On March 26th, 2012 the USPS announced a QR Code Discount for 2012, and this year, I think they have the right idea. According to their press release, they felt that although the 2011 promotion was a success to make people aware of QR Codes, this year is all about creating effective campaigns and they are encouraging mailers to adopt “best practices”. Last year, I wrote a post called “Don’t let the USPS ruin the QR Code Experience“, where I tried to make people aware there was much more to consider than just a “QR Code” on a mail piece. I even had a marketer who produces hundreds of thousands of mail pieces admit to me that they didn’t have enough time to develop any sort of strategy, and just slapped on the codes to get the discount (money is money, right?). Wrong.
The 2012 promotion is only valid
if it leads the recipient to either a webpage that allows them to purchase a product or service on a mobile device or it leads them to a personalized URL, which is unique to the individual person. The rules go on to state that best practices such as directional copy and mobile optimization are also required. In my opinion, unless you have the manpower and budget to mobile-enable an existing shopping experience by May 1st (when registration for applicants begins), your only option is to work with a print partner that has experience in personalized URLs and personalized mobile sites.
So what’s a personalized URL?
Personalized URLs (often mistakenly pronounced “PURLS” by the inexperienced), rely on a DNS wildcard trick that allows any subdomain entered by a human to be directed to the same web server instance. In English, this means that both “JonathanBrewer.mycoolwebsite.com” and “BillSmith.mycoolwebsite.com” both resolve to the same website. Then, by using some programming magic, the website looks at the full URL you are trying to access and ties that information back to a database – giving the programmer a list of variables for him to use when displaying the webpage. For instance, by looking up the full URL JonathanBrewer.mycoolwebsite.com, the programmer might find out that my favorite food is bacon, my cocktail of choice is a whiskey Manhattan (2 olives and 2 cherries), and my nickname is “Brew”. He then might decide to display a message such as “Hey Brew, thanks for visiting. We know you better than you think. First Manhattan is on us, and enjoy a complimentary basket of bacon on your next visit”.
It might sound like science fiction
but this is exactly how great print partners are leveraging the mounds of data you already have on your customers – both in print and via personalized landing pages that convert to leads, sales, and in-store traffic. Through a series of many tests and tweaks, you could be reaching your customers in their mailboxes and having just the right conversation with them online.
Don’t think your current provider has what it takes? Drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to introduce you to someone who’s got the chops to help you navigate through a solution.
Oh yeah, we’re going to finally see some well thought-out campaigns this summer. Thanks USPS for fixing last year’s “glitch”.Tweet