What Is Deep App Linking?

Vikram Aditya
CEO & Co-founder
September 3, 2023

You know how apps open by themselves when you click a link on your phone? For example, a time when you opened a YouTube link on Chrome, and it directly opened up the app instead of the website? Well, that’s deep app linking, and in this article, we’re going to talk about how it works.

Nowadays,  it's no longer sufficient to just build an aesthetically pleasing or functional app. The key lies in intelligent navigation—an area where basic app linking has long been the go-to solution.

Nevertheless, basic app linking comes with limitations. How often have you clicked a link that dumped you on the homepage of an app, leaving you to manually find the content you were looking for? It's a friction-filled process that hampers user engagement and leaves valuable analytics data on the table.

Enter deep app linking. It’s a game-changer that takes app navigation and user engagement to a whole new level.

What is it though, and how does it solve these challenges?

DEFINITION

Deep app linking is essentially a sophisticated navigation strategy designed to drive users directly to a specific in-app location, bypassing the generic welcome screen. This precise form of targeting is achieved through custom URI schemes or platform-specific features that uniquely identify diverse areas or functionalities within the app.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Perhaps self evidently, today, a user’s attention span is shorter than ever. Deep app linking mitigates this by minimizing clicks and screen transitions, providing a straightforward pathway to what the user seeks, thereby increasing engagement rates and optimizing user experience.

Source

SCOPE

1: CROSS-PLATFORM ADAPTABILITY

Deep app linking's adaptability across different types of applications—native, web-based, and hybrid—isn't just a feature; it's a necessity.

 As users fluidly move between different platforms and devices, deep app linking acts as the underlying connective tissue that maintains a consistent user experience. It achieves this adaptability by employing platform-agnostic URI schemes and using device-detection algorithms. 

For instance, the same deep link could open a web-based app on a desktop and a native app on a mobile device, providing a universal experience. This flexibility is pivotal because it eliminates the disjointedness typically encountered when switching between platforms.

2: SEAMLESS UX

The reason why cross-platform adaptability is so crucial boils down to delivering a seamless user experience. Deep app linking does this by minimizing the steps needed to reach a specific location within an app, regardless of the originating platform. If a user clicks a product link on a desktop browser, the deep link can open the same product page within a mobile app, preserving user intent and session state. This contributes to user retention and conversion by eradicating unnecessary friction points and making the user's journey feel more like a single, uninterrupted experience rather than a series of isolated interactions.

3: ANALYTICS AND TRACKING

Traditional tracking methods might lose sight of a user as they switch between a native app and a web app. Deep app linking, however, allows for a more consistent and holistic tracking mechanism. By assigning unique identifiers to deep links, analytics tools can trace a user’s interactions across different platforms. This means you can capture the entire customer journey, not just fragments of it, providing more comprehensive data sets for optimizing user engagement and conversion rates.

4: ECOSYSTEM INTEGRATION

Deep app linking isn't just a navigation tool; it's an ecosystem enabler. But why and how does it integrate various services and functionalities?

 Deep links can carry parameters that enable the app to execute specific actions or even apply certain settings. So if you're running an affiliate program or a cross-promotional campaign, the deep link can automatically apply discounts or bonuses, thereby seamlessly integrating multiple services. This enriches not just the individual app but creates a more vibrant and interconnected app ecosystem.

COMPONENTS

1: URI SCHEMES

URI Schemes can be quite underrated.Think of them as the app’s unique set of GPS coordinates that guide users directly to targeted app locations. 

But they're not just markers; they're dynamic directives. When a URI scheme is activated, it doesn't just show the way—it often carries with it the necessary parameters for a tailored experience. This could range from opening a specific user profile to unveiling a limited-time offer in the app. Because of their specificity and versatility, URI schemes significantly reduce friction and enhance user engagement, making them indispensable in modern app architecture.

2: DEEP LINKING API

If URI Schemes are the roads, then consider the Deep Linking API the expert navigator that knows how to use them. This API takes the URI schemes and converts them into actionable tasks within the app. It interprets incoming deep links and translates them into the corresponding in-app actions or locations. While the URI lays out the 'where,' the Deep Linking API fills in the 'how,' making sure that users don't just arrive at a location but also experience it in the most optimized way possible. By orchestrating this, the API takes what could be a multi-step navigation and turns it into a one-click magic trick, making deep app linking not just useful, but effortlessly efficient.

3: INTENT FILTERS (ANDROID)

Android’s Intent Filters serve a unique role as gatekeepers within deep linking. They don't just passively receive URI schemes; they scrutinize them based on pre-set conditions, determining exactly which parts of the app should respond to incoming deep links. This allows for a higher level of customization and security. Imagine you have multiple functionalities that could be triggered by a single type of incoming data—Intent Filters ensure the right one is activated, offering an extra layer of customization that is particularly useful and secure for Android users.

The evolution from basic app linking to deep app linking represents a paradigm shift in app interactions. 

From individual user engagement to a more robust analytics system, deep app linking offers a level of sophistication that has become crucial in the age of instant gratification.

With all that data though, comes a lot more data crunching. 

At Crunch, we leverage LLMs to transform cumbersome data into straightforward, actionable insights, enabling you to make data-driven decisions at lightning speed.

Ready to make both your navigation and analytics smarter? Sign up for our waitlist today to see how you can revolutionize how you interact with your data. 

Ready to get valuable Product Insights?

If you are looking to make better use of your product data, gain insights faster and improve decision making across teams, Crunch can help you get there.
Book a demo
September 3, 2023
Growth

What Is Deep App Linking?

