It is no secret that consumers are demanding more than ever from leading brands when it comes to delivering an outstanding customer experience. One specific area of emphasis has been the seamless integration of mobile experiences as part of the customer lifecycle, no longer are consumers satisfied with simple mobile experiences.
With an estimated $1.05 trillion (yes, that is trillion with at T) in offline sales influenced by mobile interactions in 2016 and over $60 billion in mobile sales, improving your customer experience on mobile isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. As part of our continuing Customer Experience (CX) Blog Series, we recently checked in with one of our leading CX experts to gain insight into how leading brands can improve their mobile CX through deep linking and, more specifically, how deep links can be utilized to improve the customer experience with your mobile app.
Why deep linking matters
When a user opens a mobile app, they are typically shown a generic splash or login screen. This is expected by most consumers who use an app on a regular basis and does not typically impact the customer experience negatively or positively. However, if a user is coming from a targeted ad or promotion that is hosted outside of the app, landing on a generic app intro screen can create a disjointed experience that quickly spirals into a poor one.
For example, if a promotion advertises 20 percent off all shirts, one would expect to land on a screen offering that same discount. Otherwise, abandonment rates will likely spike, especially on a mobile platform. The result is wasting much of the money and effort put into the promotion and, even worse, potentially driving the consumer away from your brand completely. This creates a marketer’s nightmare of actually paying for a terrible brand experience. The solution to this problem is "deep linking" or, more simply put, the practice of building links that target the inner screens of an app.
The tech behind the curtain
Deep linking requires building a framework in either Android or iOS to enable link formats that can target specific pages within the app. Essentially, these deep links are similar to HTML links but they replace "http" with a scheme name, followed by a path. To continue with our shirt sale example from above, a deep link for that might be something similar to: shirtco://shirts/bigsale.
An added bonus of deep linking is that the tracking of deep links is relatively easy, allowing organizations to conduct broader and deeper analytics dives into their campaign data. Simply attach a campaign code and/or descriptive parameter values to the link, similar to how you would with any other campaign link, and make sure the app analytics framework is properly configured to receive those values.
Taking your deep links to the next level
If you’re looking to take your customer experience optimization on mobile to the next level, the real spanner in the works comes from what are commonly known as "deferred deep links." Deferred deep links are similar to the regular deep links discussed earlier, but can be used even if the user does not have the brands app installed on their mobile device. Let’s again revisit the earlier shirt sale promotion while utilizing a deferred deep link for a user who has not already installed the brand’s app.
After tapping the add, the user will not access the deep-linked screen right away, but will instead be taken to an app store. This is where the deferred deep link works its magic if it has been properly set up. Tracking deferred deep links involves adding campaign values to the end of a deep link. However, an extra step is required wherein the link target and campaign tracking values are preserved until the user is done downloading the app. Once the app is downloaded the initial link information is restored and the user is taken to their original destination, the shirt sale! A word of caution though, if the deferred deep link is not properly handled, the associated tracking code and link direction will be lost, resulting in the user seeing a generic intro screen if they open the app after installing it.
Where to go to get it done
At this time, deferred deep links are not natively supported in iOS or Android, with iOS offering no support and Android offering support only if people go through the Google Play app store that accounts for a minority of Android app installs. Facebook's Deep Linking for Mobile Install Ads technology does currently support deferred deep linking, but anyone who wants to track deferred deep link campaigns needs to find an outside solution. Fortunately, such technology is readily available. Adobe Analytics' and Google Analytics' mobile tool sets both support deferred deep links, and third-party vendors like Branch.io and Yozio offer similar services.
Mobile CX is an on-going call-to-action for any marketer looking to create a truly enriched brand experience – but it is not always easy to implement a strategy that looks good on paper. Need help getting your mobile app strategy to come to life? As a vendor-neutral advisor, we can help you understand the options available for mobile, including the full breadth of deep link technology available to today’s leading brands.
Want to learn more about deep linking and how it can help your mobile CX efforts?
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