Ahh.. Deep Breath.. The new Purlem is launched!

Personal URL Website

For the past year I have been working very closely with my clients and advisors to perfect Purlem’s personal url system.  It has been a very challenging and rewarding experience.  After much trial and error, adding and removing features,testing and re-testing, blood, sweat and tears…  we have finally arrived with a personal url solution that is promised to make some major waves in the marketing industry.

Before Purlem you had to shell out several thousand to get started with Purls.  Now, you can get up and running with your first Personal URL campaign in less than five minutes, and do it for Free! I hope that you will be able to benefit from using Purlem to increase response rates, track your marketing and grow your business.

Online Software Value- Whats better 1,000 paying users or 100,000 non-paying users?

Picture 3I recently read The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich which is a story about Facebook’s founders.  Being in college at the same time that facebook was getting its start I found this book very interesting.  (I remember our class begging the school board to allow our campus on facebook… true story).

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After Microsoft’s 1.6% purchase of Facebook it was valued at $15 Bil.   This is over 100 times its $150 Mil in annual revenues!  Microsoft obviously looked past facebooks revenues and instead placed its true value in its users… which is over 200 million and growing rapidly. This buyout placed a value of $75 for each user of facebook.

So all of this got me thinking…  what is better for an online software- 1,000 paying users (say at a monthly subscription price of $50), or 100,000 non-paying users. If a company offered their online software for free, and it provided a significant value to its users, it would have a good chance of going viral.  Like google aps, flickr, basecamp, or facebook. A viral software would have a much better chance of reaching the 100,000 user mark.

Keeping with the same example,  paying users would provide a nice annual gross revenue of $600,000 for the company.  Value of the business might be placed at around $1.2 Million.

On the other hand, non-paying users would provide nothing in revenue, but if valued at $75/user it could potentially be worth $7.5 Mil.   Okay… $75/user could be way out of line.. after all, were comparing to facebook’s value which is a unique case.  But I think you get my point…  The non-paying user model might be the right way to go.

So my question to all of you…  am I way out of line here?  What are some pros and cons of using the non-paying model? What would be your suggestion. I look forward to our conversation….

New Purlem Design

We have finalized the  design for the new and improved Purlem set to launch Oct. 9th.  A improved user interface will allow for easier navigation between campaigns, contacts, and landing pages.  Feedback welcome!

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Creative Twitter Pages

I have been playing around with Twitter a little recently.  I’m trying to find good ways to use the medium to spread the word on purlem.  Thought a good place to start was to look at how other businesses are using it to advertise.  In my research I found some pretty creative pages I thought I would share… And finally the design that I settled on.

Nice bold image draws the eye nicely to his URL.

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Creative.. and a little creepy…

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Rod does not beat around the bush with his message!

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Nice design and  has their URL strategically placed in the center of the page.

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And saving the best for last 🙂  I thought I would take it one step further..  I put a tracking URL  directs to a landing page.  Lets see if I get any hits.

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E-Myth vs. 37Signals

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For years I have been a big fan of Michael Gerber’s E-Myth.  Basically the E-Myth  refers to the idea that most businesses fail because the founders are “technicians” that were inspired to start a business without knowledge of how successful businesses run. His  argues that every business, big or small, should operate as a franchise where there is a systematized, documented process for doing everything.  A start with the end in mind mentality.  Its a great book that I recommend to everybody that is looking to get into business for themselves.

But now contrast the E-mtyhs approach with 37signals.  37signals is a small web design gone software development company based out of Chicago.  Only 7 people strong, this company has development the immensely popular “Basecamp” project management software.  Jason Fried, co-founder of 37signals, says “If you believe 100% in some big upfront advance plan, you’re just lying to yourself.”  37signals created their empire simply by developing a great, simple, software that people can use.  The never spent any money on advertising when they launch the software.  The attribute their success to their blog following and the “trial” membership which allowed people to use the software for free with some limitations. No business development plan, no manuals, no mission statement. Just execution and a blog following.

So it has me thinking…  Can online companies in the web 2.0 age really thrive from an E-myth approach? Or is the more effective way to take an approach like 37signals? I’m starting to think that 37signals has the right idea…

Campaigns-In-A-Box

I know I have discussed with some of you the possibility of  creating “campaigns in a box.”  Basically these would be pre-made campaigns that are tested and proven in the marketplace.  As Eric mentioned, this would “reduce the need to design [landing pages] offline and speed up deployment.”  Bill and I also brainstormed how this would offer specific industy groups a quick and effective way of launching complex marketing campaigns.

Taking this one step further, we could test each of these “campaigns in a box” and have average response rates associated with each one.  This will help give small business owners an idea of their ROI before they even invest.  We could even go as far as guaranteeing that they will receive a specific response rate… but maybe I’m getting a little carried away.

I would be interested to hear your other ideas on this concept.

