Category Archives: PURL

Variable printing is useful, but are you using it to your full advantage?

I sat in on a webinar from recently and they gave a really good seminar on how to use their services using variable images.  They suggest when you have a customer who you are trying to target you should not be boring them with more about YOU all the time. Instead, change the focus to them!

How so?

With variable printing/imagery this can be accomplished quickly. As long as you are using some type of service to change out the image and wording this should be an easy task. If you are trying to manually do this and you’ve got a large database…well, your wasting your time and need to invest in an agency who can set you up with some sort of CMS system. There are a lot of them out there, is one that I use for my greeting cards. We send them to customers anytime we want to thank a customer after a sale or after a successful meeting and we’re even using them for our holiday cards this year.

So how do you make the variable images work to your advantage?

Let’s pretend that you sell windows.  As a way to better market to your customer, rather than send a direct mail piece that shows photo’s of the windows you sell, why not hire someone to take photo’s of the homes you are trying to target. Now put that image next to an image with the beautiful windows you sell. If you have a home in the neighborhood that you installed windows in, then you can put that image next to the home that is beside the customers home and say something like “You neighbor at 12345 ABC Street loves our windows and so will you!” Ahhhh, now you’re getting it right?

Some of this is simple marketing 101, however, with the new technology available with variable print and variable fields for “Microsites” if you use PURLS (personalized URLS), then this can be accomplished faster and make your marketing campaign that much more successful.

Good luck to each of you in your search for the winning concept!

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Filed under Internet Marketing, Marketing, PURL

Marketing better with PURLS (personalized URLS)

What is a PURL?

PURL is short for Personalized URL. It allows personalization and tracking of direct mail pieces, email, magazine advertisement, and virtually any means of media. Customer’s appreciate and acknowledge marketing that seems to be about them (personalized) and their industry more than random bulk mail.

What is the Purpose of a PURL?

The goal of using PURL’s on your marketing campaigns is to increase response rate, track & test marketing pieces in real time, and create targeted and better focused campaigns for segmented lists.  All of these things will improve the quality of your customer database lists over a period of time.  The reason is because of the data that you will receive back from using the online method of tracking and requiring certain data to be filled out prior to receiving their intended item.

When you couple a PURL with Direct Mail what are the advantages?

Using variable printing, I have been able to switch out the imaging on every mailed piece along with the actual copy changing based on location, product of interest, or any cataloged item in my excel spreadsheet.  When you use four color presses this technology is not as readily available and certainly not at a low price. With variable printing and PURL’s the price actually drops lower due to the digital print along with bulk mailing methods. Even if you don’t have a lot of mail in one particular zip code, now marketing companies have so much mail going out, an individual company can qualify for bulk rates under the marketing companies rate. You just have to find the right company!

How does a PURL work?

  • With direct mail each piece is dynamically printed using variable data printing and an excel file.
  • Printing personalized information on the card or changing the message on the card does not change the cost of the printing
  • It matches a unique URL with the customer’s name at the end to a personalized website


Where is the PURL pointing to?

  • My PURLs are all being hosted on my vendors online system (there are several out there but if you need direction on where to turn, I am more than happy to refer you to the company I use)
  • This management software allows us to upload any html coding
  • Their system generates a PURL using our company’s domain name. (A quick setup was required by our IT department)

What hiccups did I encounter when I started using PURL’s?

In order to get high response rates and have qualified leads, the customer list is the most important piece of information for a direct mail campaign that uses a PURL. Since the goal of each direct mail piece is to get people to visit a “microsite,” where the most important information is located, the call to action is the second most important piece of information for a direct mail using PURLs.

So now, I am able to mail direct mail pieces that are more focused to a more qualified and targeted group of my list. This has allowed for much faster conversio in the lead to sale process.

