Deep Linking Explained: The differences between basic deep links, deferred deep links and…

| August 14, 2016 | 1 Comment



Deep linking technology has gained considerable attention over the past few years by enabling marketers to enhance their engagement with mobile app users.

Deep links provide a clear way for app publishers to identify, address, and transport users to specific content within apps. Ultimately, they can help app publishers increase installs, user engagement, and conversions — the keys to any app’s success.

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a report that explains the differences between the types of deep links, why this new technology is critical to the success of all apps, and in what types of marketing materials it can be used. This report also discusses the various industry verticals that benefit most from employing deep linking technology as well as the biggest barriers to adoption.

What Are Deep Links?

Deep links are mobile links that operate much like hyperlinks, but instead of directing users to a web page, deep links send them to a specific screen within a mobile application. There are three types of deep linking technology in use today: basic deep links, deferred links, and contextual deep links.  


Basic Deep Links 

Basic deep links can be incorporated into a number of mobile channels, including webpages, emails, SMS messages, and social media sites. They can be used to send users to almost any part of an app. For example, marketers can link product advertisements on the mobile web directly to corresponding product pages within an app. 

Basic deep links help reduce much of the friction associated with app usage. For instance, users who click on standard mobile links online or in an email promotion are sent to the homepage of an app, assuming they have the app downloaded (the link will not work otherwise). This forces them to manually navigate through the app to find the content they are interested in accessing. That friction can deter users from engaging with the app. Basic deep links help solve this problem by sending users directly to specific content within an app instead of to a generic welcome screen, if they have the app installed on their mobile device.

Users who click on a basic deep link but don’t have an app installed will be sent to an app download page or to the app store. After downloading the app, the basic deep link will direct them to an onboarding or welcome page within the app rather than the section they intended to access. 


Deferred Deep Links

Unlike basic deep links, deferred deep links do not require that users have a corresponding app downloaded on their mobile device in order to be directed to a specific page within the app they intend to access.

Deferred links send users to a screen or location within an app after the user is directed to the app store to install the app and then launches the app for the first time. This works by using something called “device matching” or “fingerprint matching”— users are assigned a fingerprint after they click on a deep link that enables them to be identified and matched with the experience or app page they were looking to navigate to after their install.


Contextual Deep Links

These links work much like basic and deferred deep links, except they not only pass user data to an app through the install so users can be correctly redirected to where they intend to land within an app, but also record information about the user, including who they are, where they were referred from, who referred them, or which promotion code they want to apply to their order. 

Contextual deep links, a term coined by Branch, a company specializing in deep-linking technology, allow developers to give users a much more personalized and targeted app experience directly after they open an app — also known as “onboarding.” Developers can build features off of these links that bring users directly to a customized welcome screen after download, or allow them to automatically upload a promo code. They also enable marketers to gather information on how advertising campaigns and marketing channels are performing.


Why Are Deep Links Important?

Deep links provide app marketers and developers with a number of important advantages. They can help marketers optimize their app marketing campaigns, increase conversions, improve engagement, and build retention. 

But to get a true understanding of why deep links are so crucial for successful apps, one must look at the full picture, such as how to optimize acquisition sources and where to implement deep links for maximum effectiveness.

Fortunately, BI Intelligence has distilled all of the most vital information into a single report that delivers you only the most necessary data to help you thoroughly understand deep linking.

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Deep Linking Explained: The differences between basic deep links, deferred deep links and…

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  • Scott

    Great article. Marketers can deep link to their app as long as the page being linked to in the app has what’s called a URL scheme. This is a prefix that triggers the app open from a web browser or another app. Links can be created without SDKs and without any further technical development for use in display advertising, email, paid search, social and affiliate. Learn more about URLgenius at: http://app.urlgeni.us.