The following is an excerpt from the recent DirectMarketingIQ report "PURLs for Profit: Your everything-you-need-to-know guide to personalized URLs, including: Best Practices on why they work, campaign strategy, multichannel creative, analytics, and 10 Case Studies."
Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Zions Bank had a healthy list of new customers to which it wanted to upgrade. In particular, after a customer would sign up for an account, she would go through a boarding program in which the bank would analyze all the metrics around the customer to determine what her next product most likely would be.
How did the personalized URL fit into the project? Zions Bank sent these customers a personalized URL on a mailing in order to begin the upsell process, not knowing how popular these personalized landing pages would become. And it was the first comprehensive personalized product that Zions had done.
Objectives of the PURL:
The main goal was to try and expand the number of products per household. "With existing clients, that funnel can run dry unless you have some acquisition program and involve them in a multitouch program," explains Matthew Wilcox, eBusiness Director for Zions Bancorporation.
Also, Zions sought to maintain a relevant and updated personalized landing page for the customers.
Meanwhile, Wilcox had to find a way to make several channels—direct mail, email, paid search and phone—all work together on this PURL project.
Eventually, he also hoped to build a similar program for the bank's business clients.
The audience consists of Zions Bank customers who've signed up for an account. If the customer supplied an email address, the bank first sent an email. If there was no email on file, then a direct mail piece was sent. Based on the response to the piece, customers either received a follow-up email or direct mail piece. Overall, the list was split roughly 50/50 between direct mail and email.
Creative for the PURL:
A standard, white #10 envelope was used, without any teasers. Inside, a relatively tame letter greeted the customer, with engagement services listed on the side. What stood out, however, was the personalized URL, as well as variable images.
The email mirrored the letter creative, but subject lines varied. Often, they'd have the first name of the prospect in the subject line, such as "Joe, special offer on VOLP checking."
The personalized landing pages then bore a strong resemblance to the direct mail letter and email message. "It featured one new product for the customer alongside a host of engagement services that metrics revealed would be beneficial to the relationship," says Wilcox. Overall, there were nine core products, and each customer would receive one of the nine.
Campaign Strategy Deployment:
Direct mail, email, paid search and telesales where all involved with this personalized URL campaign that was piloted in late 2009 before getting the full roll out in March 2010. "Email was most cost-effective, and we also thought that it would be the engagement our customers would choose because they were part of our active e-newsletter list," reveals Wilcox.
Roughly half the file was sent an email first before a follow-up postcard; for those customers who hadn't provided an email address, they were sent a direct mail piece. If neither of those steps worked, then Zions Bank used the internal sales branch for some outbound calling.
Now the PURL changes on a monthly basis. "We've seen an increase in traffic to those URLs," testifies Wilcox. "We knew we'd get people to go to them, but we didn't envision that people would revisit them after they purchased the product. So people were bookmarking the page rather than the static website URL and engaging with us that way. It forced us to keep a more relevant eye.
"While the response rate wasn't as high as we had hoped for the first round, in the second round the response went up when we went with similar products."
The multi-touch campaign now runs on a quarterly basis. "As an example, Q3 of 2010 included 188,405 of our customer base that were modeled, with 61,821 receiving direct mail only, and 126,584 receiving both email and direct mail," details Wilcox. All customers were broken up into product groups based on their product propensity for one of the nine products.
"Because the campaign was an integrated multi-touch (meaning that everyone received multiple touch points), there is no precise way to provide a break-out that attributes a conversion to any one particular communication," explains Wilcox.
However, overall the campaign achieved an account response rate of 5 percent, with about 75 percent of new accounts being in the deposit product lines. Statistically, the initial emails had an average open rate of almost 18 percent, with a drop off in the second follow-up emails to 14 percent. Clickthrough rates for the first email averaged around 1.8 percent, with a drop off to 1 percent for the second follow-up emails.
Zions Bank was very happy with the final results, so much so that it's moving the PURL campaign over to the business front.
What made it succeed? The email followup helped to increase results of direct mail, while direct mail captured more email addresses. "So it was true multichannel success," says Wilcox.
What proved challenging? "We were surprised by how many customers used their personalized landing page, even after signing up for a new product. We didn't envision that, so we will be doing that differently going forward," he indicates.
Will this kind of PURL mailing be used again? "Yes, as we're building this out for some kind of business component. We had some skeptical executives who are now singing the praises of this PURL strategy," Wilcox concludes.
Ethan Boldt is the chief content officer of DirectMarketingIQ, the research division of the Target Marketing Group and publisher of special reports, how-to guides and books for the direct marketing industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.