QR Codes: Unifying Print and Digital


Technology is an ever-growing phenomenon, changing the way we do everything from communication to shopping to entertainment. With the evolution of technology, many believe that print is becoming too boring and static. QR (quick response) codes are creating a gateway from the print world into the digital world.

Since QR codes have been introduced, we have seen them used in horrible, ineffective ways, detouring many businesses from using them due to their ignorance of how effective they truly can be.

While driving through southern Illinois, I witnessed possibly the worst billboard I have ever seen. I can only assume it was related to golf – it was simply a tee with a ball on it, and centered in the middle was a QR code.  I hope that no one has ever actually attempted to scan this code at 65mph.

Other examples of inadequate QR code usage include the outside of busses, subway terminals with no cell reception, and in-flight magazines (since you can’t use your phone on a plane).

Many companies have been slapping QR codes everywhere they can to simply look tech-savvy. However, if the consumer attempts to scan the code and gets directed to a non-mobile desktop site, it’s blatantly obvious there was very little planning put into the actual usage of the code.

The abundance of poorly used QR codes has taken the allure away. However, there are many useful and effective ways to use them. It just requires a little planning.

Using QR codes on direct mailers integrates the exceptional targeting of direct mail with the interactivity of the web, bringing the digital realm and the print realm together.

QR codes can be used to link more than just your company’s website. They can link to video demonstrations, messages, PURLs, phone numbers and social media sites. Video demonstrations can land a sale; messages can be informative or entertaining; phone numbers can connect them straight to a customer service representative or sales person; and links to social media sites can open another door of communication between you and the consumer.

Another great incentive for businesses to use QR codes on direct mailers is the tracking capabilities. Before, you only knew your mailpieces made it to consumer’s mailbox. With QR codes, you can now track how many people are acting based on that specific mailpiece. You can even track the consumer’s location when they scanned, how long they stayed on the site, where they clicked within the site, and whether or not they ultimately made any purchases.

Here are some tips for effective QR code usage:

  • Always have a plan for what your QR is supposed to do.
    • Don’t just link your code to your main website. Bring the consumer to a specific page relevant to what the mailpiece or advertisement was about.
  • Be sure the page you link to is mobile-optimized
    • Consumers will be scanning the codes with their cell phones, so be sure the link they are directed to is mobile-optimized to reduce drop offs.
  • Tell your customer where they’re going
    • People are more likely to scan the code if they know where it’s going to take them. Is this exclusive content? A sweepstakes? A video demonstration?
  • Don’t assume everyone knows what it is, and how to scan it.
    • Just tell them what to do. It’s a call to action, and helps relieve any confusion the consumer may have.
  • Lead them to the next step
    • Don’t link to the same information that’s on the mailpiece – go to the next step. Give them more information, a way to sign up for something, or even direct them straight to your ordering page.
  • Don’t make it too small
    • Be sure that the code is at least an inch in size so it is easy to scan. You can even use URL shorteners to minimize the number of boxes within the code so phones have an easier time deciphering the information.

If you’re interested in having Printing Partners design, print, or mail a direct mailer for your business, contact one of our customer services representatives or sales representatives.

About Mallory MacDermott

Marketing Manager at Printing Partners, Inc. Indianapolis, Indiana.
This entry was posted in Mailing, Marketing, Personalization / One-to-one Marketing, Printing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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