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Augmented Reality vs. QR Codes for Direct Mail Campaigns

January 6, 2015

Augmented reality vs QR codes

Have you heard of augmented reality? It’s the engaging and shareable technology behind the marketing success of Starbucks’ 2011 Christmas coffee cups, Topshop virtual dressing rooms, and American Apparel’s color-changing mobile app.

Augmented reality has been used in print marketing, billboards and even in direct mail campaigns. Its use of mobile technology to bridge the gap between online and offline marketing has earned it many comparisons to QR codes.

QR codes, of course, are the two-dimensional square barcodes you’ve probably seen on billboards, in catalogs and print ads. Both QR codes and augmented reality play a powerful role in 21st century direct mail marketing.

Despite this, their roles are very different. In this guide, we’ll look at the differences between QR codes and augmented reality technology to help you decide which will be the winner for your next small business postcard marketing campaign.


Augmented reality expands on your marketing message

Direct mail postcards let you send a powerful message to your audience, but they lack the scale of a full-size brochure. From product information to pricing, a great postcard often leaves out far more information than it includes.

This is largely due to the nature of a postcard – with limited space, it’s important that you, as a marketer, focus on encouraging readers to take action, rather than explain every detail of your product or service.

Augmented reality allows you to expand on the marketing message you share in your direct mail postcard. Upon scanning your postcard, prospects can access an incredible amount of information, including:

  • Customization options for your product or service
  • Pricing, payment options and special discount offers
  • Nearby retail store locations and contact information
  • Videos showcasing your product, company culture, or services

A great way to think of augmented reality is as a method of expanding the message you’ve shared with people through your direct mail postcards. From key benefits of your product to specifications, it lets you teach customers more about your offer.


QR codes let you direct prospects towards the next step

Every direct mail campaign needs to have a purpose. From encouraging people to visit your nearest retail store to prompting them to take action and order a certain product or service online, the best direct mail campaigns have clear, obvious goals.

Mailing direct custom postcards without a clear goal is a costly and time-consuming recipe for marketing disaster. Using QR codes, you can make it easier for recipients to act on your marketing message and claim your offer.

For example, the goal of your direct mail campaign might be to increase the number of people that follow your business on Facebook. Going from offline postcard to your company’s Facebook Page typically means typing in a long, complicated URL.

A QR code allows you to bypass this process by letting recipients of your direct mail postcards scan the QR code and go straight to your Facebook Page. A slow, difficult process becomes as easy as scanning a small barcode with your smartphone. It also allows you to track engagement and response by keeping tabs of the number of times the QR code was scanned.

Just like it’s best to think of augmented reality as a way to expand on your marketing message, the best way to think of QR codes is as a way to make it easier for people to take action and respond to your marketing message.


What’s best for your campaign: AR or QR codes?

Both augmented reality and QR codes have an important role to play in 21st century direct mail marketing. Which type of response / engagement technology is best for your next campaign: QR codes or augmented reality?