Personalized URLs (PURLs) are the latest way to customize and target your marketing campaign. Companies using personalized marketing are seeing much better results than those that aren’t. There are several types of PURLs and each serves a different purpose. PURLs can be used in both e-mail and direct mail marketing efforts, and they can also be used to track behaviors of different consumer groups. How you use them depends on the goals of your business.
Using PURLs to Target and Track
The most personalized way that you can use PURLs involves using your prospect’s name such as JaneDoe.yourbiz.com or www.yourbiz.com/JaneDoe. These PURLs should lead to a landing page or microsite that is customized for that specific person. This method is most commonly used for B2B businesses with prospects. It is difficult, though not impossible, to send out PURLs to a large segment of a market such as all women living in California. Target, the major retailer, used their ability to track customers’ buying habits to identify and target marketing towards pregnant women (however, be sensitive towards your customers’ privacy).
Other types of PURLs allow you to track how many people visit your site from certain cities, zip codes or by other demographics. In these cases, you would send a specific group of people a PURL and others a different one. For example, if you wanted to see how many people in Chicago visited your site as opposed to those in New York, you might mail or e-mail prospects in Chicago a PURL with a Chicago zip code and those living in New York a PURL with a New York zip code. The PURLs might even go to the same landing page, but you would be able to track how many people visited from each city.
Market Research and A/B Testing
PURLs allow you to accurately measure the rate of response you receive from different marketing campaigns, unlike most radio or TV ads. You can use PURLs to determine how warm a lead might be or track their behavior on your site. This will allow you to draw more accurate conclusions about what problems you might have with your site, what information you might not be providing or other reasons why you’re not attracting certain customers.
You can use PURLs for marketing research, too. Use them to test how successful two different web designs or other web features are. You might send one group to website idea A and the others to website idea B to see which is more successful.
Custom Landing Pages and Marketing
You can customize the landing pages in many ways. One of the most basic, which almost all websites should include these days, is a responsive design. This means that no matter what device your customer is accessing your site from (cell phone, tablet, etc.) they can see your site in a clear and easy-to-use way. You can greet the customer with their name and pre-fill forms out for them with basic information. Do not include overly personal information unless they have given you explicit permission to use it. Remember, this customization should offer convenience to the customers, not creep them out.
Due to the higher level of personalization PURLs provide, which consumers have responded well to, conversion rates for these campaigns are high. ING worked with IBM to identify issues with conversion rates, and was able to implement a personalized home page for each repeat visitor to their site. Since then, they have seen 3 times more customer response even with decreased marketing costs. A study by EPiServer in 2011 showed that 1/3 of U.S. marketers believed that personalized marketing was more successful than traditional methods. While that isn’t a majority, in-depth analysis showed that marketers that didn’t agree weren’t even using personalized tactics.
Be Careful Who You Target
To see increased results, you’ll want to make sure you’re targeting the right kind of people. As we mentioned before, you probably don’t want to send a PURL to every woman living in California. However, based on other marketing information you have, you might send a PURL to women in a small area that have used a certain service or bought a specific product recently. But make sure you aren’t too specific – try not to include information the customer hasn’t given you. Target had to alter their maternity advertising to avoid making people feel uncomfortable.
The most important part of a PURL campaign is to have an objective and a follow-up plan. Yes, some of your leads will use the PURL and purchase from you right away. But others will only go to the PURL and leave. Still others won’t visit the PURL at all. While you may not need a specific plan for those that don’t visit at all, potential customers who visited the PURL but didn’t convert are great prospects. You know they’re interested because they visited. Will you send them more personalized e-mail? Look at patterns for what they actually clicked on and redesign your approach? Again, your follow-up plan will depend heavily upon your original goals – but make sure you have a plan.
Personalized marketing and PURLs can be fabulous marketing tools if used correctly. Make sure you’re segmenting your audience based on clear goals. Have a follow-up plan ready so the data you collect doesn’t go to waste. By taking effort to personalize your marketing efforts, you can drive loyalty to your brand and increase your conversions.