Archive for May, 2011

Catapult Your Direct Marketing with Personalized QR Codes

QR Code on a SmartphoneIt’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’ smart phones 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 true 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 smart phone users who scan mobile bar codes, that’s 86 out of every 100 consumers.

With smart phone 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 actually 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 (ie. 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 generation is 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 Mail Print 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

Personalized QR Code Sample

Personalized QR Code for "Kristina Smith." Scan the code with your mobile device to view the personalized, mobile-friendly landing page.

Mail Print 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 personalized 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 to also 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.

You can see the non-mobile version of the PURL on your computer by going to:

Personalized QR Codes and Personalized URL’s really 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?

Summer QR Code Discount: Smart Thinking by the USPS

Smart thinking: use 2D bar codes on direct mail to drive mobile and online interaction.Although the US Postal Service has made some questionable moves in the past few years, I can say with certainty that their Summer QR Code promotion is one of the smartest moves they’ve made in years. And it is simple, easy to understand, and available to most types of marketing mail.  Score!

Any Quantity of First Class, Standard Class or Non-Profit Mailings Qualify

Basically any quantity of mailings that meet the normal USPS bulk mailing requirements and include a 2-D mobile bar code will qualify for a 3% postage discount.  The code must be marketing and advertising related and be for the product or service being promoted in the mailing.  First class, standard class and non-profit mail can qualify.  Here’s a good FAQ guide if you want the specifics.  Note that the non-profit component is a recent addition and is not covered here:

Take Advantage from July 1 through August 31, 2011

You can take advantage of the promotion as many times as you would like from July 1 through August 31, 2011.  The USPS even acknowledges that they don’t anticipate this to increase mail volume, but to get current mailers to do a better job of conducting integrated marketing by using direct mail to encourage mobile and online interaction. So what are you waiting for?  This is free money for something you should be doing any way!

Need help with the specifics of the discount?

Contact our customer service department at 800.660.0108 or click here to contact us online.

Statistical Pictures Make for Engaging Variable Data Charts and Graphs

Although my made-up term of “statistical pictures” may seem like an oxymoron, by using infographics you can do just that… turn data and statistics into pictures.  For many people, numbers are scary.  A bunch of numbers together, even scarier.  And don’t even think about putting a bunch of numbers together and expecting the reader to interpret what they mean.  That’s super scary.

For those businesses that need to use facts, figures, and data to prove their value to their prospective audiences, the use of infographics can be very impactful on sales.  There is nothing like an intriguing picture to suck in the reader and get them to learn more.

Here’s a quick example to illustrate (literally) statistical pictures using stats from the CMO Council:

Infographic of video marketing budgets. Almost a third (30 percent) of marketers predict that video advertising will be their single biggest investment for 2011.
infographic showing rise in social media spending. In 2011, 10.8 percent of all U.S. online ad spending will go to social networks. Next year, this is expected to rise to 12.1 percent.
Infographic illustrating opinion of social media marketing results. Only 7 percent of social media marketers think social media is producing ROI and, as a result, are willing to budget liberally. While 49 percent think it is a promising tactic that will eventually produce ROI, 44 percent are much more skeptical and unwilling to invest more.

Using Personalized Charts and Graphs in Your Marketing

Download Data Driven Chart Report

For people who are visual learners, you just can’t beat a well done chart, graph or illustration to get them to engage with a piece of marketing collateral.  Want to personalize your infographics? You can create customized statistical pictures by combining print automation and variable data printing to deliver personalized infographics.  You can learn more by downloading this free report, Powerful Data-Driven Charts for Mail and Email Marketing at

If you have successfully used infographics to improve your marketing, please share your story with us by using the Comments section.

Source for Statistics: CMO Council
Mail Print, Copyright 2011,

The ABC’s of Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketingThe mobile marketing industry is filled with more than its fair share of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms). Here’s a quick primer on the shortened vocabulary of mobile marketing.

CSC (Common Short Code)

A short numeric sequence (4-6 digits) to which text messages can be sent from a mobile phone. Most CSC-powered marketing campaigns prompt mobile users to access mobile content or act upon a call-to-action by sending a text messages with a keyword to a specific CSC.

SMS (Short Message Service)

A synonym for all types of short text messaging, as well as the user activity itself. SMS text messaging is the most widely used data application on the planet, with 2.4 billion active users.

MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service)

A standard way to send messages that include multimedia content to and from mobile phones. It extends the core SMS capability, which only allows exchange of text messages up to 160 characters in length. The most popular use is to send photographs from camera-equipped mobile phones. MMS allows marketers to deliver marketing messages including videos, pictures, text pages and ringtones.

QR Code

Want to learn more about marketing with QR Codes? Scan the code above with a QR scanner on your smartphone or click on it to read "Guide to QR Codes for Direct Marketers".

QR Code (Quick Response Code)

A matrix barcode or two dimensional code readable by a mobile devices with a camera and QR scanner. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background, and can be encoded with text, URLs and other data. Marketers commonly place QR Codes on offline marketing materials – such as billboards, print ads and direct mail – to drive responders online to view a landing page, watch a video, access an offer, or make a purchase. QR Code reader applications are included on some smartphones, or can be downloaded for free.

NFC (Near Field Communication)

An upcoming data transfer protocol that uses close proximity to transmit data between two NFC-enabled devices (one a client and one a reader/writer/broadcaster module). Basically, NFC lets you tap your device on a reader to instantly transfer and exchange data, such as sharing contact information, making a purchase, or boarding public transit.

WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)

An open international standard for the presentation and delivery of wireless information and telephone services on mobile devices. The most common use of WAP is accessing the Web from a mobile phone or device.