PURLs of Wisdom

Dutch HollisWe are constantly focusing our efforts on direct digital marketing, which is, in many ways, its own animal. Like me, you may spend most of your time and effort in the "interactive" space. We segment, target, personalize, and measure with great fervor… in part, because the technology allows it. But, direct digital marketing isn't all that different from direct marketing in that your customers don’t draw the same channel-based distinctions you do. They simply receive your messages and may choose to engage with them.

PURLs, or personalized URLs (like http://yourdomain.com/john.doe), allow you to apply much of the technology you use for segmentation, personalization, and measurement of electronic campaigns to direct mail campaigns.

Simply stated, PURLs rely on DVP (digital variable printing) to print personalized content, messages, and URLs on a direct mail piece. The personalized URL not only contains the recipient’s name, but leads them to an experience that is relevant for each consumer in the same way we create targeted, dynamic content on landing pages for email, search, and other tactics.

Many PURL providers and printers claim that PURLs dramatically increase response rates for direct mail. I have no argument with that. We already know that segmentation, targeting, personalization, and relevant content boost performance. What I want to encourage is that we look at PURLs as part of a larger strategy that considers all channels as means to a single end. It’s not enough that we use PURLs solely for the sake of a better response rate. We should treat PURLs as a single tactic used to reach a larger goal of providing meaningful messaging to the customer.

When we adopt this customer-centric approach to our marketing, it’s much more than putting the customer’s name in lights (or pixels, or a URL). It’s a commitment to building a relationship with them by knowing their background/interests and providing them messaging that is relevant – messaging that has value. When your customers recognize this value they will provide the return on your investment.

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  1. […] (Read more about PURLs and how to use them to provide meaningful message to the customer in this post from Dutch.) While PURLS can be an effective element of a larger direct digital marketing strategy, I want to […]

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