Catapult Your Direct Marketing with Personalized QR Codes

It’s not easy being friends with a marketer.  Marketers like to watch television commercials, get mad if the mail is thrown away before they get to see it and hijack their friends’ smartphones to see what new text-based marketing campaigns they have received.

Talented marketers are always on the lookout for the next creative idea and never want to be the last one to know about a new technique, strategy or tactic.

Currently, the marketing world is buzzing about QR Codes as a way to optimize the offline-to-online experience like never before. Ready for the next marketing craze? Although few have tried it, everyone is intrigued by the idea of personalizing QR Codes, allowing marketers to bridge users from an offline ad to a personalized online experience on their mobile device. So let’s look at the actual potential of using Personalized QR Codes, and then lift up the hood and understand how personalized QR Codes work.

QR Code Usage Booming Stateside

For years, foreign markets have been far ahead of the U.S. in using their mobile devices for more than making phone calls. For example, 86% of Japanese consumers scan mobile codes four or more times per month.1 That’s not the percentage of smartphone users who scan mobile barcodes; that’s 86 out of every 100 consumers.

With smartphone use rapidly advancing in the U.S., this country is catching up. In fact, recent research reported that QR Code scans grew 182% from Q4 2010 to Q1 2011, and 630% year-over-year.2 Other research indicates that 80% of U.S. consumers expressed interest in scanning mobile barcodes, and 69% said they would scan to receive coupons and discounts.3

The Three Components of Personalized QR Codes

Marketing with personalized QR Codes is a mashup of three technologies: Personalized URLs (PURLs), mobile websites, and dynamic QR Code generation. Let’s look at them individually:

  1. PURLs are dynamic websites where the web address and content are personalized for each member of a marketing campaign (i.e., MobilePurl.com/KristinaSmith). PURLs often contain personalized text, imagery, offers, survey, and videos. Since each PURL is a unique page, they make it easy to track online response and engagement.
  2. Mobile websites(and mobile PURLS) are designed to be easily used on devices with smaller screens, such as smartphones and tablets. Mobile websites usually feature narrower margins, simplified navigation, and reduced content, making them easier for mobile users to view and interact with.
  3. Dynamic QR Code generationis achieved by automating the process of creating QR Codes, and then connecting to a marketing database that includes PURLs for each member of a campaign. Mail Print is one of a few advanced direct marketing providers to offer this technology.

By combining these three technologies, Mail Print dynamically generates QR Codes containing each campaign member’s personalized URL address. The personalized QR Codes are then embedded in communications. When scanned, the campaign member’s mobile device reads the unique web address and delivers them to their customized, mobile-friendly site.

The Future of Personalized QR Codes

As the United States gets serious about the world of QR Codes, will our path to adopting this technology be different from other countries? We believe it will. As a country who has become comfortable using data to deliver the right messaging and offers, and based upon the interest shown by our NextPage clients, we believe companies will advance quickly from using general QR Codes to personalized QR Codes.

Our challenge to all the marketers out there: are you going to dip your toe into the water with QR Codes, or are you going to catapult your company’s direct marketing success with personalized QR Codes?

Experience a Personalized QR Code

NextPage recently launched a personalized QR Code campaign to gain feedback from recipients of our magazine Connect. At right is a sample personalized QR Code, leading to a customized mobile web page for a fictional Kristina Smith.

Of course, not everyone has a smartphone or access to a QR Code scanner or prefers to visit websites on their mobile device. That’s why it’s important also to include the address of the PURL on your marketing, and build your PURL to automatically detect each visitor’s device (small screen or computer) and route them to the mobile or non-mobile version of their personalized site.

Personalized QR Codes and Personalized URL’s go hand in hand to provide your audience with the easiest way for them to access your online content.

Tell us: How do you envision using personalized QR Codes in your marketing?

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