Deep Linking in Email Marketing: How it Works, and Why it Rocks!

We were excited to hear that Twitter unveiled new “Twitter Card” types at its latest developer conference last week. These cards enable “deeper linking and engagement into other apps you may have on your phone.”

According to a post on Twitter’s blog:

“One of the most important features in the new Cards is the ability to allow users to download your app (if the user doesn’t already have it installed), or deep-link into your own app (if the app is already installed on the user’s mobile device). The ability to enable app installs and deep-linking is globally available across all Twitter Card types…”

The beauty of deep linking is that it eliminates extra clicks, brings content closer to consumers, and enables people to more easily take the actions they intend on taking. This eliminates friction from the process of taking action (for example, launching and using a mobile app), resulting in more people actually taking the action that you’d like them to.

We’ve been a big fan of deep linking at Movable Ink for a long time now, and proudly offer it as a core feature of our Agile Email Marketing platform.  Below, Movable Ink’s Co-Founder and CTO Michael Nutt explains how the technology works:

“Deep linking in email works like so: When you create an app and submit it to the app store, you can register what are called “protocol handlers” that are name spaced to your company, for example Facebook’s is fb://.  Anytime someone clicks on a URL using the protocol handler and they have your app installed, the app will open and receive instructions within the URL to launch a specific action – for example, opening a Facebook message composer with a pre-written note. However, if someone clicks on the URL and your app is NOT installed, they will receive an error message indicating that there are no registered handlers for that protocol.

Movable Ink enables deep linking in email while avoiding the error-message problem using an iframe technique in a web page. When an email link is clicked, a web page is loaded, and the iframe’s source is set to the protocol handler URL. If the app is already installed, it launches immediately. If the app is not installed, the click – rather than returning an error message – automatically directs the user to download the app. Failing both those conditions, a timer will trigger after half a second in order to seamlessly redirect the user to a mobile web page.  This creates an optimal user experience across all possible situations.”

Here are some recent examples of emails that leveraged device detection with deep linking from Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” Seamless (the food delivery experts), and American Eagle Outfitters.   You can also read a case study about Seamless’s use of deep linking to increase app downloads by 50% and food delivery orders by 90% here: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/case-study/email-mobile-app-downloads.

If you’d like to learn more about deep linking in email, give us a shout!

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