The United States Post Office just announced a special promotion for July and August 2011.  The Mobile Barcode Promotion provides a 3% discount on qualifying postcards that use direct mail QR codes.

What is QR Code?  A Quick Response code, QR code for short, is a two-dimensional barcode that is read by a special QR code reader.  QR code readers are available as free application downloads for most popular smart phones such as Android and the iPhone.  The application uses the phone’s camera to scan the code and once the code is scanned the user is directed to the website via the phone’s browser or the user will receive an email regarding the companies products and services.

As smart phone users are rarely without their phone often carrying them in their purse or pocket companies are looking for ways to reach consumers through the phone.  Direct mail QR codes have the unique ability to meet this need for companies.  How?  By merging the paper world with the digital world.  Typically, when a consumer receives a postcard with a product they are interested in they will set it aside to check out the website at a later date.   However, if the postcard utilizes a QR code, the user can quickly scan the code with their phone and link directly with the companies website.  The site can then be bookmarked for later or saved within the QR code application.

How to maximize response from a QR code!  A direct mail QR code should direct the recipient to a website address containing more information regarding the specific product or service.   Additionally, there should be something of interest to entice them to want to scan the code and visit the site; a recipe, coupon or other incentive helps increase the odds that recipient will scan the code.   When using direct mail with QR codes, always include a call to action.  Instruct the reader to scan the code to see more information and to take advantage of the incentive you are offering.   As most people have their smart phones readily available, they can quickly scan the code and be at your site within seconds.

As an added feature, businesses can also combine direct mail QR codes with text messaging and social media. The QR code can point the user to a Facebook fan page or Twitter following the person to follow the company for the latest news.

Finally, it’s easy to track the results from direct mail QR codes. Utilizing different codes for specific geographic areas allows statistics to be gathered on response rates and success of the specific promotions.

The USPS hopes this Mobile Barcode promotion will help companies understand how to combine direct mail with mobile marketing increasing their reach to consumers.