QR Codes: Don’t Hesitate, But Do Think

No one who sends out any significant quantity of response-driven direct mail should neglect to test the use of QR codes. Period. Given the continuing growth of the use of smartphones, it’s a strategically sound opportunity to improve response rates by facilitating the connection between a mailed piece and an electronic response. Recent data from comScore MobiLens highlights the opportunity: 14 million mobile users in the US scanned a QR code on their mobile device in June 2011 alone.

That being said, the devil, as always, is in the details. Just sticking a square filled with dots on a DM piece is a waste of effort if you don’t think through what the objective of including the QR code should be and your expectations for the entire user experience that will be activated through the code. For example:

  • Are there certain segments of your audience that are more likely to respond to QR codes and how and when are they likely to scan the codes? To answer this, you’ll need to assess what percentage of these segments own smart phones. Then you’ll need to determine the likely scenarios in which they might use those phones in response to the presentation of a QR code?
  • If the code will be used as mechanism for increasing awareness of a product or service, are you sending the QR code user to a mobile friendly website? Is the information easily and comfortably accessible on a mobile device (e.g., web pages as opposed to pdfs, which are still often hard to view on mobile phones)?
  • Will you be using the code for lead generation? If so, is your lead capture form built to be completed on a mobile device?

Working through these kinds of questions should not dissuade you from using QR codes, and it’s important to remember that the process won’t guarantee that a QR code will provide significant lift to your DM efforts. But by investing the time in planning, you will ensure that your test of integrating the QR codes will be an accurate read of their current potential impact for your audience.