Mobile deep linking is the way to link a user from one app to another app on mobile devices. Deep linking in mobile apps improves user experience, plus provides users with context and value immediately.
While deep linking on the web — also known as hyperlinks — has been improving web usability for a while, the idea of mobile deep links are new. New Yozio customers often ask us for examples, so we’ve inventoried some great examples of mobile deep linking in this blog post that show how various apps deep link from mobile web, social and email channels. We’ve also included additional commentary about what makes it a good example (as well as some areas for improvement).
Let’s jump in…
Deep linking is valuable because it engages existing app users. Deep linking is fundamental to the mobile user experience; and great user experience is important to mobile growth.
Mobile Deep Linking Examples: from Email
Clicking on a personalized book recommendation in a Goodreads email brings the user to a generic interstitial. Clicking on the CTA brings the user to the personalized book recommendation inside the Goodreads app. Goodreads should track the app engagement on these emails and test out a different type of interstitial similar to Wanelo. With organic attribution, Goodreads could test out different interstitial designs, to see if there are any changes in engagement rates.
Netflix often sends emails to subscribers about new shows and movies that might be of interest to the subscriber. In this case, the Netflix email has two CTAs — add to “My List” and “Watch.” Clicking on the My List option opens the Netflix app, deep links the user and adds the movie to the user’s list.
Registered users on Quora can opt in to receive emails on topics they’ve subscribed to or to other topics which might be interesting. In this example, Quora routes people to the mobile web site. The static call to action in the top right hand corner is to “Sign In” or “View in App.” Clicking on “View in App” deep links the user to the screen in the app that was promoted in the email.
Slideshare sends out regular emails to customers about new presentations. Clicking on the first presentation in the email routes the user to the mobile web. It looks like Slideshare brings the user to the mobile web and “force clicks” the user to the app. Inside the Slideshare app, the user is deep linked to the presentation from the email, and not a generic screen. Slideshare might want to experiment with a banner or interstitial that requires the user to click to go to the app.
The branded app from Starbucks allows the user to make purchases, check on his/her account or find stores. Starbucks also sends out promotional emails. Clicking on the account link in the email first takes the user to the mobile web to sign in. The mobile web page has an Apple Smart banner that brings the user to the Starbucks app. Here, Starbucks uses deep links to bring the user directly to the account settings in the app.
Mobile Deep Linking Examples: via Mobile Web
Here, a Pinterest board is the first result from a mobile Google search for “Blue Drinks.” For users who already have the app installed, clicking on the first search result brings the user to the mobile web and eventually to the Pinterest App.
The wildly popular shopping discovery app Wanelo (which stands for “Want Need Love”) has Google search results for prom dresses. When a user clicks on the search result, she is driven to an interstitial that gives a peek into the prom dresses that Wanelo shows on their site. Clicking on the CTA to view in the app, the use is deep linked to prom dresses in the Wanelo app. The first result is the same dress highlighted in the interstitial.
Here, clicking on a Google search result for outdoor brunch automatically opens the Yelp app to the exact search. In this case, Yelp results for outdoor brunch places with the location set to San Francisco are all within the app. Yelp could experiment with bringing the user to the mobile web first to introduce the mobile app via an interstitial or banner before directing the user into the Yelp app.
Here is an example of deferred deep linking. Traditional deep linking falls short when a new user is required to download the app because the pre-install information isn’t passed through the app store. Using an interstitial, Etsy guides the new user to the app store to download the app. Even better, Etsy defer deep links the user to the exact product selected from the Google search.
Mobile Deep Linking Examples: via Social Media
Foursquare tweeted about the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a user clicks on the tweet, they are first driven to the mobile website where they can interact with the content. There is a small CTA to open the content in the Foursquare app. After clicking on the CTA, the user is brought directly into the app for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Foursquare might want to experiment with different CTA mediums such as a banner or interstitial.
Here, Grabble posts a link to a collection of products chosen by a particular blogger. Clicking the link shows an unfortunate pop up from Facebook before directing the user to the App Store. The user downloads the app. Once the app is opened, the user is deferred deep linked to the selection shared on Facebook. This is a great example of how deferred deep linking can improve the user experience by bringing the user to in-app screen that relates to the Facebook click.
Deep Linking Tips
- Use one link that can deep link and defer deep link across mobile platforms. Twitter, Google, iOS, and Facebook have deep linking technology, but it’s fragmented. A Twitter Card with deep links won’t work on Facebook.
- Identify the place for all of your links and implement intelligent routing for these channels. For example, you might want to “force click” the link and deep link email users directly into the app. But for mobile web searches, you might decide an interstitial is a better user experience. Attributing your clicks, installs and engagement will guide your experimentation and optimization.
- Deep linking works best for people who already have your app installed. To engage and onboard *new* app users, you need to make sure you have implemented deferred deep linking. Accurate deferred deep linking requires advanced fingerprinting . Use organic attribution such as Yozio to attribute installs and accurately match installs to pre-install activity.
- Track the click, install and engagement rate of deep linking for different channels.
- Experiment with banners and interstitials to see if users who originate from mobile web, email and social prefer different user experiences.