Pokémon Go has taken over everyone’s lives with little marketing efforts behind it. Playing into Millennial nostalgia and the newness of augmented reality, the Pokémon Go app has managed to be downloaded around 7.5 million times, becoming the most successful mobile app by users in US history. The Pokémon franchise had been declining in game sales since the release of Pokémon Red, Blue and Green in 1996. So what is the allure of Pokémon Go outside of appealing to 90’s kids’ childhood memories? You can play anywhere using your phone.
Having mobile apps for businesses or products creates constant user exposure to brands and product functionality through accessibility on the go. But what do marketers of mobile apps do to gain users if they don’t have obsessive virality like Pokémon Go?
Marketing for mobile apps involves making it easy for users to participate in mobile app discovery. Since I didn’t invent Pokémon Go, I have to use traditional marketing models to enhance the probability of users finding my mobile app content. One the best ways to market app content and assure that users see it is with Mobile App Deep Linking. So let’s get started with the basics of mobile app deep links!
What is Mobile App Deep Linking?
A mobile app deep link is a URI that sends a user to a specific location within the app as opposed to just launching the app then seeing the homepage. With a mobile app deep link, when the link is clicked content is presented through the app instead of the website when browsing on mobile. Apps do not initiate deep links on the their own, they must be configured to handle a URI. Android and iOS differ slightly in their implementation of deep links and Apple has gained notoriety and praise for creating Universal Links, an iOS exclusive version of deep linking. There are different types of deep linking including traditional deep links, deferred deep links, and universal deep links.
Traditional Deep Links
A traditional deep link is just a link with a mobile URI scheme. Mobile URIs are different than web URIs. As an example the Mobile URI for Twitter is twitter://exampleprofile.com as opposed to https://twitter.com/exampleprofile. The issue with these links is if a user clicks on a traditional mobile deep link and does not already have the app installed, they will get an error. This is where Deferred Deep Links come into play.
Deferred/Contextual Deep Links
There is no industry standard for deep linking so the idea of deferred deep link is when a user clicks on a deferred deep link and they do not have the app installed, the content will be “deferred” until they download the app. Meaning they will be directed to the app store to download the app and if/once it is downloaded, they will be taken to the content they originally were trying to see. This is a much better user experience than traditional links, but Apple has now introduced Universal Links, which as the name suggests serves content regardless of if the user has the app or not.
Universal Links are Apple’s iOS version of deep linking. If a user is browsing on iOS 9 and they come across a mobile app deep link, but do not have the app installed, they will be directed to the corresponding webpage in Safari, therefore still seeing the content, making it a seamless experience. Universal Links create a smooth experience, but they will only work if you have a website associated with your app.
Deep linking requires planning to make sure users get the best experience. When users are directed to content on an app through a deep link that requires them to login or involves interstitial pages, that contributes to a poor user experience. Making sure that the logic of your app supports deep links is the first step before deep linking and app indexing.
Plan the architecture of your deep linking and then go through the funnel yourself to make sure its user friendly and presented you with the most appropriate content.
After you have planned your campaign and where you would like to send visitors within the app, configuring deep links involves changing URI schemes, which differ between Android and iOS. My next post will describe how to enable your app to serve content with Universal Links, but if you have an app developer that is your best bet for configuring deep links. Universal Links do not require URI scheme change, but they do involve uploading association files to your app and server.
Benefits of Deep Linking
If you are running a mobile app ad campaign deep links are essential because they send your users to the content within your app that will support conversions. You cannot send users to your generic app homepage and hope they convert so for this reason they are vital, but they also serve secondary marketing purposes to create a holistic and successful experience.
Deep links can be placed throughout app content highlighting products to re-engage users that already have the app, promoting them to move through the app to specific products to buy. But organic promotion can also benefit from deep links. Deep links can be added to organic social media posts promoting your app so users see content they want to view and are prompted to use the app or download it.
But I think the best benefit of all is Google will index deep links and therefore serve them in the SERP. Users searching on mobile can organically find your app content exposing your app to a new audience and creating a user friendly experience to current users of the app when they click through to a deep link from search.
Having your app seen in Google SERPs requires making sure that all your mobile app deep links are indexed. This is done through Google’s indexing platform called Firebase. Your app developer should do this since it involves creating lines of code to make your URIs servable.
I don’t know if anyone can reach Pokémon Go status (I definitely wish, I was born 1990 so I feel the Pokémon love), but creating deep links is essential in mobile app marketing. By creating deep links you will greatly increase user satisfaction by making your app easy to use and find. Go deeplinking!