June 1, 2009

Getting PURL-sonal

A couple weeks ago Covalent Marketing had the privilege of sponsoring the Rocky Mountain DMA at their annual DM Day event. With our sponsorship we were allowed to set up a small both in the vendor pavilion where we had several good conversations with attendees throughout the day. One topic that came up a few times was PURL’s (a.k.a. Personal URL’s). I found this interesting because not too many people are utilizing PURL technology these days…but maybe they should.

At a very high level, I believe PURL marketing can be deconstructed into three basic parts:

  1. Personal, 1:1 marketing
  2. Traditional direct marketing
  3. An online response component

And in my opinion it’s that 3rd piece, that really makes the PURL ‘personal’ because without it all you have is variable text direct marketing – Dear <first_name>…

To facilitate the online response component a special URL is given in the direct mail. Most often it takes advantage of people’s narcissism and it will include the recipient’s name (but doesn’t necessarily have to). And in case you doubt that we, as a whole, are narcissistic by nature, how many of you have ever ‘googled’ your own name? Or how about those people who ‘tweet’ or give Facebook statuses every hour believing others are that interested in their daily activities?

Below are a few examples of what PURL web addresses may look like, with the personalized part being bolded:
• Http://www.John_Smith.CompanyXYZ.com
• Http://www.CompanyXYZ.com/John_Smith
• Http://www.CompanyABC.com/Englewood

I think most people would agree that the PURL landing page is the meat in this marketing process. It can contain as much, or as little, personalization as you want; usually being dictated by how much budget you want to put in to the marketing effort. The more customized PURL’s will take advantage of information the organization may already have about the customer/prospect (their profile, demographics, transactional history, etc.) and showcase the items that they may be most interested in.

To give an example, I am in the market for a new car. I have visited several dealerships and I have even test driven a few cars. One of the dealerships recently sent me a generic Memorial Day Sale email, though this would have been a perfect opportunity for some PURL marketing. Imagine that I had an email that went something like this:

Dear Stanton,

Thanks for coming in to our dealership not too long ago.  We are having a special Memorial Day sales event and we have some special deals just for you.  You can see your special offers at http://www.CarsABC.com/Stanton

Your Soon-to-be Dealer 

Then imagine that I went to my PURL (http://www.CarsABC.com/Stanton) and on it I saw deals specific to the car models that I was interested in, not the entire gambit of what’s on sale – 75% of which is of no interest to me. And if they were to think ahead, hopefully I was guided from the PURL landing page to their financing section. There they could display their financing offers and maybe a form for me to fill out to be ‘pre-approved’ for an auto loan with their dealership.

In conclusion, PURL marketing is an under utilized weapon in our marketing arsenal that can help boost your marketing effective rates. To make it work you’ll need a little fore thought, a database with some relevant information about your customer/prospect and a trusted fulfillment partner to help with the subdomain and PURL template execution.

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