Mobile Deep Linking and What It Means for Small App Owners

The mobile app ecosystem is still new – a fact that’s easy to forget until you remember that there are things that we take for granted on desktop that just don’t exist in apps.

Deep linking is one of these things. Its spread and adoption is one of the factors involved in the app becoming more like the rest of the internet.


Deep linking is a link to a part of a site or app that is somewhere on the inside – if we think of the main page or launch screen as the front door, then this is a link to the living room. It’s a simple concept and one that we are so accustomed to on the internet that we may not know what it’s called.

A link to this article is a deep link, while a link to isn’t.

Nothing special, right?

Most links you see are deep links, but that’s usually on desktop. Web pages have the advantage of all being written in the same language – HTML. That means that links everywhere have the same format and are easily standardized. In apps there are different operating systems and programming languages at play.

Overcoming this problem means an incredible amount of functionality is opened to the app ecosystem.


As with most things we take for granted, we may not realize what deep linking enables.

Social sharing relies on deep linking. Imagine if you couldn’t share a specific article on Facebook – you’d share the site and a detailed set of instructions on how to navigate to the article that you wanted to let people know about. That’s annoying even if there are only three pages on the site, but what if there are 300?

Search engines also rely on deep links. They go through websites and deliver relevant pieces of content – specific answers to search queries, not websites that might have content that might interest the searcher.

Deep links create a system of apps that works like the desktop web. An app is no longer an isolated program. Instead, there’s an environment of programs that talk to each other, broadening the utility of the entire network.


Mobile deep linking is mostly used for marketing. If you have a mobile store, it’s valuable to be able to bring a potential customer to a transactional page where they can buy rather than a storefront.

Ease of use is central to a good user experience, which leads to better results. People who have an easy time buying things tend to buy more things and be happier once they do. If you see an ad with a pair of shoes that you want, clicking it should get you to a page where you can buy that pair of shoes. For e-commerce, the utility is clear. But what about other apps?

Deep linking simplifies promotions across the board. Taking new users directly to a particular screen can make their experience more relevant and interesting. From sharing (via text message or email) to paid promotions, you have a greater variety of screens that they can land on.

If you plan events, spread information about your company’s promotions, or just want to share one piece of news, a deep link is the simplest way to do it from an app.

The largest marketing platforms (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) were among the first to adopt deep linking. 2012 marked the Google+ app adopting deep links to content. Other marketers were quick to follow, and for good reason.

If you have direct transactions in your app, then deep linking is a boon. However, regular links to download your app are still useful. Getting people to become regular users is invaluable. After downloads, you can make use of push notifications to drive use as part of a broad strategy for engagement.


If you remember what the early internet was like, you may understand what deep linking can do for mobile.

The web was dominated by large sites that tried to be universal – Yahoo may be the only (barely) surviving one. They gathered an audience and then tended to stagnate, resting on their laurels because users couldn’t find alternatives. The current app market is similar.

Once deep linking on apps becomes as easy as it is on the desktop internet, this will change. With stable ways of finding content, you’ll be able to search apps and find specific functions or pieces of content. It will make it easier to find and be found.
What do you think mobile deep linking will lead to? Let us know in the comments.


Hockey Team Nets New Fans, Credits Mobile Roadie With The Assist

As the Grand Rapids Griffins sharpen their skates for another playoff push, Mobile Roadie is helping the squad’s digital team make all the right moves off the ice.

Instantly sharing roster updates, hosting game night giveaways, and coordinating player meetups are just a few of the creative ways the Griffins are using their custom mobile app to cultivate a fan following that’s making other teams around the league jealous.

Get the full scoop on Detroit Sports Nation.


Beyond The Download: Using Push Notifications To Boost Retention

If 1,000 new users downloaded your app today, you’d probably be pretty excited.
If 770 of them were no longer active three days later, you’d probably be a little confused.
And if 900 of the original 1,000 were inactive 30 days in, how do you think you’d feel then?

Discouraged? Disappointed? Downright distraught?

Well, statistically speaking, this nightmare scenario should actually make you feel remarkably average.

The good news is, there’s no need to become a statistic. You just need to start thinking about user retention as strategically as most people think about user acquisition. And one of the most versatile weapons in your user retention arsenal could be the push notification.

Push Notifications Produce Results
The mobile push notification is a relatively new tactic that has only recently attracted serious research attention. But from the data that’s emerged so far, we see plenty of reasons for optimism.

Across devices and industries, the average mobile app has permission to send push notifications to 63% of users.

By comparison, most online marketers would be ecstatic if they had the ability and permission to send emails to just 10% of their website visitors. And if 30% of emails they delivered were even opened, they’d probably throw a pizza party.

This unparalleled access to something as intimate as a smartphone home screen means push notifications don’t have to battle for attention in the way traditional marketing tactics do. And when this privilege is put to good use, the results can be quite impressive.

In fact, apps that employ push notifications are twice as likely to retain users 90 days after download than those that don’t.

When Should Retention Strategies Start?
As the advertising agency adage goes, the day you sign a client is the day you start losing them. But by starting push notifications soon after user onboarding, you can stifle the symptoms of churn before it starts and spark some early engagement instead.

The key phrase above is “after user onboarding.” While most app publishers are eager to initiate conversation as early as possible, overwhelming users with push notifications on Day 1 is often the fastest route to app abandonment and uninstallation.

Additionally, observing user behavior over the course of several days or several sessions gives you the context necessary to send more personalized messages. So don’t be afraid to press pause and let users get acclimated to your app for a bit.