I was thinking that we could follow a model similar to wordpress, where individuals can create “campaign templates” that integrate into Purlem. Below is a screen shot of how WordPress handles this.  By allowing individuals to add campaigns it would create a community of sorts. Doing this though there would have to be some sort of compensation for those creating the campaigns.   Maybe it would be better to keep campaign production in house.

wordpress templates

A New Purlem Coming Soon…

Today we officially begin work on a new and improved Purlem with a projected launch date of Oct. 9th, 2009.  I would like to thank my loyal and dedicated clients who have been working with me on making Purlem what it is today.  I would not have been able to compelete what I did without you.

We will be completely rebuilding the entire Purlem system to be one streamlined, flawless system.   Along with a new look, Purlem will also feature the element of Time (Thanks Bill!).  This will allow us to send email to everybody in a specific campaign,  to individuals, or to landing page visitors at a specific time in the future, helping to automate the sales process.

Its tricky to keep Purlem simple while it continues to grow with more features and capabilities.  My goal for Purlem is to focus on its most basic feature of PURL marketing, and do it extremely well.  Keep It Simple Stupid!  I’ll be the first to admin- It’s hard not to get carried away with features and capabilities.

This date also marks the beginning of our marketing plan.  We will focus more on getting the word out there about Purlem through both paid and social marketing techniques. It’s an excititing time and I welcome an advice or suggestions any of you may have.  Cheers!

Multiply Lead Gen Campaign Responses by Prepopulating Your Online Registration Forms

SUMMARY
We love the creative samples and results data from this Case Study — including direct postal mail, HTML email and email newsletter sponsorships. Plus, if you’ve wondered how to create a landing page that gets insanely high submission rates from qualified prospects, here are notes and a useful vendor hotlink. Good news, the tactic is fairly low-cost too:

CHALLENGE
It’s nearing the end of fourth quarter and your prospects have left-over budget to burn. How can you reach into their pockets and get your company’s share?

Katherine Van Diepen, Anritsu’s Director of Marketing Communications, knew she was incredibly lucky because their handheld spectrum analyzer product line “has got a cult following” among engineers.

That said, any b-to-b campaign scheduled to drop November 15th has an uphill battle what with the holidays, office parties, vacations, and year-end activities. Most b-to-b marketers won’t touch any mail date past November 1st with a ten foot pole if they can help it.

But Van Diepen had no choice. She had to drop a major promotion with high enough impact so it cut through the clutter.

CAMPAIGN
First, working with the sales department, the marketing team defined precisely what a truly qualified lead looked like in this marketplace. What job title? What purchase plans? etc.

Then, the marketing team pulled out all the stops, using five specific high-impact tactics to get the maximum number of these qualified leads to respond before year-end.

Tactic #1. Use best lists in multiple media

Instead of relying on one list, or one medium alone, the team researched the entire breadth of their options and selected the very best, including:

  • House lists of past inquiries
  • Direct postal mail list rentals from the two top trade magazines in the field, selecting only the names who’d checked the past year’s subscription qualification cards saying they were planning to purchase spectrum test equipment.
  • A polybag insert purchase (where your printed marketing piece, weighing under one ounce, is placed in a plastic bag with the latest issue of a trade magazine) from a third relevant trade journal. (Van Diepen notes that the insert was far less expensive than postage to the list would have been; plus, the increased print run for the insert made her other DM campaign printing cost-per-piece lower overall.)
  • HTML email blast to a highly relevant list
  • Sponsorship ad at the top of a highly relevant third party email newsletter Tactic #2. Creative elements to increase response All of the campaigns shared the same drop date (as much as possible) to help responses. The creative elements remained identical across campaign creative as well, to boost responses among prospects who might see more than one. (Link to samples below.)

Creative elements included:

  • A photo of an engineer on site that prospects would identify with
  • A hero shot (picture) of the product itself
  • A ‘Win a Free iPod’ sweeps offer for registrants
  • Multiple calls to action throughout the creative, front, back, top, bottom… etc.

Plus, cleverest of all, the marketing team created personalized URLs for the direct mail campaign by feeding the lists to their landing page services firm which created a personal URL for each name, such as: www.anritsu.com/spectrum/samplenamehere (not a working link)

If two people had the same name, the firm created two different URLs using a number such as samplename7 and samplename8.

Tactic #3. Pre-fill landing page form when possible

The landing page services team also pre-filled the registration forms on those personal landing pages as much as possible. So anyone going to their personal page would see the street address already filled in on the form.

Tactic #4. Thank you page with useful links

The marketing team decided the thank-you page that appeared after prospects submitted their forms was prime real estate to start the sales process right away.

So instead of just saying “thank you,” the page included another hero shot of the product, plus short benefit copy (“Weighs 80% less. Costs 40% less. Delivers 100% of the performance you need…”) and, three handy links for more info:

– Download the product brochure – Download the must-have Wireless Reference guide – Access the product page

Van Diepen explains, “The reason they are visiting the site is for some kind of instant gratification. So, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t start looking at the product right away.”

Tactic #5. Don’t forget alternate response methods

You can’t count on everyone who gets a postal mailing to respond online. In fact multiple b-to-b marketers have told us its mission critical to provide phone numbers and printed reply cards in addition to URLs. Not only are some prospects not near computers (especially engineers in the field), but some may just prefer traditional response mediums.

