So, you want to dive into direct mail marketing but are worried about how you can track your results and integrate direct mail with your digital and email marketing activities. Personalized URLs printed on each mailpiece can solve your problem.
Not too long ago, measurement and integration of direct mail response was a big issue. The tech wasn’t quite there, so marketers spent a tremendous amount of time manually compiling results. And never really integrating direct mail with digital efforts.
But that isn’t the case today. Using fully integrated direct mail automation tools like Postalytics with personalized URLs (pURLS), you can gain a deeper insight into who engages with your direct mail marketing campaigns, integrate those campaigns with your digital marketing processes, and use the collected data to make data-backed decisions to improve the effectiveness of those campaigns.
If you’ve been looking into automated direct mail, there is a good chance that you’ve encountered mentions of pURLS previously. In this article, we’ll break down exactly what they are, how they are used, and why they are so important for any modern direct mail campaign.
What is a Personalized URL?
A pURL is an acronym for a “personalized URL,” or “personalized uniform resource locator” if we really want to be technical about it.
A pURL is a unique web address that is created and delivered to a specific target for a campaign. The unique web address loads the specified landing page that you would like your prospects and customers to engage with.
For some technical reasons, typically pURLs are setup on a “vanity domain” that is either closely related to the primary brand domain or related to the promotion in the campaign creative. For example, Postalytics might have a vanity domain setup for “trymail.com”.
The pURL that you send to Jen Johnson might look like:
- AJFEP.trymail.com (you can randomize numbers or letters for each recipient)
The pURL adds a personalized element to your mailer. Every recipient will receive a different pURL printed on the mailpiece that you deliver. So Mary Thomas will receive a mailer that directs her to visit marythomas.trymail.com. Jerry Liska will receive one that asks him to check out jerryliska.trymail.com. When you use a personalized URL, it seems to the recipient as if you created a special webpage just for them.
pURLs Aren’t New, What’s Changed?
Personalized URLs have been been used in direct mail for many years, as they were introduced to the direct mail world as a part of expensive, enterprise software tools used primarily by large print/mail providers. After their initial “Peak of inflated expectations” as Gartner Group defines it, many marketers moved on and forgot about them. There were a few fundamental problems with the first generation of pURL software tools:
- Expensive, clunky enterprise software that added cost to an already expensive direct mail channel
- Early pURL tools required the use of separate, proprietary landing page systems, solely to render the pURLs
- A lack of integration with CRM and Marketing Automation tools, making it very hard to use the response data to trigger any other activities
Today, however, the tech has improved. A few key issues have been solved, and today’s Personalized URL tools are experiencing rapid growth as a result:
- pURLs are now a free add on within integrated direct mail automation tools like Postalytics
- Marketers can use their existing landing page or content management tools to capture their online response, and
- pURL response information can be integrated with CRM and Marketing Automation tools, so marketers can easily trigger emails and/or sales calls when prospect respond online
Why Are pURLs Essential in Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns?
pURLs serve a number of purposes. First, they deliver an additional level of personalization that you wouldn’t otherwise have at your disposal. A unique URL with their name included makes the offer unique and relevant to them, capturing their attention and increasing the likelihood that they visit your landing page to check it out.
The other benefit delivered by pURLs is through the data that they provide to marketers. Using pURLs allows you to track when each URL has been visited, which gives you insight into who has engaged with your offer. You can see when they visited your landing page, how long they stayed, and whether or not they submitted their information or continued to engage with any of your calls to action on the page.
Direct mail marketers love pURLs because they provide a simple way to show prospects that your offer is directly for them. It adds another level of personalization to the entire campaign, along with whatever built-in personalization that is already there. pURLs generate higher conversion rates than standard URLs in direct marketing campaigns because of the inclusion of personalization.
Personalized URLs and CRM/Marketing Automation Integration
The power of Postalytics’ pURL features are extended with the in-depth software integrations offered by the platform. Postalytics integrates with many of the most popular marketing and sales software solutions including:
This is huge for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it allows you to integrate your direct mail campaigns with your other digital marketing activities. As soon as a prospect enters their personalized URL (or scans their personalized QR code), you can use that information to trigger marketing automation processes like:
- email marketing
- remarketing lists
- sales outreach
- digital ads & more
When pURLs are integrated with automated marketing & sales campaigns, they act as a bridge between the offline and online worlds. Your campaigns all of a sudden get the targeting and impact of direct mail while using behavioral data to drive additional touchpoints in automated, multi-channel campaigns.
Using Personalized URLs with Triggered Direct Mail
A big part of the power that comes from direct mail integration with your CRM comes from triggered direct mail. These campaigns work in conjunction with the workflow automation tools that are built into CRM and Marketing Automation platforms. These workflow tools can be used to deliver dynamic sequences of events that personalize the journey of every prospect that you engage with.
Triggered drip direct mail campaigns are campaigns that actively “listen” for triggers from your CRM or marketing automation software workflows. When the trigger is detected, a single or sequence of direct mail postcards and letters can be sent out to your prospects and customers. Automatically, with no humans involved.
So for instance, maybe you want direct mail to play a key role in your marketing campaigns in the middle of your marketing funnel. Without triggers, you would have to wait until specific prospects reached a certain point in the customer journey and manually send out batch or list based direct mail campaigns.
However, using triggers, these campaigns are automatically loaded into your system and delivered at a specific time — in the same way that automated email sequences can be sequentially at set intervals, or after a specific action taken by the customer or prospect.
