There’s a real estate boom happening where I live, and pretty much everywhere in North America right now. That means my mailbox gets filled with direct mail from realtors who want to sell me a new home or get me to list my home through their brokerage. We literally get dozens of these in a month, and I’m sure some of you do as well. For many, these postcards go directly into the recycle bin.  Others – like me – always take a glance at what’s moving and landing in the neighborhood. Maybe there’s a dream home out there that’s waiting to find us.

Direct Mail and Engagement

Direct Mail is a lot like that philosophical saying, “If a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”. What I mean by that is the following:  If a marketer can’t tell if someone has looked at their direct mail piece or not, did it really create engagement? This doesn’t just apply to real estate agents, of course. It cuts across the many industries using direct mail to engage with customers and prospects: banks, insurance companies, car dealerships and furniture stores – they are all using direct mail to sell high-value items to high-value customers. Most, if not all, have no idea how to measure the full engagement of their campaigns.

Friction & Engagement

Calls to action on direct mailers (an e-mail address, a website, or a phone number) can provide a simple way to measure engagement and response. Still, in a digital world full of clicks and swipes, it’s often too much friction for someone to take the time and make a call or send an email. Yes, we’re just that lazy these days. Moreover, unless the marketer specifically asks, there’s no way of telling if an e-mail or phone call came as a result of the direct mail.

The question then becomes, is there a frictionless way to engage direct mail recipients that can also be specifically attributed to the campaigns themselves?

Personalized Direct Mail and QR Codes

Personalized direct mail campaigns leverage pre-addressed pieces directed to customer or prospect households. For example, a real estate agent may use a data file containing 500 addresses in a given neighborhood, and mail out individual postcards to the respective “homeowners” residing at these addresses.

By including a unique, personalized QR Code on each postcard – that might for example, allow a signup to a newsletter for exclusive information – the agent can implement frictionless response that implicitly ties back to that specific address and direct mail piece. When a homeowner scans the QR Code on the postcard, the realtor will know exactly which house the scan is from, and when the homeowner submits an e-mail address and name, that data would append immediately to the contact address data held by the agent.

Openscreen and Personalized QR Codes

Openscreen’s flexible API enables marketers and direct mail print systems to store contact address information, and in turn, generate unique scannable QR Codes tied to each. Marketers can generate batch files of QR Codes to bring to their print company, or printing presses can directly integrate to Openscreen to enable this functionality as a value-add for their customers.

Online advertisers like Google and Facebook may have disrupted the advertising landscape by moving measurable and frictionless ads to the online digital world, but by leveraging contactless technologies like QR Codes, physical advertising can implement a similar magic.