PURLs Engage Nationwide and Yodle Direct Mail Recipients

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

Everyone is the star of their own movie, and personalized URLs (PURLs) are one way to put direct mail prospects’ names in lights.

PURLs are helping brands like Nationwide and Yodle connect with B2B prospects in the mail, and drive traffic online. Jeff Bowen, Megan Allinson and Rachel O’Neill of the Wilde Agency shared the secrets behind these brands’ direct mail success at a recent NEDMA forum in Burlington, MA.

Yodle Drives Leads With Real Time Data

Local online marketing platform Yodle was experiencing a decline in the direct mail channel and needed to drive more leads among small business owners. The issues they faced included low product awareness and varying comfort levels for online marketing among their target demographics.

Yodle utilized real time data to personalize direct mail campaigns, such as the type of search terms typically used for different segments.

The company identified three segments they wanted to reach: Real estate agents, who wanted to do more online but didn’t have the bandwidth; contractors, who were getting much of their new business through referrals and the yellow pages; and HVAC professionals, who were often uneasy with stepping into online initiatives.

Real time data was used to increase personalization to stimulate engagement and relevancy in mailings. A focus in mailing pieces was placed on how people were searching online for these professionals. Competitive sets and opportunities were highlighted, as was who was searching for their offerings.

What types of terms people were searching for was also featured. “It’s helpful for people to see where their businesses ranked for certain terms,” said Megan Allinson, account director, Wilde.

The layout of the direct mail piece was very visual, to make it easy for readers to digest, and PURLs were used to encourage prospects to visit a customized landing Yodel landing page. The name of the recipient was in the PURL, and their name and city/state location also appeared on the landing page to help the creative resonate with the audience.

The focus overall, said Allinson, was how an improved online presence would help companies connect with their customers, rather than just the bells and whistles of the platform.

The mailings led to an average 40% lift in leads, with the PURLs resulting an average 37% conversion rate.

Mail Puts Awareness on Nationwide’s Side

Nationwide had introduced a new insurance product in 2014, Nationwide CareMatters, but adoption had been low. Financial advisors had tried it but felt it was too expensive. The company adjusted the pricing and launched a branding/awareness campaign, but was having difficulty inciting trial usage.

“No one really paid attention in the initial launch, and we needed to get financial advisors to use the online tools,” said Rachel O’Neill, account supervisor, Wilde. “It’s a tough to reach audience—they’re on the go and in meetings all the time.”

They also receive a lot of mail, including big dimensional pieces, so a typical piece of swag isn’t going to impress them.

A scoreboard played to financial advisors' competitive natures.
A scoreboard played to financial advisors’ competitive natures.

Aside from the pricing issue, there’s the challenge of getting advisors to try something new, because they might not want to take the time to learn a new product. But, said O’Neill, this audience puts a lot of emphasis on customer satisfaction, so if they think it will benefit their client base in the end, they can be swayed.

Nationwide knew if they could get advisors to try the product, they’d be much more inclined to implement it. A game-like experience was created to increase engagement.

Prospects were sent a direct mail piece with a PURL and a small premium, jelly beans, with no labels on the flavors. Advisors were encouraged to go to the PURL and play a guessing game as to what the flavors where. After they played the Guess More Flavors game, they were given an answer key as to what the flavors actually were, and an invitation to try the benefit estimator tool, now that they’ve tried the jelly beans. A scoreboard also played to advisors’ competitive natures.

Game play triggered an email follow up. Emails were also sent if recipients didn’t play the game, asking them to try the tool and “sweeten the deal” for their clients.

“The experience was different for this audience, because it was a little silly and out of the norm,” said O’Neill. “A deep understanding of your audience will help you create strategy and drive results.”

Wilde itself used a direct mail piece with a personalized URL to increase engagement for its annual holiday greeting. Recipients were invited to go the PURL and personalize a “blessing bag” of items to be distributed at a shelter.

Eighty-five percent of those who clicked on the PURL filled it out, and over 300 items were donated. “But the biggest benefit was the engagement,” said Jeff Bowen, account supervisor, Wilde.

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