Smile—and Flash Your pURLy Sites
Customer tracking is another pURL plus. “I can know to the day how many people have opened this page and were interested enough to give us more information,” says Bronstad. “I even know which people looked at the page but haven’t given us information, which gives me data for follow-up calls or e-mails.”
While you can use pURLs in e-mail campaigns, doing so defeats the purpose of a pURL because e-mail already contains clickable links. “Clicking an e-mail isn’t the same as typing the URL that includes your name,” says Bronstad. “In marketing, any time you can activate someone to do something, that increases the response.”
For all their positive attributes, pURLs work only within the context of a coordinated campaign. “pURLs are a great enhancement for getting response in direct market[ing],” says Evans, “but they’re not the end-all, be-all tool. You can’t neglect proper targeting with a product that has relevance.”
Coté discovered this first-hand with a client who insisted on using a pURL for a product that appealed to older men. While the Web site featured dazzling design and streaming video, the users never saw it because they vanished as soon as the site requested an e-mail address. “You want to use mail and drive people to pURLs when you’ve already determined that they’re Web savvy and order online,” he says.
A Few How-tos
Ideally, says Frank Hudetz, you’ll develop a direct mail piece that will point out the pURL, using images to highlight it and stressing the personalized information that awaits at the Web site. Place the recipient’s name as close to the front of the URL as possible so he has a greater chance of noticing the personalization, and keep the URL short to encourage action.
For recipients with identical names—which Ballantine Director of Marketing Ryan Coté estimates is 2 percent of his clients’ lists—you can add characters to the pURL to eliminate the duplication, e.g., www.company.com/michaelsmith23, although you might want to disguise these efforts to keep the URL looking personal. Ballantine takes another approach, printing a unique security code on each item mailed. “If you have a mail file of 50,000 names, the code will be five digits long,” says Coté. When someone with a duplicated name visits the Web site, that person will be prompted for the security code, which will connect him or her with the right data; everyone else will go immediately to their personalized landing page.