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Misconceptions About Personalized URLs

Earlier this year, Digital Printing Reports conducted an informal online survey of marketers who had not yet produced a personalized URL campaign. One of the most surprising results was that more than one in five marketers— 22.2%—cited their top reason as, “We don’t have the databases to deploy the campaign.” Although personalized URL applications are somewhat new, and some marketers are still wrapping their heads around them, this answer is still surprising. After all, one of the most effective uses of personalized URLs is to generate databases in the first place.

Correcting Misperceptions

Personalized URL campaigns use the ability of digital presses to create personalized URLs that send recipients to their own, fully personalized pages (www.bobsbuildings.com/john_smith.htm, for example). There, recipients generally navigate a four-part “mini-site” that includes a personalized landing page, survey page, information page (which can you can personalize or customize based on information gathered in the survey) and a thank-you page. Although this sounds complicated, it isn’t. These applications can be template-driven, using something as simple as a mailing list. Setup time can be a matter of hours—or less. The magic is in the software.

While there are some campaigns that use detailed customer and prospect databases to create very sophisticated, highly personalized mini-sites, these are the exception. Most personalized URL campaigns are for lead generation and start, not with a well-developed database, but with a simple mailing list, whether an in-house list or a rented one. The purpose is to develop that database in the first place.

What Makes Personalized URLs Work

Personalized URLs are a unique subset of 1:1 printing. Other forms of 1:1 printing typically boost responses by relying on relevance at the outset. Personalized URL campaigns, on the other hand, often start with some kind of demographic or other segmentation. They then use the power of the creative and incentive to encourage response. Thus, they become gateways to relevance-based personalization. They don’t always require it at the outset.

In this, marketers should take heart. Where personalized URL campaigns really shine is as a data-gathering technique. Success is all about how you use that all-important survey page. You might survey respondents about pain points in their business, their preferences in electronic gadgets or their political opinions. The goal is to gather whatever information will best suit your larger campaign goals.

One marketer, for example, recently experienced a 74% conversion rate from its personalized URL campaign because it surveyed its prospects on their pain points before making personal contact. This put its sales people in a position to suggest the appropriate programs right away—during the initial meeting—making those contacts highly effective.

So don’t allow lack of databases to be a barrier to implementing personalized URL applications. Instead, look at these campaigns as tools that allow you to gather information to increase the effectiveness of your sales follow-ups or to improve your targeting next time around.