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Testimonials sell your brand better than any other marketing technique

Testimonials sell your brand better than anything else you probably have in your bag of tricks. In my findings when I use PURLS (personalized URLS) on my magazine ads, email campaigns, and direct mail pieces, and then link to a “microsite” if I put a Testimonial section on the Microsite that customers can click on and read actual stories about the product we are trying to sell, it is the highest clicked on section of the site.

So when thinking about developing your microsites, your direct mail pieces, or any media for that matter, always remember a key element we learned in basic marketing 101 which is that customers believe what others say about your own brand!

Life Experience
On a recent magazine ad I did, we actually put a photo of a customer who was able to get 85% ROI using our product and to hear the entire story, you had to visit the “microsite.” Once at the microsite, customers were able to read the full testimonial and see a video of the customer talking about his experience with the product at his place of business in action! The impact was great and the PURL (personalized URL) allowed for the entire campaign to be tracked instantly. The campaign had one of the highest response rates I have seen so far.

How do you obtain these testimonials?
What one client I work with does, is every time they sell one of their items (they sell $100K capital equipment) they immediately ask for a survey to be filled out and at the same time ask if the customer is willing to answer 12 questions about their buying experience.  They then ask if it’s okay if they turn that questionnaire into a testimonial using their name and company name. In most cases the customer says yes, especially if you tell them “And we’ll put a link back to your website from this of course.” That is marketing for them and you! Also, tell them you’ll add their phone number and contact info in case anyone wants to call them as a way to entice them. They just may get a referral from your testimonial! Now that’s smart marketing!

Social Media concerning Testimonials
If you’re concerned about the usage of a testimonial in social media, Andy Sernovitz has it all broken down on his blog. It’s not complicated at all! So, get moving with your testimonials!

Hope this helps you to keep the clients rolling in and to remember, getting back to the basics can be fun!

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Twitter and PURLS make sense


When I use Twitter and PURLS what I am doing is tracking the success of my call to action which is my tweet.  If someone goes further and fills a form out on my “microsite” then I can track that within the software as well.  The vendor that I use has built in the ability for me to follow through and track which pages each of you have clicked on within my microsites, so once a person clicks on my tweet, I can actually tell if they clicked within a microsite and what pages they clicked on.  Should they decide to fill out the form, I now have real data as to who the “Tweeter” is.

Twitter and PURLS make sense.

Another quick tip. When tweeting and posting links, I always post in 4’s for business.  What I mean is if I am on my business page then I will post up a tweet and word it 4 different ways with unique call to actions to get folks to click on the same microsite.  Yes, I said the same microsite. If you think about this – IT MAKES SENSE for a business.  Most business pages have roughly 1000 followers.  Those followers have 1000 followers and so on.  For them to even see your tweet, your gonna need to post it at the very LEAST four times.  HOWEVER, you don’t want to be obnoxious or you’ll lose people from following you. So use this strategy wisely.  I myself have unfollowed people who tweet 10 times in a row because it’s just stupid.

Now, what this is going to do is raise your chances of having a great response on that microsite, but now I call this a tweet campaign not a microsite with high response.  Because if you base it solely on the PURL or microsite itself, then its not fair, because remember, your tweeting in 4’s.

Hope this helps you and you get tweeting with some PURLS! If you need some advice on who can provide you with PURLS at an inexpensive price, I have used a vendor down in Florida that I love! They even provided my CMS system that they programmed. Love, love, love it! Email me if you want the deets!

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PURLS aren’t just for direct mail campaigns anymore


You can use a PURL (personalized URL) in anything these days. I use them in my email campaigns, my magazine ads and even in my tweets on twitter. I thought I would talk about the benefits of using them in a magazine ad over using a phone number today.

In the old days you might have used a 1-800 number on your magazine ad and that’s fine and dandy, but let me ask you this… “how’s that workin’ out for ya?” Not to be mean, but uh – I bet you my mortgage, I’m getting more response than you are…See, the reason why I am so positive that you can get faster response using a PURL is simple. If you use a 1-800 number, you are ahead of someone who is just putting an ad in a magazine. At least you’ve taken the initiative to put something so that the reader can contact you.

