By Allen Nance, Mansell Group, Inc.
Did you know that over 75% of marketers are combining digital media with the more traditional direct mail marketing? One way to get on board with these cross media campaigns is to use a personalized URL (PURL.) PURLs have been in the marketing realm for quite some time now as an effective way to bridge online and print mediums and provide a more engaging experience for the end user. In the direct mail world, marketers using PURLs have reported response rates of up to 5% as compared to traditional direct mail marketing response rates of 2-3%.
The idea behind PURLs is simple. In its most common form, the PURL is added to a direct mail piece. For example, I might receive a marketing postcard from a company inviting me to visit http://www.companywebaddress.com/allennance. Once there, I would see a personalized web page that is tailored specifically to my interests and needs—based on data that the company has about me. As I navigate through the site, my actions are fed back into a database, which the marketer can then use to send even more personalized messages. Data can be fed back to a mobile device in real time, allowing you to contact customers at just the right time.
This data exchange and usage is extremely important in today’s marketing landscape, as consumers are much more likely to take action when the message is customized, relevant and timely. That being said, using PURLs without having the consumer data to back them up is practically pointless.
As marketers and consumers become more and more savvy with online marketing, PURLs are also being deployed through email communications. The same method is used as in the direct mail PURL, but the online deployment allows for even more tracking. You are able to see if the recipient received and opened the email, whereas direct mail does not allow you to easily confirm if the piece was delivered and read by the recipient, or just tossed in the trash can.
As with any marketing tool, the key to success with PURLs is using them in a way that is most effective and relevant for your particular audience. When starting a PURL campaign, there are several best practices that can greatly improve effectiveness.
Don’t forget about strategy. As with any other marketing campaign, PURLs still require strategic development. You must decide how to segment the audiences and what level of personalization is best suited for this campaign. An engaging and well thought out message is still the cornerstone of any marketing endeavor.
Don’t go too Big Brother. While consumers like seeing customized messages, there is a fine line between showing them that you are in tune with their needs and being a little too informed. If you have a lot of personalized data for your audiences, don’t use it all in the same piece. Be smart about what personalized data to use and when to use it.
Follow up accordingly. When someone responds online to your PURL campaign, be sure to follow up with them. Knowing when and how your audiences respond is of no use unless you do something with that information.
As consumers become more and more inundated with marketing messages, it is increasingly important to reach them across various mediums, and with relevant and personalized messages. PURLs are a great tool to do just that and, coupled with tracking and reporting capabilities, will lead to increased marketing success.