Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Power of Purls

Stereo image of John Wanamaker's department store in Philadelphia
Department store mogul and marketing pioneer John Wanamaker once expressed his frustration that "half my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half."



While Wanamaker passed away 90 years ago, his frustration lives on with everyone who manages or creates marketing campaigns.

On the web, we have many tools to track and measure the impact of our creativity. Pay per click advertising dashboards provide almost immediate feedback on the number of people who respond to an ad and Google Analytics allows us to track those prospects through our website. Those of us who blog or participate in social media conversations pay close attention to our reader statistics and comments. However, tracking the effectiveness of traditional advertising and direct mail is trickier.

Purls or Personalized Uniform Resource Locators are powerful tools for increasing response rates and tracking responses from direct mail pieces. These personalized URLs, which are printed in a prominent location on your mail piece lead your readers to personalized landing pages on the web which have been created individually for each recipient. For example, www.David.Williams.Double-Thick.com* would link to a page that welcomes me by name, explains the offer concisely and allows me to respond to the offer by simply checking a box.


Sample personalized landing page from Easy Purl
The software that we use for creating Purls at Convertible Solutions is called Easy Purl and the landing page to the right is a sample from their website. As you see, it welcomes Amy, explains why New York College would be a good choice and includes a form already filled in with her address information that provides a field where she can select her area of interest. It is very easy for her to click through to the next page which can collect more information. After Amy responds, a personalized thank you page is presented.

The Easy Purl software also includes a dashboard which allows the campaign manager to see which prospects have visited their page and what they did after seeing their page. This knowledge can identify where the offer or the creative design should be tweaked and if the mailing was sent to the correct list. The information can also be used to send triggered reminder emails to those who have not yet visited their page or visited without responding.


Browsing trends report created by Easy Purl

Marketing is still both an art and a science and tools can not take the place of a strong creative vision, but tools like PURLs combined with careful testing can be very helpful in determining how the customer feels about your message. John Wanamaker would be pleased.


 *This link is no longer attached to a personalized landing page.

The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printers, direct marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Alpha and Omega of Modern Marketing


Before launching any multi-channel marketing campaign or jumping headfirst into social media marketing, you need to begin with a great website. In many cases, your website will be the first contact your customers have with your brand and the last contact they have before making a purchase.

Your website is the first solid contact that people have when they become prospects for your product and service. Whether they find you through a search engine or see one of your display ads, as soon as they become seriously interested, they will find your website to learn more about you. If you are a web retailer, your website is also the final step in their purchase process. However, even brick and mortar retailers have customers who use the web to do price comparisons, find store locations and check on store hours before coming into the store.

First impressions are important on the web. Your site needs to appeal to the type of customers that buy your product. The graphics and messaging need to pull people in and get them excited about your product and service. The navigation system should be balanced to help people find the right product with the minimum number of clicks.

If you want people to come back to your page regularly, the content needs to be frequently updated. A blog that covers topics that interest your customers is one of the best ways to keep people engaged with your site. The blog should be updated at least one per week and should not be used as a sales platform for the company's products. When you create a new blog post, be sure to mention it and provide links on all of your social media feeds.

Accessibility is extremely important. As more of your audience are shopping using smartphones and tablets, sites that don’t have mobile versions will get left behind. Avoiding Flash plugins is essential since iPhone and iPad users are not able to view them.

The final step is to make your website easily sharable. In addition to the buttons that allow people to find your pages on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other sites, include buttons that allow people to share your content on their own feeds. And always make it very clear how people can subscribe to your content using an RSS reader or email.

Is your website all that it should be?





The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printers, direct marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mizzou in 3D

University of Missouri sign

University of Missouri sign

Earlier this month, I asked my daughter Amy to help me find some of the best spots on the campus of the University of Missouri to capture some 3D stereo images. She completed her undergraduate studies at Mizzou and graduates from MU Law next month so she has spent the last seven years on campus.

As usual, I have uploaded each image as both a red/blue anaglyph and a stereo pair so you can choose your favorite 3D viewing method.

Amy and Truman at MU
Amy at one of the most iconic spots on the MU campus.

