No doubt you’ve noticed it. Whether you’re sipping a cup of coffee at the local cafe or strolling through the mall, increasingly everyone around you is staring at a glowing screen in front of them—their smartphone. The recent Nielsen 2011 third quarter survey of mobile users revealed that 43 percent of all US mobile phone subscribers own a smartphone. Additionally, the majority of those under the age of 44—and 62 percent of mobile users aged 25-34—own smartphones. Given these numbers, it’s not surprising that direct marketers have been looking for ways to leverage the attention being paid to these devices by today’s consumer. One technology being used is Quick Response (QR) codes—two dimensional bar codes that have quickly become a hot marketing tool for integrating direct mail, mobile and online channels.
QR codes offer an economical and effective way to support an organization’s direct marketing initiatives by providing consumers a convenient way to obtain immediate access to all sorts of valuable marketing information on demand via their mobile device. Growing in popularity, QR codes are now showing up on everything from billboards to catalogs to bananas. But they are not always being used effectively. For example, many marketers continue to use QR codes to link to general company websites that are not optimized for mobile devices. Doing so fails to take advantage of the opportunity QR codes present to truly enhance the customer experience by providing relevant and targeted information specifically designed to be viewed on a mobile device.
Getting the most from QR codes
Here are some best practices for maximizing the return on your QR code direct mail initiative:
- Ensure that QR codes link to Web pages that are optimized for mobile devices. Websites designed to be viewed on a PC or Mac will be hard to navigate and will likely contain too much information for viewing on a mobile device. It is also important to ensure that the mobile site is designed for multiple types of mobile web browsers.
- Provide online content that adds value for the targeted consumer and makes it worth their while to scan the code. Possible content may include a discount coupon, a short video demonstration of a product, a secure online site for ordering tickets to an event, or a social media page that offers positive testimonials about a service.
- Personalized direct marketing gets higher response rates, and QR codes can be embedded with a personalized URL (PURL). The PURL takes an individual to an online landing page or microsite that includes content customized for that consumer. QR codes with PURLs can be made for every prospect on a mailing list.
- Pre-populate data fields on a microsite to make it easier for the consumer to opt-in to receive an e-newsletter or other materials tailored to their interests.
- Make the QR code on a mailing piece prominent, and include brief instructions with it on where and how to download a QR code reader application. Also, it’s a good idea to consider a very brief description of what the recipient will get if they scan the code.
- Test the code to ensure it works before the mailing goes out.
Measuring for success
Of course, the value of every direct marketing campaign ultimately depends upon the ability to measure success. QR codes can provide excellent campaign measurements, including number of scans, the time of the scans and what mobile devices are doing the scanning. The back-end reporting becomes even more detailed and useful when a prospect interacts with a customized microsite through a PURL and engages with your brand.
QR codes—when used effectively—serve as an immediate call-to-action at the moment of consumer engagement that serves to bridge the physical world with the online one. Whether they are printed on direct mail or other marketing materials, QR codes can be an effective tool for direct marketers, but keeping best practices top of mind is critical to maximizing your return on investment.