Deep linking

Deep linking example

What is deep linking? 

Deep linking is the practice of sending users directly to a specific location inside an app, rather than a generic app homepage or mobile website. 

Deep links work in a very similar way to normal web links — which, when you click on them, take you to an article or a page inside a website. The difference is that in the context of mobile, these links take you to content inside an app.

For example, let’s say you’re running a campaign on Facebook advertising a 20% off deal on a pair of shoes… 

  • Without deep links, users would click on the ad, land on your app’s homepage, and then have to try and find the deal inside your app. 
  • With deep links, when users click on the ad, they’re sent straight to the right place inside your app where they can view the offer and buy those shoes —  no searching required!

It’s not hard to see which is the better user experience, and the one most likely to generate a sale.

Deep links work from pretty much any campaign medium you can add a link to, such as SMS, QR code, email, or web, to name a few.

And what is deferred deep linking?

Now you know what deep linking is, you may be wondering what happens if a user doesn’t already have your app installed. What then? 

That’s where deferred deep linking comes into play. As the name suggests, this technology enables users who don’t already have your app installed to make a short pit stop to download it (in other words, deferring their journey) before continuing on to the content they originally clicked on.

Deferred deep linking example

Why are mobile deep links important for app marketers?

Deep links are super useful to have in your app marketing toolkit because they:

Deep links create a frictionless experience that’s key to improving the performance of your user acquisition, engagement, and re-engagement campaigns, as well as essential for understanding campaign performance. 

But don’t just take our word for it. If you’re interested in exploring how deep links are a mission-critical tool in other brands’ toolkits, helping them attract (and keep) users, check out this post

Deep linking benefits - Click to install example

How do you set up deep links for your app?

Deep links are set up slightly differently depending on the operating system. 

On iOS, you need to specify a custom URL scheme for iOS Universal Links. Meanwhile, on Android, you need to set up App Links.

You can learn more about setting up those types of links in our post on Making sense of Universal Links and App Links.

There is another way to implement deep links, and that’s through a custom URI scheme. However, this route is considered less secure (and user-friendly) than Universal Links and App Links, and has become less popular over time.


Deep linking 101: Everything you need to know

Improve your UX

And how do you add deep links to your marketing campaign?

So deep links are critical to your app marketing campaigns — but how exactly do you go about setting them up (and do you need a developer)? 

The good news is that most MMPs offer a pretty straightforward deep-link generator that’ll set up a link based on whatever experience you’re looking to create for your users (referral-to-app, social-to-app, and so on).

For more on how to implement deep links, check out chapter six of our deep linking guide

deep linking experiences dashboard

Deep linking with AppsFlyer

Creating (and measuring) deep links with AppsFlyer is extremely straightforward and can be done without the help of a developer. 

After you’ve signed up and installed the AppsFlyer SDK in your app, you can head on over to our Deep Linking & Customer Experience Suite.

There you’ll follow our deep link setup wizard, which includes:

  • Selecting a user experience
  • Defining general settings
  • Setting experience-specific settings
  • Setting deep linking and redirections settings
  • Adding additional parameter settings

And voilà, you’ll have a deep link that you can use in your campaign and then see the results in the Overview Dashboard.
For more info on deep linking at AppsFlyer, check out our handy help center article.

Frequently asked questions

What is deep linking?

Deep linking is a way of directing users straight to a specific location within an app installed on their device, bypassing the homepage or a generic landing page. This creates a seamless user experience with no need for additional navigation.

How do deep links differ from normal web links?

While both deep links and normal web links guide users to specific content, deep links navigate users to a location inside an app, as opposed to a webpage.

What problem does deep linking solve?

Deep linking streamlines the user journey by taking users directly to the relevant content inside an app. This enhances the user experience and can increase conversions, engagement, and retention.

What is deferred deep linking and how does it work?

Deferred deep linking is a form of deep linking for users who don’t already have the app installed. When they click on the link, they’ll be taken to first download the app, before continuing directly to the specific content they were interested in.

Why are mobile deep links important for app marketers?

Mobile deep links are crucial for app marketers because they offer a better, more secure user experience, lead to higher conversion rates and retention, and provide detailed metrics for evaluating campaign performance.

How do you set up deep links for your app?

Setting up deep links involves different methods depending on the operating system. It’s typically done through Universal Links on iOS, or App Links on Android. Another method is using a custom URI scheme, but this is less secure and popular.

How do you integrate deep links into your marketing campaigns?

Most mobile measurement partners (MMPs) can provide a deep-link generator, which enables you to integrate deep links into marketing campaigns without the need for developer assistance.

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