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NMOA Direct Marketing Article
Direct Marketing with QR Codes
By David Henkel, President of Johnson & Quin

While the Internet has revolutionized the direct marketing industry by providing virtual storefronts, email marketing, online catalogs and more, the Internet has also given direct marketers a critical challenge: How do you influence shoppers and prospects to visit your online content without being lured to your competition's webpage? You don't want shoppers, for example, to go online and search for shoes only to find two dozen shoe retail sites. Like shopping on the street, you want them to bypass alternatives and head directly to your retail site. Is that even possible? Today it is. A highly successful way to bring customers directly and immediately to your particular site is to include QR codes in your direct marketing campaigns.

QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can be read by smartphones with a QR code reader app installed. (The apps are widely available and often free.) A consumer browsing a direct mail piece embedded with a QR code can simply point his or her smartphone at the code and related online content will pop up immediately on the mobile device. Though still relatively new in North America, the use of the codes is growing with the public's increasing adoption of smartphones, such as iPhones and Android-powered devices. Mobio Identity Systems Inc., a mobile payments company, recently reported QR code use in the last six months of 2010 increased 1,200 percent across North America.

Let's take a look at some best practices when it comes to using QR codes in direct marketing campaigns:

• QR codes can be included on direct mail pieces so that no matter where a recipient is reading their mail, their smartphone can connect them to your Web site - instantly and directly at the moment of their interest - for additional information, an incentive offer, to view a video or catalog, or to place an order.

• QR codes can be embedded with a personalized URL (PURL). A PURL provides a unique Web address for an individual so the content at the website can be personalized for that visitor. You can create unique QR Codes with PURLs for everyone on your mailing list. Customized PURL landing pages can be used in many ways, from displaying a customized selection of products to offering a newsletter or customer survey.

• When including QR codes on your mailing piece, make the code prominent, and consider including brief instructions with it on where and how to download a QR code reader application. A good number of your recipients may not yet be familiar with these codes. Also consider a very brief description of what the recipient will get if they scan the code. And lastly, be sure to test the code to ensure it works.

• After designing a quality direct mail piece that moves recipients to scan a QR code, make sure the website you are directing them to is optimized for mobile devices.

A critical benefit for direct marketers using QR codes is that they can help you track useful information, such as which codes are being scanned the most to help determine what offers are working the best, or where geographically the codes are being scanned most frequently. You can use this information to design even more effective future campaigns.

With their many advantages, QR Codes are becoming an important tool in the direct marketer's arsenal. They can be an important touchpoint in an integrated multichannel campaign, enhancing already powerful printed direct mail with an interactive response mechanism for today's increasingly mobile, always-connected consumer. Most importantly, they direct traffic straight to where you want it to go to more information on only your products and services.

About the Author:
David Henkel is president of Johnson and Quin, located in Niles, Ill. Johnson & Quin is a national leader in integrated direct marketing solutions. He can be reached at

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