Amy and Truman at MU

The six columns on the quadrangle are probably the most recognized symbol of the University. They originally supported the portico of Academic hall, the first building on campus. Finished in 1843, the building was destroyed by a fire in 1892, but the columns have been retained. They were originally constructed from limestone from the nearby Hinkson Creek Valley.


The columns on the Mizzou quadrangle.
The columns on the Mizzou quadrangle.

The columns on the Mizzou quadrangle.

The inscription on the George Lundeen sculpture of Thomas Jefferson reads: This bronze sculpture and garden were given to the University of Missouri-Columbia by trustees of the Jefferson Club to recognize the University's unique connection with Thomas Jefferson.  MU is the first Land Grant University in the Louisiana Purchase Territory, and the design of the Francis Quadrangle is modeled after the plan first used by Jefferson at the University of Virginia.

Thomas Jefferson statue on the quadrangle at MU.
Thomas Jefferson statue on the quadrangle at MU.

Thomas Jefferson statue on the quadrangle at MU.

Jesse Hall is the main administration building for the University of Missouri and was built in 1893 after Academic Hall burned to the ground. It also houses Jesse Hall which is one of the best places in town to see concerts and plays.

The Dome of Jesse Hall at MU
The Dome of Jesse Hall.

The Dome of Jesse Hall at MU

Jesse Hall is the cultural center of the MU campus.
Jesse Hall is the cultural center of the MU campus.

Jesse Hall is the cultural center of the MU campus.


Groundbreaking for the Memorial Union, which includes the A.P. Green Chapel, originally took place in November of 1921 as a tribute to the Mizzou alumni who died in the first World War. The Tower was completed in 1926 and the North Wing was completed in 1951. The South Wing was added in 1963. Amy says that her daily walk down the tree-lined path toward the Union is one of her favorite parts of living east of campus.


The Green Chapel at the University of Missouri.
The Green Chapel at the University of Missouri.

The Green Chapel at the University of Missouri.

The Green Chapel at the University of Missouri.
The clock tower of Memorial Union seen over the roof of Green Chapel.

The Green Chapel at the University of Missouri.

Memorial Union at the Univeristy of Missouri
The tree lined path to Memorial Union

Memorial Union at the Univeristy of Missouri


Truman the Tiger, named after president Harry S. Truman, is the official mascot of the University of Missouri. He was formally named in 1986, but the use of a Bengal Tiger as the mascot dates back to the 1890s.

Truman the Tiger at MU
Truman the Tiger is the Missouri mascot.

Truman the Tiger at MU

Truman the Tiger at MU
A closeup of Truman the Tiger.

Truman the Tiger at MU

I don't know any of the history of this small pond near the edge of the campus, but these are some of the most beautiful 3D images that I have ever captured.

A quiet pond on the MU campus.
A quiet pond on the MU campus.

A quiet pond on the MU campus.

A quiet pond on the MU campus.
Another view of the pond at Mizzou.

A quiet pond on the MU campus.

How have you been enjoying your spring?




The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Tale of Two Offsets

HP Indigo Digital Offset Press


"It was the best of times, 

it was the worst of times... " 

Charles Dickens



March 22nd marked the ten year anniversary of the purchase of Indigo by Hewlett Packard which brought digital offset printing technology to a much larger market. During this decade, Indigo users have thrived while traditional offset printers have declined dramatically.

The contrast between the two printing technologies was very apparent in data presented by Alon Bar-Shany, Vice President and General Manager of HP Indigo, at this years Dscoop conference. Since 2006, print industry revenues have declined 49% from $108.5 billion to $55 billion. Large offset print campaigns have been replaced by small, carefully targeted campaigns and electronic publishing has eliminated the need for many printed documents.

However, Indigo digital offset page volumes have increased from nine billion in 2008 to twenty billion in 2012. The growth in short run printing, personalized marketing and personalized publishing have been a great opportunity for those who have embraced the digital technology.

Bar-Shany went on to announce a new family of HP digital presses that will challenge offset printing even more radically. The HP Indigo 10,000 is a 29" platform that can print a full eight page signature with the same seven color capability, automatic duplexing and multi-source feeder as the current Indigo line.

Printing and publishing have changed radically in the last decade and the pace of change is accelerating. How are you preparing for these changes?





The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printers, direct marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.