Using Deep Linking To Grow App Usage And Engagement

George Osborn

In App Marketing

September 22, 2014

Alex Jubien is the Founder of ThinkMobile and spoke at the App Promotion Summit London 2014 on the topic of deep linking strategies.

The talk covered the following topics:

  • What Is Deep Linking And What App Marketing Problems Does It Solve
  • How Spotify Used Deep Linking To Grow Its App Usage
  • Recommendations For Implementing Deep Linking In Your App

Now we’re able to share the video and audio recordings of the event and you can find this talk and more in our App Promotion Summit London 2014 Bundle.

Deep Linking Strategies Video:

Deep Linking Strategies Audio:

Deep Linking Strategies Transcript:

Hi, I’m Alex Jubien. Let me a little bit introduce myself. I’ve been in mobile since something like 11 years. I started as a mobile developer, so I’m a tech guy. These are the phones that I suffered on quite early, just after it was the first color phone. I used to have an N-Gage  phone mobile for three years. Yes.

At that time, we were building games. Maybe you’ve heard of Java games a long time earlier. In fact, I had the luck to work on apps quite early, as early as 2003 because we were using games technology to build apps. It was innovation. I went to Deezer to be head of mobile and build the products with the team there. If you don’t know Deezer, it’s the main competitor of Spotify. Then kind of the same story – building the team and the product at Viadeo which is the main competitor of LinkedIn.

Today, I’m an independent consultant in mobile strategies which gives me some time to talk to you. Why did I come here? To talk to you about deep linking which is a more marketing training topic currently. It’s because in 2010 at Deezer, we had a project. We didn’t have a proper name for that and this name appeared since. It’s deep linking. We’ll talk to you about how it works and everything like that.

Let’s talk about the issue. I think you all face that issue. You receive an email. You click a link. You have a LinkedIn application installed and you are logged in to the LinkedIn application. It launches the mobile website where it asks for you to log in. It’s a really disappointing experience. You all experience that? Who’s never experienced that? Okay, we’ve all experienced that, so that’s the issue.

Deep linking is a solution for that. Why does it happen? It’s because apps and web are two separate maneuvers and URLs, which are the startup for web, are not supported in apps. Deep linking is a solution.

But what is deep linking? Who knows about deep linking here? Raise your hands. Not so much, so it might be useful then. Okay. This is my definition of deep linking. It’s quite short. It’s a way to put in an app directly to a specific section of content thanks to a link. Quite straightforward, but we’ll have some examples.

It is currently trending. This word, deep linking, the deep linking expression has been mentioned throughout the day because deep linking is a requirement for retargeting. You can’t do retargeting on mobile without deep linking. It’s a requirement. That’s why it’s currently trending because it’s a need for retargeting.

With this example, you have a specific app. It could be an item or a service. When you click on it, it goes in the app but with a particular content. Okay?

It tells you to do something, what I call app to app, and of course retargeting. That’s not only that. That’s why deep linking is currently trending, but you can do much more with that. You can imagine SMS to app as well.

If you have a new letter, with deep linking you handle the link in the new letter to open the app, as we’ve seen earlier. Of course, web to app, that includes also, I think you can do an SEO or ACA trap. Social to app, and we have a particular focus on that one later. And a app to app, which is also something trending currently.

Yeah, just remember that slide. It’s slang. I told you I was a tech guy. Just remember that slide. Deep linking is your everything to app. It opens your app somewhere on a particular content. In that sense, it allows you to leverage your whole digital marketing efforts also for your apps, in your letter and so on, for example.

Okay, so how does it work? It’s based on technical mechanics which is called URL scheme. Who knows about URL scheme? Wow. We have some tech guys here. It’s more tech stuff. Just remember, it has technical mechanics to launch an app with parameters.

Let’s have some examples. You just type fb colon slash slash in your browser and it will open your Facebook application. Let’s make an interactive experience then. For people who have a barcode scanner installed, I invite you to scan this code or if you’re on iOS, you can type the address.

Who’s ready for that? We can take a second for that. I will do it myself. Yeah, I can use the TV screen in the back. Who has the magic happening? You can just follow me on Twitter then. As you can see, it doesn’t open the website. It opens the app directly. That’s what deep linking is. That’s what it does. That’s what I wanted to show you with this interactive stuff.

Just to mention Unitag which is a great start up to make customized QR Code. You know for opening Twitter, the syntax is like this: Twitter, colon, slash, slash, user, and my user name. But you can, of course, open something else – a companion page or whatever, a Tweet, its parameters.

