Smile—and Flash Your pURLy Sites
Direct marketers have worked for decades to personalize their contacts with customers. Back in the 1940s, for example, after a human typed “Dear Eric” on the first line of a sheet of paper, the remainder of the sales pitch would be typed automatically by a player piano roll that was hooked up to a typewriter. By the 1970s, people saw their names on contest letters from Reader’s Digest and thought they might be winners.
With new technology comes new ways to personalize pitches, and the personalized URL—or pURL—is a new tool that will bring great benefits to marketers who know how to use it correctly. pURLs, which might appear as some variation of www.company.com/yourname, typically are incorporated into a print piece sent to a contact. When that contact visits the Web page bearing his or her name, ideally the page will be personalized with information contained in your company’s database.
Putting the ‘Personal’ in pURL
Frank Romano, co-author of “Personalized & Database Printing: The Complete Guide,” notes that pURLs largely have been underused since their appearance in 2000. “The person’s name is slotted into whatever boilerplate material was already on the page,” he says.
Those times are starting to change, though. “In a sample for a health care company, we tested driving people to a generic Web site versus a personalized landing page that’s dynamically creating an offer for that person,” says Tom Coté, president of The Ballantine Corp., a printing company in Wayne, N.J. “The lift off that pURL was 30 percent compared with the generic landing page.”
In another mailing for a magazine client that wanted readers to sign up for a VIP area, Coté found that while only 8.75 percent of the 21,000 postcard recipients visited the Web site, once there 88 percent of visitors signed up for a free account. “It’s powerful once you get them there,” he says. Frank Hudetz, president of Chicago printing firm Solar Communications, says he’s also seeing a 33 percent lift in pURL campaigns, such as ones used to build enrollment at universities or educational institutions, or to drive traffic to PR events.