You know how apps open by themselves when you click a link on your phone? For example, a time when you opened a YouTube link on Chrome, and it directly opened up the app instead of the website? Well, that’s deep app linking, and in this article, we’re going to talk about how it works.

What Is Deep App Linking?

You know how apps open by themselves when you click a link on your phone? For example, a time when you opened a YouTube link on Chrome, and it directly opened up the app instead of the website? Well, that’s deep app linking, and in this article, we’re going to talk about how it works.

Nowadays,  it's no longer sufficient to just build an aesthetically pleasing or functional app. The key lies in intelligent navigation—an area where basic app linking has long been the go-to solution.

Nevertheless, basic app linking comes with limitations. How often have you clicked a link that dumped you on the homepage of an app, leaving you to manually find the content you were looking for? It's a friction-filled process that hampers user engagement and leaves valuable analytics data on the table.

Enter deep app linking. It’s a game-changer that takes app navigation and user engagement to a whole new level.

What is it though, and how does it solve these challenges?

DEFINITION

Deep app linking is essentially a sophisticated navigation strategy designed to drive users directly to a specific in-app location, bypassing the generic welcome screen. This precise form of targeting is achieved through custom URI schemes or platform-specific features that uniquely identify diverse areas or functionalities within the app.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Perhaps self evidently, today, a user’s attention span is shorter than ever. Deep app linking mitigates this by minimizing clicks and screen transitions, providing a straightforward pathway to what the user seeks, thereby increasing engagement rates and optimizing user experience.

Source

SCOPE

1: CROSS-PLATFORM ADAPTABILITY

Deep app linking's adaptability across different types of applications—native, web-based, and hybrid—isn't just a feature; it's a necessity.

 As users fluidly move between different platforms and devices, deep app linking acts as the underlying connective tissue that maintains a consistent user experience. It achieves this adaptability by employing platform-agnostic URI schemes and using device-detection algorithms. 

For instance, the same deep link could open a web-based app on a desktop and a native app on a mobile device, providing a universal experience. This flexibility is pivotal because it eliminates the disjointedness typically encountered when switching between platforms.

2: SEAMLESS UX

The reason why cross-platform adaptability is so crucial boils down to delivering a seamless user experience. Deep app linking does this by minimizing the steps needed to reach a specific location within an app, regardless of the originating platform. If a user clicks a product link on a desktop browser, the deep link can open the same product page within a mobile app, preserving user intent and session state. This contributes to user retention and conversion by eradicating unnecessary friction points and making the user's journey feel more like a single, uninterrupted experience rather than a series of isolated interactions.

3: ANALYTICS AND TRACKING

Traditional tracking methods might lose sight of a user as they switch between a native app and a web app. Deep app linking, however, allows for a more consistent and holistic tracking mechanism. By assigning unique identifiers to deep links, analytics tools can trace a user’s interactions across different platforms. This means you can capture the entire customer journey, not just fragments of it, providing more comprehensive data sets for optimizing user engagement and conversion rates.

4: ECOSYSTEM INTEGRATION

Deep app linking isn't just a navigation tool; it's an ecosystem enabler. But why and how does it integrate various services and functionalities?

 Deep links can carry parameters that enable the app to execute specific actions or even apply certain settings. So if you're running an affiliate program or a cross-promotional campaign, the deep link can automatically apply discounts or bonuses, thereby seamlessly integrating multiple services. This enriches not just the individual app but creates a more vibrant and interconnected app ecosystem.

COMPONENTS

1: URI SCHEMES

URI Schemes can be quite underrated.Think of them as the app’s unique set of GPS coordinates that guide users directly to targeted app locations. 

But they're not just markers; they're dynamic directives. When a URI scheme is activated, it doesn't just show the way—it often carries with it the necessary parameters for a tailored experience. This could range from opening a specific user profile to unveiling a limited-time offer in the app. Because of their specificity and versatility, URI schemes significantly reduce friction and enhance user engagement, making them indispensable in modern app architecture.

2: DEEP LINKING API

If URI Schemes are the roads, then consider the Deep Linking API the expert navigator that knows how to use them. This API takes the URI schemes and converts them into actionable tasks within the app. It interprets incoming deep links and translates them into the corresponding in-app actions or locations. While the URI lays out the 'where,' the Deep Linking API fills in the 'how,' making sure that users don't just arrive at a location but also experience it in the most optimized way possible. By orchestrating this, the API takes what could be a multi-step navigation and turns it into a one-click magic trick, making deep app linking not just useful, but effortlessly efficient.

3: INTENT FILTERS (ANDROID)

Android’s Intent Filters serve a unique role as gatekeepers within deep linking. They don't just passively receive URI schemes; they scrutinize them based on pre-set conditions, determining exactly which parts of the app should respond to incoming deep links. This allows for a higher level of customization and security. Imagine you have multiple functionalities that could be triggered by a single type of incoming data—Intent Filters ensure the right one is activated, offering an extra layer of customization that is particularly useful and secure for Android users.

The evolution from basic app linking to deep app linking represents a paradigm shift in app interactions. 

From individual user engagement to a more robust analytics system, deep app linking offers a level of sophistication that has become crucial in the age of instant gratification.

With all that data though, comes a lot more data crunching. 

At Crunch, we leverage LLMs to transform cumbersome data into straightforward, actionable insights, enabling you to make data-driven decisions at lightning speed.

Ready to make both your navigation and analytics smarter? Sign up for our waitlist today to see how you can revolutionize how you interact with your data. 

Customer retention is the key

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What are the most relevant factors to consider?

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Don’t overspend on growth marketing without good retention rates

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What’s the ideal customer retention rate?

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Next steps to increase your customer retention

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