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Turning purls to gold

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Once upon a time, when they were first introduced, persistent URLs (PURLs) were viewed by many as a fancy way to sell something. But today's smarter PURLs offer the customer benefits, too. For example, PURLs are the perfect landing spot at which customers can both pick up targeted information and offer feedback. In other words, PURLs can take their part in the social media revolution by providing another venue for that all-important “conversation” with customers. Yes, we mean surveys. Carefully crafted surveys can generate the data organizations needed and facilitate data storage in CRM databases. PURLs are the perfect tactic, both for capturing data accurately and for convincing customers to participate in a survey. As Steve Fretzin, president of Sales Results, puts it, “It's not just about you convincing a potential client that you are right for them. You need to let them talk as much as possible so you can learn about [them] and, in turn, tailor your approach to fit their specific needs.” When a prospective customer visits his or her personal online Web site, just the right survey waits to be filled out. It's an easy step to add on three or four targeted survey questions, and then bolster response by offering a highly personalized survey-response gift. Even better, with PURLs, premiums can be sent after the survey is completed. These back-end premiums not only generate equal response to the costlier front-end premiums of direct mail, they are much easier to personalize and, therefore, more meaningful to the customer. Meanwhile, the personalization information itself can be a data generator. Some creative thinking about the benefits of PURLs to customers will reveal their value and make PURLs a win-win. As marketers, it's up to us to help clients understand what's in it both for them and for their customers. Crystal Uppercue is marketing manager at EU Services, a direct marketing production facility. She can be reached at cuppercue@euservices.com.
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