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Leveraging OneLink with ESPs to improve Email-to-app experience

By Larissa Klitzke
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Email is not dead.

Despite the growing number of online channels, platforms and apps that consume our lives, the oldest online channel of all remains one of the most important.

For most web/app products, email is a mandatory part of the onboarding experience. And from a marketing perspective, email has an impressively high return-on-investment despite its reputation as being “spammy.”

In 2018, Sendgrid reported that email marketing campaigns had an 18% average open rate worldwide. Compare that to the sub-1% click-through-rates of typical display banners and it becomes easy to see why Ascend2’s March 2019 survey of global marketers found email automation software to be the most effective marketing technology.

At the forefront of this industry are email service providers (ESPs).

And while ESPs do an excellent job of automating email marketing for web, things get a bit trickier when mobile apps enter the equation. Since the advent of Apple Universal Links, countless marketers, product managers and engineers have lamented over deep links breaking in emails.

Fortunately, AppsFlyer’s deep linking solution can fix that.

deep linking flow with AppsFlyer
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Deep linking for mobile marketers, a guide

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What’s the problem?

When opening a marketing email link on our mobile phone, we can all relate to the frustration of being sent to that brand’s website instead of the app or app store.

This is especially cumbersome for apps that we already have installed, in which case we have to exit the webpage, open the app and manually navigate to the right in-app page to complete the journey. This is precisely why universal links are so important. Without using a third party deep linking solution such as OneLink, marketers have no way of optimizing the experience by device and platform.

Some ESPs have come up with their own universal link solutions, but few are equipped to handle every edge case.

And for data-savvy marketers who are working with a mobile measurement partner (MMP) such as AppsFlyer for app attribution, this creates its own set of problems for analysis and measurement across systems.

Why? In order to create attribution links, measurement providers wrap the original link to create a unique display link that will call that system with measuring data once it is clicked.

So if an advertiser wants to see consistent measurement across their ESP and MMP, they will need to wrap the MMP attribution link with an ESP attribution link.

As illustrated by the email redirection cases below, ESP-wrapped links will:

  1. Break Apple Universal Links (iOS) if the app is already installed

    Although measurement information will be sent to the ESP, no attribution or contextual data will be sent to the MMP. This not only causes problems for attribution within the MMP, but it also creates a disruptive experience as the user will not remain logged in, and they will not be sent to the contextually specific page originally intended by the deep link scheme.

    Note: This is not an issue for new iOS app users who click ESP links to install through the App Store for the first time.

  2. Complicate the Android user journey

    If the Android app is already installed, the link will call a URI scheme to send the user to the relevant in-app content. If the app is not installed, the link parameters will be lost and the ESP will redirect to mobile web by default.

Email redirection cases:

email redirect use cases

OneLink is AppsFlyer’s universal link solution, allowing app marketers and developers to define the deep linking flow based on various scenarios.

OneLink streamlines the email-to-app experience for iOS by “unwrapping” or “resolving” links wrapped by ESPs to work its magic without losing any attribution or contextual data. OneLink works across every possible OS, channel and platform to seamlessly route users to the optimal destination – whether that be a custom landing page, the app store or a contextual in-app experience.

While OneLink has proven and tested support for Braze, Sendgrid, Iterable, Oracle Responsys, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, the underlying technology was built to work with all major ESPs.

In addition to email marketing, OneLink also supports a variety of other use cases including paid advertising, SMS campaigns, user invites, smart banners, cross-app promotions, referral programs, QR codes, and more.

Whether created manually or programmatically through the OneLink API, OneLink ensures that every click and in-app event is measured, attributed and reported in the AppsFlyer dashboard so you can make informed business decisions in real-time.

Want to learn more about OneLink and the OneLink API? Talk to your Success Manager or schedule an AppsFlyer demo today.

Larissa Klitzke

As a Product Marketing Manager at AppsFlyer, Larissa leads strategic initiatives for sales enablement and content development in North America. Larissa brings a unique perspective to the team with seven years of agency experience in cross-platform media planning and marketing strategy. Through previous roles at M&C Saatchi and Carat, Larissa has worked closely with leading brands including Microsoft, Amazon, Sony and Red Bull.

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