The trend towards personalization in the B2C arena is gathering momentum. This week an interesting announcement made the trade press regarding the famous brand Brooks Brothers – They are working with direct marketing company MBS to bring a unique one-to-one solution to their customers. Using MBS’ Klondike relational database, Brooks Brothers will be able to integrate data from their call center, brick and mortar, and online efforts. By also leveraging data modeling, data mining, and web analytics, Brooks Brothers will be able to induce the morphogenesis of its current web storefront into a private “virtual closet,” which will depict all of a customer’s clothing and accessories purchased. With such a visibility into this “virtual closet,” the customer or their favorite sales associate can review the wardrobe and make recommendations on new buys.
The personalization of the brand experience with Brooks Brothers seems to be a positive step for such a revered brand, espeically since brand management generally tends to be a risk averse discipline. What could make this even more effective would be the inclusion of Personalized URLs (PURLs) for the virtual closets. In a perfect world, a PURL is an easy to remember or recognize URL that an individual will associate as “theirs” because it uniquely identifies them as the “owner” of the online destination it represents.
While some Marketing folks think that “johndoe.abccompany.com” is a PURL, technically that is incorrect – that is a subdomain. A true PURL would look like “www.abccompany.com/johndoe” and once clicked on would be able to dynamically generate content that is unique to that person, based on the combination of data fields referred to in the CRM tool that a marketer is using.
PURLs have been around a while, and while very popular with email campaigns, are bringing new life to direct print marketers. The term “variable print marketing” basically means that marketers can conduct lead generation or campaign management events with the production of direct mail pieces that are unique to each and every customer. Vendors such as PrintSf.com take this to an amazing level using XMPie‘s dynamic personalization engine. For example, a Net-Centric Marketing professional can dynamically assign variable graphics, relevant content and personalized information on both sides of a postcard – in very sensational fonts.
Now multiply that by the number of records in your CRM platform (In PrintSf.com’s case, they are an AppExchange partner with Salesforce.com), and you see that the possibilities are limitless. With a call-to-action that requires visiting a dynamically generated PURL on each piece, the Marketer can now know exactly who is responding to a particular campaign and what they are doing on the landing page, which also can be personalized and optimized using tools from such popular vendors as Hubspot and Lyris.
The personalization of communications between brands and their customers will hopefully be creating more stronger relationships in the future. You will be seeing more of this and if you haven’t received a direct marketing piece with your name in a PURL, you probably will in 2009.