HOWEVER, what if you put a PURL in the ad in addition to that 800#?  Then, you would have REAL TIME results that you could track! You would know where in the “WORLD” that person was when they clicked on the link, what pages they visited while they were on your site, if you put a form on the site, then you can ask for more detailed information from the reader like their name, address, email address, etc – and NOW you have developed your database so you can market even better as well as you can potentially close a sale to this now VALIDATED customer!!

PURLS make sense! Also, using a PURL on a magazine ad will reduce the time that you have to wait on those analysis reports from your marketing people. Now you can just do a few clicks from your website and find out quickly how well the PURL campaign went.

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Getting smart with your PURLs

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It’s best for your PURL call to action to be more of a tease. I will give you an example of a piece that I mailed recently with the theme based on the NBC game show “Deal or No Deal.”

On the mailer which was a postcard, I used a picture of a briefcase that said “Please go to visit your PURL (Personalized URL) for a chance to win the contents of case No. 13” This is a good call to action one might think – but you can’t stop here. You’ve got to put even more. So next I say “When you get to your personalized URL you’ll see what’s inside case #13” This will create enough interest and a buzz to get the client to visit their PURL and find out what the heck is in case #13?

So what did I do next? Well once they arrived at the “Microsite” they saw the contents of the case with a very creative microsite I designed that had the music from deal or no deal along with the banker in the background and I even had the whole stage as my layout. But I didn’t stop there. That really wasn’t the important part – THIS IS, so pay attention please! I only sent these mailers to people in my list that I knew were interested in what was in the case. The contents of the case was a hunting trip in the Texas area. The list went to people that lived in Texas and that were avid hunters. We also made sure that they were clients that were in the 80% range of making a purchase of the capital equipment that we were attempting to sell. So on the microsite there was an offer that read “Joe, please come to our office for an open house and purchase a particular machine at a very attractive price and also register for the contents of the case by filling out the form on the microsite.” The personalization doesn’t stop with the mailer – it continues on the microsite all the way down to the particular piece of equipment that we already know they are interested in. Whether it’s a widget “A” “B” or “C” we can switch out the widget with variable printing an variable data on the microsite as well.

The only way to win the contents of the case is to actually show up at the office and attend the open house. Once they come to the open house, our goal is to sell them the high dollar capital piece of equipment.

Tracking back to the PURL is simple, as soon as a client clicks on their PURL an alert is sent to both the salesperson and the sales assistant so that the sales person can immediately contact the client and make communication to get them more interested in the product. My research has shown that if you contact a client while they are on your website within the first 5 minutes, you have an 80% chance of having good communication. However, if you wait 20 minutes those chances go down to 5%.

So what do we do with all the data? Well, its very cool actually, we can learn how often they visit the site, whether they forward the site on to someone else, or if they move from page to page if we’ve built a microsite that has multiple pages. So we can tell their interests very easily. PURLS can help you determine in a short matter of time what your clients needs and wants are without being invasive.

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Filed under Direct Mail, Internet Marketing, Marketing, PURL, Uncategorized


So, a little more information about PURL’s today.  When talking about PURL’s one might say “I want to know why I would want to use a PURL in a marketing campaign.” The answer to that question is simple.

  1. If you want to target an audience that is defined such as by age, gender, or any list for that matter then this would help you.
  2. PURL’s will increase your response rate by double in most cases. The reason is that you have real time responses and there is no error. With PURL’s there are “Microsites” that are developed based off of your own website that you can create or your design team can develop. Once this is done, you have the ability to completely control the responses that are coming in. An example of this would be my Twitter PURL’s. What I do is create “Microsites” that have a unique PURL for every tweet that I create. Next, I create unique tweets that engage the audience to click on the link within Twitter. Once people click on the Tweet I can immediately go into my software for my Microsite CMS system and watch everyone clicking on the microsite to see what pages within the microsite have been hit.  I always place a form on every “Microsite” to entice people to a call to action so that more is done.
  3. When talking about Direct Mail the best reason for using a PURL is simple. With a PURL now your customers have the ability to feel more connected with you as being PERSONALIZED.  The PURL reads as so the customer is immediately drawn to the mailer because they think “hmmm how did my name get it’s own website?” They go to the website and then they see a website that has their own name on it again that says “Hi Tom (or whatever the customer’s name is), We’ve got this special widget for you today at a steal of a price. If you buy today it’s marked down to $10 instead of $50.  Immediately the customer thinks – “Wow, they really know me..I need this!” 

