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How QR Codes Can Improve Your Direct Mail

You might have noticed QR codes on direct mail pieces, in commercials, or even used in place of a traditional menu at your local restaurant. But what are they, and how are they useful in direct mail?

What is a QR code?

QR codes, a type of scannable barcode, were first invented in Japan in 1994 to track vehicle parts throughout the manufacturing process. The “QR” stands for “quick response,” emblematic of the speed at which these codes can be scanned and the associated data accessed. Smartphones, with their built in cameras and internet access, allowed QR codes to take off in the mainstream later on. 

QR codes are most often used to direct customers to a web URL, but they can also be used to deliver invitations to follow a brand on a social media app, create an account on an app, or even link to a PDF or other document.

Below are 3 ways that QR codes can improve your direct mail:

1. Reduce copy in your direct mail

Over time, as our attention spans have shortened, direct mail copy has overall trended towards being more concise. Postcard and self-mailer word counts have gone down by about 30% over the last 20 years. Marketing copy which gets straight to the point and makes room for more visuals of a product or service can improve customer impressions.

Web URLs can sometimes be long and awkward, and a QR code is a compact, distinctive, visual representation of a written URL. This can help reduce copy on your mailer while also bringing more attention to the touchpoint for your website, digital storefront, online form, & more.

2. Allow seamless transitions from print to digital platforms

In our increasingly digital world, many consumers shop or book services online, and purchases via smartphone are on the rise. Over 230 million, or around 77% of U.S. consumers own a smartphone, and in February 2022 nearly 80% had made a purchase through their smartphone in the prior six months. For a successful direct mail campaign, it’s important to make the transition from your physical mailer to your point of sale as simple as possible.

Scanning a QR code to access a website or digital storefront takes just seconds compared to manually typing out a web address. So, this quick scan bridges the gap between your direct mail and your point of sale, and increases the possibility of conversion. Single-use digital coupons and vouchers can also be embedded into a QR code so that discounts are automatically applied.

3. Help track your direct mail campaigns

Direct mail still leads digital channels in response rates, but in order to maximize the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns, it’s vital to measure response rates and adjust your strategy accordingly. In the past, direct mail response analytics could be difficult to assess compared to digital channels.

However, QR codes make it easy to measure how many recipients are scanning your mail, and even record factors like the date, location, and the device used to scan. QR codes can also be used with pURLs (personalized URLs), which can link customers to a personalized landing page without needing to type in the URL or use a computer. This offers even greater insight into who is responding and what products or services may interest them.

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