QR Codes in Direct Mail: Helpful or Error-Prone?

Will QR codes in direct mail increase tracking on your direct mail campaigns and make them more valuable?

In case you didn’t know, QR codes are those little black and white stamps that brands have begun to use on their products and in advertising. The code itself stores additional information and website links that you may not be able to print in your publication or on your advertisement. It can be scanned by anyone with a mobile phone that has an app to read QR codes.

While the idea of QR codes sounds genius, remember that it requires people to download an application in order to scan the code, which is not really an “on-the-go” type of procedure. However, if they are already set up to scan these codes, you can offer your readers above and beyond the printed page.

In terms of direct mail, QR codes can be an excellent opportunity to add another dimension to your marketing campaigns. Rather than asking everyone to remember your URL, you can simply drop a QR code onto your ad and the user can be automatically taken to a landing page.

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Mashable notes, however, that businesses make a few mistakes when they’re implementing QR codes. A few notes from their 5 Big Mistakes To Avoid in Your QR Code Marketing Campaign article:

  • “A small placement (less than an inch) will often be too dense to scan if you’ve encoded a longer URL, but using bit.ly or goo.gl to automatically generate a short URL QR code is an easy fix.”
  • “Your QR code scans successfully but you’ve pointed the user to a standard desktop website, when 99.9% of QR codes are scanned by a mobile device”
  • “The proper mindset is to reward the user for scanning your QR code. This “reward,” however, will change depending on what you’re trying to promote.”

So let’s remember that people need to download an app in order to scan your QR code. In the future, people may simply see one and automatically scan it. Unfortunately, we’re not programmed to do this yet. Offering exclusive secret deals, discounts and URLs for everyone who scans your QR code is a slow but effective way to train the human brain into wanting to scan these codes when they see them.

QR codes can absolutely be helpful and if your direct mail has the real estate to use them, you may try them out. The beauty of them is that you can use the same link-shortening tools like bitly to track who scans your code and visits your link. This is the next best thing for tracking response, next to creating custom URLs for all of your direct mail campaigns.

The cautionary tale is to do them effectively. Make them large enough to scan, reward your scanners, shorten your links for tracking, and make sure that you’re pointing all of your users to a mobile-friendly site.

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