If you have a good list managment process, and have been keeping track of your customers, then you will know exactly what your customer needs are and will have sent them the exact widget they wanted. You can purchase a good list from many different sources these days for next to nothing. I can talk more about that later. But again, I am just giving you little bits and pieces for now to wet your appetite with PURL’s!  Use them often, use them wisely!

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Filed under Direct Mail, Internet Marketing, Marketing, PURL, Social Media, Uncategorized

Picking your PURL for your Direct Mail Campaign

I remember the first direct mail campaign I ever did involving a PURL.  It was for a machine tool that I wanted to show with a great price.  In order to sell machine tools, we tend to not ever show “pricing” on our campaigns and it also just happens to be one of the hardest things to make an ad “sexy”. So we decided to make this particular campaign the campaign that was “Setting Sail” and you didn’t want to miss the boat…What? It was catchy!

The fun part of this campaign was that we put the machines on a boat in the ocean and it looked like they were really setting sail…but we had very low response rate on these mailers.  We also put pricing on these mailers because we decided that perhaps this one time…it could work.  What we found was instead of leading with price, we just needed to lead with what customers really wanted to know about. In our case the audience wants to know why these high dollar capital pieces of equipment were worthy of their almighty dollar in a tight economy.

In another campaign for the same company we chose a waterjet machine (these machines cut steel, titanium, anything with water – very cool stuff – you should learn about this. Click here to watch a short video. Anyway, back to the direct mail piece. What we did was concentrate on the audience more this time. The audience of this machine happens to be into Harley motorcycles and the machine that we were selling just so happens to cut a lot of the parts on the motorcycle “Harley Davidson”. So we did an entire campaign around this and the PURL reflected this. The mailer had a Harley motorcycle on the front of the postcard and so did the landing page that PURL directed the customer to.

Everything is personalized once the cusotmer gets to their site and that’s the beauty of the PURL. They feel like you know them. If you have a good database, you can do this. If you know your audience, which 9 times out of 10 you do, you just need to organize your information into one place, then you can target your customers in a way that makes you seem like you understand your customer and care about them more than your competetion ever could. And in this day and age, that my friends is exactly what we all MUST do!

Hope this is helping someone!

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Filed under Direct Mail, Internet Marketing, Marketing, PURL, Uncategorized

What is a PURL anyway?

So…What I am good at is marketing using PURL’s.  I LOVE them.  But your first question is probably – “What the heck is a PURL?”  A PURL is a “Personalized URL” or better even said it’s simply  a personalized way to target customers.  For those who still don’t understand, a URL is the address in the “Address Bar” that you type everytime you want to visit a website.  So, if you want to target a specific audience like I do in direct mail and use PURL’s what you would do is simply upload a list of some sort into a CMS System on your website (you do need a little list management and website coding to do this on the front end) But basically, what I do is simply merge the list with the mailer so that the PURL’s match up, I create creative campaigns that make sense for the “PURL” to even work.  So if we’re talking about Financing your future for tomorrow, the PURL might read http::// 

It’s very important for the PURL to connect with the targeted customer as much as the message to connect. If the two don’t connect, then you’ve missed the boat.  I will explain in further detail how PURL’s work in later posts.  Why? It’s my passion! Let me know if you want further info!

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Filed under Direct Mail, Internet Marketing, Marketing, PURL, Uncategorized