What is a PURL and why would I use one?

By Charlotte Mackenzie
Personalised URLsWell, the answer is pretty simple. PURL stands for ‘personalised URL’, which is exactly what it is; a fully-trackable online address that is exclusive to the individual buyer. When a person visits their PURL, it redirects to whatever URL you want it to. This could be any page on your site, a promotional offer, or a landing page generated for a specific campaign, such as a personal event invite and registration form.
PURLs can be incorporated into your personalised direct mail and eDM communications and, when activated online, the true influence of the PURL is unveiled!
Personalised landing pages aren’t just a marketing trick that greet the prospect with their first name. They can facilitate the creation of dynamic content including hyperlinks, variable text, images, and prepopulated forms. A simple example of the power of the PURL can be seen in one of our current event campaigns. The PURL, included in a direct mail piece, takes the invitee to a personalised page that includes a pre-filled event registration form. The fact that the prospect does not need to enter all their details makes it as easy as possible for them to secure their place at the event. All they need to do is click ‘Submit’. Piece of cake.
Yet, the ease of use is only one benefit of using a PURL. In this age of email and digital marketing, your prospects will receive a barrage of marketing messages every day and in order for your message to get the attention it deserves, it must stand out from the crowd. Using a PURL will ensure relevant messaging and prospect engagement through highly-personalised content on your campaign landing pages.
‘A typical direct mail campaign achieves a 1%, perhaps 2% response rate’. But when you combine personalized URLs with your direct marketing, response rates will increase. The Aberdeen Group’s August 2007 study of personalization techniques in marketing found that 91% of the “best in class” companies experienced improvements in their online conversion rates as a result of their personalization. One example is Frank Hudetz of SolarCommunications, who reported a 33 percent lift from PURL campaigns.
But how do we know that responses have increased? With traditional direct mail, there are very few ways of tracking responses, especially those who may be interested but need a tiny little push in the right direction! When using PURLs, you have the advantage of real-time tracking. You have the ability to see who has accessed their PURL online, even if they haven’t taken any further action (such as clicking ‘Submit’ on an event registration form). With this information, you can target your follow-up calls at those who you feel are the most interested prospects.
Finally, one of the most crucial benefits PURLs provide is the unified integration of your direct mail, email, and online marketing. One of the greatest challenges with providing a URL on a direct mail piece is convincing the user to switch mediums; that is go from a hard copy document to visiting a webpage. However, with PURLs, you are making that move as easy as possible by providing a short and personal URL to enter, such as:
This will not only drive offline prospects back online, but also enable analysis of both online and offline campaigns in one place.
In order to ensure that the PURL is not lost the in content of your direct mailing piece, it should be placed on its own line so that it stands out as much as possible. Anything you can do to draw attention to the PURL will help to motivate people to access it.