QR Codes Are Even More Relevant in 2019

QR codes are making a comeback and brands, agencies and traditional marketers are finding innovative ways to utilize them as an effective means of passing product information in-store, bringing static ads to life and engaging with customers through contests or loyalty reward systems.

Despite having been around for decades and receiving much media attention, QR codes never became the revolutionary mobile marketing tool that businesses and marketers had hoped. When Apple added native support QR code scanning in its iOS 11, the promise of the technology was renewed. This game-changing move allows QR codes to be scanned on Apple devices directly through the camera app. And the fact that the QR code feature is in the control settings enables ease of use. The latest Android smartphones have also made QR code scanning a native feature. This addresses the major barrier for QR code use in Western markets.

According to recent estimates from Juniper Research, the number of QR coupons redeemed via mobile devices will reach 5.3 billion by 2022. By contrast, coded coupons redeemed via mobile in 2017 approached about 1.3 billion, by Juniper’s count. What’s more, Juniper forecasts that more than 1 billion mobile devices will access coupons through QR codes by 2022. Clearly, the surge in use is being driven by built-in QR functionality on smartphones and most importantly Apple devices.

Brands, agencies and traditional marketers are finding innovative ways to utilize mobile bar codes as an effective means of passing product information in-store, bringing static ads to life and engaging with customers through contests or loyalty reward systems. This integration of offline, online and mobile allows marketers to provide a holistic experience to their customers. Let’s look at a few examples of what successful marketers are doing to optimize the print/mobile customer experience and maximize marketing spend.

Nike: Curating the Customer Experience

QR codes can be used at the store level to give shoppers experiential choices. Nike’s flagship store in New York City, called House of Innovation, uses QR codes all throughout the store to give NikePlus Members with the Nike app a truly unique experience. The Nike App features Shop the Look. Customers can go up to a store mannequin and use the Nike app to scan a QR code (on a printed sign) that will bring up its entire outfit. From there, a shopper can decide to buy any of the pieces the mannequin is wearing or have the items sent to a fitting room. Shoppers get a push notification when the items are ready telling them to head to a nearby fitting room, where there will be a sign with their name on it and the items waiting inside.

QR Codes

Amazon: Blending Digital and Physical Worlds

In addition, marketers are using QR codes in advertising. In Europe, Amazon has started placing QR code boxes that include its trademark smile logo into magazine advertisements, enabling Amazon mobile app users to scan the “SmileCode” to open Amazon product pages or other content on their phones. As Amazon increasingly blends the physical and digital worlds, it’s latest move is an attempt to make magazines shoppable. It will be an interesting test of the concept, and its success could mean as much, or more, to the publishers of major print magazines as it does to Amazon. While the content unlocked by the SmileCode could be a product page, it could also be a gateway to more messaging.

Optimizing the Print Mobile Experience

Big brands are focused on harnessing QR codes as a technique for engaging and converting consumers. They want to deliver a brand experience that engages the mobile-centric consumer. Amid a sea of marketing messages bombarding consumers every day, thoughtful and integrated marketing campaigns can cut through the clutter and give marketers confidence that their marketing dollars are being used wisely. Given the ease of use of QR codes, it is time for print service providers to look at print/mobile-optimized marketing campaigns to help marketers blend traditional and digital media. Print (signage, advertisements, packaging, magazines, catalogs, direct mailers, etc.) is an important mechanism for capturing attention and building awareness. Optimizing print and mobile with QR codes is a great way to combine media and actively engage customers.

Direct Mail Fun for the Holidays 

I always like this time of year — not just because of the fun I have at the holidays, but also because of the really fun direct mail pieces I get. If you are not currently creating some fun direct mail pieces to stand out amongst the influx of mailed advertisements this time of year, you are missing out on a great opportunity.

direct mail holiday mailI always like this time of year — not just because of the fun I have at the holidays, but also because of the really fun direct mail pieces I get. If you are not currently creating some fun direct mail pieces to stand out amongst the influx of mailed advertisements this time of year, you are missing out on a great opportunity.

Here are four ideas for creating fun holiday mail:

1. Make It Interactive

Draw attention to your direct mail messaging by making it interactive. Get creative here. Direct mail is tactile — how can you take advantage of that? Endless folds, scratch-and-sniff or coatings can be a great way for people to have fun with your mail. What else can you think of? The idea here is to maximize the qualities that can only be used with direct mail. There is no other marketing channel like direct mail: Command that power in your own creations.

2. Use Mobile

Everyone has their cell phone with them at all times, so how can you make your direct mail fun by getting recipients to use their phones? Sure you can use QR codes and PURLs, but what about going the extra mile and using augmented reality, like Pokémon Go does? How can you do something that people will really like and respond to?

3. Consider Video Mailers

People love to watch videos! Have you considered how you can add them to a direct mailer? This method is not widely used in direct mail yet, so they really help your mail stand out. How can you make this fun? Dress up in holiday costumes and dance around? While that would be funny, how can that wrangle business? Make sure you are not just entertaining, but also selling.

4. Use Die Cuts

Using special die-cut shapes for your mailers is a great way to grab attention. Incorporating a holiday theme with your shape is fun and easy. I have seen some really good ideas with die cuts, so put on your thinking cap. We have even seen mail take on a whole new shape with each unfolded panel as you open it. This is fun for recipients and draws them into the mailer.

You now have some creative juices flowing — don’t let them fizzle out. Write down a couple of ideas right now. Once you have the creative ideas, it’s time to plan out a strategy. What are you trying to accomplish?

