How deep linking can improve ecommerce apps

As mobile apps take over the ecommerce market, marketers can use deep linking to improve funnels and create more conversions

19Jun

Mobile devices have become central to people's daily activities. On the average, users in the US spend more than three and a half hours on their devices per day. This year, mobile screen time is even expected to surpass the time spent on televisions, as tablets and phones are not just used for entertainment but for work, ecommerce and financial transactions.

Businesses have to keep pace with shifts in consumer behavior and the ubiquity of mobile have made it a crucial aspect of their digital strategy. If customers are spending more time on mobile, so should they. They only need to take a look at the fates that have befallen retailers like Sears and Toys R Us to know how failing to adapt to the changes in buying behaviors, particularly the rise of online shopping, can be disastrous.

If marketers have previously been working on campaigns and ad budgets that prioritized channels like traditional media and web, they now have to make mobile a priority. Mobile ad spending has been increasing and is set to reach more than $113bn by 2020. Mobile attribution platform Appsflyer also notes that companies now spend more to push app installs which correlates to increasing competition in the mobile app space.

Because of these, companies now need to review what happens in their marketing funnel to take these mobile trends into consideration and integrate mobile-specific techniques such as attribution and deep linking to build a more fitting customer journey.

Reviewing the funnel

Some companies have been quite selective in how their native apps work. Their apps may only provide select functionalities and treat mobile more as publicity or gimmick. Others have even yet to commit to building their own native apps, relying instead on mobile-ready websites, social media and mobile advertising to have some visibility in mobile.

However, customers are now increasingly expecting mobile apps to provide richer experiences. Developers are now moving away from designing single-purpose apps and are headed toward creating full-service channels, integrating features like shopping carts, customer feedback and social media. Convenience is key. Forbes reports that customers spend twice as much money through mobile apps than desktop or mobile sites, with 63% of users citing convenience as a reason for their preference.

To complicate matters, today's marketing funnel still has to accommodate various channels. Despite the widespread use of mobile devices, channels like email, social media and online ads still play an important role in the various phases of the funnel. The challenge for marketers is to organize their activities to ensure that the overall journey is satisfying for the customer and ultimately result in conversions.

Marketers must ensure that all of these channels work in unison to guide customers through their journey in a streamlined and frictionless manner.

Introducing better processes and techniques

Firstly, marketers must understand how their visitors and customers behave online given this mobile shift. While conventional analytics can provide essential insights concerning basic user activities, it is now important to have a consolidated view of their behavior. This can be achieved by using better attribution.

The problem with conventional analytics is that they often track disparate channels and depict a limited view of how specific customers move through the funnel. A person may become aware of a product or service through an email but may only later decide to buy using a mobile app. Conventional analytics often fail to correctly relate the two activities since they track activities based on separate channels.

Fortunately, modern platforms are now capable of holistic people-based attribution that can track users across channels like web, email, social and mobile as they move throughout the journey. This gives businesses a better idea of which specific customers complete their journey and how.

Secondly, marketers must take note of these nuances to identify which channels best serve each step of the funnel. This way, they can reconfigure their funnel and refocus certain efforts to get the most returns. If the analytics show that customers have mainly shifted their activities to mobile, then it should serve as an indicator to have their marketing activities focus on mobile channels.

Thirdly, businesses must also find ways to minimize friction in the overall experience especially given the diversity of digital channels that they use. This is where techniques like deep linking can be used to maintain the flow and minimize friction. Deep links point to specific content on web pages or in mobile apps so that one channel (such as a marketing email) can usher users directly toward a product page in an ecommerce app.

However, mobile can complicate this since there may be instances where the native app is not currently installed on the device. Fortunately, methods such as deferred deep linking can be used to maintain flow. Clicking an ad linked to app-specific content will prompt users to install the app first through the device's native app store. Afterwards, the target landing screen will be launched automatically. This process allows users to stay within context seamlessly, increasing the chances of conversion.

Committing to changes

Just like anything in life, the business landscape is always in a state of flux. This shift to mobile is but another reflection of this and businesses must continuously adapt in order to thrive and succeed. Assessing how their marketing funnels work as new trends in customer behavior emerges gives businesses a chance to make the necessary improvements to be effective. Given a better understanding of their own situations, companies can then commit to these changes and continue achieving the goals.

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