Footprints in the Snow: Tracking Customer Behavior With Personal URLs


Share on LinkedIn

Spot warm prospects
When you invite prospects and customers to visit your website do you know who responded? More than likely you’ll know how many of them hit a web page, and you’ll know the few who converted when they bothered to give you their details – say 20% of visitors for a well designed website. But what about the remaining 80% who got to your web page but didn’t convert at the time? They must have a level of interest in your proposition. Everyone’s busy, they don’t make the effort to key in a web address from a piece of DM, or even click on an email link unless they perceive there’s something in it for them.

Nurture them
If you were given the contact details of these ‘warm’ prospects do you think you could convert more of them with a phone call or a re-solicitation email or letter? You’d only need to convert 25% of these and you’ve doubled your ROI on the campaign. Moreover, because you’ve got a small pool of interested prospects to harvest, your follow-up costs are minimised.

Talk to them individually
That’s precisely what personal URLs (PURLs) enable you to do. Rather than use one generic web address (URL) for response, everyone gets their own personal one. If they visit it, you know they did and you know what they looked at. It’s like seeing their footprints in the snow.

Continue the dialogue
The principle has been around for a good few years now. It originated in the drive for multi-channel personalisation. With the rise of digital print technology, marketers started to explore the possibilities of ‘dialogue marketing’, personalising communications across channels – send them a personalised piece of DM and personalise the website when they respond through their PURL.

Convert the gold dust
The ability to measure was at first an interesting bi-product of the process and helped to create laboratory environments to measure precisely the impact of these highly personalised, integrated multi-channel programmes. However, it quickly became evident that, whilst personalisation certainly had an impact on results, the ability to identify and re-solicit warm responders was where the gold dust lay.

Some examples
• A company running property investment seminars and services increased their booking rate by 300% by calling warm prospects they previously had no way of identifying
• A mortgage company doubled ROI by sending a follow up letter to warm DM responders
• An IT company with a long sales cycle and multiple decision makers sent personalised DM across Europe and nurtured leads through the system, lifting response rates from 1% to 9%
• One of the world’s fastest growing technology brands increased their speed to market by control testing multiple variants of a proposition and creative routes, analysing response rates and optimising for roll out in days rather than weeks
• A manufacturer selling through a reseller channel created a central lead generation campaign, automatically assigning leads for resellers to pick up and convert. The system gave them not only real-time tangible ROI measurement, but quickly identified the successful resellers and those who needed help/attention to improve results
• An IT company is using PURLs as a standard for all customer behaviour tracking from prospecting through customer retention across DM, email, web and telephone. They have integrated into their CRM system and use customers’ online behaviour profiles to improve their tele-sales and service dialogue

Explore new value opportunities
Every day, new applications are being explored. One client has sensitive and highly confidential information they need to make sure the recipient has received. Using PURLs and PIN numbers is the way forward for them. Another client who publishes subscription magazines sees PURLs as a way to increase value to advertisers by providing the details of all respondents to the adverts placed in their publication.

Whether the value is in sales conversion, relationship management, service levels, new business opportunities and models, control testing or real-time analytics, it’s clear that this new generation of PURL functionality has truly liberated the benefits of customer behavioural tracking.

Kevin Mason
Kevin Mason is director of Intimis, a leading one-to-one dialogue marketing system supplier based in Bristol, United Kingdom. For more information, visit


  1. If you invite your customers and prospects, then you are going to miss even more of your website visitors.
    I think you mix up two things:

    • Sending out emails to opt-in lists
    • The “free” visitors to your website

    In this case, if 3% submits their contact details, then your website is doing great.
    What about the remaining 97% ?
    Then you need a website visitor identification solution, preferably a web service as the whole data base of companies needs to be accessed.

    Suggested reading:
    Visitor tracking overview:


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here