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Feb 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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Ideal Printers, Inc., based in Houston, TX, is a full-service communications firm that provides graphic design, printing, fulfillment and warehousing. In June 2006, it began to offer personalized URLs (PURLs) in variable-data printing campaigns. To help promote the new service, the company used a hand-delivered, personalized postcard invitation and three e-mails to a free seminar and tour demonstrating how this combination can boost marketing and sales results.

“PURL: Harnessing Marketing Performance Measurement,” markets the first time the company had used the technology it was offering to promote an event about direct mail.

Using MindFireInc (Irvine, CA) software, the company personalized a full-color postcard invitation on its HP Indigo 3050 digital press, and sales representatives delivered them. The invitation and the e-mails included a PURL for the recipient to complete a survey and RSVP for the event. At the Web site, each recipient could choose from among three seminar dates.

The company invited customers and prospects to attend either a morning or an afternoon session to hear a guest speaker explain the concept of PURLs, landing pages and layout in detail, as well as the potential business value of this approach.

The campaign garnered a tremendous response rate. Of the 142 invited customers and prospects in the marketing community, 35 percent visited their personalized URL, 23 percent completed the online survey, and 14 percent attended the seminar and took the tour.

Both the morning and the afternoon sessions were well attended with more than 20 people each. The company considered all the people who visited a PURL to be leads, even if they did not attend the event. In addition, two prospects who attended the seminars have become customers, and the company expects the effort to continue to help build new business.


Variables goes to Washington

Variables 2008, AMERICAN PRINTER's variable-data printing conference, will be held July 17-18 in Washington, DC. Visit

The print buyer perspective

“The name game” (PRINT & MEDIA BUYER, Summer 2007) discusses the progress of personalized printing from sweepstakes houses to modern marketing campaigns. See

PURLs vs. static direct mail

In August 2006, North Dakota banking institution Alerus Financial launched a PURL campaign to encourage new loan applications. In the process, the firm conducted a side-by-side test of variable data vs. static direct mail.

Alerus marketing manager Traie Dockter worked with agency nDialogue (Fargo, ND) to build a variable-data mail campaign with a PURL and tracking. AlphaGraphics Minneapolis used Printable (Solana Beach, CA) FusionPro to produce the mail pieces on a Xerox DocuColor 6060.

The first piece was a variable-data self-mailer that contained a PURL for each recipient. The target audience consisted of 3,750 North Dakota residents age 25 to 55 with a credit score higher than 600. nDialogue created different variable direct mail pieces for segments of the list using PURLs and toll-free phone numbers. A print-on-demand postcard with a PURL was mailed to each person who did not respond to the initial effort. Another PURL was used for the postcard initiative to track responses separately from the first direct mail piece. nDialogue tracked phone calls, visits to each landing page, submitted contact forms and click-throughs.

Nearly four percent (3.67 percent) of recipients responded by visiting their PURL or contacting Alerus directly. Dockter says, “We were impressed with this response rate for a mail offering.” Plus, she says, nearly 60 percent of those who applied for a loan were new customers.

The static mail test involved sending one self-mailer that employed the same creative that was used for the middle age group of the list. The static mailer was not personalized and was sent to everyone in the group of 3,750. The offer was the same for the static and variable data segments, but only a single toll-free number was offered as the response device. nDialogue estimated the response for the static group at less than 1 percent.

Another success story

“Name dropping” (AMERICAN PRINTER, January 2007) details a successful PURL campaign Landmark Impressions (Woburn, MA) executed for a provider of e-mail encryption products. The article also features an overview of how PURLs work as well as a FAQ. See