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 🙂

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.

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

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

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.

 

 

New Industry Templates

Schools want to boost enrollment rates.  Hospitals wants to improve patient communication. Nonprofits want to increase donations. Auto dealers want to sell more cars.  Whatever industry your in, PURLs can help you reach your goal.

Purlem’s new industry specific templates incorporate the best practices of PURL landing pages to  jumpstart your campaign.  Make the Templates your own by easily adding your images, logos, colors, and content.

Our templates are free for all Purlem users. Enjoy!

PURL Templates

PURL Power in Real Estate Marketing

When it comes to buying a new home, personalization matters big time. Case studies continue to tell us that prospective homeowners respond enthusiastically to a highly personalized marketing campaign.

Including Personalized URLs (or PURLs) in your next mailing campaign is the perfect way to make an immediate impression on your readers. When they receive your mailer and see that you’ve set up a unique website just for them, they instantly become more likely to hop online and check it out.

Here’s an example of what a PURL looks like: “john.smith.yoursite.com” or “yoursite.com/johnsmith”

What’s more, you can easily design John’s personal landing page to welcome him by name and entice him with a special offer, both of which are awesomely effective ways of initiating a solid engagement.

To show you just how effective PURLs can be in your marketing campaign, we’ve provided an exclusive case study of a real estate firm called Tampa Homebuilder. Spoiler alert: In the weekend after they launched their PURL campaign, they tripled the number of homes they sold!

Just fill out the top form to the right with your name and email address, and the case study is immediately yours for free. Please feel free to sign up for our monthly newsletter as well.

Once you check that out, we can answer any questions you might have about getting your PURL campaign on. We’ll even throw in a free 30 day trial so you can see what the fuss is all about, no strings attached.

Need ’em? Want ’em? Purlem.

Can we trust you?

As Purlem begins to work with more “Enterprise” level companies, this is a question I get asked often.

Recently, a prospect told me – “Well… normally we would do a site visit with our new vendors. But it seems we would be visiting your home if we were to do that.”  Obviously, they had a lot of concerns working with a such a small company – especially a one man team.

That prospect become one of my biggest customers a week later.

I’ve found that there are two major concerns that larger companies have when considering using Purlem.

  1. Support level
  2. Purlem’s future

Let me address both of these…

Support Level

An obvious concern is the level of support they can expect to receive from only one person. I can talk all day about how my love for the product as the founder/developer naturally leads to better support.  But let’s let some of my customers tell the story…

I have used multiple platforms for PURLs in the past, including MindFire, XMPie, JFM, and EasyPurl. When I came across Purlem, I was on the verge of delving into a lengthy development process to build a homegrown PURL system. Purlem saved me a ton of money and development time, and is a great product. I would highly recommend it. And the support is unreal!
– Zachary Wood, Director, Applied Digital Media at Blue Moon Marketing Group

I needed an online component to handle a direct mailing campaign to over 2500 individuals. On a brief but valuable call with Purlem, it was clear that this was the right option to handle our exact needs. The product makes sense, is easy to use and the support was outstanding! I successfully launched our campaign and Purlem was the perfect solution to easily generate a very large number of personalized pages for users to access through a QR code. I will undoubtedly use Purlem again!
– Rebecca Pleshaw, Co-Owner | Marketing, Design and Development at Cloud Construct,

Not only is the product great and easy to use but the support we receive is equally extraordinary. The combination of the two has played a key role in taking our business to the next level. I look forward to expanding our partnership in any way possible because Purlem is a simple, easy to use solution.
– Mike Buckner, Director of Marketing at Sequoia Equity Group

And that’s only a few of many found on our LinkedIn page.

Purlem’s Future

Another concern is what Purlem’s future holds.  Can you count on Purlem continuing to exist?

The #1 reason why companies fail is because – you guessed it – money.  When a company runs out of cash, they are forced to close their doors.  Fortunately, since I decided to bootstrap Purlem, this is not something I have to worry about.  For those that are unfamiliar, bootstrapping means that I never took on financing.  Purlem has no debt, and has been profitable since day 1. Even if Purlem’s revenue dropped drastically, the product will continue to exist.  I would probably have to find a new job, but the product would exist.

When talking with prospects about Purlem’s future, it’s always so funny when they start to ask – “Well, I mean, what would happen if. I don’t want to say… But. You know…”  Ha! Their beating around the bush asking what would happen to Purlem if something happens to me.  When it comes to this, there is a backup plan.  I have a trusted advisor, colleague, developer who has been with me since the beginning.  He has full access to Purlem and is fully capable of continuing it’s success.

There may be some other concerns, but these seem to be the two that pop up most often.  Have you other small businesses out there experienced similar challenges when working with larger corporations?

