The customer journey often begins with a link. Where should a link ultimately take you? It’s not an easy question, as more and more links are connecting people to apps as often as they do to websites.
With so many apps and websites and other media competing for limited consumer attention, that question can change in moment, let alone daily. Thus the question about deep linking: Where should a customer be sent at a given moment within a mobile experience–to the website, or to an app if it’s present on the mobile device, or perhaps to the app store for iOS or Android?
One platform that is providing answers with a programmatic approach is URLgenius, a mobile redirect and deep linking platform for iOS and Android. The patent-pending platform is a product from Pure Oxygen Labs, a technology and services company focused on mobile deep linking, mobile search marketing and mobile SEO.
URLgenius evolves the deep linking tactics that first arose with link planning, which allowed a page or a feature within a mobile app to be opened from a web browser or another app. Without using SDKs or APIs, mobile app developers can enable any app for iOS or Android for deep linking simply by creating URL schemes for target pages.
The platform differs from Apple Universal Links and Google App Indexing, which indexes app content for search engines, and require development resources to leverage. Rather than focus on app development, Pure Oxygen Labs created URLgenius to give marketers tech-free, campaign- and link-level control over where to lead customers when clicking on a link from a mobile device.
Considering the potentially haphazard and complex consumer journey on mobile today, when should a user arrive at an app instead of a website? I asked Scott Allan, CMO at Pure Oxygen for an answer, as well as about other challenges the URLgenius team faceed along the way.
What do you define as a “mobile moment” and how do those moments influence deep linking decisions among marketers?
A mobile moment is anytime we pick up our smartphone, iPad or any other device connected to the internet. As consumers we are connected 24 hours a day and every day of the week–reading the news, engaging in social media, watching videos or researching products and services. Marketers view all those moments as opportunities for engagement. The key is to engage with consumers in the most relevant, unobtrusive way possible, removing any friction along the way. The choice of app or web is not always easy to answer because apps and websites covert at different rates so the decision to leverage web or app continuously task marketers to keep reassessing the decision through testing.
For a while, there seemed to be a debate about mobile app vs. mobile web when it comes to retail and ecommerce sites. Is that debate over?
It is over for many companies in that both apps and websites are here to stay. The reality is that many retailers are investing in both mobile apps and mobile websites. There is also a consensus forming that apps will serve a retailer’s best customers who engage more often and spend more. So the question becomes what percentage of my customer base can I convert to being a frequent user of my app?
How does URLgenius help marketers that have both apps and websites?
It is really about giving marketers control over the customer experience and being able to test what destination (app vs. web) will drive more engagement and conversion at a given moment from a given channel. That could depend on where the customer is in the purchase funnel. URLgenius enables marketers to route traffic differently across their mobile website and apps for iOS and Android depending on how they set the link. It helps them harness multi-channel traffic to drive more app engagement and app downloads.
Who typically owns deep linking in the organization?
It is not always clear. For many retailers, the mobile app is developed in one department while multi-channel marketing is in another department. So the conversation about user experience spans across different teams. URLgenius provides a way to centralize those conversations, and think more deliberately and proactively across marketing channels about where to send customers.
What are the technical challenges with deep linking?
Deep linking to mobile apps can be a complex endeavor. There are Apple and Google technical standards as well as a myriad of solutions that all do slightly different things. Doing any ROI analysis for a potential deep linking project is difficult at best. URLgenius solves for this in that there’s no development required–no SDK, no APIs–so there’s no tax on technical resources. Marketers can start testing app vs. web theories today from any marketing channel.