April 26, 2012

In my last post I commented that the U.S. Postal Service was offering lower rates for promotional mailing using barcodes, such as QR (Quick Reference) codes. When you scan these codes with your smartphone you go to a website. About a year ago (June 2011) 14 million people used them, according trade pub Mobile Commerce Daily. So, some consumers are using them, but when should you use them?

Jack Philbin, president of a Chicago-based mobile marketing company, had a great take on this. Use them when consumers have control over time. They work well in all forms of print, in-store and direct mail where consumers have plenty of time. They are a waste of time on TV, highway billboards or any place where people simply don’t have time to whip out their phones and scan. They are also not the best for reaching aging baby-boomers (people over 50). They are good for targeting younger, tech-savvy consumers who love using new tools and interacting with businesses in new ways.

So, if you are going to use them in promotional mailings, here are a few quick tips from the QSL Printer e-gram I mentioned in my last post.

  • Don’t send people to your company URL. Create specific landing page so the codes serve a specific marketing purpose (offer a discount, special information, etc.).  You need to provide content that has real value to the person scanning the code.
  • Make the code easy to read (make sure there is sufficient white space around the code) and don’t use high-gloss paper.
  • Really important: Don’t assume everyone knows how to use them. Provide instructions for the mobile-barcode-uninitiated.

Finally, test, test, test. In my book I mentioned that great direct mail (or email) campaigns are not created, they are developed over time. Renowned direct mail marketer Harry & David didn’t become a direct mail giant overnight. They spent decades testing, testing and testing different approaches.

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