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Martin Cogburn


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    PURLs Overview

    About PURLs

    Applies to: All ONTRAPORT accounts.

    Whenever you create a landing page, you'll automatically have the option to send contacts to the PURL of that Landing Page via a Merge Field in an Email or a Postcard. By using a landing page as a PURL, you have the opportunity to personalize the content on your landing pages. This is done by placing merge fields on the landing page to be populated with contact data when one of your contacts visits the page as a PURL.

    A PURL, or Personal Uniform Resource Locator, is just what it sounds like - a URL with the contact’s name right in it, such as

    People love seeing their own name, and when they see it in a URL, they’ll want to check it out. Plus, PURLs point to (or link to in the case of an email) a Landing Page and allow you to track the response to your campaign down to the specific person.

    For instance, when Jane visits her PURL you’ll know about it, even if she doesn’t fill out a form.

    How to Merge PURLs into an email or postcard

    Using PURLs in an email is done exactly the same way as merging any other data. When creating an Email or Postcard, toward the bottom of the list of possible Merge Fields in the dropdown menu, you'll see a list of PURLs for all the Landing Pages you've created and hosted. Simply select the one you'd like to put into the email, and click Insert Merge Field, and you're all set. Note that you will only find merge field options for PURLs that point to landing Pages for which you've already set up hosting. Note also that PURLs must be activated before they'll work and there are 3 ways to do this.

    PURLs are activated by:

    • Sending an email with the PURL
    • Sending a postcard with the PURL
    • Exporting a PURL

    How to Export or View PURLs of Your Contact

    Exporting your PURLs allows you to view and use them in 3rd party mailers.

    1. Go to the Contacts collection.
    2. Select contacts to export
    3. Click Export
    4. Complete the export screen.
      1. Enter an email to send the completed csv file to (optional)
      2. Select which individual PURLs you'd like to export from the field selection menu

    Insert a PURL into Anchor Text

    This function allows you to link your contacts to their PURLs in anchor text in your emails to them. This means that you can have text of your choice such as “Check it out here” or “Get it now” link to a contact’s PURL rather than just have the PURL address show up in their emails if you choose to.

    How to insert a PURL into email anchor text

    1. Open the email builder
    2. Insert the PURL you wish to send into the email as a merge field. The PURLs appear near the bottom of the merge field drop down.
    3. Highlight and copy the PURL merge field using Ctrl + C
    4. Click the Source button
    5. Paste the PURL merge field into the email twice.

    6. Fill in all spaces within the PURLs with %20 (the html code for spaces)


    7. Replace the brackets around both PURLs with angle brackets as pictured (<,>)
    8. Make sure to insert a backslash (/) after the opening angle bracket (<) of the second PURL (pictured below)

    9. Enter what you want your link to say in between the two PURLs


    10. Click the Source button
    11. Your finished text won’t look linked but when you send it to a contact it will be
    12. Test the email by sending it to yourself as a test contact (DO NOT use the Send Preview E-Mail button)

    Note: PURLs will NOT populate a contact's name when the Landing Page is hosted on a secure domain.

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    • Avatar
      Samantha Hartley

      It is still possible to export PURLs from the contact record in Ontaport? I don't see the pages listed in the dropdown menu.

    • Avatar
      Holger Woeltje

      PURLs do not work in my Ontraport account. I created two landing pages (one ontrapages, one referrer, both hosted by you, NOT secure).

      But I can't select any PURL anywhere: Not when I modify an existing email, not when I create a new email and not when I export the contacts.

      What's wrong with the system?

    • Avatar
      Frank Hagan

      Samantha, we do not have a way to export PURLs in a Contact Export or Fulfillment List. I will make a note of this, as it was a feature in version 2.4 that has not been ported over. 

      Holger, PURLs are working in your account; I updated your ticket number 22919 this morning.

    • Avatar
      David Collier

      Hey Frank-

      We intend to make deep and wide use of PURLs in direct mail. It seems we can export but the PURL field is not available yet in fulfillment lists. Any idea when that will be available?

