By Joanna Fletcher
A PURL is the ultimate targeted marketing tool — a Web page about your business, designed to cater to each individual customer's interests, preferences and buying patterns. PURL stands for Personalized Unique Resource Locator. Your Web page has a URL, usually yourbusinessname.com or similar, and PURLs will usually be customername.yourbusinessname.com.
How PURLs work
PURL software creates these personal Web addresses from your existing customer database. A new one is created for all new customers entering their information at your Web site, whether they are filling out a survey, requesting your newsletter or buying your products.
Then you set up a series of rules for the type of content each type of customer will receive on his PURL. For example, if you know that he has bought your Ebook, you might want to send the first chapter of your next Ebook and offer a special preorder deal on the finished article.
Harness the Power
The detailed information held in your database is used to increase your conversions and maximize your return on investment. As each customer's history with you develops, his PURL will be more closely aligned with his needs, making it an even more attractive place to browse.
The other great advantage of a PURL is that you can use it to communicate directly with your customer at the moment that he is most interested in what you have to offer — when he visits your Web site.
PURL software can page you when someone is browsing his PURL, so you can follow up instantly with a sales call. Some programs will send you an email of the details provided by the customer and his activity on your Web site. If you open up an instant-message window on the PURL so that you can chat online, you can make a sale as if he is visiting your physical store, answering questions as they arise.
Points to Watch
PURLs are useless unless you can get your customers to visit them, so introduce the concept as part of a highly compelling proposition such as a contest or a special offer. Thereafter ensure that all pages lead back to the PURL, making it the customer's own personal home page for your company.
There is some truth to the business cliché that it is 14 times easier to keep an existing customer than get a new one. Using PURL allows you to interact with customers in real time at the moment they are ready to buy and puts focus into mining your existing data, building better relationships and protecting your customer base.
About the Author
Joanna Fletcher is a netizen who has lived, worked, and played in virtual space for most of her life. Her entrepreneurial flair is topped only by her tolerance for failure.