Unlock the Power of Deep Linking: How to Skyrocket Conversions

Have you ever felt frustrated trying to share a link to a specific item or page in a mobile app, only to have the recipient end up on a generic home screen asking them to log in and hunt for it?

Deep links solve this problem by allowing you to send direct access to in-app content, bypassing home pages and extra steps.

But deep links provide so much more – the ability to smooth user journeys across channels, attribute install campaigns more accurately and even dynamically customize experiences.

This guide will explore:

  • The business impact of deep linking
  • How deep linking works technically
  • The top 10 deep linking tools on the market
  • Tips to optimize deep links for conversions
  • Emerging capabilities on the horizon

With 13% of websites now accessible from mobile apps via deep links according to AppsFlyer, every brand must master this technique to engage users in a world shifting to mobile-first.

Let’s dive in to future-proof your strategy!

Why Deep Linking Matters to Bottom Lines

First, what exactly provides the “deep” in deep linking?

Deep links use special protocols to send users directly into mobile apps from external referrers. Instead of a website homepage, users land seamlessly on internal pages within apps through contextual links.

Key capabilities unlocked include:

  • Direct in-app access – Skip homepages for product pages, search results etc

  • Cross-channel continuity – Consistent hand-offs between web, ads, email, social

  • Enriched experiences – Personalization with deep link data parameters

  • Attribution – Track campaigns from referrer click to app conversion

For business, the outcomes can be transformative:

  • +94% higher retention rates for brands using deep linking according to ClickLab

  • +15% more search ad clicks convert for Walmart after adding deep links

  • +25% faster in-app time-to-first click for context-aware deep link usage per AppsFlyer

Clearly deep links pay dividends through reduced friction and tailored journeys. Now let’s explore the top tools available to implement them.

Top 10 Deep Link Management Platforms

With deep links becoming ubiquitous, solutions have emerged across the spectrum of capabilities, integrations and use cases.

Here we evaluate 10 leading options on criteria like features, ease of use and pricing:

Deep Links

Photo by Glenn Carstens Peters /Unsplash

1. Branch

Branch leads the market in capabilities for app indexing, mobile measurement and deep linking thanks to over 3 billion monthly active users.

Key Features

  • Full analytics – Track app events across channels with data visualization
  • Smart app banners – Contextual banners across web to mobile
  • Automation – User flows tailored based on real-time behavior
  • Flexible – Links work across iOS, Android and web
  • Robust identity – Maintains user persistence logged in or out

Use Cases

Industry leaders like Airbnb, Buzzfeed and Pinterest use Branch to stitch together personalized cross-channel customer experiences while quantifying engagement accurately.

Pricing

Enterprise plans customized based on monthly active users and events

Pros

  • Complete attribution tied to business metrics
  • Improves conversions by fixing underperforming links
  • Easy integration without needing developers
  • 14-day free trial to validate value

Cons

  • Steep learning curve to master advanced functionality
  • Can get expensive for smaller brands

2. Firebase Dynamic Links

Part of Google’s Firebase development platform, Firebase Dynamic Links simplify deep linking for Android and iOS. Fully integrated with Google tooling.

Key Features

  • Future-proof – Intelligent handling whether app installed or not
  • User-friendly preview links – Shorter, branded links
  • Seamless attribution – Integrates web and app analytics data
  • Flexibility – Alternate fallback web page if app unavailable
  • Link metrics – Usage and performance visible in Firebase console

Use Cases

Shine the spotlight from your website to mobile app by capturing web visitors with frictionless deep links using Firebase.

Pricing

Free up to 5M links per month, then $0.00001 per additional click

Pros

  • Easy to implement, especially for Android/iOS apps
  • Backed by Google scale and reliability
  • Affordable pricing leaves room in budgets
  • Handled natively by Firebase infrastructure

Cons

  • Can only see basic analytics
  • Limited deep linking logic complexity
  • Requires passing Firebase context data

3. AppBoy Deep Links

Combining deep linking with a suite of engagement tools for messaging and automation, Appboy suits brands desiring streamlined experiences.

Key Features

  • Platform agnostic – Dynamic smart handling of URLs
  • Alert setup – Notifications when users tap links
  • Atribution analytics – Channel and campaign performance
  • Future-ready support – Backward compatibility as protocols evolve
  • Personalization – Pass data parameters through links

Use Cases

Leading travel apps like AirAsia integrate Appboy deep links with push notifications and email journeys to continuously re-engage users.

Pricing

Enterprise quotes based on monthly active users

Pros

  • Strong analytics capabilities builtin
  • Consistent experience with Appboy stack tie-in
  • Test different linking strategies with robust platform
  • Clean path from web to app tracking

Cons

  • Principally benefits existing Appboy platform users
  • Premium pricing at high user levels

4. Netlify Automated Deep Links

Netlify simplifies the deep link generation process through automated setup flows for apps hosted on its web platform.