 

The Purlem Story

It was 2005 – I was a recent graduate from Bradley University and found myself working in advertising sales for a Chicago radio station. I went to school for web design, so radio sales was a bit of a divergence. At the time it offered a nice paycheck so I was blindly following the money. I enjoyed moonlighting with web design projects on the side, and dreamed of one day escaping the monotony of corporate life. I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart.

Around that time, one of my web clients was a printer.  He told me – “Marty, I want to give these PURL things a try, but they’re way to expensive.” It seemed like a pretty simple concept, so off I went hacking together a basic PURL platform. It ended up saving him thousands. Literally, thousands. I came to realize that there may be a need in the marketplace for a simple and affordable PURL solution – and Purlem was born.

MariKate and I

My wife, MariKate, had the opportunity to do some travel nursing. Essentially, we’d pack up and go live somewhere new around the country every few months. It was an incredible experience that really helped to solidify our marriage. Before leaving for our first travel assignment, we made a deal that if Purlem was not at a level that could support a family, I would revert back to white collar. I was very lucky in that the travel opportunity allowed me to work full-time on Purlem right from the start, without the pressure of making money.

I created the first version of Purlem using Dreamweaver (the only application I knew).  Really this was my “Minimum Viable Product” – although I had no idea what that meant at the time. I did some testing with Google Adwords, which proved there was a demand.  And off I went to hire a professional software developer to really make Purlem shine!  Two horrible outsourcing experiences later, I realized that if I was going to make Purlem work, and remain bootstrapped, that I would have to learn this software development stuff myself.  So I put my head down and pushed forward.

I remember during our second travel assignment in Stamford, CT, when I received my second paying Purlem user.  I was ecstatic to say the least.  I told MariKate on one of our jogs together – “there is no way we’re not going to double to 4 paying users, and then 8!”  It’s strange looking back, and how I had no doubt that Purlem would succeed. Possibly even stranger, is that there was not a doubt in MariKate’s mind either.

During the first couple years, I focused nearly all of my time on development and SEO. Being that I was in a relatively niche market, I was able to rank on Google fairly quickly, which ended up being the source of nearly every new Purlem user at that time.

Although Purlem was not at a “support a family” level when we were done traveling, it did prove itself enough for me to pursue full time.

Today, Purlem is one of the largest Personalized URL platforms with passionate users around the world. I’m still my only employee, but refuse to hire for hiring sake.  It’s been a slow journey that took a significant amount of dedication, persistence, and patience.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

First Trade Show

Had my first experience exhibiting Purlem at Print13 last week. In fact, it was my first time exhibiting Purlem at any trade show. For those unfamiliar, Print13 is the largest trade show for print providers in the country.  Being that many Purlem users are printers, I thought that it would be a natural fit. My thought was – if this trade show ends up being a flop, then no trade show would work for Purlem. I left the show with a slightly different perspective.

Purlem Print13 Booth

I knew going in that it would be hard to justify the costs of doing a trade show.  With Purlem’s prices being so low, I would need to acquire a ridiculous number of new users to justify the expense – which was, by the way, about $10,000 all-in. But I wanted to give it a shot.  There was a last-minute booth available at a good price, and McCormick place is just a couple blocks from my home, so no travel expenses.  Seems like if I were going to feel out the trade show waters, Print13 would be the best option.

The first day of the show I tried to stand in front of the booth and engage people as they walk past.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that a majority of people walking by had no use for a product like Purlem.  They were there to purchase printing equipment and could care less. I was surprised with how much twiddling of thumbs happens. Not just at Purlem’s booth, but at most other booths around me.  What a waste of time! So, after the first day, I resorted to sitting at the booth and working until somebody stopped by. It was very encouraging that those that stopped by, were very impressed by Purlem.  I got a lot of “This is exactly what we have been looking for.”

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I also created a fancy landing page, that I showed in my last post, which allowed people to register a free 30 minute consultation. You know how many people used that website to register – 0.  A big fat 0.  I did, however, get about 30 decent leads and scheduled several follow-up meetings via email.

There was also the intangible value the show provided.  I met with a lot of very interesting people, industry leaders, and Purlem users.  Being at the show certainly helped to solidify these relationships, and it’s hard to place a monetary value on that. The #1 bit of feedback I received was that Purlem’s prices were way to low. I received this feedback from several people, including existing Purlem users.

I left the show realizing that Print13 was probably not the best venue for Purlem.  But at the same time, I can see how some other, probably smaller, more marketing-focused shows could be quite effective. Being at the show also helped me to come up with some pretty cool ideas for ways to better engage attendees, as opposed to just sitting there working, or being a creepy sales guy.

So all and all, I think I’ll call it a wash.