What Are PURLs, And Why Do I Need Them?

Personalized URLs, or PURLs, enable marketers to offer their customers and prospects a better way to respond to their traditional offers. Specifically, Personalized URLs give direct mail (one channel) recipients a way to respond on the Internet (another channel) by visiting their personal website. You should note that Personalized URLs are sometimes referred to as a ‘cross-media’ technology. This is because he term ‘marketing medium’ is a synonym to the term ‘marketing channel.’

It’s no secret that Personalized URLs are rapidly being adopted by by direct marketers of all stripes, and across a wide breadth of industries. For those who are unfamiliar with Personalized URLs, here’s a summary of their main benefits, and why they are being adopted so heavily.

Marketplace Realities Affecting Direct Marketers:

  • Consumers see upwards of 5,000 unique marketing messages per day
  • Marketers report declining response rates across the board on all media
  • Generic offers have decreased effectiveness in a cluttered world

Essentially, consumers are being inundated.  What’s more, faced with so much communication clutter, they are literally tuning out the lion’s share of the many thousands of offers they come across each day. The old days of spray and pray – or sending out generic offers to millions upon millions of people, and hoping to get a few responses – are over. Response rates have fallen across the board over the past decade. Last year, for example, the average response rate for direct mail in the US was under 1%. Compare this to the 3% Gold Standard that we all used to expect 10 or so years ago, and it’s obvious the ground has shifted beneath our feet. In an effort to stand out in the crowd, marketers are turning to personalized communications, or 1:1 Marketing.

Personalization & 1:1 Marketing

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the term. 1:1 Marketing essentially means sending out the right message, to the right people, at the right time. 1:1 Marketing plays a big role in the effectiveness of Personalized URL technology. Think about it… everybody likes seeing their name, right? Well, Personalized URLs give prospects their very own Personal Web address they can visit as an online response vehicle. Using PURLs therefore results in increased Web traffic for your direct marketing campaign. Research we’ve conducted demonstrates that using a PURL over a generic web link (sometimes referred to as a GURL) will result in anywhere from 20-40% more Web traffic.

Common Issues Affecting Direct Marketers:

  • Falling overall response rates
  • Reduced effectiveness of generic offers
  • Poor synchronization of traditional campaigns with the Interactive channel
  • Low website conversion rates
  • Difficulty tracking cross-media conversions, particularly direct mail to the Web
  • Slow transfer of leads from marketing to sales

More Leads, Better Leads, Quicker Leads…

More Web traffic is only one piece in the puzzle. Once visitors go online via a PURL, they arrive on a Dynamic and Personalized Landing Page that welcomes them by name and gives them a unique online experience, driving deep personalization with profile data. For obvious reasons, a Personalized website will out-perform a Generic one by a wide margin. Some Personalized websites, for example, can often convert upwards of 50% of all visitors into leads. Generic websites, by contrast, are lucky if they convert 5% of visitors.

Beyond converting more leads, Personalized URLs also play a vital role in connecting print media to data. The importance of this fact cannot be understated. Believe it or not, most major marketers actually  have no idea how many Web responses are being driven by their direct mail initiatives. Why? Because if they are offering a Web address on their direct mail piece, it’s usually pointing either to their Home Page, or else a secondary page on their primary website. Ultimately, few of these visitors are converted to leads. With no call to action or clear messaging, the main website has not been set up for a direct response offer and will always under-perform a specialized Landing Page. Just as importantly, the few leads that do result are usually always untracked (or tracked incorrectly). Who gets credit? Usually the Web marketing team – almost never the direct mail piece.

A final benefit is the ability of this technology to expedite the lead retrieval process. When a lead come in via a Personalized URL, using email or SMS triggers it’s a snap to get these leads over to the sales team for immediate follow-up. In today’s cluttered marketplace consumers expect immediate follow-up, so getting these leads in the hands of your sales team so they can strike while the fire is hot is crucial to success. What’s more, Personalized URLs can also be used to gather important survey data. Armed quicker with more and better qualified leads, the sales team’s lead conversion rates usually rises considerably.

Summary of Benefits
To summarize, PURLs provide a solution to real issues facing today’s direct marketer. Here’s a list of their primary benefits to direct marketers – and a good reason why using Personalized URLs and Dynamic Landing Pages can turbo-charge your marketing today:

  • Increase Web traffic from traditional marketing initiatives
  • Boost Web conversion rates and improve ROI on marketing communications
  • Accurately Track every Web response to direct market campaigns
  • Increase speed and efficiency of lead retrieval

Any way you look at it, Personalized URLs are the most effective online response option available to today’s direct marketer. Have a question about how you can add personalization to your cross-media campaign? Let us know in the comments.

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