Leveraging deep links to build a persistent web-to-app profile


Lift in Day 0 logins


Decrease in CPI


Increase in LTV


Apartment List is a free online platform that helps renters find their perfect homes through a personalized apartment listing marketplace.

By prompting new users with a few simple questions around price, location and amenities, Apartment List uses 35+ attributes to provide curated results and tools that streamline the apartment discovery experience.

Founded in 2011, Apartment List is the fastest-growing apartment rental marketplace with coverage across over 800 U.S. cities.


In an outdated marketplace dominated by Craigslist and a few small incumbents, Apartment List knew they had to create a beautiful, synchronized cross-device experience in order to draw users away from their typical search habits.

Typically, profile consistency is achieved by saving search results and preferences within user account logins.

However, requiring new users to login prior to searching would naturally cause drop-off. This was the problem with Apartment List’s original sign-up process, which had a large drop-off rate due to the length and number of pages required to sign up.

Therefore, Apartment List sought out a custom solution to simplify onboarding while maintaining a persistent web-to-app profile.


Enter OneLink, AppsFlyer’s CX and deep linking solution. The genius in Apartment List’s solution was not just using OneLink, but where and how they integrated OneLink within the onboarding journey.

Apartment List strategically improved web-to-app conversion by implementing a magic sign-in process, which removes the hassle of password creation while saving browsing history across screens:

Apartment List using AppsFlyer's deep linking solution

Let’s break that down a bit.

Here’s how it works:

  1. User Survey
  2. Registration
    1. Search preview immediately blocked by registration overlay prompt
    2. User enters name, email and phone (no password required)
    3. At time of registration a unique parameter is generated for each user
  3. SMS + Welcome Email: OneLink is used in both formats with the unique parameter appended
  4. App Launch
    1. When the app is launched it searches for the parameter and generates a magic sign-in link, which then logs the user into their profile
    2. Parameter is one time use and is valid for a short period of time
  5. Search Results: Personalized results generated automatically in-app (saved from web)

Why does this journey work so well?

By guiding new users through the survey experience on the website prior to prompting them to login in the app, Apartment List draws users into the process by illustrating the filters that will be used to customize search results. The registration prompt is then cleverly introduced in front of search results, streamlining the form to just three required fields.

This part is key, as surveys have shown account login to be a huge barrier to new user onboarding:

  • 86% of users are bothered by registering and 54% of users will leave a website and go to another rather than complete an individual registration form (Blue Research)
  • 23% of online shoppers will not buy if they have to create a new user account (eCommerce Survey)

Ultimately, the success of Apartment List’s solution was made possible through dedicated support and guidance from the AppsFlyer development team.

When it came to execution, OneLink technology was pivotal to ensure seamless conversion and measurement. Unlike standard deep links that are prone to breaking on certain OS versions, OneLink was built for every possible edge case, delivering the latest technology in a user-friendly wrapper. No wasted clicks, just the perfect conversion path, every time.

Christopher Chee, Senior Manager – Performance Marketing at Apartment List noted the importance of AppsFlyer in their success:

With the support of AppsFlyer and OneLink, we were able to create the perfect web-to-app conversion experience.


Apartment List’s new onboarding experience was a game changer for their business.

After integrating OneLink to facilitate a persistent web-to-app profile, Apartment List experienced a 2x increase in day 0 logins and a 10x increase in transferring the highest valued web users to app.

This translated to cost savings as well, contributing to a 15% decrease in CPI and a 30% increase in user LTV.

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