PrintBITS: Why You Should Be Using PURLs to Collect Audience Information

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Consumers are most likely to pay attention to messages that speak to them personally. Personalized URLs deliver just that. Personalized Uniform Resource Locators (PURLs) take recipients to individual landing pages where the user is greeted by their name and other identified information. Within their personal website, they can participate in surveys based on users’ preferences or submit information to populate a marketer’s database. Adopting PURLs as a marketing tool can make every message more relevant to each recipient. Personalized URLs combine dynamic online page building with two-way data streams. Customers and prospects who log onto their own PURLs see content served specifically to them based on prior behavior, life stages, segmentation, demographics and any other data a company may have. Used optimally, they help sellers approach behavioral targeting both online and in the mail stream.

For those new to the concept of PURLs, they are pretty similar and simple enough to construct. The challenge comes in to play when you are constructing your content and need to receive accurate and appropriate responses. But at Printing Concepts, we can help you develop a campaign that works for you and your prospects. Our staff will help you develop a survey or questionnaire, and create the graphical look of your landing pages. In addition, we have an extensive comprehension of analyzing and interpreting data that can help fuel your business strategy and economy.

PURL Campaigns can be simple and effective

Most PURL campaigns have a similar structure; a site encourages someone to take a survey (usually three to five questions). Recipients may be offered a gift for participating, such as discounts for products, or a free submission into a sweepstakes. These offers are mostly so people would be willing to provide personal or business information. The benefit of providing PURLs comes in the end, where marketers and sales people can collect valuable data about their targeted audience. “Having customers provide their own information so you can build your own databases is a way to create the best database, better than any purchased database,” says John Foley, president and CEO of interlinkONE.

As consumers view products, read, play videos, browse, click and purchase online, their activities are fed back into the marketer’s data. This new intelligence can be used to make subsequent follow-ups even more valuable. Printing Concepts has done this for many clients and provided additional feedback to our clients regarding their customer’s activity.

We recently completed a project for ACMC Hospitals in Ashtabula in which we helped them deliver a message to their local demographics through a PURL campaign. We asked former patients and local community members to respond to a survey to help ACMC find out what former patients liked and disliked about their services and facilities. The campaign was a success and the people that responded gave accurate and positive feedback to the survey questions. This additional feedback helped ACMC develop their database for follow-up mailers.

Though data is still preliminary in this field, the effectiveness of PURLs is influenced by how it is implemented. With any campaign, there are numerous elements that can affect the response rates. Some aspects that may affect responses are the condition of the database, the amount of audience targeting, the significance of the message to the respondent, any incentive, the design elements, and much more.

Although a PURL contains a great number of variables, response rates for direct mail with PURLs reportedly range from 8% to 13% versus typical industry averages of 2 percent to 3 percent. Additionally, site visitors who use a PURL tend to stay engaged longer and have higher conversion rates. Commonly, if a site survey includes a relative incentive, such as an opportunity to receive more information or attend a seminar, response rates can increase to 30%.

the more you know about your customer, the better your results

The more marketers know about customers, the more they can deliver messaging that causes them to act. According to The Seybold Report, “…marketing expertise, including knowledge of the recipient demographics and psychographics, plays a critical role in the success of a campaign… What makes a campaign succeed is not the personalized URL itself, but the quality of the larger campaign and whether a personalized URL is the best response mechanism.”

The way technology moves, we can assume that PURLs will become commonplace. The benefit of initiating PURLs now is that when everybody else is doing it, you’ll be doing it better, having already established a feedback loop between yourself and your customers. They’ll already understand that your business meets them with the best offers, personalized to their needs.

PURLs create a feedback loop that benefits marketers and customers alike. Focusing on analytics is a major factor that drives PURL campaigns. Many services are springing up that offer marketers the ability to customize URLs for prospects and customers, but be sure the back-end analytics are also state of the art. For PURLs to work, there must be a feedback loop between driving transactions and improving data, and they must be leveraged intelligently with your goals and metrics in mind. That’s the beauty of PURLs.

–   All data and statistics are from Mindfire.com and The Seybold Report, Vol. 9 No. 12

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