Making Business Communications Interactive

The following is an excerpt from my book, “Business Transformation: A Path To Profitability For The Mailing And Fulfillment Industries.” To read more, visit the book’s official website here. 

One way to ensure that legacy revenue continues to roll in as you make this transition is to work with your clients on ways they can make their business communications more interactive. As marketers increasingly turn to electronic media, they are seduced by the instantaneous response and tracking and the ability to more rapidly get a dialog going with recipients when using digital media. Your job is to educate them on how to effectively blend direct mail or other printed output into that mix, making their campaigns even more effective than they might be with digital alone. That means making print interactive – giving it the ability to deliver a more effective means of tracking results and a simpler path to getting that dialog going.

Most marketers consider print to be a static medium. It is expensive to produce and time-consuming to distribute. It can be difficult to track results of a print-only campaign, and even more difficult to change or refine strategies midstream. This is a misconception. Print can be interactive, cost-effective, trackable and flexible when implemented properly in a multi-touch campaign.

The most common means of making print interactive is by including coupons. If they are appropriately marked with offer codes, bar codes or other means of tracking their source, marketers can measure their effectiveness. But it can take time to tally the results. There are two other tools available right now that can include coupons (or not), but also deliver a richer set of results against a wider variety of metrics:

Personalized URLS or pURLS –

These are URLs, or internet addresses, that are personalized to the recipient (e.g., The recipient is directed to a personalized web microsite directly related to the promotional piece she received, whether by mail or email. The site generally has a similar look and feel to the original communication and can be personalized not only with her name, but also by using demographic, psychographic and other known data about the recipient to make it a relevant experience.

The pURL establishes a direct link between printed direct mail and the Internet. As soon as a recipient hits her pURL, the dialog begins, as does the tracking. It not only provides an opportunity for the recipient to take advantage of a relevant offer, but it also gives the marketer an opportunity to collect more information about the recipient in order that future communications can be even more finely tuned.

QR Codes –

The disadvantage of a pURL on a printed piece is that recipients have to key in an address into a web browser. This may involve waiting until they get home or have a break from work, and that may result in the action being sidelined. This can also be true of coupons. This is one reason that QR Codes are becoming more popular in the U.S. (they have already penetrated the market more deeply in Asia and Europe).

By placing a QR Code instead of or in addition to a pURL on a printed piece, you provide the recipient with two options: Either type the pURL into a browser, or simply point and click the QR Code with your phone camera to be taken to the exact same destination in a mobile-friendly format. It is easier than typing in the address, it can be done on the run, and it is still unique enough in the U.S. to make people curious enough to check it out. Once that QR Code is snapped, the tracking of the campaign results begins.

Thanks for reading! Want more information on QR Codes? My companies can help! 

[VIDEO] John Foley, Jr. at Graph Expo: Content Anywhere

While at the 2012 Graph Expo conference in Chicago, our CEO John Foley, Jr. was quite a busy man.

He worked the booth, shared his book with service providers that are looking to grow their business, and he delivered multiple presentations.

Well, the great folks at WhatTheyThink have made it possible for us to re-visit one of the activities that John participated in at Graph Expo. They have posted the video of the presentation that John delivered inside the Canon booth.

Simply click on the image below to watch the video:

Watch the video today! John Foley, Jr.'s presentation at Graph Expo 2012 in the Canon Booth. The title was Content Anywhere: Implementing a Cross Media Strategy

The title of John’s presentation was Content Anywhere: Implementing a Cross Media Strategy.

John covered items such as:

  • Key Components of Multi-Channel Marketing
  • QR Code Best Practices
  • Mobile Marketing Strategies and Tactics
  • Utilizing Online Video
  • Web to Print and Variable Data Printing
  • And more!

Click here to watch the video of John’s presentation >>

If you would like to implement a cross-media strategy that will grow your business, please contact our team today!


Personalized URLs and Security Concerns

Security Camera Image

This summer, the USPS is offering a discount to companies that include a QR Code on their mailings. Also, the QR Code must either point to a mobile-optimized personalized URL or a mobile-optimized storefront.

While personalized URLs were extremely “hot” a few years ago, they certainly have cooled off a bit recently. But they still have a place today in the marketing mix!

Getting Back in to the Personalized URL Game

If you have not sold a personalized URL or built one in a little while, there may be some open questions in your mind about them.

Today, I’d like to chat about personalized URLs and security for a bit.

As you try to decide whether you should use them, or while in the process of trying to convince a client to use personalized URLs, the item of whether they are secure may come up.

Concerns about Personalized URLs and Security

While many companies have embraced personalized URLs because they see the benefits of one-to-one marketing, others have hesitated to incorporate them into their promotional efforts out of security fears.

We primarily have seen this in specific industries, such as banking, healthcare, and others.

If you or your client is worried, there are a few practical things that can be done to address their concerns. Below are three items that we have heard over the years, along with ways that you can address them.

Worries About How Much Data is Exposed

One of the benefits of using a personalized URL is that you can pre-populate contact information on the landing page.

If the personalized URL includes a registration form or survey, pre-populating contact information in form fields can save time for the user and increase your response rate!

If the client is concerned about this, there are a few options:

  • Eliminate the pre-population of the form fields: The URL can still be personalized, and the landing page could even still greet them by First Name.
  • Include only fields on the form that are absolutely necessary for the response: We may be tempted to ask the user to give us everything — from their Twitter handle to their Cell Phone #. We might even have good intentions for asking for it (“We could use this data for future marketing opportunities!”).

