Automatically Send PURL Visitors to Dealership CRM

I’ve seen an increase interests lately in integrate PURL activity directly into Auto Dealer CRMs (such as elead-crm.com).  After having built out a few of these now, I though I’d share and document the process here.

eleadcrm1

The Auto-lead Data Format (ADF) is the standard format for sending leads to Dealership CRMs. In this process, an XML-formatted email will be sent to the dealerships CRM email address. The CRM will then accept the email, and enter the the visitor’s data, instantly alerting your sales team.

The ADF formatted email will look something like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<?adf version="1.0"?>
<adf>
    <prospect> 
        <requestdate>2016-03-30T15:30:20-08:0</requestdate>

        <vehicle>             
            <year>2016</year>
            <make>Honda</make>
            <model>Accord</model>   
        </vehicle>

        <customer>
            <contact>
                <name part="first">Joe</name>
                <name part="last">Smith</name>
                <phone>123-123-1234</phone>
                <email>joe@email.com</email>
                <address type="home">
                    <street line="1">'123 Main St</street>
                    <city>New York</city>
                    <regioncode>NY</regioncode>
                    <postalcode>01234</postalcode>
                </address>
            </contact>
            <comments>I want to buy a car now</comments>
        </customer>

        <vendor>
            <vendorname>ABC Dealer</vendorname>
        </vendor>

        <provider>
            <name part="full">Your Co</name>
        </provider>

    </prospect>
</adf>

You can quickly integrate this into your existing Purlem campaigns with a few simple steps outlined on our GitHub page.  Let me know if you would like some help integrating this into your next PURL campaign.

Personalized URLs with Hubspot

Hubpost’s Identity Tracking allows you to track exactly who is visiting your website from an email link. But what if your using direct mail to drive people to a Hubspot landing page?  The best you can do here is to use Hubspot’s Custom Short URLs. But these Short URLs will only tell you how one campaign is performing vs the other.  It will not tell you exactly who is visiting from your direct mail piece.

This is where Personalized URLs (or PURLs) come into play.  You can think of PURLs as “Identity Tracking” links for direct mail campaigns.  With PURLs, every recipient of your direct mail campaign is given a unique/personalized URL.  For example:

  • http://domain.com/Joe.Smith
  • http://domain.com/Sally.Anderson
  • etc…

And when “Joe” (in our example) visits his PURL, he will be tracked, and immediatly redirected to your Hubspot page.  Downloading a report from Purlem, will show you exactly who visited, and the date/time of their visit.

If you’d like, you can also personalized your Hubspot page to the visitor.  Possibilities here are endless, but welcoming the person by name is a common practice.

Hubspot Personalized URL Landing Page

It’s also possible to pre-populate your Hubspot form with the visitors information. Some marketers choose to do this to help increase response rates.  Hubspot already allows you to auto-populate form fields through a query string.  So when redirecting the PURL to Hubspot, we simply need to include the visitor’s information in the query string.  The final URL, after re-directing to Hubspot would look something like:

  • domain.com/landingpage?firstName=Joe&lastName=Smith&email=joe@email.com

Finally, you can also use Purlem’s Zapier integration to pass the PURL results back into Hubspot. This allows you to see your direct mail visitors directly in Hubspot’s platform, and trigger future marketing based on that data.

Most People are using PURLs for the Wrong Reason

So your out researching PURLs, and think you stumbled across a magical way to increase the response rates? I’m here to burst your bubble – Don’t count on it…

Using PURLs as a means to increase response rates is the “traditional” way to use PURLs. But, after seeing hundreds of PURL campaigns over the last several years, I’ve found that this is one of the worst ways to approach PURLs. Let’s see how the traditional route typically plays out….

You have a list of 1000 potential customers that your excited to send a direct mail piece to. The goal of the campaign is to get people to fill out a questionnaire, in exchange for a gift card. You decide to add a PURL to increase the response rates. After dropping the cards in the mail, you site back, put your arms behind your head, and hope that your server doesn’t drop from the masses that will surely start streaming into your site. Of the 1,000 that received the direct mail piece, 20 people visit their PURL. Of the 20, 2 filled out a questionnaire to redeem the postcard.

