You might still be thinking of the QR Code as the Oldsmobile of the digital world: They were a fine idea at the time, but their time has passed. You may even be inclined to ask, “Does anyone still use those things?” 

Not so fast, slugger. 

QR codes are making a comeback, thanks largely to better integration with smartphones and tablets. And, we’re finding them to be useful for our direct mail clients as a fresh way to make direct mailpieces more interactive.  

So, what’s changed about QR codes? It started when Apple introduced its iOS 11 operating system last September: Now, instead of having to download a separate app to interpret a QR code, the QR recognition is built-in, as a native feature on the iPhone or iPad camera.

All you have to do to read a QR code is open your camera and point it at the code, just as if you were taking a picture of your cat. Then, the operating system does the rest, giving you a link to tap that takes you to the URL connected to the QR code. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

As one blog put it, “Apple has made the QR code cool again.”

Predictably, other phone operating systems are making similar advances. It’s now MUCH easier for Android users to connect to a QR code than it used to be, and seemingly all of a sudden, the biggest knock against QR codes — that they are cumbersome to use — is no longer a problem.

What does this mean for our direct mail clients?

Most significantly, it provides us a new way to connect mail recipients to our clients. In an instant, a direct mail recipient can go from holding a postcard in hand to visiting the client’s website, or social media page, or a landing page where the client can capture information about a potential customer.

It’s the latest example of direct mail integrating with digital marketing. These days, it’s not a question of “either-or” when it comes to print and digital. The two work hand-in-hand, and in more seamless ways than ever.

We’ve been putting QR codes back to work for our clients, too. For example, in a recent direct mail campaign for Golden Palm Properties, an upscale real estate agency in Beverly Hills, we included a QR code that links the user to the client’s app that features current property listings.

This is just one example of how we can harness a QR code to supercharge a direct mail client’s campaign, delivering these five benefits and more:

1) Builds Upon Direct Mail’s Strength to Engage Prospects Digitally: One of the well-chronicled benefits of direct mail is that it makes an emotional and intellectual impact on readers. Once that connection is made, the QR code facilitates immediate reader action by bringing them directly into the client’s digital environment.

2) Facilitates Results Tracking: By using variable data printing, we can actually generate different QR codes for different target markets and segments, which allows more specific results tracking and also enables the client to direct different market segments to different URLs, all from one mailpiece.

3) Take Advantage of Postal Incentives: The U.S. Postal Service favors direct mail integration with digital marketing and is offering incentives to promote it.

4) Connecting Direct Mail to the Mobile Experience: Seemingly everyone has a smartphone these days. According to the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of Americans have smartphones. They’re an integral part of daily life, and QR codes help connect direct mail and the device that seems to be constantly in everyone’s hands.

5) Making it Easy for the Reader: We should eliminate obstacles and barriers between readers and the connections we want them to make, or the actions we want them to take. By using a QR code, coupled with the advances in smartphone technology, we create a seamless, hassle-free transition from direct mail to digital action.

Is a QR code just what you need to connect your direct mail and your digital marketing? Contact Mellady Direct Marketing today to learn how we can help. (661) 298-9190.