Why Aren’t Customers Using Personalized URLs?

By | January 20, 2009

For the last few weeks, I’ve been drumming up responses to an online survey, asking why marketers have not yet deployed a personalized URL campaign.

Reasons listed include . . .

  • Don’t fully understand the benefits.
  • We do understand the benefits, but don’t think they outweigh the costs.
  • We don’t have the databases necessary to deploy the campaign.
  • Concerned about conflicts between all of the teams involved, such as marketing, creative, production, and IT.
  • PURL campaigns are too difficult / time-consuming to set up.
  • Concern about technical snafus.
  • Don’t know how to design the creative.
  • Too expensive / costly to test.
  • We are concerned that they will negatively impact our campaign response rates.
  • We just haven’t found the right service provider.
  • No budget for it.
  • We intend to do so, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
  • Just too lazy
  • Other (please specify)

Once I get to 100 responses, I’ll post the results. Here is the link to the survey.


If you are a printer, please pass along to your customers. Or if you are a marketer, please fill out the survey. I’ve gotten some great responses, but I don’t have nearly enough. Please participate! (Or ask your customers to participate!)

All responses are anonymous.

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11 thoughts on “Why Aren’t Customers Using Personalized URLs?

  1. Patrick Howard

    We’re doing a digital cover with PURL on the front cover of the March issue of our marketing magazine – DIRECT Australia. We’re doing it in conjunction with HP, printing on an Indigo and personalising the cover with names, locations and of course the PURL.
    We’re getting a lot of interest and support from the mail industry including Australia Post. We’ll be writing a feature article on the benefits and challenges of using digital and PURLs in marketing. Should be fun.

  2. Jason Conn

    First, a PURL in and of itself provides little value if commercial printers aren’t able to create demand for them in the marketplace. Printers that think a PURL will automatically generate a higher response rate are sadly mistaken. PURLs won’t, and then you’ll find yourself face to face with a client disappointed by unrealistic results promised (or at least suggested) by an over zealous, underqualified salesperson.

    Second, customized solutions will never be the profitable solution for printers just entering the cross media arena. The fact is, a customized solution makes sense for Enterprise business, but Enterprise business makes up only 3% of the total market.

    The reason why customers aren’t using personlized URLs, is because they see little value in them. In other words, the customers big “stack” of money has more percived value than the PURLs little “stack” of benefits.

  3. Anne Stewart

    It’s interesting, isn’t it, the difference between the theoretical benefits of a campaign strategy – PURLs? Genius! How could they NOT generate a better ROI? – and the actual results. Some say that this paradigm – the disparity between the results promised by ‘creatives’ and the real-world outcome – is what has dragged our economy into this recession.

  4. Sheila Thiery

    As Relationship Marketing Specialist for PrintManagement, by looking at the majority of the above responses leads me to believe that these marketers are talking to traditional print reps or agencies that are inexperienced with using Purls. The amount of information gained from using Purls (if done properly) allows you to continue marketing relevantly to your clients/prospects thereby reducing the time it takes to make a sale. In today’s economy that’s a MUST. It helps you create additional channels of marketing to your list. If you only have addresses then get their email and ask them other pertinent and relevant information to get to know your client/prospect better. Take the time to understand what it is that they want.

    Our company can have a successful integrated purl campaign implemented in a matter of weeks; strategy, concept, creative, print and all. We do it all in house. It’s not as expensive and complicated as most people make it out to be. Again, working with an expereinced provider makes a huge difference.
    This marketing tool provides real-time tracking and accountability, helps drive traffic, increase sales, generates leads, and finds out who is interested in hearing from you. Who doesn’t want that?

  5. Andre Guerreiro

    Here in Brazil we are facing cultural barriers or obstacles. Most of the CEOs has never heard about PURLs or cross-media. We are planning to create educational presentations about cross-media fisrt of all.

  6. Thomas Ranno

    I find its to difficult to teach the customers & most purchasing agents just don’t want to be bothered to learn, due to the age of the average person related to the printing industry.

  7. Ryan Lou

    Thanks Heidi for the great conversation starter.

    We provide the campaign technology for printers/agencies to provide pURLs to their clients. They are integrated effectively with personalized email/ direct mail and we have gained quite a good understanding of how pURLs can be used effectively.

    On our blog we educate our readers on some of these best practices which include customizing the message, offer and graphics according to the user’s preferences, having content/ offers change based on the user’s choice and have trigger-based responses when a user responds.

    Here’s a good link by Tom Baker on what pURLs are: http://tinyurl.com/aqkucm

  8. Phillip Crum

    Like every other new technological advancement several things have to happen before success can be claimed in the marketplace. In this case…

    1. Sales reps have to be trained how to properly sell the benefits, and realize that a “purl” is not what they’re selling. They have to sell the right program to the right markets, designing a solid campaign with the right message. A lot to ask from someone who has traditionally viewed “4-color process printing with a spot varnish” as the high-point of his technology.

    2. Production has to be able to deliver in a short, pre-defined, time-frame otherwise the new technology becomes another roadblock to implementation. And they need to actually understand what it is they’re building in order to troubleshoot campaign problems.

    With the right mind in charge, the two items above can be overcome. The next point is the big challenge.

    3. The client has to want to understand the technology benefits, then have the good fortune to run across a contact who has graduated from #1 above.

    Demonstrated and implemented properly, a “purl campaign” should be more cost effective than mailing that postcard (and/or email) without the purl and the landing pages. Objective math and some properly executed testing should bear that out.

  9. Heidi Tolliver-Nigro

    On the issue of customers understanding what personalized URLs are, that’s the number one reason customers haven’t implemented personalized URLs, according to the survey so far. “Don’t fully understand the benefits” is the top answer, although it’s tight with “we do fully understand the benefits, but don’t think they outweigh the costs.” I don’t think I’m going to get to 100 responses (I’m between 30-40 at the moment), but I’ve gotten a nice boost to survey response from this post, so I’ll post the results early next week.

    It’s clear, both from this survey and from the many, many discussions I’ve provoked and haunted over the last few weeks that very few printers really understand how to market personalized URLs. They are trying to market them like they would any other type of 1:1 printing, but the fact is, they are a very specific lead generation technique and need to be treated accordingly.

    It’s not easy to put into words, though. I’ve heard enough printers tell me how difficult it is — they don’t know how to start. On this end, I encourage anyone looking for idea starters to take a look at “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” which is available through the WTT Store or through the Digital Printing Reports website (www.digitalprintingreports.com). This tool is written from the perspective of the marketer, so printers don’t have to figure out how to take technology-focused information and re-frame it for their customers. All of the best practices mentioned here are included, along with best-in-class case studies, best practices, and lots of graphics, including hypotheticals.

  10. Peter Faulk

    PURL’s = just another tool – the message and driving enticement to respond needs to be effective – or else the communications vehicle will be ineffective. So far, I’ve found the best market to be high value added clients – large ticket sales – with an opportunity in a small scale for a large reward (i.e.Target your top 50 prospects with a clearly defined opportunity for a “1 in 50” shot at some great reward ‘aka gimmick’).

    People need to understand that you are really reaching out to THEM. They may be prospects – but if you identify them as being aligned with your services or product specifically – and limit the pool for responses – they feel as though you understand them – the ‘gimmick’ is the road to sale closure and follow up.

    re. Technology and difficulty – do one or two … it becomes really easy and FUN if you use the right tools.

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