So was this campaign a failure? With this traditional approach – you bet! Those damn PURLs were suppose to generate a 30x response rate, and all we got was a measly 2 people to fill out the questionnaire! This approach is what pissed off so many printers over the years.

Let me share with you an industry secret. PURLs will NOT increase your response rates. Okay, sure, we’ve all seen those case studies where PURLs generated a 100x increase in response. But these are the exception, not the rule. Sure, there are instances where PURLs do increase response rates. But there are also times where PURLs decrease response rates (It’s just that nobody wants to talk about those campaigns). At the end of the day, it’s safe to assume that PURLs will have no effect on your response rates.

Instead of focusing on the response rates, you should focus on using PURLs as a simple way to connect the offline and online worlds.

Without a PURL, the prospect that received your postcard, and visited your website is anonymous. We have no idea who he/she is. However, with a PURL, we know exactly who is visiting. The ability to to identify your website visitor from an offline marketing piece, is what makes PURLs valuable. Not the hopeful increase in response rates.

Let’s take a different approach with the same campaign as above – You send out the same 1000 postcards, and the same 2 people fill out the questionnaire. However, we also had an additional 18 people that visited the site, but did not fill out the questionnaire.

It’s quite obvious right? In most cases, a direct mail piece (with PURL) will be one of the very first touch points. It is very likely that the recipient has never heard of your product/service before. Chances are, the they are not ready to fill out a questionnaire, let alone buy your product.

Tip: If you don’t have yet have the email addresses of your PURL visitors, it is imperative that you ditch the questionnaire all together, and simply request an email in exchange for you offering. You’ll see why in a bit.

Back to the campaign.. These 18 contacts are extremely valuable. Essentially they have told us that they are somewhat interested in what we have to offer, but are not ready yet to pull the trigger. With the traditional approach to PURLs, these contacts are very often forgotten. With our improved strategy, it’s just the starting point.

So we now have three segments of prospects:

  • 980 People that did not visit the PURL.
  • 18 People that visited the PURL, but did not fill out the questionnaire.
  • 2 People that filled out the questionnaire but did not buy (but we now have their emails).

It is now our job, to take each segment and encourage them individually down the sales funnel using a variety of online and offline marketing tactics. Here are some things we can do for each segment..

People who did not visit their PURL

  • Continue to drip direct mail marketing pieces (consider taking off your list after X attempts)

People who visit the PURL, but did not fill out the questionnaire

  • Continue to drip direct mail marketing pieces (consider taking off your list after X attempts)
  • Add them to a google remarking campaign

People that filled out the questionnaire but did not buy (but we now have their emails)

  • Start a drip email campaign
  • Add them to a custom audience in Facebook, Twitter and Google

Tip: I want to draw special attention the custom audiences listed just above here. Custom audiences are an awesome new feature that has recently been rolled out by Facebook, Twitter, and Google. What custom audiences allow you to do is target people on all of these platforms by their emails! This is huge. No more guessing who your marketing to. Now, you can market directly to your prospects that have shown interests by visiting the PURL, but have not yet converted. This is why it’s so important to ditch the questionnaire, and simply request emails from your PURL visitors.

Over the next few months, we apply a variety of the above tactics to our example campaign. If you do the same, you’ll start to see how people you initially reached out to a few months back from your PURL campaign, finally start converting today.

An obvious next question to ask is – How do you know if a person that visits your site today, initially came from a PURL campaign several months ago?

For example, if our friend (who we’ll call “Joe”) visits his PURL, we can obviously track that he visited that particular PURL page. But what if several months later Joe returns to our home page? How will we know that Joe is back?

The answer is Tend. For the past year I’ve been working with Ryan to create solution to that will easily track PURL visitors, forever into the future.

