Several years ago, a company by the name of MindFire came onto the scene. During one of their first years they came to the AlphaGraphics conference as a vendor. They were selling the ability to do personalized url’s to attract a prospect to a website to register and provide additional contact information. As I think back upon their visit to our trade show, I remember that the person at the booth was a very lonely man for the two 4-hour sessions. If he had 5 AlphaGraphics owners visit him during that week, I would be very surprised. Not only was the concept foreign to most of us, but the software was extremely expensive. In the following year, MindFire’s message was received loud and clear throughout the AlphaGraphics system and the rest of the printing industry. Studies were showing that the success of a direct marketing campaign using personalized url’s (PURL’s) was significantly better than the old method of just sending out a promotional piece. Direct Marketing Association (DMA) studies were showing that response rates were improving from .5% up to 5-10% depending on the offer. I will say that we have had response rates off up to 30% using a combination of a 3-dimensional piece, a PURL site and a $20 gift certificate offer.
Direct Marketing Began To Change
So, in the past we would print and send out 10,000-30,000 pieces in the mail hoping for a half of a percent response rate. As we priced the job, our focus to the customer was on the price-per-piece, including postage. In the new world, we focus on much smaller mailings to a more focused audience. We often use demographic profiling of our client’s customer lists to provide a more targeted prospect list. Our pricing includes the cost of the MindFire hosting site, the cost of a premium mailing list, a more complicated, personalized mailing piece as well as the postage. So, instead of a 10,000 piece mailing, we might digitally print and send out a mailing for 500-1,000 pieces. Using conservative math here, a .5% response rate on a 10,000 piece mailing would give you 50 responses. A 10% response rate on a 500 piece mailing would give you the same 50 responses. A few years ago, a PURL campaign was a fairly expensive proposition so that the costs you saved in not mailing to 10,000 recipients were replaced with the cost of creating and monitoring the PURL results. Our selling points were that when you were done you had more info on your prospects and that those prospects that went to the PURL site were actual buyers. As you can imagine, convincing clients that a 500 piece campaign that was the same price as a 10,000 piece mailing was better was somewhat difficult.
Time Cures Everything
The best part of technology is that it gets cheaper as time goes on. The costs of creating and reporting on PURL’s has become a commodity so the most expensive part of doing a PURL campaign has become cheap. Now the 500 piece mailing can be done at a significant discount over the old 10,000 piece mailing. That’s the good news. The bad news is that as time has gone on, PURL campaigns have become commonplace and the response rates have declined somewhat. So it is more important now than ever for the list to be tuned to the proper prospects, that the offer is good and that there is an attractive spiff to entice the prospect to go to the PURL site.
So, What is a GURL
GURL stands for general url. The PURL is based upon the fact that you have a targeted list with the name of your prospect included in the list. This is most used in a mailing or email campaign. So what happens when you put an ad into a multi-media location but you still want to get prospects to go to a website and register. That’s where the GURL comes in. Prospects can still go to the designated website and register to get a gift certificate or win a prize. The prospects just have to fill out their name, address, contact information and they get the prize. Another great way of identifying key prospects.
Return on Investment
If a PURL campaign is used, one of the best results is that their is a process of active reporting included with the campaign. Everytime one of the prospects hits the website, it is recorded. Their responses are immediately recorded and reported. If you have the email address, they will immediately be informed that their responses were received and that a salesperson will be calling them in the near future. After they log off of the site, an immediate email will be sent to the assigned sales person with the relevant contact information. Quite slick and it is impressive to the customer.
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