Inch by inch, application visibility is gaining ground in our mobile devices. Through deep linking, developers are working to better expose the functionality of their apps, when relevant. Applications and their real-world utility are now finding a place in iOS9, within other apps, in search engines and even on web pages. Through these new capabilities, brands that have an app can now attract new customers and maximize the value of their current customers.
Deep linking goes big
Deep linking hit the scene in a big way at Apple’s WWDC event in mid-2015. Apple announced that in iOS9, users searching through Siri, Spotlight and Safari search (collectively referred to as Apple Search) can be prompted with specific in-app screen results. In-app actions and content can be indexed and auto-suggested to a whole new audience, regardless of whether the app has been downloaded. For example, iOS9 users searching via Apple Search for recipes, movie information or account details can see a result that redirects them into a specific application view. If the app isn’t already downloaded, the user would be prompted with the option to do so.
The push of pull
The move by Apple provides an exciting new opportunity in search for brands with applications. While brands are making both their web and in-app content universally searchable, it doesn’t end with Apple Search. The other major player with a lot at stake, Google, offers in-app deep linking in both Google Search and Google Now. The functionality is not limited to Android, but is also available on Apple devices. While Apple deep-linking is finite, Google’s approach to deep linking is more universal. To be indexed in Google Search, app content must have corresponding content on the web that’s indexable as well. Exceptions can be made by filling out Google’s app-only interest form.
The most recent developments for app visibility lie in app-to-app deep linking and even web pages. While the technology is still limited, some developers offer services and support for application owners and publishers. Deep linking into applications from other apps and web pages requires technical support, proper app-mapping and use of URIs. By using contextual relevance factors such as keywords, location, time and day, deep linking enables an app user to click into a relevant app. Depending on the intent of a web page, publishers and brands can offer site visitors a deep link opportunity to take action in their own apps.
Deep linking has created new marketing opportunities for mobile device users. For brands, deep linking can increase visibility to potential customers while maximizing lifetime value of existing customers. Whether it’s through Apple Search, Google Search, other apps or even on your own site, brands can provide value through information or calls for in-app action. Looking to the future, brands should be conscious of the increasingly connected world between mobile devices, applications and the web.