App development involves more than merely creating an application with the right bells and whistles. If you want to create an app that drives user engagement in a fundamental sense, you need to employ a technique called "deep linking." Not only does it simplify onboarding new users, it simplifies tracking and provides insights that can help you tweak your offering into the next must-have app.

What Is Deep Linking?

When you create a deep link, what you are actually doing is creating a URL that directs users to a specific place within your app. This could be a specific product, such as directing users to an item you have for sale or your contact page, or it could open another app on your users' phones. You can see a good example of this technique in social media. When you type "twitter://" into the URL of your phone's browser, it will open the Twitter app, provided you have it installed on your phone - but really, this is just scratching the surface. "Not only can an app be launched by using a deep link, it can also act on any information that is contained in that URL," explains Savvy Apps. "This is where deep linking starts to get really useful."

Why Is Deep Linking Important?

Let's put the role of rep linking into perspective. For example, let's say you want your app's users to go straight to your Facebook page. If you didn't use deep linking, you would need to include a button that automatically launches the users' browsers and directs them to your page. If they are already signed into Facebook, the transition won't be too difficult, but if they aren't, they would then have to sign in to Facebook before they could access your page. It is an inconvenience at best. However, if you use deep linking, you can direct your users to your page within their Facebook app. One-click and it's done. It doesn't only make things easier for your users, it looks better.

Similarly, deep linking can be used to attract new users to your app. Have you ever tried to click on a site and it asks you to go to the app store to download the app? It looks clunky and the odds are pretty good you may not have bothered to complete the action. If you used deep linking, you could direct a new user to your app download page and even personalize the experience by auto-filling certain registration information. Not only does this make for a friendlier user experience, it provides you with a bevy of information. "Deep linking can provide details about how users open or install your app. Your app can be opened or installed through deep-linked ads; user-to-user content sharing via SMS, email, or social media; or through in-app referrals," explains Savvy Apps. "If using a deep-link service that supports deferred deep linking, you can attribute your referral campaigns, content sharing and in-app referrals to the services, users, and campaigns that helped users find and use your app."

What Are Some Deep-Linking Services?

There are quite a few deep-linking services out there. Some are well established, others not so much. The technologies they use vary and each offers different advantages. Let's look at the three main players in the deep-linking industry.

Branch.io

Branch has been around since 2014. It is unique in that it takes a 360-degree perspective, streaming from app installation to data analytics on installs. The League, Vango and Gogobot use this technology. Some pros are that it is highly customizable and can support both Android and iOS very well. However, because Branch focuses so much on the installation loop, it is less concerned with how your app is discovered via other apps. It is the current leader in the space.

Button

Button was created in 2014 as well. It mainly simplifies deep-link creation. Uber, Hello Vino and Glamsquad are long-time users of the service. There are many adopters of the technology and this often leads to more development. Unfortunately, Button doesn't close the loop the way branch does, nor do they offer much in the way of customization or analytics.

Deeplink.me

Deeplink was founded in 2013, making it the oldest of the three major deep-linking services. Its primary focuses are on retention and re-engaging users. Shazaam, JackThreads, and OpenTable use Deeplink. Of the three main deep-linking services, this one is the easiest to set up. Unfortunately, the ability to customize is limited in the process as a result.

Understanding App Indexing

App indexing is an important result of deep linking and highly related to it. "Crawling and indexing in-app content used to be impossible without deep links limiting app discovery to the app store," explains PMG. "App Indexing allows Google to crawl your app content as if it were a website. This allows people to click on listings in Google's search results and go into apps on their Android and iOS smartphones or tablets. However, for app content to be indexed, the app content must have corresponding web content." Some of this is changing. Google is starting to index content that is app-only, but it is still very early in that process.

App indexing can improve app discovery tremendously. It ties together your app and your website so when people search for you, they see both. In addition, you can direct users to specific screens within your app, as opposed to just opening the home screen. Brands that have apps tend to rank higher than those that do not, and conversion rates are often higher. If you are ready to take your app to the next level, contact DiscoverTec today. We offer next-level app design and marketing services that are perfect for your business.

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