How Microsites & PURLs Improve Direct Marketing Campaign Performance

Someone recently asked me, “What are PURLs and why should I use them?” It’s a technology that has been around for a while, so I had falsely assumed that everyone knows what they are and what they do.

Personal URLs are URLs with a person’s name or a unique code appended to them, which links to a landing page or microsite. When personal URLs are used, we know who visited a site. On many of these microsites, a database is attached to the site in the background. These sites can be programmed so that when a person visits, this attached data can be leveraged and enriched.

I will never forget the first time one of my clients decided to use a microsite. The client was inviting consumers to an event via direct mail and wanted to limit access. She didn’t want to put a web address on the piece as she was afraid of viral spreading. Because the preferred next step for most direct mail recipients is “visit the web,” we expressed our concern that the campaign would flop. We suggested creating a microsite accessed via PURL, which could be constructed in a way to limit access. To make a long story short, the campaign was successful, and 89% of the event registrants signed up on the microsite. Only 11% picked up the phone.

Why would you want to consider using a microsite accessed via PURL rather than an ordinary landing page? Here are some of the benefits:

  1. Enhanced Personalized Offers – Instead of one size fits all, offers can be based on data, i.e. product interest, location, language, owner, raw prospect, hand raiser, demographics, segment, etc.
  2. Marketing Intelligence Gathering – Key data can be gathered related to visits and interest areas as well as missing profile data. A PURL eliminates the need for match-back analysis and facilitates enhanced data enrichment on marketing automation/nurturing campaigns.
  3. Relevant Content – Visitors can view and download high-value content specific to their interest area based on variable logic, data and questions answered.
  4. Call to Action – Visitors can click on “sign-up now” or “purchase now” links.
  5. Follow-up Capability – You can send triggered follow-up mail pieces or emails with specific offers and information specific to each visitor based on data or site visit answers/behavior.
  6. Improved Sales Conversions – Leads can be forwarded in real time to a sales team or dealers on sales-ready opportunities. According to an MIT/Marketing Sherpa study, you are 100 times more likely to speak to a prospect when they are contacted within five versus 30 minutes.
  7. “Share with a Friend” – Sharing via email or social media leads to organic growth of prospects. You can tie special offers to a prospect that shares with a friend. We have seen share rates as high as 60% on some campaigns.

I have an easy time answering the question, “Why should I use PURLs?” With all of the benefits above, the question is, “Why not?”

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