3 Ways to Introduce Augmented Reality in Your Direct Mail

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very savvy when it comes to direct mail and technology. Although I use them a lot now, I was a late adopter in scanning QR codes. So when augmented reality (AR) first came along, I was a little skeptical that I would ever use it, or care about it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very savvy when it comes to direct mail and technology. Although I use them a lot now, I was a late adopter in scanning QR codes. So when augmented reality (AR) first came along, I was a little skeptical that I would ever use it, or care about it.

Now that I’ve seen it in action, I’m very convinced that it can really make some direct mail campaigns stand out, and provide a more enriching experience with print materials for customers.

At our Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk Virtual Conference & Expo in March, Cindy Walas of Walas Younger Ltd. delivered a good overview of AR’s capabilities. She’ll get into more of the nitty-gritty how-to’s at next month’s Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference.

But ahead of that, I thought I’d provide a quick look at some mail from Who’s Mailing What!. Here’s how a few marketers deal with a steep learning curve in getting customers started with AR.

1. Make It Easy
Don’t assume your audience knows what to do. You have to tell them or show them what app to download, and from where. And customers need to know what content is enhanced with AR on the pages or panels of your direct mail piece. Icons are a simple but effective way to designate them.


Ikea_031This key is a good example I found from the 2015 Ikea catalog. It not only explains the basics of how to identify AR content but also what types of experiences customers can have.

2. Make It Worthwhile
Your customers should know that the additional content they can access may be worth their time and effort.

Raymour_01Home furnishings retailer Raymour & Flanigan regularly sends out a direct mail style guide that provides customers with something of value — ideas on home decorating — as well as drive traffic to its brick-and-mortar stores and website. As this page from a recent issue shows, the AR symbol promises additional value.

3. Make It Fun
Most toy catalogs are already pretty cool, but Toys “R” Us did something interesting with its 2015 Christmas catalog: it tied in AR to a game.

TRU_01First, kids (and their parents) had to download an app. Then, they had to open it and scan wherever they found a gold coin featuring Geoffrey (the store’s mascot) to win prizes, as explained by this page.

AR really has a lot of potential to make a big difference in how some brands use direct mail and print. It’s important to remember though, that even with a 2 percent USPS discount for using an “enhanced” or interactive form of AR in 2016, you still have to understand what your audience needs before you get started. Like any other direct mail campaign, you’ll also have to have a clear goal for your campaign, a smart design in both technologies, and a precise call to action.

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