Deep Linking: What Is It and Why Should You Care?

Deep linking. It’s become a buzzword for those in the mobile retail space and for good reason. But not everyone understands exactly what it is and how it can accelerate the conversion process and boost sales.

Let’s start with the concept behind deep linking, which is not exactly new.

In fact, it’s been commonplace in the website world for a long time — linking to a specific page within a site is the foundation of the modern-day web as we know it. The web handles every page the same; there’s no special treatment for home or landing pages, so it’s easy to set things up to direct a visitor to the page for a particular product or category. This is deep linking at its simplest: dropping a visitor directly onto a specific page that is deep within a website.

Mobile app deep linking has been far less straightforward.

For instance, sending prospective customers an email that directs them to a certain portion of a mobile app has been attempted, but not with effective results. Prospects who didn’t already have the app ended up floundering in a black hole, with no good path leading them to the elusive product page or specific part of the app.

But new changes in technology have streamlined mobile deep linking and represent a landmark moment for optimizing mobile apps. Now, customers who don’t have the app will be prompted to install it and be taken directly to the correct screen. If they already have the app, they’ll smoothly link through to the desired location, such as a particular product that’s on sale or a product category that they often shop in.

Deep linking makes for a significantly better user experience, regardless of the consumer’s device platform.

A seamless installation process, a simplified journey, and greater value from the app itself through personalized filtering and stored information all contribute to a more encouraging experience for consumers, who will be more likely to actually use the app, rather than letting it gather virtual dust or removing it from their home screens.

But why should deep linking be on every marketer’s radar?

It’s simple: Deep linking avoids unnecessary taps and removes navigational barriers, giving it the potential to transform the world of mobile apps.

Marketers can now scale their deep linking campaigns by using a variety of ads that target specific user segments and link directly into specific places within apps. Clicking on those ads no longer takes consumers to a company home page or default app home view. Instead, they go straight to the products that appealed to them.

And it won’t just be retailers who use deep linking to reach a wider (and more targeted) audience. Consumers will share specific app screens via social media and email, leading to a greater number of app installs through viral marketing.

As we reach deep linking’s tipping point, we’ll start to see it offer even more value to marketers and consumers alike. Stay tuned for more posts on the many possibilities that deep linking offers.

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