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Link name Link example Link description
Original link This is the original link that you would put in an email. If emails are dynamically personalized, this will be the link that is filled in by the personalization engine.
Branch link A Branch deep link, that handles all redirection for users on any platform, with or without the app.
Click Tracking URL An ESP generated click tracking URL. The URL doesn’t signify anything, but when clicked, records the click and redirects to a given destination.


Redirect behavior and tracking

When your customer clicks the click tracking link in an email, the browser will generally open. Once in the browser, the click tracking redirect will happen, followed by an instant redirect to the Branch link. At this point, Branch will either stay in the browser, and load the original URL (if the app is not installed, or the customer is on a desktop device), or Branch will open the app and deep link to content. Branch uses the information from the original URL to deep link to the correct in-app content.


Apple introduced Universal Links starting with iOS 9. Apple introduced Universal Links starting with iOS 9. You must configure your app and your links in a specific way to enable Universal Link functionality. Branch guides developers through this process so that Branch links function as Universal Links.

For Universal Links to work, Apple requires that a file called an “Apple-App-Site-Association” (AASA) file must be hosted on the domain of the link in question. When the link is clicked, Apple will check for the presence of this file to decide whether or not to open the app. All Branch links are Universal Links, because we will host this file securely on your Branch link domain.

When you click a Branch link directly from an email inside the Mail app on iOS 9+, it functions as a Universal Link - it redirects directly into the desired app. However, if you put a Branch Universal Link behind a click tracking URL, it won’t deep link into the app. This is because generally, a click tracking URL is not a Universal Link. If you’re not hosting that AASA file on the click tracking URL’s domain, you aren’t going to get Universal Link behavior for that link.


To solve this, Branch will host the AASA file on your click tracking domain. We’ll help you get set up with this.


Deep linking setup messages

In the Set up Deep Linking step of the email onboarding flow, you will see a result indicating the mapping between your web content and your app content.

We think you use your web URL for deep linking


If your webpage, for instance at the URL, has a tag like this:

<meta name="al:ios:url" content="shop://" />

or this:

<meta name="al:android:url" content="shop://shoes/brown-loafers" />

Your deep linking setup for email will use all or part of your web URL as a deep link value. It can use either the full URL including the protocol (, the full URL without the protocol (, or the path of the URL (shoes/brown-loafers).


If instead, your webpage has a tag like this:

<meta name="branch:deeplink:product_id" content="123456" />

or this:

<meta name="al:ios:url" content="shop://id/123456" />

Your deep linking setup for email will use the hosted deep link data method. This means that no mapping can be made to the URL, and meta tags that can be used for deep linking will be retrieved from your webpage on an ongoing basis.

We couldn't determine your deep linking setup from your web URL

If there are no meta tags for deep linking on your webpage, or you indicate that the mapping is incorrect, you can try a Branch link instead.


Here, you will want to enter a Branch link that opens to a page within your app (not the home screen).

When you click Submit, the link's values for $canonical_url, $desktop_url, and $fallback_url will be compared against other values in the link. If there is a mapping between values for the full URL or the path of the URL, your deep linking setup for email will use those methods.

When you submit a web URL or Branch link, you will be prompted with a test link. Click this link on iOS and Android devices, and verify that it will open your app to the right place.


Once you click Yes, your deep linking will be set up for email. When a user clicks a link in your emails, we will embed the full web URL, path of the web URL, or retrieved deep link data from the webpage into a Branch version of that link and pass it to your app, so that it will open to the right place.