The links you find in emails, display ads, search results or just about any marketing channel nowadays will often open a mobile app instead of a website. This capability is important for marketers and advertisers because user experience is paramount when trying to increase conversion. App users typically want to go back into the app and website users might want to install the app depending on the campaign so the right app store is the best destination. Simply sending all traffic to the advertiser’s mobile website is now the worst option when trying to optimize today’s complex consumer journey.
The challenge for marketers and agencies is making sense of deep linking technology and learning how to generate deep links that will open the app when installed or gracefully fallback to a website or the right app store when it’s not installed. There are many solutions out there that can help with app deep linking challenges but most are designed for app developers which puts the user experience outside of a marketer’s control. To get control over the customer journey, marketers and agencies need to understand these five commonly held myths about app deep linking.
As your resident expert in app deep linking, URLgenius sets the record straight.
Myth 1: SDKs are required for app deep linking
Fact: Some app deep linking solutions require SDKs and others don’t. Solutions that require SDKs or significant technical resources can be overkill for the needs of most marketers and agencies. These platforms are designed for app developers and often include features that marketers may not need at the moment or that overlap with solutions already in place such as analytics. Some deep linking solutions also include third party tracking and device profiling capabilities which are now being blocked by Safari and Chrome which limit the usefulness of such features.
Look for a deep linking platform specifically designed for marketers and agencies that doesn’t require any tech installation or SDK. App deep links can be composed and implemented immediately and typically there is no charge for testing the links which saves you time and resources. Such platforms typically function by updating a typical web URL in a way that embeds the app open and fallback URL instructions. This type of deep link uses a URL scheme configuration within your app which functions like an address that opens the app to the right place, screen or feature.
Myth 2: Marketers have no control over fallback URLs
Fact: Marketers need to have control over fallback options. The fallback URL is where the user is sent when the app is not installed. Your deep linking platform should give your marketing department or agency complete control over the fallback URL at all times. Look for a link level option to set the fallback to a specific URL or to the app stores for iOS or Android.
For maximum flexibility, marketers should be able to change the fallback setting instantly at anytime even while the link is in production. This allows marketers to optimize campaign goals or change landing page destinations on-the-fly as needed.
Myth 3: Apple Universal Links and Google Firebase are required for app deep linking
Fact: Apple Universal Links and Google Firebase are technologies designed to surface app content that is relevant to mobile search results and also offer some deep linking capabilities. Marketers and agencies, however, typically need deep linking for email and paid media channels and often don’t realize that they can create their own app deep links anytime in a way that is independent of these technologies.
Marketers should also know that Universal Links and Firebase may not work from certain marketing channels or in certain use cases. In addition, marketers may need to link to app-only content or features where Universal Links and Firebase have not been applied or cannot be implemented for technical reasons.
These roadblocks need not slow down marketers or agencies that need app deep linking capabilities for other channels and campaigns. Consider app deep linking as an effective marketing strategy that can be deployed anytime in conjunction with or without Universal Links and Firebase. You should be able to create and test your app deep links immediately at no charge.
Myth 4: Deep linking does not work with embedded browsers like those used by the Facebook and Instagram Apps
Fact: Some deep linking technologies will work with embedded browsers and some will not. This myth stems from confusion related to Universal Links and Firebase app deep linking. These technologies often don’t work with the embedded browsers found in the apps for Facebook, Instagram, Gmail and other apps. That means when a link is enabled with Universal Links or Firebase and is clicked from organic search results, the app will open. When the same link is clicked from a Facebook or Instagram ad, however, the user is sent to the mobile website. This is because the embedded browser is not allowing the app to open which is part of a strategy to keep you within the app you’re clicking from (e.g. Facebook or Instagram).
Marketers and agencies in particular need an app deep linking solution that supports any app as well as any browser including embedded browsers. This is important because most email and paid campaigns take customers to (or from) an app or from one app to another app.
Myth 5: Deep linking does not work with my analytics solutions
Fact: App deep linking and analytics can be confusing because some deep linking technologies are part of a broader analytics solution with a focus attribution. Most marketers, however, already have analytics for their website or app as well as various channels including email and search marketing. Do you need yet another analytics solution? Perhaps not or at least not at that moment. Your deep linking platform should support all your analytics solutions by letting you append campaign parameters or UTMs to your deep links like those commonly used for Google Analytics. Google and Apple recommend appending UTM parameters as a best practice for passing attribution information.
Now you know! Try composing some deep links to your favorite apps and learn more about URLgenius deep linking in our FAQs.