The QR-Code Primer, Part 2: The Best Ways Of Using QR Codes In Direct Mail

The QR-Code Primer, Part 2: The Best Ways Of Using QR Codes In Direct Mail

In our last blog we talked about why some marketers don’t use QR codes, and implicitly, why they should.

This time we’re looking at effective ways of using QR codes in a direct-mail context to improve the stickiness and impact of your mailings.

That’s what it’s about, after all. All marketing is expensive; it’s just that direct mail is obviously expensive when the printing and postage bills come due.

But with social media increasingly heading towards a pay-for-play environment, everything costs, and all your marketing needs to be as optimized and effective as possible.

Especially with more marketing migrating to a mobile environment, there’s a greater need to integrate optimization and performance across multiple channels and multiple settings. And because QR codes can provide quick and easy access to information, products, and services, they’re increasingly seen as the tool that can bridge these chasms.

Here are some of the best ways you can put QR codes to work to improve the impact of your direct-mail efforts – and really, all your marketing – across multiple environments and media.

Product Information

You want your direct mail to dazzle, but in these days of increased costs, you might consider having direct mail provide the sizzle and not the steak.

Create an impressive-but-compact piece to entice customers to learn more about the product and include a QR code to send them to a microsite, where customers can get even more information about a product – product specs, reviews, videos, a 360-degree walkaround, and more.

On the case of an appeal mailing, save your testimonials for the website – and make them videos. They’ll save space on the mailing and be more effective besides.

The key to enhancing the efficiency of this approach is understanding your costs. Yes, direct mail is expensive, but IT development time isn’t cheap, either. Depending on your costs, it may be more cost-effective to put more “steak” into your direct mail and take an MVP (minimum viable product) approach with your microsite or landing page.

Either way you go, the QR code is essential to making the cross-platform promotion work.

Event Registration

QR codes are a no-brainer for event registration, especially if you use a tool like Eventbrite.

Following the game plan outlined previously, mail people an event invitation with a QR code, and invite them to scan the code to register and get a ticket for the event.

This is a total win-win. Event organizers get a more complete list of attendees in one place that can be matched against a send list. That information also helps event organizers manage attendees and identify VIPs.

Want to know more? Eventbrite has the details.

Coupons and Promotions

This is probably the most obvious use case for QR codes in a direct-mail environment.

When your mailing includes a QR code with a special offer, not only are recipients curious to learn more, but offers can be customized a little or a lot. You can test which appeals work best and use that knowledge to improve the impact of future promotions.

In a fundraising environment, this is the most direct path to the Wisconsin Public Radio jigsaw puzzle, or whatever your premium item might be.

In addition, QR codes let you track who redeemed, and that list ideally can then be imported into a CRM or matched against a customer list to identify high-value returning customers, who then can get even better, more targeted offers the next time around.

It’s a virtuous circle – and the humble QR code is at its heart.

Social-Media Marketing

If you do a lot of your marketing via social media – especially if you merchandise via social media – QR codes can supply customers with a direct line to your accounts.

By designing a direct-mail piece with a QR code that links to an Instagram or Pinterest page, you’re not only encouraging people to follow or like the page, but ideally you’re presenting them with an enticing introductory offer that will not only build a following but will build revenue.

Getting people to the “money posts” in your social-media accounts can be hard. QR codes are the express lane to those posts.

(And can you put separate QR codes on your mailings for a Pinterest page, Instagram page, and even a TikTok account? You sure can.)

Mobile Payments

How about an offer so good and so limited that people have to pay for it right away? A QR code can handle that.

Here’s a use case: A VIP-only offer with a deadline. Invite customers to lock in their price by scanning a QR code and paying on the spot. If it’s a fundraising appeal, promise a special premium for people who pay immediately.

Think of it: No phone number to call, no form to fill out, no URL to type in. Just scan and go.

That’s just one of the pluses of using a QR code in this medium.


Surveys are definitely not sexy, but they’re an important way for organizations to collect vital intelligence.

A QR code that sends people to a short(ish) survey, especially if there’s some sort of compensation involved, can be an important part of a mailing that also contains other offers. (It’s generally not a good idea to send a mailing where the only CTA is to fill out a survey.)

Alternately, you can make a survey part of the acknowledgment for an event registration or an online purchase that was prompted by a QR code. If you go that route, be sure to ask about the effectiveness of the code.

However you incorporate a survey, it’s a particularly cost-effective way for non-profits or other organizations that fundraise to ask an important audience what they like and don’t like about their appeals. And it works well for for-profit entities, too.

Video Content

Finally, marketers have struggled for years trying to deliver video through the mail. A QR code is the answer.

With a QR code that leads to a video on your website, you’re making it super-easy for customers to move from the high-touch realm of direct mail to the multisensory realm of video – and the move is seamless.

This is especially effective in appeal letters, where the QR code can send people to a brand-story video where an organization’s good works are highlighted.

Here the only real concern is making sure there’s a high level of brand consistency between the mailing and the video. Do that and you’ve created a slam-dunk promotion.

As noted in the previous post on QR codes, the question isn’t whether you should use them; it’s, “Why aren’t you using them on all your mailings?”

Well – why aren’t you?

JHL Digital Direct have the know-how to bring QR codes effectively into your next mailing. Contact us today and let’s talk.

By Dan Topel – 3/2/23

Copyright by JHL Digital Direct. All rights reserved.

Copyright by JHL Digital Direct. All rights reserved.