Demystifying Deep Linking in Your App

deep linking

By Kiki Schirr, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Any company with a mobile app has faced this challenge: how do you encourage current users to share content within your app with potential new users?

This practice of sharing a piece of specific content, known as deep linking (click here for a great history of deep linking), is an unsolved problem –there is no standard method of linking to a specific piece of content within an app, such as a discount code, a specific episode, or even a photo, outside of the app itself. Therefore, the acquisition of new users that would result from current users sharing content is slowed almost to a halt.

Recently, rogue messaging apps like Glide, Tango, and Skout are hijacking user’s contact lists to send unsolicited SMS messages urging friends to download the messaging app. Likely as a direct result of the recent upswing in these unsolicited messages, Google has changed its terms of conditions to specify that such practices are in violation of the Google Play Store terms of conduct.

How strongly this will be enforced remains to be seen, but with rumors of Apple and Microsoft soon following suit in barring such practices, it is easy to believe that the tides have turned on this ethically questionable growth hack.

What then can app developers do to encourage user sharing outside of their app?

Recently both Facebook and Google have released SDKs (software development kits) allowing app developers to naturally integrate deep link sharing. Although both companies named their tool App Invites, there are key differences between the two services.

Facebook’s App Invites allows users to select their own screen shot, image, or other media to accompany the deep link, but it can only be shared directly through a Facebook channel, such as Facebook Messenger, or a Facebook push notification.

Google’s App Invites doesn’t allow the same customization, but the message can be sent outside of Play Store apps, such as via SMS or email.

Savvy marketers should be aware that these services exist, and utilize them to their fullest extent. Friend referrals have always had the highest conversion rate of any word of mouth marketing, so making this as easy as possible should be a priority for your company’s app.

So marketers, go talk to your developers today about deep linking and integrating App Invites within your product.

And for more best practices in app sharing, check out this AppLift article or this {grow} post about B2B WoM.

KikiSchirrKiki Schirr is a cofounder of the fitness app Fittr, and also does the company’s marketing. Her latest project is a lifestyle magazine for women in technology called Valley Girl — she would love for you to check it out! Kiki is also the author of Tech Doodles, and can be reached easily through Twitter.

Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Lino Cannizzaro

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