When Do Personalized URLs Work in Direct Marketing Campaigns?

Today, direct marketers know that an integrated campaign, using multiple channels, is a more effective campaign. In a stressed economic age that’s full of prospects less willing to spend, to donate, to sign up, they need each other. And while closely coordinated direct mail and email campaigns are both popular and successful today, perhaps the most effective demonstrations of the offline-online marriage are personalized URL (PURL) campaigns.

This “marriage” is thoroughly explored in the direct marketing industry’s “only recent report about personalized URLs,” DirectMarketingIQ’s: “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.” Just published, click here to find out more.

So, what kinds of marketers are PURLs best suited for?

“Any [marketer] looking to engage with their customers uniquely, or those who have access to a database for a marketing campaign,” says Shawn Burst, founder of Dukky, a custom landing page and analytics software platform. “Any type of organization who has a membership, higher education, service providers, any organization with a sales force,” answers Crystal Uppercue, marketing manager at direct marketing services provider EU Services.

Besides the detailed case studies you can delve into later in the report—including such industries as financial services, fundraising, retail, colleges, conferences restaurant and software—here are four contrasting examples of how marketers have used PURL campaigns to drive action:

1. Increase membership
A museum sought to increase its membership base, so it created a member profile and bought an appropriate mailing list. Then it sent a PURL mail piece to each of these prospective members, asking each respondent to log into their PURLs to give information on their favorite kinds of art in exchange for a sweepstakes entry to win a free museum membership for the year. By the end of the campaign, the museum had a top-notch pre-qualified list of prospects for future direct mailings, plus email addresses to lower the cost of future contacts.

2. Prequalify prospect lists
A marketer hoped to pre-qualify its in-house prospect list so its sales presentations would be more effective. A PURL campaign was created that offered prospects a free gift, but in order to get that gift, prospects had to log into their PURLs and complete a survey that asked them to name the most challenging aspects of their businesses. Armed with this information, the marketer’s team of sales professionals were able to deliver much stronger follow-up presentations and increase conversion rates.

3. Cross-sell relevant products
A bank had been successful in getting many new customers, but most of them were unaware of its full product offerings. To bolster the cross-sell opportunities, the bank formed a PURL program that targeted existing customers and urged a dialogue on their PURLs about relevant products, including a survey that would trigger cross-sell product opportunities.

4. Acquire/renew subscribers and generate leads for advertisers
In working with a magazine publisher, copywriter Ruth Sheldon describes a direct mail letter that contains a PURL. “Most prospects find it hard to resist,” she admits. “Imagine ignoring an address like http://FirstNameLastName.freemagazine.com no matter how jaded your prospect is.”

This particular PURL site can collect real-time information, including an email address so that further valuable communication can take place online with potential subscribers. The data from these PURLs is useful beyond acquiring and renewing subscribers, as Sheldon says it can help generate more ad revenue for publishers by offering advertisers the names of opt-in subscribers.

“It can be a win/win for the advertiser (with names of prospects who want to hear from them), publishers (who can now offer advertisers added value) and for subscribers (who want more personalized offerings and free merchandise),” she describes.

Ethan Boldt is the chief content officer of DirectMarketingIQ, which operates as the research division in the Target Marketing Group. The “PURLs for Profit” report is available for $47 and can be purchased in the DMIQ bookstore. Ethan can be reached at eboldt@napco.com.