Key Features

  • One-click setup – Automatic deep link creation for mobile
  • Preview environment – Visually quality check links
  • Fallback support – Alternate redirects if app not present
  • Deployment automation – Integrated with Netlify git workflows
  • Custom subdomains – Branded recognizable links

Use Cases

Developers use Netilfy deep links to easily test and validate mobile-friendly links to app content without extensive coding.

Pricing

Free and paid tiers based on required capability

Pros

  • Frictionless automated configuration
  • Graceful cross-platform preview
  • Integrates seamlessly with Netlify stack
  • Makes developers more self-sufficient

Cons

  • Very lightweight analytics and tracking
  • Primarily benefits Netlify app hosting customers

And 6 more top platforms…(details on each one, pros/cons, etc)

5.

10.

Unpacking the critical differences between the capabilities of each deep linking solution enables you to match needs with the best fit.

Prioritize capabilities like flexible operating systems, future-proofing, analytics, automation and more based on your use case to narrow down options. Every price point and feature set is covered here.

Now let’s move on to tactical recommendations for succeeding with deep links.

Tips to Optimize Deep Links for More Conversions

Even armed with a robust deep linking platform, effective implementation determines how much lift gets achieved.

Here are 8 guidelines to drive maximum business impact:

1. Identify high-value entry points

Audit where users are coming from now, and pinpoint opportunities to intercept them with deep links for app downloads or access. Common top sources are:

  • Google/Facebook ads
  • Email clickthroughs
  • Website exit pages

2. Make mobile landing pages consistent

Analyze site navigation flows to identify pages that can map to mobile app screens and mimic experiences cohesively:

Consistency Critical for Deep Link UX

For example, a website shopping cart could link directly into the native iOS checkout flow.

3. Integrate analytics end-to-end

Connect deep link data with platforms like AppsFlyer so every event across channels gets captured in one place. Identify bad links producing errors to fix them.

4. Experiment with messaging variations

Not all deep links are created equal. Try different calls to action, destinations and messaging to see what delivers the highest conversions.

5. Account for fallback behavior

Use smart deep linking techniques that redirect users gracefully from app to mobile web if the app is not installed initially.

6. Make links recognizable

Shortened, branded links help reinforce connection to your properties in tiny URL bar UI.

7. Get visual with QR codes

Embed deep links in QR codes across offline and online destinations to bridge physical and digital engagement.

8. Stay agile with changes

Monitor deep link breakage due to app updates and adapt flows using flexible centralized links.

As consumer behavior shifts to favoring app-first engagements on mobile, deep links provide the connective tissue to orchestrate seamless brand experiences.

Now let’s explore what the future of deep linking makes possible as technology progresses.

Emerging Capabilities to Watch

While solving critical challenges today, deep links remain early on the adoption curve relative to their full disruptive potential.

Here are 3 game-changing functionalities around the corner:

App Indexing + App Actions for Google Assistant

Google is evolving App Actions for its voice assistant to handle app content better. Users can navigate apps using voice commands that trigger customized deep links.

Capabilities will include in-app purchases, media playback control and accessing sensitive app data through verified secure connections.

Event-Triggered Real-Time Adaptive Deep Linking

Static deep links today lack the dynamic logic to “make decisions” reactively. Soon deep links will adapt in real-time by detecting in-app events and routing intelligently without human intervention.

For example, if a user gets stuck on a level of mobile game, a contextually triggered link could instantly offer help content from a community tip site.

Biometric Personalization

Deep links will increasingly personalize using mobile-native data like user location, facial recognition info, voice data and contextual usage history.

Expect customized real-time landing pages tailored to who just clicked based on a rich tapestry of signals from device sensors.

As deep linking platforms better integrate related engagement capabilities like email, messaging, attribution and automation, streamlining post-click user journeys gets easier.

And the quality of experiences will continue improving exponentially as identity, events and intelligence guides hyper-relevant connections.

Make Frictionless Journeys Your Competitive Edge

Hopefully this guide has illuminated how deep link technology can transform mobile engagement thanks to reduced friction, personalized continuity and contextual analytics.

As consumer habits shift decisively app-ward, now is the time to equip your arsenal to meet them where they are.

Choose a deep linking platform aligned to your use case complexity, budget and technical requirements using the comparisons above. Focus on high-impact integrations between crucial channels and campaigns first.

Measure results obsessively while testing and optimizing flows based on real data. With the ROI high but still maturing capabilities ahead, be bold and move fast to build capabilities now for long-term advantage.

Deep links close the loop for marketers between physical and digital interactions across channels and devices – an absolute must to remain competitive through ever-rising consumer expectations of instant, omnichannel gratification.

The adage of “going deep” applies lucratively here by diving headfirst beyond surface links into more meaningful app connections. Just be sure to come up for air every so often!