QR codes and Microsoft Tags are now part of mainstream popular culture. The simple 2-D bar code links the printed world to the digital world. Smartphone users scan the printed barcode and they are directed to a landing page where the user can learn more about a business or product. Businesses are using QR codes to literally put more information in the customer’s hand quickly.
QR codes will get another boost this month when the US Postal Service offers a special 3% discount for any letters or flats if they include the QR code. The promotion runs through August. Businesses will be using the QR codes to link to online content, special offers, and contests.
According to postal officials, it is hoped that the promotion will highlight the potential for mobile marketing technology and help get a better response rate for direct mail campaigns. It also hopes to attract the younger generation to mail and help the USPS build its mail volume.
The 3% discount will apply to items in both First Class Mail and Standard Class Mail, sent using a permit imprint payment method. To qualify, mailers must display the mobile barcodes either outside or within all mail pieces in a mailing. The barcodes must “market, promote, or educate” mail recipients rather than just be for internal tracking purposes.
How Smart is Your Phone?
Studies say that smartphone use is growing. Last year’s research by The Nielsen Company reported 30% of phone users used a smartphone and 40% of new phones purchased were smartphones.
Hopefully, printers will use the USPS sale to promote the use of QR codes to their customers. It seems that QR codes are popping up all around us. Most magazines and newspapers now include QR codes. Most major retailers include QR codes in their stores for information or special discounts. Just last week I was in Home Depot and could scan a QR code to get more information about the flowers I was thinking about planting in my yard.
What excites me about QR codes is that they give a customer a reason to throw out his current printed inventory of marketing material and print new ones that contain QR codes. A print salesperson should be able to convince anyone selling products and services to include QR codes on their printed material and push more information to the customer by linking with the Internet.
An easy link for QR codes and print is YouTube.com videos. Many companies already have videos about themselves and their products and services online. Adding a QR code to link the printed material to the video is simple. YouTube videos can be very impressive on a smartphone screen.
It takes printed material with QR codes to drive “eyes” to the Internet. When you review your customer’s videos on YouTube.com, you will see a View Report under the video. It is surprising how few views some videos have received. The customer just posted the video with a hope of someone seeing it. With QR codes, viewers can be directed to the site and the number of views can be increased.
Printers who are out making calls on prospects can give the new customer an excuse to leave their current printer by suggesting QR codes. The QR codes add value to the printed piece. Almost every business has a website, YouTube video, blog, or tweets. A QR code can get a business more fans and followers.
Printers need to start using QR codes to promote their own business. This will give the sales staff examples to show customers and help create a buzz about the service. It is still new enough that customers will want to talk to you about them and find out what the benefits will be for their business. Most businesses now have a lot of money invested in websites and other online information and QR codes can help them build the audiences for those sites.
And don’t expect the QR code vs. Microsoft Tag battle to be settled anytime soon. Both 2D barcodes will be vying for consumers’ attention. My advice is to use both of the codes if there is a question. Most smartphones support both QR code and Microsoft Tag readers and there is no additional cost to the consumer. The only thing you give up is a little real estate on the printed piece.