Tend picks up where Purlem leaves off. It’s Purlem’s job to bring the offline prospect online, and identify him. It’s Tend’s job to continue to track Joe forever into the future.

With Tend, you’ll see a timeline for each of your PURL visitors. Starting with the initial PURL visit, and ending with a conversion. It could look something like this.

Visited from PURL – Jul 24, 2015

  • /about
  • /blog

Visited from Remarking – Nov 11, 2015

  • /home
  • /services
  • /learn-more

Visited from Facebook  – Dec 22, 2015

  • /home
  • /services
  • /blog
  • /learn-more
  • /contact

In this example, Joe visited from the PURL 6 months ago. This is when we first identified him. Since then, we continued to market to him on a variety of online channels. Two months later, he came in through Facebook. And yesterday, he finally contacted our sales team.

So the lesson in all of this is to forget the response rates. Instead, use PURLs as a starting point. A way to bring an offline prospect online, track him, and continue to market to him until he/she is ready to buy.

Email Marketing Feature Removed

After a trial period, we ended up removing the email marketing feature from Purlem.  We “soft released” the feature a couple months back.  We didn’t advertise it as a feature, we only listed it on the user’s dashboard.  It was a way to test if any existing Purlem users were interested in it.

We ended up having a grand total of 2 people want to use the feature.  And underwhelming result.  However, the “minimal” nature of the feature probably raised more questions for a users than providing an obvious solution.  To give this feature the opportunity it deserves, we would probably need to build a much more robust email platform.

So we’re not giving up on this idea yet.  If your interested in using Purlem to send out mass emails, contact us.  We’d like to hear from you.

Hiring. Maybe.

Delegating work is one of the hardest things for me. I’ve said before that it’s probably my worst trait as an entrepreneur. I know it’s the right thing to do. I know I should be doing more of it. It was even one of my new years resolutions. But there’s just something holding me back from being able to effectively delegate. I think it’s a couple things….

Money
As an bootstrapping entrepreneur, hiring people takes money directly out of your pocket. Sure, your “re-investing” back into the company, but that is a tough pill to swallow (at least for me it is)

Time
It takes a lot of time to teach somebody else how to do something. Way more time than just doing whatever it is.

Stress
And then you need to make sure that you have enough work to keep people busy. If your bootstrapping, and the money is coming directly out of your pocket, busy work doesn’t make sense. You have to make sure that your delegating work that is making a difference.

So far with Purlem I’ve been my only full-time “employee.” I’ve given it a shot here and there to delegate out work. But nothing has ever stuck, probably caused by a combination of the things above.

So I’m faced with two options with Purlem.

  1. Continue to path as a solo entrepreneur, and see how far it can take me. It’s done me well so far.
  2. Hire somebody that can help out with some of the things that could contribute to Purlem’s growth.

I’m leaning towards hiring somebody. There’s not enough work for a full-time gig. But there is certainly things that can be done. From improving the help section, to helping design and develop custom PURL landing pages.

If you know of an aspiring web design guy/gal, eager to learn, with a keen eye for clean design, let me know.

I know, this is probably one of the strangest job postings every. But hey – I’m being honest :)

Reddit: Can we talk about PURLs?

Psychdelight recently brought up a good question on Reddit regarding PURLs. I posted a response to the Reddit thread, but the Reddit gods, or psychdelight decided not to approve the post for whatever reason. But I thought my response was good! So I’ll post it here :)

I’m one of those PURL companies that “hopped on the bandwagon” several years back (not one of the companies mentioned here). You will not hear me tell you that “PURLs are all the rage and super effective,” nor will I be clamoring of your business. PURLs are, however, what puts dinner on my family’s table.

I’ve seen hundreds of PURL campaigns and techniques over the years. I have seen the fad come in go, specifically in the print world. During this fad, printers were ineffectively using PURLs as a gimmicky way to increase response (which doesn’t work). This fad is what led a lot of people to look at PURLs as “trite, inelegant and inauthentic.” Using PURLs as a gimmicky way to increase response rates obviously does not work, hence the busted dreams of so many printers, and the decline of the fad.

