Mobile Deep Linking Made Easy: A Simple Guide for Product Managers

As mobile device usage continues to rise, businesses and devs are constantly seeking ways to improve user experience and increase product engagement. One strategy that has become popular in recent years is mobile deep linking, which allows users to seamlessly transition from one application to another.

In this article, we will explore what mobile deep linking is, its importance, and how it can be implemented most effectively.

What is mobile deep linking?

As explained before, mobile deep linking is the process of linking to a specific page or section within a mobile app. This means that when a user clicks on a deep link, they are taken directly to a specific piece of content within an app, as opposed to being directed to the homepage. Deep links can be used for opening a product page, message threads, or prompting users to take specific action within the app.

There are three types of mobile deep links: standard deep links, deferred deep links, and contextual deep links.

Standard deep links

Standard deep links direct the user to a specific piece of content within an app. They can be used to share specific content like product pages, news articles, and checkout pages. When users click on a standard deep link, they are shown the specific content the link points to.

These links can have some additional parameters attached, for example:

  • Article or merchant ID to identify specific content.
  • Float or integer values (for identifying special discounts)

We use standard deep links to enhance user-friendly navigation. It has an entry point - usually the base of the app or the home screen - and a destination screen. These deep links automatically make the journey from the entry point to the destination, meaning no user action is required.

Deferred deep links

Deferred deep links take users to specific content from outside the app, like emails or other apps. These can also pass along additional data. This data is often the source of the link or user attributes and are especially useful for app install campaigns.

After a user has downloaded the app and opened it for the first time, the deferred link can be used to take the user directly to another piece of content (as opposed to the app’s homepage.)

These links can contain multiple UTM parameters (medium, source, campaign, even customs parameters) to track the user’s origin. They are primarily used in advertisements (Facebook, Google ads) to track the effectiveness of each campaign.

Once the user installs and starts the app, we can receive these parameters on the app side and save them later to flag users or pass them to a tracking library (Google Analytics, Branch, CrossEngine, etc.).

These parameters can be stored on a device and used later for segmentation.

Contextual deep links

Contextual deep links are more advanced than standard and deferred deep links. They provide a personalized experience for users and take into account how they use the app. Contextual deep links take into account a user’s location, device, and other relevant information to deliver personalized experiences, such as nearby promotions or events.

Why is mobile deep linking important?

Mobile deep linking is important for a number of reasons. The key reasons are as follows:

Enhanced user experience

When done correctly, mobile deep linking provides a seamless user experience. Rather than being forced to navigate the entire app to find their desired content, users can just click on a link that takes them directly to the relevant page or section. This saves time and reduces user frustration, making it much more likely they will engage with the app.

For example, suppose a user is trying to complete the purchase of a specific item on your application. A deep link that takes them directly to your app’s product page will quickly help them find both the product and checkout page, without wasting any time.

Increased user engagement & retention

Mobile deep linking can also increase user engagement and retention. Linking to specific content in-app allows businesses to encourage users to take specific actions, such as making an in-app purchase or leaving a review. This level of personalization makes users feel like the app understands their needs and desires, which in-turn leads to more engagement.

In addition, deep linking can be used to send push notifications to users that take them directly to specific content within an app. Over time, users often drop-off in their level of engagement with applications. Deep linking with push notifications helps re-engage customers with low engagement and bring new products or updates to their attention.


Expanding on the idea of personalization, mobile deep linking can also be used as a marketing tool. Businesses can drive traffic to their content by linking to that specific content within their app. This increases visibility, and is especially useful for promoting new products and features within an app.

For example, a retailer might create deep links that specifically match the previous browsing or purchase history of a user. This makes their messaging much more specific and relevant to users and can greatly increase conversion rates.

How to implement mobile deep linking effectively

Now that we know why mobile deep linking is important, let’s go over how to successfully implement a deep linking strategy. A successful strategy requires a few key considerations, so here’s what to keep in mind:

Determine your goals

First thing’s first, you need to determine the overall goals of your deep linking strategy. Is your goal to increase engagement & retention? Drive more app installs? Whatever your goals are, you need to identify the key actions in your app that will get you closer and build from there.

Choose the right deep linking technology

Next, it’s time to choose the right deep linking technology for your app. You need to evaluate your app’s architecture to determine which type of deep linking will work best for your app.

Does your app have a ton of content that needs to be linked to? Standard deep links may be your best bet.

Are you looking to pass along additional data with your links? Then deferred deep links may be more appropriate.

If your focus is on providing personalized experiences, then contextual deep links are the way to go.

Make links clear and user-friendly

It’s important to ensure that deep links are easy to use and understand. This means using clear, concise language in the link itself, as we all provide clear instructions on how to use the link. Users are far less likely to click and interact with links if they have no clue what they are for.

An app can handle multiple deep links, so you can add many standard deep links to make navigation and engagement more effortless. Moreover, you can add a deferred link for tracking purposes where one can handle all the main scenarios.

It’s also important to test deep links thoroughly to make sure they work as expected and are compatible across different devices and operating systems.

Provide a seamless user experience

The next thing to consider is user experience. Deep links should take users directly to the desired content in-app, but they should provide a smooth transition between apps. This means making sure the user is not taken out of the context of the initial app, and that they can return to the original app easily if so desired.

Therefore, proper planning is the tricky part of creating a deep link scheme. As the deep link tries to navigate a user outside of the app, we have to ensure that the user is identified/authenticated correctly and has the necessary permissions. After that, we can navigate them to the destination.

The key ingredients of proper mobile deep linking:

  • An app with multiple screens
  • A deep link scheme
  • Well-planned navigation journey (entry point authentication, navigation flow, destination, parameters)
  • A trigger (online advertisement, push notification)
  • Testing

Businesses and developers should also consider the analytics and tracking capabilities of mobile deep linking. Tracking the performance of deep links gives businesses valuable insights into user behavior and allows them to optimize their deep linking strategies accordingly.

A mobile deep linking example workflow

Here is a deep linking example from one of our products, Jamdoughnut.

Mobile deep linking workflow

A promotional push notification reactivates the user by leading her to an offer she can buy. The offer is based on the user’s purchase history and buying habits or can be location specific too.

Once it is tapped, the app checks for the Offer ID. Then create a navigation link whose destination will be the Offer Detail screen. The entry point is the Home screen because that is the first screen after a successful login, so once it is reached, we know that the user is authenticated.

From there, the app directly navigates the user to the Offer Detail screen and passes the Offer ID to it, so we can load the actual offer data from the backend API. It is a smooth journey from the user’s perspective.

Putting it all together

Mobile deep linking is a powerful tool for businesses and developers looking to improve their user experience, increase engagement, and drive conversions. By linking to specific content. Implementing mobile deep linking effectively requires careful consideration of user experience, analytics, and testing.

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Feri Fekete

Feri Fekete

Co-founder of VeryCreatives



Digital Product Agency

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