    But if your client is worried about exposing too much information, than limit what fields you display and require. For example, if they are responding to the PURL to download a White Paper, perhaps the only field on the page is for entering an Email Address.

Simply Entering Another Name to Access Data

Most personalized URLs follow this format — [FirstName + LastName]

Thus, when I enter, the first page I see might greet me by name and present the pre-populated registration form.

Some companies might say, “Well, could Jason simply enter and see another person’s information?” In many cases of PURLs, the answer is Yes. Typing in that other name (that’s also a valid PURL for that campaign) would allow someone to see another person’s pre-populated registration form.

If you do not want that to happen, one option is to include an “Access Code” along with the personalized URL.

Thus, when I enter my personalized URL, I am greeted by a screen that requires me to enter a unique Access Code. Only then can I see my personalized page.

By doing that for each PURL that you generate, you will add a second-level for people that are trying to access personalized data.

Submitting Data over a Form

Many personalized URLs include Forms that ask people to provide and submit information.

Oftentimes, this is just Contact Information and answers to questions.

But if your client is concerned about protecting the data that is submitted, one option is to  utilize SSL.

In that case, the user would access their PURL at https://[FirstName + LastName], which would enable the landing page and form to use SSL encryption when submitting data.

Would you like more information?

I hope that you find these ideas helpful as you look for ways to improve the effectiveness of your marketing programs (or those of your clients)!

If you have any questions about personalized URLs and security or about the USPS Mobile Barcode Promotion, please contact our team today!


Photo Credit

Coupling QR Codes with Personalized URLs

John Foley, Jr. --- CEO of interlinkONE and Grow SociallyThis summer, the USPS is holding another mobile barcode discount program. In order to qualify for the discount, companies must either point the QR Code on their direct mail piece to a mobile commerce site or to a personalized mobile landing page.

Below I discuss the 2nd option — integrating PURLs and QR Codes. I hope you find this material helpful!

P.S. If you are interested in taking advantage of the USPS Mobile Barcode Discount program, please contact our team today!


Integrating QR Codes and Personalized URLs

QR codes offer a number of benefits for marketers. One of the most important is the ability to tie together the print, mobile and Web channels to increase the response rates on multichannel marketing efforts.

Since QR codes make it easy for people to jump from print to the Web, this intelligent tool can add to the success of your personalized URL (PURL) campaigns, too.

QR codes have the ability to lower the barriers often surrounding customer response which, in turn, leads to an increase in overall campaign response rate.

Here are several benefits that can be easily achieved by coupling QR codes with PURLs to boost the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns:

Providing one-to-one communication

PURLs can be embedded right into QR codes, so when a customer or prospect scans the code she is taken directly to her personalized landing page.

Once a recipient is at that personalized page, you have the opportunity to engage her and have a one-on-one dialogue.

Making it easy to respond

QR codes make PURLs portable. They allow the recipient to access each individual PURL without the need to sit in front of a computer.

Because people are on the go, and many carry their phones with them at all times, this portability is ideal in increasing the response rate.

Additionally, QR codes eliminate the need for a recipient to type what may be a rather lengthy PURL into her Web browser.

By simply pressing one button on their smartphone, your prospect or customer is automatically directed to her own personalized Web site. This eliminates the chance of typos and decreases the amount of effort required by the recipient to access the information.

Tracking and measuring

Every marketer knows there is nothing more important than being able to measure the success of a campaign.

PURLs provide the ability to track which recipients visit their personalized page and, depending on the level of the PURL, gather additional contact information about each individual.

Similarly, various software programs have been developed that will also record the amount of scans per day, what time those scans took place, the location of the scans, and the type of device being used to scan the code.

Together, QR codes and PURLs can provide a more complete picture of which recipients express interest and which leads are the hottest.

QR codes will only enhance the value PURLs already bring to campaigns, becoming a logical extension of the PURLs you may already be implementing. Use them to fill the gap that other cross-marketing tools cannot.

Ready to learn more about how you can benefit from integrating QR Codes and Personalized URLs? Get started today!

Customer Tip: Add a File Upload field to your Landing Pages

Within ilinkONE Version 8's marketing software, users can set up surveys, registration pages, feedback forms, download entry points, and more through our Campaign Management and Landing Page features.
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Within that piece of our software, users can easily build Question & Answer forms for a variety of reasons. Most of our customers typically choose from Question Types such as:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Single Choice via Radio Buttons
  • Single Choice via Dropdowns
  • Open-Ended

But there is another option available that may assist you in your marketing efforts. That option allows you to create a field on a landing page that enables people to upload a file while they are filling out the form.

Using the File Upload Feature

If you are familiar with how to build campaigns and landing pages in our system, it is very easy for you to use the File Upload feature.

  • To create a File Upload field, you'll want to create/edit a Question for your campaign.
  • On the “Edit Question” page, set the Question Type to “Single – Open Line Text” and then check the box for the “Display as File Upload” field.

Screenshot from our ilinkONE Version 8 Marketing Software: Categorize a Question for File Upload

Once you've taken those simple steps, the ilinkONE Version 8 software do the rest of work.

Next time that you view the landing page that those questions are associated to, you will see your web browser's Upload File utility displayed with that question.

ilinkONE Version 8 - A landing page that has the Upload File field turned on.

The system will store the images on the FTP server. You will be able to access them by simply finding the folder associated to the Client that you built the campaign for.

We hope that you find this feature useful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our Customer Support team!