Last month's Media Usage Survey showed some wavering in direct marketers' commitment to mobile. No respondents said that mobile isn't here to stay, or even that it isn't going to be the way of the future. But few respondents expressed a clear vision of what to do with it.
Little-known fact: Target Marketing Tipline e-newsletter articles about mobile marketing perennially get the lowest traffic. We continue to cover the subject because it's an important corner of the industry, but you (at least those of you who get the e-newsletter) seem a lot more interested in, say, search engine marketing than in mobile.
If you think about those two facts together, they don't make a bit of sense. QR Codes—those square, black-and-white 2D barcodes you might have seen on Best Buy shelves or on a magazine cover—are part of mobile marketing. There are non-mobile uses for QR Codes, but marketers usually use them in print messaging to launch media on a mobile device. How can that topic be so hot—and it has been very hot in Tipline, often doubling the number of clicks other topics draw—and mobile so cold?
I'm sure part of the interest in QR Codes has to do with the newness of the tool—it's shiny new tech. Another part is probably driven by a desire to solidify the ROI of print: Direct mail is one of the top mediums in terms of return, according to the Media Usage Survey, but rising paper and postage costs make it one of the most expensive as well. Direct marketers need to wring every last percentage of return out of print in order to keep it in the budget.
I think the larger reason for this interest, though, is that QR Codes are the most multichannel marketing method we've seen yet. One more or less intuitive snap of the camera phone, and you've got instant engagement. It's also a quick micro-conversion—the consumer is already following your directions—and the user is immediately interacting with you in multiple channels: print, mobile, even Web if that QR Code contained a URL, or telephone if it launched a call.