Consumer behavior is hurtling toward a new paradigm favoring mobile apps over websites. It is now well documented that consumers are spending most of their time in mobile apps and by some estimates, time spent in apps is upwards of 90%.
Despite this fact, online retailers (even those that have a mobile app) are currently spending tens of millions of dollars sending traffic to mobile websites via search, display, email and affiliate marketing. Support for mobile deep linking could easily send much of that traffic to mobile apps where engagement and conversion could be higher.
As consumers, we’ve all had the experience of clicking on a link and despite having the mobile app installed (Facebook, Instagram, Retail App, Travel app etc.) the link leads to the mobile website where login is required at which point we abandon in frustration.
Deep linking solves for that problem by enabling links to detect and automatically open mobile apps. This applies to social apps, retail apps or any other type of app.
Apple recently launched their Universal Links standard which enables deep linking on iOS. Google in turn, released App Indexing as a standard for Android apps. Using these standards will also surface mobile app content in search results.
So on the heels of the holiday season, we did some research to see which retailers were quick to implement mobile deep linking using these new standards from Apple and Google.
We selected 100 companies from the Internet Retailer 500 that either have an iOS app, an Android app or both. As seen in the chart below, the vast majority of these retailers have not yet implemented deep linking either for iOS or Android in advance of the holidays.
Pure Plays Lead in Mobile Deep Linking Capabilities
Companies that support deep linking via app indexing and Universal links include Amazon, Etsy and Netflix among a small handful of others. This is no surprise to many as these companies are known as market leaders when it comes to user experience. Deep linking support gives these companies a significant competitive advantage this holiday season. Any links to their content will detect and automatically launch their app instead of the mobile website.
These companies are connecting and engaging with consumers more quickly and more often by avoiding logins on mobile websites which can often be more difficult to navigate. Deep linking also paves the way for these companies to connect to other apps in different – the apps their audiences prefer to spend their time in.
So why the slow adoption among the rest of the IR 500? Here are four reasons.
- Deep linking solutions are too complex and developer focused.
Most deep linking solutions today focus on the 1.5 million apps in the app stores for iOS and Android. These solutions are geared toward application developers and require SDK and API integrations. They are not focused on the needs of multi-channel marketers who have a more complex consumer journey to consider.
- IR 500 apps are not ready.
Universal links and app indexing will automatically send all mobile traffic to the mobile app in question. Many IR 500 retailers are simply not ready. These standards are an important requirement for optimized deep linking and yet they do not provide an interface for marketers to control deep linking between apps and mobile websites.
- There is a disconnect with marketing.
Marketers may not understand that they can now gain more control across channels when linking to apps vs. websites. This new optimization tool is critical in making the transition to a more app-centric marketing organization. By breaking down operational silos, campaign managers can now consider “app or website” for every link embedded within any marketing channel including display, search, email and affiliate.
- Lack of ROI Evidence.
Omnichannel marketing organizations prioritize technical projects based on ROI. While the seamless user experience that deep linking provides is compelling, it may not be easy to estimate the increased revenue would result after implementation. Amazon and other pure plays are not held to the same ROI metrics that brick and mortar retailer manage on a daily basis. Testing deep linking today via retail apps or social apps will help metrics based organizations make deep linking a priority in 2016. (To get started, participate in our holiday research program – no pixels, SDKs or APIs are required.)
At Pure Oxygen Labs, we created the URLgenius platform with omnichannel retailers in mind focusing on ease-of-use while shifting control over deep linking from app developers to marketers as a tool for optimizing campaigns designed to drive traffic to apps and mobile websites.
Learn more in the FAQ and sign-up for your free URLgenius account.