Let’s look at some examples of triggers. Postalytics can be set up to deliver direct mail campaigns after specific actions are detected by your CRM or marketing automation software, including:
- Filling out a form
- Opening an email
- NOT opening emails
- Engaging with an advertisement
- Contacting customer support
- Reaching milestones (ie. a year as a customer)
- Visiting your website
- Becoming a customer
For instance, you could load up a “happy anniversary” sequence to go out to customers once they reach the one-year milestone with your company. Or you could queue up a direct mail campaign to go out to contacts immediately after they fill out your lead capture form to deliver critical top-of-the-funnel information that they need to know about working with your company. The possibilities for how this feature can be used are as limitless as your creativity and the potential triggers from your CRM system.
Any action that your customer relationship management or software automation can track and use to trigger new activities, can be used to trigger direct mail sequences and campaigns within Postalytics.
This is huge because it makes it easier for you to make direct mail a consistent presence in your broader marketing strategy. You can find ways to use these triggers to deliver mailpieces throughout the customer lifecycle and at every stage in the funnel.
The tangible nature of direct mail can help companies to build trust with prospects and customers, deliver materials that feel personal, and aid in the relationship building and nurturing process throughout their early engagements with your company.
Combining pURLs with Other Elements of Personalization
Personalized URLs deliver a powerful way to further personalize your direct mail campaigns. Having a URL to visit that has the prospect’s name in it is sure to increase conversions and balloon interest in your offering.
Personalization is critical for the success of any modern marketing campaign, and research is showing that it is becoming more important than ever to ensure that your direct mail campaigns include elements of personalization.
- Adding a person’s name and full color in the direct mail can increase response by 135%. (Source: Canon Solutions America)
- 72% of consumers only engage with marketing messages that are customized to their specific interests (SmarterHQ).
- Adding a person’s name, full color and more sophisticated database information can increase the response rate by up to 500% vs not doing any of these things. (Source: Canon Solutions America)
- 80% of customers are more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand who provides personalized experiences (Epsilon).
- Targeting customers on a 1:1 level increases response rates up to 50% or more. (Source: DMA)
- 51% of marketers say that personalization is their number one priority (SmarterHQ).
The full personalization picture becomes complete when you are able to combine the personalized elements of personalized URLs with other personalization throughout your direct mail and broader marketing strategies.
Postalytics offers an array of different ways in which our customers can personalize their direct mail marketing campaigns. Our system uses variable data to enable marketers to use data acquired from lists or in their CRM to personalize each postcard or letter that they send to their prospects.
This is a service that traditionally has been offered by printers and mailers at an extra cost. They would also require significant back-and-forth to execute project management for each campaign. Postalytics makes printed personalization easy.
Using Postalytics, you can inject any data that you collect in a list or in your CRM into your direct mail marketing campaign. This could include things like the prospect’s name, age, industry, company, website address, or products that they have shown interest in.
Measuring Direct Mail Response with pURLs
The biggest benefit of personalized URLs is the fact that they allow you to measure response rates for all of your campaigns.
Response rate is one of the 5 top metrics that direct marketer use in analyzing direct mail campaign results.
Postalytics’ direct mail analytics features track a wide range of statistics and metrics for each individual campaign, across all of your pURLs. So if you send a campaign to 50 people with 50 different pURLs, the analytics for the entirety of the campaign will be lumped together for analysis.
The different metrics that Postalytics tracks across your pURLs include:
- Unique Pageviews
- Unique Visitors
- Unique Page Opens
- Opened (visited pURL)
- Not Opened
For tracking response rates, we are interested in the “Converted” metric. This metric tracks recipients that have reached their Goal URL as defined in the Postalytics Campaign.
So for example, let’s say you send out a campaign. When people visit the pURL, they are taken to a landing page with a form that allows you to capture additional information from them.
A conversion, in this case, would be when someone fills out the form. That statistic is tracked by tracking the number of people that load the “Thank you for submitting the form” page, representing a successful completion of the form and therefore, a conversion for this campaign.
This is a simple but effective metric for measuring the overall success of your campaign. If your goal is to get prospects to provide you with more information that you can use in future marketing campaigns — the other metrics are nice to see, but conversions are what you really want to track and optimize for.
Let’s look at one more example.
Let’s say that you sent a campaign to 10,000 people, trying to sell them a new piece of hardware for their business. When they go to the landing page instead of seeing a form, there is a “Buy Now” button. Conversions for this campaign would not be counted until the user has gone through the complete checkout process and has been directed toward a “Thank You For Your Order” page.
Additionally, Postalytics’ direct mail analytics allow you to evaluate conversion rates across your funnel for that particular campaign.
Inside of each “conversion,” there are multiple micro-conversions that take place. First, the mail has to be successfully delivered. Then, the recipient has to open the mail, read it, and navigate to their pURL — that would be its own mico-conversion. Then among those that visit, a percentage will complete the call to action and ultimately convert on the overall campaign goal — whether that is filling out a form, ordering a product, or some other conversion event.
This allows you to track your entire customer experience flow from sending the mail to converting. You can use this view to identify bottlenecks in your process.
Is your mail being delivered but few people are going to their pURL — that would be a sign that you need to improve your list, mailpiece, or creative, because something isn’t connecting with your intended audience.
Maybe plenty of people are visiting the website, but too few are filling out your form and converting. That would be a sign that improvements need to be made on your landing page. They are interested in the offer but something is keeping them from taking that next step.
Postalytics — A Top-Down View of Your Direct Mail Response
Using Postalytics pURLs and in-depth direct mail analytics will give you a complete, top-down view of your direct mail response rates, along with all of the micro-conversions that take place along the way.
At any time you can see how many people within a campaign received your mailpiece, viewed your website, or completed your call to action.
Interested in how pURLs work? Setup a free Postalytics account and send yourself samples. You’ll get a “mini personalized URL campaign” and get to see how Postalytics works!