4 Ways to Optimize QR Codes in Direct Mail
QR codes are becoming ubiquitous in our lives — you can find them in restaurants, on billboards and in TV commercials. Approximately 89 million U.S. smartphone users in 2022 scanned a QR code on their mobile devices, up by 26% from 2020, according to Statista. Usage of mobile devices as scanners for QR codes is projected to continue to grow, reaching more than 100 million users in the U.S. by 2025.
A QR code is a functional two-dimensional code that a smartphone camera can read, resulting in a web link that the user can now access. This action opens a webpage that could contain content, a contact form or a financial system to pay for goods or services. There are two types of QR codes, which can be different sizes as well.
- Static QR codes. These remain unchanged once they are printed or published
- Dynamic QR codes. These can be easily updated whenever necessary. This flexibility is particularly useful for updating content or rectifying any errors that may have occurred.
There’s an old adage in direct marketing that mailers need to include multiple ways for a reader to respond. Adding a QR code as a response option answers that need. Despite being developed several decades ago, the mainstream adoption of QR codes stalled for many years. They reappeared when their functionality became necessary, during the COVID-19 pandemic for restaurant menus and other places where cleanliness was a concern. Since then, the QR code has become the darling of direct mail response.
Handheld mobile technology has also become part of our everyday lives. This widespread adoption has given marketers the vehicle for which to easily use QR codes. Marketers can immediately facilitate a reader’s intent to donate from a mail piece. They can help boost online giving, which is faster and easier to track.
QR codes are particularly attractive for targeting younger donors, many of whom are digital natives, as they expect this response option to be available. As a nonprofit, they enable faster and more streamlined donation processes and present an up-to-date image for your brand.
When using QR codes, it’s important for nonprofit marketers to consider how they will help elevate the donor experience. There are four ways to optimize QR codes in direct mail.
1. Define the Purpose
Consider a QR code’s usage in various campaigns and mailer formats. They are useful for quick access to surveys, forms and net promoter scores (NPS). They can be very effective when coupled with incentives to request contact information, such as a phone number or email address.
QR codes can also be affordable to deploy. All that’s needed is software to produce the code and to track usage and response online. QR codes can help nonprofits save money on paper, printing, and offline donation processing.
2. Determine Placement
Nonprofit marketers are also using QR codes to provide more extended content opportunities for newsletters by driving readers to landing pages where they can read more. Once online, marketers have the option of including forms, interstitials, pop-ups and other ways to engage potential donors. There are also great applications for events, webinar registration pages and app downloads.
It's important to consider and test the placement of a QR code within a mailer. Adding the QR code as another way to respond is more than just adding the code to a layout. This is especially important when driving the donor from a remit to a donation page. Be sure to focus on how a donor moves through your remit — from the ask string to deciding their preferred way to respond.
Experiment with testing to determine the best size of the QR code and whether it comes first in your list of ways to respond. A bigger QR code is not always better, and there are creative considerations including a “clear zone” of a quarter inch around the entire QR code.
3. Add Branding and Creative Elements
A creative branding touch, such as a small logo or icon to the center can increase the visibility of a QR code on a mailer. The shape, colors and gradients can also be designed while being mindful of maintaining accessibility and readability of the actual code. These types of changes should also be tested to ensure they improve the donor experience and not hinder it.
4. Leverage the Data
One of the most beneficial reasons for using QR codes is the ability to track usage and conversions on an accelerated timeline. They can help boost online giving, which is faster and is easier to track. This provides an opportunity to communicate with an immediate thank you and provides a chance to retarget unconverted donors.
Since the first month following a gift is a critical time to ask for a second gift, pushing donors to online giving allows for additional email and SMS messages to welcome donors and appeal for another gift. All this can happen before offline donation processing would typically be completed.
To make sure your donors receive the best experience possible, consider these additional tips for successful QR code inclusion in direct mail.
- Map the mobile user experience to ensure landing page content is relevant and that the visitor can get to the promised information quickly.
- Design response devices, such as remits and reply envelopes, to include QRs code while also including URLs, phone numbers, email addresses and mailing addresses as response options.
- Consider test style, size, color, shape, as well as placement on remits, carrier envelopes, reply envelopes and letters.
- Ensure web page load times are optimized for a seamless experience.
- Before mailing, always scan QR codes to be sure they are working correctly.
- Follow design rules and include short instructions on how to use a QR code for those who are unfamiliar.
Developing the optimal strategy to include QR codes in direct mail campaigns is an important part of donor experience and will provide benefits and additional opportunities for nonprofits. Using QR codes in mailers, testing their placement within a mailer, enhancing visibility through creative branding, and tracking their usage can improve overall campaign performance.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Related story: How Can QR Codes Help You Generate More Donors?
Meghan King serves as a director in the customer strategy group at Merkle. With more than 35 years of experience, Meghan’s expertise in direct mail, email and telemarketing is punctuated by an ability to translate ideas into actionable plans using data analytics, constituent insights and market-driven insights.
Having held leadership roles in agency, corporate and nonprofit environments, Meghan has experience with integrated marketing plan development, learning agendas, test and learn plans, direct response fundraising, membership appeals and acquisition, audience segmentation and selection, content marketing, program management, and campaign analytics.