More than 90% of retailers do not deep link customers into social apps most consumers have on their phones, leading customers instead to a mobile web sign-in page, a social kiss of death, one expert says.

The whole point of having a mobile app is to offer a consumer the best possible mobile experience, which includes the consumer only having to log in the first time—from there on out, she is always logged in and ready to go.

Pure Oxygen Labs LLC, a mobile marketing firm, already has shown that most top retailers with apps do not deep link e-mails and ads, automatically sending mobile customers with the retailers’ apps on their smartphones or tablets into the app rather than to the retailers’ web sites. Why wouldn’t a retailer want to send a customer to its best experience on mobile where conversion and average order value are highest?

Today, Pure Oxygen Labs reveals in a new study that most retailers (not just retailers with apps) do not deep link their social media links, meaning, adding code that sends a mobile customer with a particular social media app on her device into that app rather than open the social media web site. A deep link can send a customer into an app directly to a particular page with which a retailer wants the consumer to interact. Sending a consumer to a social media web site likely will bring up a brick wall: the log-in page.

So, for example, if Widgets ‘R’ Us incorporates a social button on its mobile commerce web site that encourages shoppers to become fans on Facebook, but the retailer does not deep link that social sharing button, the shoppers will be linked to the Facebook mobile web page, where they will more than likely need to log in to the network with their user names and passwords. That is a moment of great friction where previously motivated shoppers can very suddenly lose motivation and give up, not wanting to spend the time logging in. However, if Widgets ‘R’ Us deep links the social button on its m-commerce site, when a shopper touches the button it automatically opens up the social app on the shopper’s phone, where the shopper already is logged in, and sends the shopper directly to the app page where the desired interaction can take place.

Here’s the kicker: of all the consumers in the retail-to-social interactions Pure Oxygen Labs studied, 75% had the Facebook app installed, 75% had the Instgram app installed, 70% had the Twitter app installed, 66% had the Pinterest app installed, and 66% had the Google+ app installed. So consumers are ready and waiting for their apps to be opened, but retailers are not making life easier for their mobile customers, and quite likely losing most of these potential social interactions, says Brian Klais, founder and president of the firm.


“Well over 90% of retailers are not deep linking at all, and this is an easily addressable problem that they should resolve before they freeze their code for the holidays,” Klais says. “Retailers should know what percentage of their customers use which mobile apps so they can have a better informed mobile strategy. It’s not terribly complicated, and retailers have an opportunity to get ahead at this point.”

Most consumers who click social media links on mobile have the corresponding apps, and by clicking the social link they are saying they will become a fan or share content if it’s easy, Klais says. Dropping a customer off at a web log-in page instead of in a social app breaks the motivation to become a new follower or share content, he adds.

“This is a wake-up call for brands,” Klais says. “Rather than wait for each social network to roll out its own deep link support, they can get out in front of the opportunity to manage deep links strategically, and learn which social apps their customers use. Better engaged mobile customers lead to more fans, followers and likes. With the holiday season around the corner, replacing social media links with smarter deep links is a simple update retailers can make without having to engage I.T. resources.”

To evaluate mobile consumer behavior and understand their path to engagement across the top social media apps, Pure Oxygen Labs analyzed a quarter of a million recent visitors across a subset of top U.S. consumer retail brands using the company’s URLgenius deep link platform. The platform features active listening technology to help brands anonymously measure successful mobile app opens via deep links.

Follow Bill Siwicki, editor of the 2015 Internet Retailer Mobile 500 and managing editor, mobile commerce, at Internet Retailer, at @IRmcommerce.