Just as they had pre-filled online response forms whenever possible, the marketing team also had the business reply cards (BRCs) in the postal direct mail package pre-filled with the recipient’s name and address.

It costs a bit more for extra lasering and a two-way match with the carrier (envelope), but the team felt increased response rates would make the investment pay off.

RESULTS
86.8% of direct mail respondents who went to their personalized URL landing pages completed and submitted their forms. That’s a conversion rate of roughly five to seven times higher than average. So, yes, if you can pre-populate a reply form with basic information to save a prospect typing, you’ll get a response rate that rocks.

More useful data from the campaign:

  • 4.8% of DM recipients went online to their personalized URLs, proving nothing’s more enticing than your own name.
  • An additional 5.2% of DM recipients mailed back their pre-filled BRC cards, proving you should never assume everyone wants to respond online.
  • The HTML email got a 38.8% open rate. 5.5% of the opens clicked through to the landing page. This page was identical in all aspects to the DM landing page except none of the fields were pre-filled. The conversion rate from visitor to form submission dropped to 22%.
  • Email newsletter sponsorship results ranged from .8% click rate with a 33% conversion rate to .5% click rate with a 24% conversion rate depending on how targeted the list was.
  • The polybag insert was a moderate success with .8% of recipients going online and .4% replying via the BRC. Those who went online converted at a 60% rate — very high, but not nearly as high as the DM recipients who got pre-filled forms.

Although the polybag cost per piece was far cheaper than the direct mail campaign, the cost per resulting lead was four times higher. Van Diepen suspects this is mainly because the list wasn’t segmented for the polybag. It went to all subscribers instead of just a targeted selection.

It’s a good lesson to remember: super-cheap cost per thousand media can wind up being pretty expensive in the long run.

One last note on polybags – Van Diepen is still getting occasional responses from this mailing more than 120 days out. It’s a longer-lived medium than most.

– Final interesting factoid: Van Diepen didn’t require any of the qualification questions on her online response form to be filled out for submission. She figured that was more polite than demanding respondents answer questions about their purchase plans. Even so, only 3% of total submissions neglected to answer those questions.

Useful links related to this article:

Creative samples from Anritsu’s year-end campaign, including the personalized landing page:

http://www.marketingsherpa.com/anritsu/study.html

The future of Marketing?

Well I like to think of myself of somewhat of a tech-savvy person, so when I found out that 40% of people in Japan was using something called QR Code technology with their cell phones, I was blown away!

QR Codes seamlessly bridge the gap between online and offline worlds. People can use their camera phone, to take a quick snapshot of QR Codes and they will be instantly transfered to a website. Its like a hyperlink in the offline world!

When I first heard of this my mind went crazy thinking about the possibilities for marketers to exploit this new technology. The first thing I did was try to create a QR Code to link to a personal URL.. and YES, it works! By integrating Personal URLs with QR Codes marketers can send unique QR Codes on direct mail pieces. The recepient can then scan their QR Code, and be directed to a website that is personalized specifically to them! It will say “Welcome John, we have some great information for you…” or whatever specific content you will have for that person. This is good stuff!

This QR Code below was generated at http://qrcode.kaywa.com and directs users to http://www.purlem.com.
QR Code

It’s obviously going to take some time for this to reach a tipping points in the States, but I believe it is inevitable. Look at ways people are using this technology:

Coca-Cola Japan is giving away free bottles of its two new teas with a QR code promotion.
Coco Cola Japan QR Codes

Two Portuguese wineries are using QR codes on their labels that allow consumers to be linked to a web page dedicated to that particular wine. They can read other people’s comments about it, check prices, and read comments from the winemaker.
Wine Label QR Code

During last year’s U.S. Open, Ralph Lauren introduced QR codes into its print ads, direct mailers, and store windows to send traffic to its new mobile commerce site.
Ralph Lauren QR Code

I’m not sure if this will ever totally replace Personal URLs, but it is definitely an intriguing possibility.

This week, the University of Southern California Annenberg School’s Center for the Digital Future issued their 2009 report about Internet use (PDF Link).

This isn’t ground breaking news. Everybody knows that the Internet is becoming more and more accessible everyday. But it is a friendly reminder to exam our print businesses. Are you focusing on benefiting from these trends? Or are you ignoring them, betting that the print industry will return to the way it was in 2005?

The percentage of Americans who use the Internet has reached 80%

  • 40% of those age 66+ go online, an increase from 29% in 2000
  • The time Internet users spend online has grown in each year of the studies, and is now 17+ hours per week
  • Light users spend an average of 2.8 hours per week online
  • Heavy users who average 42 hours a week online
  • 24% of American households have at least three computers
  • The percentage of households with no computers continues to decline; only 15% do not have a computer
  • Broadband is by far the dominant form of online service at home, nearly 80% of Internet users, more than double the level of five years ago, and eight times the percentage in 2000
  • Access to the Internet by phone modem has dropped to 16%
  • Two-thirds of home Internet users keep their broadband connection turned on most of the time while they are at home; only 20% percent do not

http://purlem.com/blog/2009/05/20/