It has issues. It’s not perfect. As mentioned, it’s two separate worlds. URLs don’t work with apps. The main issue is your scheme doesn’t work with web, on this desktop browser, or if the app is not installed then you have a failure  and it’s so that maybe you’ve already fixed it as well.

We had to find a technical solution for that as well. We use a flow. It’s sort of a routing mechanism to guide the user to the proper behavior. Let’s see how it works. For example, the user takes on and so on. It’s a web link. We just first analyze the user agent. Again, technical stuff, which allows us to separate mobile and desktop. If it’s not mobile, if it’s just desktop, then we just let the link proceed. If it’s a mobile, we check if the app is installed. That might not be possible. Checking if the app is installed is only possible from app to app.  You will have them. We also can add a user, which we will do later. If the app is not installed, you just guide the user to the proper app store.

Now if the app is installed, you use your scheme as seen earlier. Another way, you can also use something called intent filter, but again, it’s for techies. Don’t remember that. Give this slide to your techies.

Let’s have a little moment of focus on social tool app. Why? Because for a few years, Deezer and Spotify were using this as a growth acting technique and it works. I think when they got something, they were about something like eight million downloads thanks to that.

So how did it work? Basically maybe you know a little bit about viral mechanics. It’s all about protection and consumption. On one side, features and the products lead you to share content on social media on social networks. On the consumption side, if you consume this content, then it generates either acquisition or retention and this, more predication. It’s a viral loop.

When you design such stuff in your product, you just have to remember that it has to have a benefit for the user. It’s not only, “Just add that so that we get some more users.” No. People share on Deezer or Spotify because they want to show that they are good music lovers and it’s all about sale branding as well.

Let’s get an example of social tool app. The user clicks on Twitter, or a link on Twitter. Deezer shows the mobile webpage from which you can download the app. If the user clicks on download Deezer, it drives acquisition with the app store. If he launches the app, it’s used for reengagement. The cool stuff is that you can set a cookie on the web page so that we remember the choice. The next time, if we lead directly to the app, just like we did with the QR Code. Okay? Clear enough? Okay. It’s a wonderful mechanic for reengagement and acquisition.

Maybe you heard about iOS smarter app banner, which allows similar stuff. It’s just that it’s rare to find publishers that implement it with parameters and that it opens to particular sections. Quite never. It’s not really a platform and you can’t remember the choice. It’s an important point. Whatever.

Just some resources regarding deep linking. You have some framework and tools. You might not need that, but in short, if you build your own mechanics of deep linking and show that your techies study those frameworks and we have people from [inaudible 00:10:51]. Maybe you heard about Facebook app links, which is an open initiative of Facebook, so same stuff.

You have a reengagement ad in the Facebook app. You click on it, a dedicated section in the app, a specific section in the app. Remember that for Facebook or Twitter, it’s platform mechanics that allows them to provide more richer media within the apps, targeting your application. Yeah. The documentation links are for you techies as well.

Google app indexing. Did you know that for 100 apps or so, you can Google index your content? That’s what it allows as well. You can have direct search results, opening your app directly on particular sections. Okay? Not too fast? I’m quite speedy. Okay.

Mentioning different deep linking, it’s other technical stuff. You can read the article just so that you know the word. Basically, it will work also after it’s installed. What we’ve seen earlier, install interweb process. With that as the application, it uses tracking technology. Instead of tracking, it launches the app in the correct section accordingly to the previous ad.

Okay, just ensure that you read these articles. Those two parts for a deep linking solution are quite the same that you found on this slide, which is another view, so I think it’s very interesting as well. The other ones, you’ll read them if you have time. This is your homework.

Yeah, that’s why I wanted to come. Some recommendations, okay? This app. No, we just put a recommendation. I need my voice. Two more slides. There is one simple and cheap. If you don’t have money and you don’t want to go big on mobile, I think it’s not the case for anybody here, but let’s say that mobile is not crucial for you. You just implement the smart banner and intent filter, and you rely on your website.

A good point is the cost is quite low. I think you’re more interested in that because everybody here wants to go big on mobile. I advise you to grab your techies and build your home stuff. Currently, the framework that we’ve seen is not mature enough, so you should study them first. Hopefully, in the upcoming year, we’ll see some really mature technologies that you may be able to run in the box.

Just remember that deep linking is important. If you have the means, you should also add support for app links, Facebook app links, Twitter app links as seen earlier. You can use this slide as your guide. That’s the end. Thank you so much.