      Letters in addition to postcards would be great. Is that on the drawing board?

      What logic does the system use to create PURLs and can it be changed? In other words, starts with first name then adds last name or portion thereof for record when there is another with duplicate first name.

      Also, it would be really slick to be able to pick the field that the PURL is generated from i.e. mailing or email address...


    • Avatar
      Frank Hagan

      David, I'll get a ticket in to add PURLS to the Fulfillment Lists; as you noted they are exposed as Contact export fields now and should be available via Fulfillment Lists.

      The PURL uses the first name, then if there's a dupe, the first name and last name first initial. There are more rules after that. They are hard coded and cannot be changed on an account-by-account basis. 

      We don't have a plan to generate letters from within ONTRAPORT. Fulfillment Lists and contact export CSV files work great for Word mail merge operations, so that's always an option. 

    • Avatar
      David Schwartz

      How do you write PURLs when in Plain Text section?

    • Avatar
      Sam Foss


      I'm new to ontraport and im still feeling my way around.

      My (Plumbing) company wordpress website generates a blog post on my site with a unique  youtube video embedded for every job that we complete


      In effect this creates a unique landing page for each job

      Is it possible to either:

      1. Create the these landing pages automatically through Ontraport  and personalise with PURL and embed the appropriate video


      1. To assign each new (wordpress) landing page to a client in ontraport and track their behaviour

      The landing pages that are currently being genrated are 'bare bones' at the moment and im looking to ad opt-in forms to retrieve job information and quotes for further works etc. and im just wodering if this would be better developed through Ontraport or Wordpress

      Sorry if this has been covered elswhere, i have searched high and low for an answer

      Please excuse my lack of technical expertise, I'm a Newbie!!




    • Avatar
      Frank Hagan

      Hi Sam - 

      That's an interesting use case! Is the YouTube video embedded in WordPress done automatically or manually? 

      You can create a long text field in the Contact Record, and then put the YouTube embed code in that field. You can then use that long text field as a merge field on a Landing Page and, when it is sent as a PURL, it will display the video. 

      Here, we have added a long text field to the Contact Record and populated it with the YouTube embed code:


      In the Landing Page, we add the merge field:


      The result, when visited as a PURL, is that the video is embedded on the page. The code is pulled into the page by the merge field:


      If that long text field is empty, or you visit the page without the PURL prefix, no video is displayed. 

      You can populate the long text field with a webhook or API script to automate that part of it. And you can send the PURL via email to the contact. 

    • Avatar
      Sam Foss

      Hi Frank,

      I have been trying to get this up and running, but i can't get it to behave in the same way as you do.

      I have created a 'test' landing page following your instructions, however i cannot figure out how to send the page as a PURL (or even as a standard page). i would like to send the purls via both email and postcards, please can you step me through how to generate the PURL link


    • Avatar
      Frank Hagan

      All of your Landing Pages, either the "Legacy Landing Pages" or the new ONTRApages, will be listed as PURLs in merge fields in either the standard Email editor or ONTRAmail:


      The same function is in the Postcard editor as well.

      Create the Landing Page using the regular merge field for your "Long Text" field that has the video URL, and publish it. That Landing Page or ONTRApage will then appear as a merge field in the Message editors and the Postcard editor. When you add that merge field it provides the "Personalized URL" when sent to a contact. 

      Let me know if you need additional help on this! 

    • Avatar
      Nelson Andrews

      Is there any automated workaround for using PURLs when the name fields of the contact record are empty? I often use PURLs to associate pages with contact records. Sample use cases:

      * Sending contacts to a page with a (partially) pre-filled smartform
      * A "thank you for opting in" page that refers to the contact's email address (so they see immediately if there is a typo in the email address)

    • Avatar
      Tyler Kemp

      Is there a way to add a hosted image to a purl (to add someone's company logo to a ontrapage for instance)?

      In our case, our Clients need branded pages that they use to invite and sponsor other users of our product.

      What's the best way to approach this?

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