Mobile & Direct Mail: Decipher the Code
As marketers have parted ways with older response mechanisms like business reply cards in favor of landing pages and PURLs, the industry is once again eager to experiment and embrace the newest tactic to drive response rates—QR Codes. True to their name, QR Codes are designed to deliver quick response and interactive engagement.
Consider these five points to maximize QR Code performance in your next campaign and integrate them into your overall marketing mix.
1. Strategic Placement
In most direct mail strategies, a core message must be conveyed before requesting a target to take action. Marketers often have to build the need for the product/service or educate the audience around the advantages of buying what they are selling before getting them to even listen, much less act. Consider placing QR Codes in key locations after giving the target a compelling reason to respond.
Rather than placing the QR Code on the outer envelope or mailer panels, use visuals and messaging to tease and drive the target to delve deeper and open the piece. Once they are given strong reasons to learn more and head down the path to purchase, that is the time to prompt action with a QR Code. Codes should not detract from key messaging or interrupt learning, but instead enhance the audience's experience and move them into the next stage of the buying cycle.
Caveat: If your messaging is an urgency-building, "last chance" reminder, or if it's being delivered in a simple postcard format, placement on the exterior is appropriate. Having the QR Code on the outside in these instances provides a quick and easy way for the target to respond.
2. Compelling Context
The novelty of QR Codes has certainly worn off. Consumers and business decision-makers are not going to scan your code just because it is there. Like any call to action, the goal is to have the target audience find value in what you are offering and be compelled immediately to act. Messaging should convey that there is real value to be had, and upon further review, they will find an advantage to adding your brand to their consideration set for goods/services.
By understanding the proficiency of various segments with smartphones and emerging technology, marketers can choose to deliver a little or a lot of instruction on the steps to scanning the code. If the content only requires a little supposition to propel the target to engage, keep it simple and concise. However, if recipients are not convinced that a brand is a viable choice, or that they have a need for a particular product/service, more groundwork might need to be laid before the prompt to scan your code.
3. Expectation Pay-Off
There are high expectations when the audience decides to scan a QR Code. They want results to be worth the effort and efficiently deliver the information they were promised. QR Code content should have more "added value" than any standard URL, whether it is more interactive content or adding more convenience. Many customers are content to enter a landing page from a direct mail prompt—but today's audience is not only looking for instant gratification, they have higher expectations, and disappointing them can come at a cost.
If marketers know enough to mail or send an email to an individual, then the targets assume their information is adequate enough to allow them easy access to the promised content. Placing a form to collect more information is an unnecessary roadblock to an invitation. Consider asking for feedback or more contact permission after delivering the content, when the audience might be more receptive and closer to a sale. As they get closer in their final decision, there is often a greater openness to sharing more preferences and details, because they recognize the value in sharing and receiving more tailored and customized dialogue with a brand.
If a touch point is truly prompting the final sale and not delivering further education or removing any further doubts around the decision, then it can be advantageous to ask for the sale. However, there is nothing worse than asking for the order when, in fact, the target audience may still have resistances to overcome or feel hounded by marketing endeavors.
4. Steady Flow
Keep customers and prospects advancing through the stages of the buying cycle by delivering interactive content via QR Codes. Start first by reviewing the steps prospects take to become customers, and the steps it will take to convert customers into even bigger brand loyalists. At each touch point in the engagement, use a QR Code to present content that helps to validate issues, uncover new needs, address any concerns and assuage any obstacles that could hinder a sale.
With current customers, use QR Codes effectively to push content that deepens relationships and, in turn, the customer lifetime value. Content should help reinforce the value of selecting your product/service, foster more brand loyalty, or cross-sell them to other products and services. With prospects, push content that helps them differentiate the product/service from competitors, or share satisfied customer stories and experiences.
5. Trackable Scans
One important—and often overlooked—aspect of QR Codes is they are trackable. So, when placing a QR Code on a marketing piece, it is important for marketers to keep tabs on the number of scans over the relevant lifetime of the piece. If results are not as strong as desired in a first effort, consider switching response tactics, or take a moment to see where content could be optimized.
And remember, not all content requires a link, so not all content requires a QR Code. Consider whether the means justifies the end. It is important to deliver content directly, rather than hinder a target audience with another step in the process of acquiring information. If there is valuable information such as proof points, testimonials or other influencing benefits that make the case, consider including those salient points within the communication piece.
Today's campaigns need to be more fluid and flexible to align with the audience's decision-making process, and not hinder growing interest or the desire to buy. Remember, the goal is not to secure scans but to drive richer audience engagement and, in turn, more sales and loyal customers.