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Boosting Direct Mail Response Using Personalized URLs

Boosting Direct Mail Response Using Personalized URLs

We’ve all heard the story: Customers won’t entertain any advertisements that don’t pop up on their smart phones. Direct mail is dead. Publishing is over. Finished. Done.

Fortunately for us all, that story is a fiction.

Customers, on average, are processing literally thousands of advertisements  that come before their eyes every day. Despite the overwhelming amount of ad content to digest, customers still yearn for some kind of better engagement.

Faced with a daily multitude of smart slogans and zippy puns being peddled on banners and billboards, it’s easy to assume that ‘catchiness’ is the key to a loyal customer’s heart. But what customers are looking for, and what they find so infrequently, is a gesture of hyperpersonalization.

Hyperpersonalization sends a clear message to the customer that you are intent on serving them specifically, introducing them to your brand with a handshake rather than a shout across the room.

This idea is of no surprise to you, of course. Personalization has always led to stronger bonds with a customer base. A recent study from PODi shows this in sharp colors.

But how do we take that to the next level? How is hyper-personalization actually put into practice?

The answer is incredibly simple and easy: PURLs.

PURLs are a unique domain name personalized to each recipient. This means that each customer you reach with a PURL is getting their own personalized piece of internet real estate on your site.

Take, for example, Miami University. Every year, Miami University sends out a brochure to prospective students as recruitment tool. Previously, the brochure would simply link to the university’s generic url: http://miamioh.edu. But this past year, they decided to switch to sending a personalized URL, or PURL, to prospective students.

So when Joe Smith opened up his brochure, he saw that Miami University already had a domain waiting for him at JoeSmith.miamioh.edu (just an example – not an active PURL). The URL includes his name, which shows Joe that Miami U is so interested in him that they have already created and set a page aside for him. In other words, Miami University has invested in being a part of Joe’s identity, and because of this, Joe is much more likely to invest himself in them.

What’s even more effective (and cooler to Joe Smith) is that, not only has Miami University personalized the domain name, they’ve personalized that unique landing page that pops up when he clicks the link.

Further, Miami University tested the PURL brochures against a group that received generic, non-PURL brochures, and the results are staggering:

Brochures that included a PURL increased student response over the generic brochures by 1,466%. Because of this, Miami University surpassed their target enrollment by over 30%.

Just imagine what PURLs could do for your business.

Thank you to Marty Thomas from Purlem for writing this blog post.

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I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!