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Are Your Deep Links Actually Working? Probably Not.

By December 3, 2018 No Comments

It’s a common misconception that all deep linking is the same, and that it can be treated as a commoditized piece of infrastructure that can be solved by simply enabling Apple’s Universal Links or Android App Links. Or worse, maybe your account manager for your favorite marketing automation, email marketing, or app attribution tool has promised you that their product has deep linking integrated. If this sounds like you, you’re likely in trouble.

If you’re not using Branch for deep linking, you’re losing a lot of valuable traffic thanks to broken and oversold promises. Deep linking is not a sexy project to work on – great deep linking can be complicated to build, and  deals with thousands of edge cases. When those edge cases are unaddressed for, up to 60% of your traffic might never make it into your app.

While deep linking doesn’t involve trendy buzzwords like artificial intelligence or machine learning, and it might not sound anywhere near as cool as some of your other roadmap items, it’s hugely impactful and worth prioritizing now.

But let’s take a step back. If you’ve never heard of deep linking, you might be asking why it’s important.

First, it’s important to understand that the native app outperforms the mobile web at a scale that makes it more important than ever. Criteo finds consumers will purchase at 3X the rate of mobile web in a native app. Based on myriad data points like this one, creating a seamless user journey from any channel into your app is well worth the effort. And deep linking is exactly how you can achieve those goals.

Let’s use eCommerce as an example of why deep linking matters. Say a user is on their smartphone and notices a pair of shoes advertised on Facebook from their favorite store. They click on the ad with the full intention to buy the shoes.

Here, a deep link will deliver that user directly into the app — and to the correct pair of shoes — where they are more likely to convert. Meanwhile, without deep linking, the user will continue their journey on the store’s mobile website, where they are much, much less likely to complete that purchase.

This scenario plays out across multiple channels every single day. Users click on emails, social campaigns, and paid advertisements that aren’t deep linked — and their dollars are lost to companies who don’t understand that their marketing efforts are only as good as their deep links.

Let’s look at some use cases from Branch customers to prove this out.

Alright, so we understand why deep linking is  valuable. But how do you know if your deep links are broken? That’s very easy to check and confirm how bad it is. Let me explain how.

Imagine that you have ten users who you are able to detect have your app installed, all of whom click on your deep link.

If deep linking had 100% success rate, all ten users should be sent directly into the app. One way you would measure this is to look at the app open rate divided by the number of clicks. Or, said simpler, if all ten users entered the app after a click, the *click-to-app open rate* would be 100%. You should be able to see this number fairly easily in your analytics, as long as you’re measuring the clicks and the attributed app sessions.

Unfortunately, most of the time, we find that most companies not using Branch have a 50-60% click-to-open app rate. Based on our example, that means five of those ten users do not land in the app, and are sent to the mobile web or worse, getting stuck in a error page from poorly handled routing.

Again, keep in mind that this is half of your users getting lost at the top of the funnel, before they even see a product page.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. Branch will bring this metric much closer to 100%. Companies often report seeing it jump to the mid 90s in percentage. In the example above, that means 9-10 of your users get correctly deep linked in the app, literally doubling the effectiveness of the campaign. This case study, along with many more, confirm this, where the click to open rate of app retargeting campaigns went from 50% -> 94% by upgrading to Branch. And the best part of it is that Branch’s deep links are also tracking links, so you get world class deep linking alongside cross platform tracking.

So while it might not be as enticing as a robot that can predict user behavior, I can’t imagine a more important project to work on, one which has a direct impact on customer experience, and revenue.

Contact our sales team today to see how Branch drives results like those achieved by Rent The Runway, Checkout 51, Airbnb, and more.

Branch is a mobile linking platform providing unified mobile experiences and measurement for more than 50,000 mobile apps, including Airbnb, Ticketmaster, Reddit, Tinder and Amazon. Branch’s linking platform can help you grow your mobile app through features like deep linking, sharing, referrals, mobile banners and interstitials, custom app onboarding, and unified attribution across platforms and channels. Learn more about Branch or request a demo today.
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