Mobile deep linking and data analytics are critical for the success of any app marketing campaign. Whether you are optimizing for installs, IAP, ROI, or any other key performance indicator (KPI) - it all starts with robust tracking and reporting.
To better understand deep linking, we've interviewed one of the experts on the subject - Henry Cipolla, CTO and Co-founder of the leading mobile engagement platform Localytics.
Prior to starting Localytics, Henry led the big data team at Microsoft’s Windows Core OS division. When he is not building and racing an Ariel Atom 3, he is taking care of his adorable Yorkshire Terrier, Thane.
Why should app developers care about deep linking?
Deep linking helps find new users, improving the discoverability of apps by appearing in mobile search results with a direct link to the app. In addition to improving overall downloads, using deep linking for acquisition campaigns helps app publishers measure all the different ways of driving users to an app, which previously would all just appear as app opens.
Deep linking is also critical for engaging existing users, especially when concentrated on high value ones, by increasing the quality of the app experience through making the app aware of the context by which a users is opening it. For instance, a user can be taken straight to the part of the app they were interested in from a push message. Similarly, an app can recognize a user who hasn’t logged in yet. When deep linking is used to acquire and engage users, it helps to create the seamless app experience people are looking for.
How can app developers implement deep linking?
Enabling deep linking in your iOS or Android app can be fairly simple. On iOS, you can use a custom URL scheme that you add to your app’s property list (plist) to define a deep link. If you support iOS 9, you can take advantage of universal links. These links offer more uniqueness and security than using a custom URL scheme. On Android, you can add a custom intent filter to any Activity in your manifest to define a deep link.
Best practices dictate that you should use a URI format to define your deep links. For example, “myapp://favorites” would trigger a deep link into the favorites section of your app. You can also specify parameters to pass additional information: “myapp://articles?article_id=
How are advertisers like Aarki using deep linking to optimize ad campaigns for post-install events?
Deep linking allows you to embed information about why a user launched the app. For example, let’s say a travel app is having a sale for trips to Miami and wants to run a push campaign to promote it. It is possible to embed that campaign information in the deep link so, when the app launches, the user is immediately brought to travel options for Miami. This information can also be viewed in the app’s analytics to create funnels showing which campaigns are driving opens and which of those opens are leading to searches and conversions.
How does deep tracking help with real-time attribution?
Being able to record what campaign drove a user to launch the app enables real-time campaign attribution - deep linking is one of the only ways for apps to track which of their campaigns actually worked. In combination with downstream metrics like user engagement or retention, this is powerful information for app owners to optimize their user acquisition spend.
Furthermore, the links can contain user information, which helps app owners provide a seamless, fluid experience. For example, a link on the web to the app can pass along a user ID that was stored in a cookie or via local storage. Now, the app is aware of the user’s account and can provide a better experience, AND the analyst can follow the user across channels.
Using deep tracking as a tool, how can advertisers drive user engagement or retention?Deep linking allows advertisers to create campaigns that go beyond just the initial message. If a user has not used the app for a month, then an ad (which not only shows them why they should use it but also takes them straight to the new feature) is more likely to increase retention. Similarly, if links take a user to the features they want, then the links are creating a more personalized experience which has been shown to drive user engagement.