Aim For User Registration
The value of registration is obvious to any app publisher. Signing up for an account is one of the strongest predictors of long-term loyalty — and user profiles volunteer the kind of data mobile marketers dream about.

To the users themselves, however, the value is not necessarily so clear. As a result, increasing your registration rate often requires offering an incentive. The good news is, push notifications are a perfect vehicle for delivering these gifts.

Discount codes and limited-time offers tend to be most effective — and a user’s lifetime value can significantly outweigh what may initially feel like a painful financial sacrifice. But not every perk needs a price tag. Ticket presales and access to exclusive media content can inspire solid conversion rates as well.

Amplify Early Success
Considering the average app user retention rates we discussed in the introduction, publishers may be tempted to fix their focus on the app’s unengaged majority.

It’s only natural, of course, to wonder why so many seem to be missing a value proposition they can see so clearly. But while curiosity and continuous improvement certainly have their place, the tiny percentage of users who are engrossed in the app should not be lost in the shuffle.

Mobile app affection can quickly turn to obsession if developers know what buttons (or notifications) to push, and this transformation typically happens in the first month of the relationship. As a result, you should keep a special reserve of messages ready for users that show early signs of infatuation.

Badges, for example, are a nominal reward that cost you nothing to give but mean a lot for certain users to receive. If your app contains any community features, the bragging rights associated with these digital status symbols can be priceless. And even if the acknowledgment is only seen by the original recipient, it still lets them know their engagement is appreciated.

But let’s not be naive. Some users do put a price on their loyalty. Competition in the mobile app marketplace is as fierce as ever — and it’s a buyer’s market. As a result, push notifications offering power users tangible perks like exclusive access and premium upgrades should also be part of your communications plan.

Don’t Dismiss The Long Game
User behavior is rarely as rational or predictable as any of us would like to think. As a result, you shouldn’t necessarily assume that inactive users are lost for good. Sometimes they just need a push in the right direction.

If inactive users left some clues in their previous app behaviors, push notifications personalized to their historical interests are the perfect fuel for re-engagement campaigns. If you can remind them of the value they initially saw in your app, you can create late-blooming loyalty. And if inactive users aren’t motivated by your message, nothing was lost in the venture.

Low-effort, low-risk, and (potentially) high-reward.
Is that a recipe any of you marketers might be interested in?

Let us know in the comments below :)


Segmentation: The Secret to Smarter Push Notifications

Getting a user to opt into your push notifications is the mobile app equivalent of securing a second date. You clearly made a good first impression, and now they’re feeling optimistic about where things may lead.

At this pivotal point in the relationship, your next few moves could be the difference between a brisk breakup and a lengthy love affair. If you bombard the user with a steady stream of irrelevant interruptions, don’t be surprised to find yourself in the first scenario. But if you can manage to send a smaller set of messages that consistently hit the mark, the two of you may soon be inseparable.

Perfecting those initial push notifications is easier said than done, of course, but every user drops hints about what they want to hear. This process of gathering, recording, and leveraging those clues is more commonly known as segmentation.

A Quick Explanation of Segmentation
Segmentation is one of marketing’s most fundamental tactics. It divides a single market into several subgroups of customers who are defined by their common characteristics and behaviors. This allows marketers to speak more specifically to the interests of each group.

By segmenting your app users, even at the simplest levels, you acknowledge their individualism in a way most businesses sadly don’t. And with every new detail you associate to a segment, you’ll be able to add another layer of personalization to each push notification.

Given all the available criteria you can use to create customer segments, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Beginning at the broadest level, though, is often the best place to start.

Focus On Demographics First
Initial segmentation can begin even before users take their first actions inside your app. The user acquisition and registration processes create all kinds of clues about who your users are and what messages they’re inclined to embrace. Simple demographics like age, gender, and location are small-but-valuable seeds for a savvy mobile marketer.

Segmenting users by location, for example, is an easy way to ensure you are sending push notifications at a time of day when the audience is actually awake to read it. (Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many well-meaning marketers overlook this!) Location segmentation has the added bonus of helping you develop hyper-relevant geofencing campaigns as well.

You can even get users to layer on additional details themselves by crafting an app onboarding process that encourages them to create rich profiles. If you’re running an event app, for example, getting attendees to volunteer their job titles and interests allows you to proactively recommend scheduled activities that may be a match.

Lastly, one subtle advantage of user demographic data is that it rarely changes. As a result, the segmentation effort spent at this early stage of the relationship can continue to reap rewards for both sides well into the future.

Build Up to Behavior
Once you’ve seen some initial movement in your engagement rates and are feeling more confident in your segmentation skills, you can consider raising the stakes with some more proactive moves.

The longer your user relationship continues, the more behavioral footprints they’ll leave behind in your analytics. The exact behaviors you choose to monitor will vary based on your unique goals, but some of the more common candidates include:

  • Links Clicked

  • Pages Viewed

  • Audio/Video Files Streamed

  • Comments Submitted

  • Content Shared

The segment of users who left comments on an artist video, for example, may be the most receptive to a push notification announcing the debut of the artist’s new album. Similarly, the segment of guests who recently researched fitness facilities within a hotel’s app may be more receptive to a push notification advertising one of the properties more health-conscious dining options.

At this level of segmentation, the user groups and messages you create are limited only by your creativity. But you still need to remember the golden rules of marketing with push notifications. Novelty and surprise are always encouraged, but never at the expense of common sense and courtesy.  

Now that you know the essentials, comment below and let us know how YOU could use segmentation to spark deeper connections!