Direct-mail advertisers test sophisticate QR-code tactics |

Direct-mail advertisers test sophisticate QR-code tactics

John Seelmeyer

As a homeowner uses her cell phone to scan the QR code on a direct-mail piece, a map that shows her precisely how to go from her home to the business that mailed the advertisement pops up on her cell phone.

Or a personalized greeting “Hi, Ann!” shows up from the company’s chief executive. Or maybe an offer to enter a contest in exchange for an e-mail address.

Sophisticated marketers in northern Nevada are using personalized QR codes in greater numbers this summer, spurred in part by an effort by the U.S. Postal Service to show the capabilities of the new technology.

The Postal Service this summer is offering a 2 percent discount to direct-mailers who print a QR code that directs consumers to a personalized Web site the one that delivers a customized map, for instance or an e-commerce site.

Michael Hemphill, president of CGS Direct Inc., a direct-mail company in Reno whose customers include big direct-mailers such as casinos and banks, says marketers sometimes struggle initially to get their minds around the possibilities of variable QR codes.

Others are reluctant to build a mobile Web site to support the QR codes on direct-mail pieces. A traditional Web site that hasn’t been designed for mobile users doesn’t qualify for the USPS program.

CGS Direct is offering to create 40 free mobile sites this summer to support advertisers who will be using the QR codes. With about a month remaining before the start of the USPS summertime discount program, half of the free CGS Web sites had been claimed.

Sophisticated marketing operations such as gaming companies are particularly intrigued by the opportunity to use personalized QR codes to capture e-mail addresses or phone numbers of delivery of text messages, Hemphill says.

Some well-crafted mail pieces that have included personalized QR codes have boosted response rates by as much as 21 percent, Hemphill says.

For printers, the inclusion of a personalized QR code is no more difficult than printing an individualized address on an envelope.

The Postal Service, which first offered discounts to mailers who experimented with QR codes last summer, says this year’s campaign is intended to establish best practices among mailers who use personalized QR codes.

And the campaign marks an effort by the Postal Service to remain relevant.

“Mobile technologies continue to be one of the fastest growing marketing sectors and marketing resources will be increasingly diverted to this medium. As technology changes the marketing landscape, the Postal Service must ensure that direct mail continues to be a relevant part of the marketing mix,” a Postal Service executive said as this summer’s campaign was rolled out.