Remember that you still need to execute your normal due diligence. Target your mailing list, formulate your message and plan your call to action. Just because you are going to do something fun, does not mean that you get to skip past the drier tasks. Your goal is a higher return on your investment, but a lack of proper planning is just throwing your money away.

Standing out in the mailbox is the best way to get your message not only read, but responded to. Many studies have found that direct mail is a more trusted by consumers than other methods and that a message in direct mail is better remembered than one in email or digital marketing. And yes, millennials like direct mail too — so do not leave them out of your next campaign. Have some fun!

9 Ways to Make Direct Mail ‘Irresistible’

Creating direct mail can be a challenge, as many marketers struggle to create direct mail that is irresistible to recipients. Many times, taking a look at what others are doing to either grab good ideas or avoid bad ones is a great place to start.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.16.01 AMCreating direct mail can be a challenge, as many marketers struggle to create direct mail that is irresistible to recipients. Many times, taking a look at what others are doing to either grab good ideas or avoid bad ones is a great place to start.

Another idea is to check the USPS’s irresistible mail website to help you generate direct mail ideas. Once there, you will find all kinds of information.

Here are a few USPS ideas to make your direct mail irresistible:

1. QR Codes provide access to many forms of online content from the direct mail piece. They can go to websites for more info, pages for purchasing, videos and so much more.

2. Social media adds to the reach of direct mail. Tell people how to connect with you on your social media channels and make sure to allow people to make purchases from the channels.

3. Near-field communication gives users an experience on their mobile devices that does not require an app download. This can send them the content you want them to see — there are so many great ideas on using this newer technology.

4. Textures create a way for people to feel your message. This can’t be done with digital channels, so how can you take advantage of this?

5. Embed video in your direct mail with a paper-thin screen, a URL to live stream content or visuals that come alive right on the page with video-enhanced print.

6. Augmented reality can spark your creativity and the recipients’ curiosity. Take your printed direct mail into a whole new dimension with this powerful combination.

7. Formats that are unique and grab attention have a high response rate. Think of folding options, sizes and other ideas. What can you do to make your design new?

8.Variable data is a great way to make each piece relevant to each recipient. Remember, correctly targeted messaging gets the best results.

9. Analytics are the key to successful direct mail. You need to know what’s working and what needs improvement.

Whenever you add extra elements to your direct mail, like the ones listed above, you are adding to its value. The more value recipients feel they are getting, the better engaged they will be with your mail pieces. This gives you better response rates. Keep in mind that you can incorporate more than one of the elements without the worry of causing confusion. The idea is to get creative and provide a fun, engaging experience for your recipients.

Direct mail has the highest response rate when you do it correctly. Make sure you have your design approved for postal regulations and you get feedback from people outside of your organization about your design and message. People like to get direct mail, so make sure you are giving them something good — not something that is going to go immediately into the trash can. When you haven’t targeted your list and offer properly, you’re not sending direct mail — you are sending junk mail and no one likes that.

Direct Mail Is Back

Last week during my IMV15 presentation for “Direct Mail Is Back” we had some questions that we were not able to get to. So we wanted to address them in this blog post. If you have your own questions feel free to reach out and ask them.

Last week, during my IMV15 presentation for “Direct Mail Is Back” we had some questions that we were not able to get to. So we wanted to address them in this blog post. If you have your own questions, feel free to reach out and ask them — or leave them in the comments below!

Here are the questions we didn’t get to:

URLs on the mail piece: We used to be able to use “friendly” URLs, but our webmaster has discouraged it due to the way search engines penalize the site with multiple URLs landing in the site. What kind of URLs do you include?
We create and register a new site for each campaign. That way, the multiple landing pages are not part of our normal website. We do offer links to materials on our regular website to drive traffic there and provide more content. This is sometimes referred to as a microsite.

What would you recommend as a price point for a good direct mail piece as far as expense is concerned?
This is hard, as so much of the cost depends on what you are doing. So, instead of giving you prices that may not reflect what needs to be done, let’s look at what is the cheapest direct mail. That would be a postcard mailing to local recipients all near each other. This gives you the low cost of a card and the low cost of local postage. Specific prices will vary depending on your service area and your provider.

Are there metrics available that demonstrate a significant lift using DM as a precursor to digital follow-up (i.e. email) that justifies the extraordinary increase in costs when using DM?
That can be a challenge, as every list will have a different result. Your best bet is to run a test on your list. Knowing your results from your last campaign, you can then see if you had an increase in response or an increase in purchase amount. Who your recipients are and your offer are going to be major factors in your statistics, and can be dramatically different than a quoted statistic. Here is a case study on adding email to direct mail.

• Where can we learn more about augmented reality in marketing?
Check out these sites for more information on augmented reality:

  1. http://www.dmnews.com/augmented-reality/topic/8147/
  2. http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/35895.asp#multiview
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYd0by0PbNI
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDNzTasuYEw

Augmented reality can be really fun for recipients, as a couple of the above examples show. The cost to start this is very high, but if you do it right, you have the potential to reach many more people than you had on your mail list.

• Are QR codes really utilized much today? I feel like they are outdated already and no one uses them anymore.
It really depends on your audience and your offer. The two states with the most QR Code scans are California and Texas. So if you are mailing there you know that people are open to the idea of scanning a QR code. The best way to know if they are going to work for you is to test them. On your next campaign add the QR code and see what happens.

As direct mail is back in favor with many marketers now, you need to be even more vigilant when creating your direct mail. The only way that direct mail will continue to work is if we as marketers, send direct mail to consumers that is designed well, has a clear call to action and is targeted to the right people. This keeps recipients happy and increases your response rates.