed since iOS 2.0, it is only in recent years that the mobile app industry has seen it in full swing. 



A deep link is a link that directs a mobile app user to actual content - within the app or to another product of the app. This eradicates the need for the mobile user to download an app, open it and then search for the content you want him to see.  

Non-deep linked content in applications provides a poor user experience, making it hard for the app to not just acquire new users, but also retain the existing ones who seek instant gratification.



There are currently three types of deep links that are used by mobile app developers:

  1. Traditional - They link users directly to relevant content within the mobile app. However, these don’t work if the user doesn’t already have the app installed.
  2. Deferred - In this case, if the user has the app installed, he is directly taken to the content. And if he doesn’t, he is directed to the app store and asked to download the app to view the content.
  3. Contextual - This type of linking takes the user directly to the content, or the appropriate app store if the app is not downloaded. It also stores user data like who sent the link or where was it clicked on to see the content.



Other than offering powerful analytics to developers, deep linking enables a more streamlined and better user experience to mobile app users - boosting the engagement rates and growth of the app. For instance, here’s what an offer being promoted in an app would look like with and without deep links:



Here’s why you need to make use of contextual deep linking:


1. Boost in-app sign ups 

With a plethora of apps available in the app store, most users just download the app and never really get back to it. And merely getting installs, isn’t going to grow your business. This is why most app developers now make use of a signup event to identify if a user has been active after installing the app.

According to a post on TechCrunch, about 29% of users who were contextually deep linked right after install, signed up in the app, compared to the 16% who weren’t. In simpler words, users who were offered a contextual first time experience, are more likely to engage with the app actively.  


2. Double post-install user retention

Quite often, users are excited about a new app in the store because of the various features it offers. However, the excitement usually dies down within just a few days of them having discovered and used every aspect of it. This is where most apps lose their users.

Using contextual deeplinking is like following up with your users every few days to bring them back to the app. The same study by TechCrunch also revealed that about 10% of deep linked users remained engaged with the app, while only 5% of the non-deeplinked users stayed active.

An increased user retention rate has also been observed to keep up the user engagement with the app over a longer period of time.


3. Increases revenue 

Contextual deeplinking allows developers to improve the ROI from their apps by driving traffic to specific pages in the app that interest the user. They enable building a shortcut for users to look for in-app offers and popular purchases. Using these deep links at the right time and event, lead to a greater revenue opportunity.

For example, when a user completes a level on the app using all the coins he has in the wallet, a deep link to a page where the app shares various ways to earn more coins is a sureshot way to get a conversion.

GetSocial allows you to create social in-app purchases to convert users into paying customers. It creates custom point-of-sale banners for your apps with streamlined targeting options. This allows you to promote any in-app content on the user activity feeds and deep link them directly to your in-app store, creating a seamless experience for them. Thereby, increasing conversions.



Now that you understand what part deep linking plays in your mobile app’s growth engine, here’s how you can incorporate it in your strategy:

1. In-app ads 

In-messages or ads can be made a part of your app’s onboarding process. This technique also functions as a great tool for re-engagement with people who are already using the app. According to a study by Localytics, apps that use this technique, increase their retention rates by 2 to 3.5 times than those who don’t.

Adding a buy button to the same messages in a relevant manner, also adds to offering the mobile app user a continuous experience.

2. Push notifications 

Push notifications can be used for promoting a special deal or relevant content in the app, to bring back existing users. This technique is very effective for delivering immediate messages that link to a specific page in the app. They can also be used to encourage a user to either update the app or download a new feature you just introduced without having to move back and forth from your app to the store.




Contextual deep links give more exposure to the content inside your apps by making them readily available to the user at the right time. They enable you to bridge the gap between you as a business and a user as the end customer, making delivering better experiences possible.

But the only thing that developers and marketers need to keep in mind while creating a deep linking strategy, is that the user must never come to know of the shift. The content offered to them should be so relevant that the users feel it is a natural flow, instead of feeling like they got redirected for no reason.

Have you used deep linking to grow your mobile app? What’s the one tip you would give to developers who are yet to incorporate it in their strategies?


This article is a duplicate from the GetSocial blog

If you are interested in more related content, drop us a visit.

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