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Personalized Marketing with PURLs

AlphaGraphics personalURL

Addressing someone by his or her first names is pretty impressive, but envision the ability to utilize all sorts of variable information in your marketing campaigns.

PURLs, when spoken out loud, tend to conjure up a very different picture than the marketing tools they actually are. When I first became aware of PURLs I initially thought of the fantastically rare and valuable gems sought after the world over. Yet this is perhaps an interesting metaphor for what is otherwise referred to in its long form, as a Personalized URL, which, if used correctly, can be a valuable addition to any sized business’ marketing strategy.

The ability to address a customer by their first name is a powerful tool, and since I began assisting in the creation of these campaigns several years ago, I have become somewhat of a snob when viewing direct mail. Rifling through my mailbox at home, I come across all sorts of promotion mail, which, for the most part, irks me.

My name is not hard to find. There are public records which state that I am the homeowner, and I know that at some point I have probably forgotten to tick the box saying that I don’t want to be contacted by trusted third party vendors. However, some of these big (BIG) companies have still been unable to work this out, and subsequently call me by my other names; Home Owner, Resident, or my favorite, Our Friend At (surely if you were my friend we’d be past that awkwardness of remembering names). Regardless of who they are, or what they are offering these go straight in the recycling bin. Simply out of spite for not addressing me by my first name, these companies have lost my business. Now maybe I’m a harder subject than most. I’m almost 100% certain that they don’t know that I build these campaigns as part of my position within one of the most up-to-date marketing teams, in the small-medium sized business arenas. But that aside, imagine if all of your customers were as tough on you, as I am on them.

So, you get it, addressing someone by his or her first names is pretty impressive, but envision the ability to utilize all sorts of variable information in your marketing campaigns. Whatever information you have in your database, you can link it to your Personalized URL campaign so that each user has their own fully personalized, totally unique experience, which delivers that competitive edge that makes you stand out from the crowd.

It gets better. Seriously it does.

PURLs are easy to create. PURLs are cheap. PURLs generate results. PURLs are trackable, and Pearls have the ability to make your significant other smile.

When was the last time that you sent out a direct mail campaign, and wondered how many people received it? Thinking about that campaign some more, how many people responded to that mail piece and gave you a call? See, there’s that small thing in the back of your mind, you probably aren’t quite sure, because there is no way to track those results.

However you structure your PURL campaign is up to you, whether you want to convey your message through a series of short written statements or a YouTube video. Perhaps you want to find out what your customer’s favorite ice cream flavor is, or maybe they want to learn more about the 6 Core Marketing Services your Center now offers. You might be offering a free 45-minute business consultation or the chance to win a trip to the Olympics. Whatever it is that you are trying to convey, learn about, determine or offer, a Personalized URL offers that on a plate.

The clincher is that as soon as I login to your Personalized URL, determined as I usually am to let you know that I love raspberry flavor, and I could do with some help with my website, and perhaps, twist my arm, I’ll take those first class tickets to London too. As soon as I let you know that, and go about my merry way, our system will send you, or your sales person an email, or text notification letting you know what it is that I want. That is, to be called as soon as possible, to let me know that you can help out with my website, and perhaps you’ll throw in a raspberry ice cream and a nice postcard of London.

Case Study 1
A university athletic team in north Texas looking at increasing its season ticket sales; sales of club level and/or luxury suites; priority seating and parking and family fun packs.

Target audience included 84,000 current students, recent graduates and alumni. An additional 48,000 recipients were targeted for their show of interest or support in the university or athletic department. The marketing campaign consisted of 85,000+ emails driving recipients to a PURL and 130,000+ direct mail pieces, with variable QR Codes.

Prior to working with AlphaGraphics, this university athletic team had done the majority of their print marketing at an in-house print facility. External Marketing was limited to billboards, print ads in the local newspapers and the occasional radio advert. After pitching the potential for a direct mail with Personalized URL campaign to the department director, the sales & marketing team emphasized the power of being able to track and measure the results of the campaign with absolute ease. In addition to providing the Personalized URL technology, the center was able to generate print revenue too, as the in-house facility was unable to handle variable data printing.

The university has undertaken three direct mail and Personalized URL campaigns with this center previously. All of their campaigns focused on increasing season ticket sales, with ancillary sales of suites, parking passes, tailgating opportunities and family fun packs. The first campaign aimed at promoting the construction of the football team’s new stadium, offered the chance to win a flat screen television and one of 10 parking passes, sent to just over 11,000 recipients it generated a 4.81% response rate. The second campaign was used to promote the university basketball team, offering the chance to win two round trip airline tickets, sent to just under 9,000 recipients generated a 2.54% response rate. The third campaign was used to inform the same group of students, alumni and faculty staff about the search for a new coach for their football team, this campaign generated a 3.23% response rate.

The fourth campaign was the biggest yet. Using direct mail as the primary delivery method, the center was responsible for designing, printing and delivering 130,000+ postcards to recipients around the state. Included on the postcard was a link to the recipients Personalized URL, along with a variable QR code which delivered the recipient to a mobile friendly version of the site. In addition a 1-800 number was included so that recipients could call for information if they so desired. Emails were sent to all current students, recent grads and alumni, directing them to either a web or mobile-web optimized version of the site. In addition, the university requested a Generalized URL, where an anonymous visitor could access the site without the need for personalization. This Generalized URL was then placed in an advertisement in the local newspaper.

The response rate from the Personalized URL was 2% – with 11% of those responses generated from the QR code, 6% from the Generalized URL and the remainder from the direct mail piece. Interest for season tickets was expressed by 18% of respondents to the Personalized URL campaign, whilst 20% expressed interest in priority seats and parking passes.

The university recruited temporary staff to follow up on all leads generated by the PURL and to help facilitate with the 1-800 number. In all, the campaign was responsible for increasing ticket sales by approximately 120% over the previous year, whilst keeping their costs to $70,000.

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