Virality is that state of marketing nirvana where your campaigns are liberated from the earthly confines of your own media spends and marketing efforts, and take on a free-floating life of their own.
As I’ve said before in “Social Media Marketing: Going viral is so easy it’s hard,” I don’t believe there is any secret to going viral, but you can position yourself well for that opportunity. That blog post has a few of the factors that influence your chance of going viral, but in today’s post I want to focus on one very specific tool that can help your efforts — personalized URLs, also known as PURLs.
If you’re unfamiliar with PURLs, personalized URLs are simply, as the name implies, unique URLs for each recipient. As with many marketing terms, different people tend to use the term differently (usually to the advantage of whatever they’re selling). Some people consider a PURL actually having the person’s name in the URL (for example, I might receive a mailer with a CTA that goes to DanielBurstein.MECLABS.com, while my neighbor’s CTA would point to TheJoneses.MECLABS.com).
Others consider a PURL to be any URL that leads to a personalized landing page (so the URL might be a random string of letters and numbers; however, the landing page would say “Hello Daniel Burstein”). And still others consider a PURL to be any custom URL assigned to only one person (for the purpose of this blog post, I’ll use this, the broadest definition).
Who can use PURLS? Pretty much any marketer. “Historically, the high cost of PURLs would limit the technology to larger companies with the matching budgets,” according to Martin Thomas, founder, Purlem. “But today, PURLs have become much more affordable and easier to use.”
Now that we’ve gotten in a little background info, let’s take a look at some ways PURLs can help position your campaigns for virality: