PURL (Personalized URL) Increases Revenue

Solomon Thimothy - November 17, 2008

purlThe Taser Inc. case finally gives us evidence.

The theory of using a personalized web page to grab a potential customer’s attention is a good one, but where are the figures to back this up?  Personalized URL  (PURL) is certainly an exciting new addition to marketing strategy.  Never before have marketers been able to connect with their customer base in such a personal way.  There is a widely-held belief that VDP (Variable Data Printing) and PURL greatly increase response rates in campaigns and drive down the cost of each new marketing lead.  Until now, however, there has been a paucity of numbers and evidence to show marketers just how good PURL is at boosting leads.  The experience of one company is going some way to proving the theory.

Taser International (yes, that Taser – the makers of non-lethal immobilization devices) has seen a revenue growth in excess of 1600% since 2002, when it decided to focus much of its marketing drive on one-to-one strategies.  Prior to 2002, Taser were relying heavily on general statistics that seemed stale and impersonal to their prospective buyers.  So they made a switch and using a database of information they had on those potential customers (mainly law enforcement agencies – local and national), they developed a return-on-investment calculator and sent out postcards with personalized savings and return info to each customer.  In this case return included statistics such as expected lives saved and officer injuries avoided over a 10 year period.

In 2006, Taser got creative an introduced PURL in to their marketing mix.  The postcards sent out were now driving customers to a personalized landing web page which had Taser’s own return-on-investment calculator built in.  The customers were able to adjust the inputs to the calculator according to their own department numbers and see for themselves an accurate estimate of savings and return.  They combined this with an aggressive sales rep campaign (assigning a rep – and contact info – to each agency).  After the customer logged off the website, the software generated an email to the customer containing a fully tailored quote, created a personalized brochure for the customer, and generated a customized power point presentation for the sales rep assigned to the agency.  All the information gathered served as powerful research data for further improvement on marketing strategies.

So what about figures?  Taser’s success since 2002 has been dizzying.  Prior to 2002, less than 1400 law enforcement departments in the US used Taser.  In 2007 that number was up to 9500 (more than half of major law departments).  Their annual revenue grew from $6m in ’02 to $67.7m in ’06 and $100.7 in ’07 after the introduction of PURL.  In the first quarter of 2008 Taser revenues were $22.5m, a 47% increase over the same quarter in 2007.  Given that there were a number of elements to this success, it is preposterous to assign all the credit to one-to-one marketing and PURL.  Taser, however, attest that these innovative marketing strategies have been a major contributor to their growth.

Taser have also provided research data on the average cost per lead of their main marketing approaches.  Cross-media PURL marketing has shown to be far cheaper per lead and far more effective at driving up revenue compared to traditional print advertising.




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