It's the day before Valentine's Day and I have forgotten to buy my girlfriend anything. At the top of my inbox I have an email from the flower delivery startup Bloom and Wild offering me a discount code on bouquets and guaranteed delivery for February 14th. I click the link and am taken straight into the mobile app and the discount has already been applied to the products I can see on the screen.
How did the startup's backend system know where my order was originating and to apply a discount code without me having to enter it at checkout? That is the work of Branch's deep linking, and it is having a profound effect for marketing teams at some of the world's biggest retail startups.
Branch is a tech startup from Silicon Valley that was created when the app developer founders saw how difficult it was to link between channels like web and email to a mobile app, where conversions tend to be higher.
The advantage of this is opening up traditional customer acquisition channels to drive mobile app downloads, instead of relying solely on the app store. Accommodation booking giant Airbnb is using Branch links to drive app installs and reported a 19 percent uptick as a result.
As Ramsey Pryor, head of international expansion at Branch, told Techworld: "We have been working on this full time for two and a half years with 50 engineers and although it may seem simple it's not once you look across platforms and every instance. You get a benefit of outsourcing that headache to us."
In terms of UK customers Branch already has major commercial companies like Notonthehightstreet.com and Skyscanner using its tools to drive more conversions.
Branch takes a developer-first approach to user acquisition, similar to Silicon Valley giants like Stripe and Twilio, and relies on its community to spread the word. Once the free SDK is implemented at a company they tend to start leveraging the premium, more marketing-facing tools like deep linked email, smart banner ads and user journey analytics.
Bloom and Wild
The Bloom and Wild example above comes from Branch's ability to deep link within email marketing, which is important because 70 percent of email is done on mobile now, according to Branch.
Bloom and Wild Flowers cofounder Aron Gelbard told Techworld: "We realised we wanted to send emails regarding products and to include a call to action to allow users to buy in email, so we wanted that to point to the product in-app if they have the app, and the website if not."
After this first use case, Bloom and Wild expanded into more sophisticated deep linking to personalise which content customers were landing on and to make applying discount codes more seamless. Gelbard says the company has seen a significant decrease in drop offs at the point where customers had to apply a discount code manually.
The startup is also using Branch's deep linking capabilities to gain better attribution insights. Gelbard explained: "We now use [Branch] when there is no discount code, so by attribution as well. So if you click an adwords link, or an email about Valentine's Day with no discount code we still apply a code with a Branch deep link which hides that code. That enables us to not need to give out as many codes and still track the user."
Gelbard said that he didn't see a viable alternative on the market to solve his deep linking issues and that he was impressed by Branch's developer ecosystem and standing in the startup community.
The company is already looking ahead to Valentine's Day next year, applying data science to improve the user experience further. Gelbard explained: "We are growing the data science team for personalisation and have started to implement this for different customers, seeing different products, in a different order depending on what the data says is most interesting to them.
"So for Valentine's Day we merchandise differently around previous purchase behaviour to make the process more seamless."
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