But as that fad declined, another, more strategic use of PURLs started to emerge. As ifeelhome mentioned – using PURLs as a means to track and follow up with prospects could be a strategic and effective way to use PURLs. Sure, there are many site visitor attribution tools out there like (such as al_manchester’s Woopra), but these tools will not tell you the exact name of the visitor, unless you somehow tell the tool who it is. With direct mail, your only option to identify visitors is by using PURLs (for now anyways).

So psychdelight, you can let you boss know that by themselves, PURLs will not make you a ton of money. They are simply a tool that has the potential to enhance a campaign, where it makes strategic sense.

Multiple Redirect Rules

Ok guys. This has been a feature you guys have been asking for a while now! As of today, you can now create multiple “rules” to redirect PURL visitors to specific pages, based on their answers.

I put together a quick video to demonstrate the feature:

And you can learn more on our support documentation: Advanced Form Submission Rules

Email Marketing with Personalized URLs

UPDATE: This feature has been retired.

Before today, sending out an email marketing campaign with Personalized URLs (PURLs), has been a tangled mess.  You would first have to upload your list of contacts into Purlem, export the list back out, upload your Purlem list into your email marketing platform, and “mail merge” the PURLs into an email template.  That, is not fun.

To get started, select the “Email All Contacts” link from the Contacts page.

2015-08-12_16-18-53

Then, compose your email.  You can personalized the email with the “Insert” dropdown, just as you would the landing page.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 4.00.56 PM

From there, we will personally work with you to test, send and track the email. The cost? 1¢ per recipient.

Personalize any web page with Purl.js

Purl.js is an easy way to personalized a website to the visitor.  Here’s how it works…

1) Use Personalized URLs to send visitors to your website. 

Personalized URLs or “PURLs” are simply a URL that is personalized to each recipient. (For example: mysite.com/Sally.Anderson or mysite.com/John.Smith).

The PURLs are used to tell your website who is visiting.  This technique requires that you have a list of knows customers/prospects that you want to personalize your website to.  With that list in hand, you can create PURLs for each recipient with Purlem.

2) Use Hashtags to Personalize your page.  

When a recipient visits their “PURL,” they will be taken to a website that is personalized to them.  You can personalize the page by placing variable Hashtags directly into the HTML.  For example, if you wanted to pull in the visitor’s first name into your website header, you would simply use #firstName.

In this example, #firstName is replaced with John.

purljs_example

 


Here is how to set it up…

1) Upload purl.js
Download purl.js, and upload the file to your server.

2) Add code to HTML
Add the follow code into just above the </head> section of your HTML.

<script src=”/path/to/purl.js”></script>

3) Add jQuery
Purl.js requires jQuery.  If you don’t have jQuery on your site, you’ll want to include it as well. Below is the Google hosted library for jQuery.

<script src=”https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/2.1.3/jquery.min.js”></script>

4) Add Hashtags
Add the variable hashtags into the HTML.  You can see Purlem’s variable hashtags here.

Zapier Integration

I’m really excited to announce that Purlem now integrates with Zapier!

Purlem Zapier Integration

For those unfamiliar… Zapier is a tool that makes it easy for non-developers to share data between web applications.

What does this mean to you?  Lots!  Here are some ways you might use Zapier to connect Purlem with your favorite apps.

  • Update a Salesforce contact when a PURL is visited.
  • Send a Slack or Hipchat message with the PURL visitor’s details.
  • Move a contact to a different MailChimp list when they visit their PURL.
  • Trigger a tag to an Infusionsoft contact, after a PURL is visited.
  • And the list goes on and on…

With thousands of Zapier apps to choose from, the opportunities here are endless.

Purlem’s Zapier integration is currently invite only.  Contact me if you’d like to try it out.