QR Codes Can Make Your Direct Mail More Effective

Direct mail is an effective way to reach prospects and customers. But, we have to admit that both customers and prospects are becoming more mobile and therefore digital content is becoming more important

Direct mail is an effective way to reach prospects and customers. But, we have to admit that both customers and prospects are becoming more mobile, and therefore digital content is becoming more important. QR codes are simple 2D barcodes that can be scanned by a smartphone or tablet to create a bridge between direct mail and digital content. To be effective, QR codes need to be easy to scan, so make sure that you leave room for the barcode.

Your direct mail is already in your customers’ hands, which means you have their attention. It’s the perfect opportunity to encourage further engagement by using a QR code to invite them to connect with digital content. You want your QR code to work for you—simply linking to your homepage isn’t enough. Your code needs to offer something valuable to your customers/prospects that will catch their interest and encourage them to get in touch, make a purchase, sign up for information or come back for more.

Here are five examples of ways you can use QR Codes to add value for your customers/prospects:

  1. Link to exclusive or time-limited content.
  2. Provide specific information about you, your products, or services.
  3. Connect your customers/prospects with media such as a video or gallery.
  4. Direct your customers/prospects to a landing page, email sign up form, or even dial a phone number.
  5. Send out special offers such as coupons or discounts.

As with any kind of marketing campaign, there are do’s and don’ts of using QR codes. Knowing them will help you make the most of your QR codes. Check out four of each listed below.

QR Code Do’s:

  1. Offer An Incentive to Scan
    QR codes are a fast and easy, but people still need a good reason to grab their phone and scan your code. Make sure scanning the code is worth their while by offering them information or an offer they won’t want to miss.
  2. Make Your Destination Mobile Friendly
    When scanning customers/prospects will need to use their smartphone or tablet, so make sure the place they’re headed to is optimized for mobile viewing. If you don’t, they’ll click away and your opportunity will be lost.
  3. Include a Call to Action
    Treat your QR code as you would any marketing materials, with a clear call to action that lets your customer/prospect know what they should do next, and why. Tell them why they should scan your QR code, for example “scan here to receive your free gift” or “scan to watch our two minute marketing 101 video.”
  4. Test It
    Just like everything else you send out, your QR code tells your customer something about your business. That means that as well as offering value and being convenient to use, the QR code destination needs to work, too. Make sure it’s tested for functionality, quality, and mobile compatibility before you send it out to your customers.

QR Code Don’ts:

  1. Assume Your Customers Will Scan the Code
    It’s unlikely that your customers/prospects will scan your QR code just out of curiosity. It’s up to you to encourage them to scan the code by making doing so just a little bit irresistible.
  2. Link to Information That Could Be Easily Found Elsewhere
    If your QR code links straight to your homepage or Facebook profile, you’re not making the best use of it. Use it as a shortcut to something informative or exclusive.
  3. Make It Hard to Scan
    QR codes need to be as easy as pie to use. That means making them at least an inch square, clearly printed and positioned so as to be accessible.
  4. Waste It
    QR codes provide you with an opportunity to track customer/prospect activity and find out what they like and respond to. By tracking how customers/prospects respond to your QR codes you can see what works best and what doesn’t. This information will help to make your next QR code campaign even better.

QR codes are an effective way to make your direct mail more interactive, connecting your customers with digital content that they won’t want to miss. When you bridge the gap between offline and online marketing you provide a better experience for your customer/prospect. This in turn will provide you with better results.

Author: Summer Gould

A blog about Direct Mail Marketing, tips, tricks and what not to do.Summer Gould is President of Eye/Comm Inc. Summer has spent her 27 year career helping clients achieve better marketing results. She has served as a panel speaker for the Association of Marketing Service Providers conferences. She is active in several industry organizations and she is a board member for Printing Industries Association San Diego, as well as a board member for Mailing Systems Management Association of San Diego. You can find her at Eye/Comm Inc’s website: eyecomm.org, email: summer.gould@eyecomm.org, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @sumgould.

6 thoughts on “QR Codes Can Make Your Direct Mail More Effective”

  1. Summer – we agree completely. QR codes fell out of favor a couple of years ago due to poor strategy & creative. They are making a comeback today as a part of integrated, cross channel campaigns. Good marketing automation software makes it easy to develop QR’s that can seamlessly drive direct mail recipients offline to online environments where they want to respond.

  2. I am rather shocked that an organization such as Target Marketing would run a piece touting dated – and dead – technology. A 2013 survey from Hub Spot found only 21% of American smartphone owners say they’ve EVER scanned a QR code. And Inc. did a survey from 2012 finding 97% of consumers don’t know what a QR code is. So even though all is lost with this technology, this piece isn’t all bad. You can apply nearly everything written here, best practices, etc., to current Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. So you can put an NFC tag (they are cheap) on every piece of direct mail, same as QR codes, but you would look a lot more hip in the process!

  3. Great QR Summerization… pun intended :-)… They are most definitely gaining favor again as they are being more widely recognized as a simple and effective way to not only track results of specific promotions but to use as virtual business cards as well as for links to a host of other information providing avenues.

    In fact I believe in them so much that I have a site dedicated specifically to creating free QR codes. You can get as many as you want for whatever you would like @ DougParkersFreeQRcodes.com

  4. Nice article! Simple but yet important points.

    I would like to add that businesses should also consider using more modern QR code generators to get nicer looking QR codes. Do check out the free OunchTag (www.ounchtag.com) or Visualead (www.visualead.com). I think these solutions will make QR codes a lot more appealing 🙂

  5. As a designer and marketer I dread allocating so much of my visual real estate to ugly QR Codes – especially considering the size limitations of direct mail. However, mobile activators that include the brand or icon suggesting the destination are much more effective and user-friendly. Check out (http://www.spyderlynk.com/snaptags-qr-codes/). Regardless of the type of activator used, I applaud Summer’s insight to extend traditional advertising channels via mobile!

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