Using QR Codes in Your Direct Mail [Best Practices]

Person Taking Photo of the QR Code
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The use of direct mail in marketing strategies continues to prove to be an effective method of reaching your intended audience with your message. The addition of technology that allows your customer to act when they receive your postcard can help you rise above your competitors, as well as better identify who is responding to your marketing efforts.

One technology that is currently being used almost everywhere is QR codes. You will find it being used for e-menus at restaurants, schedules/results at youth sports events, virtual business cards, customer feedback at restaurants and retail establishments, and more. There is a significant opportunity to incorporate this technology with your direct mailings and see a greater ROI on your campaign.

As with everything else, you should consider several things when using this technology if you want to maximize the customer experience.

Before we dive into what to consider when using this technology, let’s first take a quick detour to define QR codes and why they are gaining popularity.

QR stands for “Quick Response.” The benefit of using a QR code is that it allows the user to access information almost instantly – which is why it is called a Quick Response code. There is no need to type in a website or do a google search. The user simply:

  • Sees the QR code,
  • Examines the code,
  • Scans it,
  • Follows the link from the code.
QR Code

Things to Consider When Using QR Codes

This seems extremely basic, but the first point to consider is whether or not to actually use a QR code on your direct mail postcard. The emergence of built-in code-scanning on smartphones has set the stage; the public is ready for this technology, but you need to determine if it is right for you.

Reasons To Use QR Codes

  • If you have a website/social page/landing page to send them to; QR codes bring the user to the correct space
  • If you want to track engagement; QR scans can be tracked
  • Your website url is too long to write; QR codes can cover up a long, ugly url
  • If you are using a third party for your landing page; QR codes ensure you don’t have to mention the third party because the user only sees the QR code

Reasons Not To Use QR Codes

  • If you have a phone number call to action; QR codes can pull attention away from your primary call to action)
  • If you have a nice, short url it might be better to just write it out, especially if you’re limited in space
  • Your audience doesn’t feel like a “QR code audience” – if targeting an older demographic, a QR code may not make sense


If you’ve decided to use a QR code as part of your campaign, you want to make sure it is visible. If the first step to someone using a QR code is they need to see it, making it stand apart from the rest of the content on your postcard is important. Minimizing the visual noise around the code will help keep your customer’s attention and make it easier to notice.

Call to Action

The next step to consider is what your audience will see when they examine the code. This is different than just seeing the code – I promise. Your customer will be examining the code and the area around it for an explanation, so don’t just print a QR code and hope curiosity will push people to act. Let your customers know exactly what they are being asked to do. The more explicit your call to action, the better. We also recommend explaining why scanning the code is valuable to them. When you manage your customer’s expectations, you increase the likelihood that they will take action.

🐌 If you have the space and an easy to enter url, we highly recommend including a written link next to your QR code to ensure everyone can access the page. QR codes are gaining adoption, but there are still people who may not be able to scan the QR code for whatever reason. 


You also need to consider QR code placement for ease of scanning. It probably goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway); if your customer can’t easily scan the code, the code is useless. Size and contrast are the two key elements for ensuring ease of use. You want to make sure that the code is large enough that it is easy to scan. You also want to be sure that there is enough contrast between your postcard background and the QR code. Standard codes are black and white, but if you decide to use color in your code, be sure it contrasts enough to be scanned without any issues.

Depending on your audience, you may also want to include instructions on how to scan. For example, you could write, “Point your smartphone camera at the QR code to scan it” or something similar. We also recommend including the text of the link that the code would take your customer to, just in case they don’t want to scan or are having issues.

Opening a Link from a QR Code

Mistakes sometimes happen in the most basic execution in business, so we want to draw your attention to this simple, but important point. Before sending your postcard for printing, test the QR code to ensure the link does not contain any errors and that it is active.

🐌 With SnailBlast, you can create the QR code directly in our online editor. You'll set the url and we'll generate a custom QR code that you can use in your design. 

Content Relevance

It is important to regularly check the relevance of content on the page that is accessible via the link, as well as the content surrounding the link (i.e., pages the user can easily get to from the original link page). This is especially important if you are using the code for a limited-time offer, or a one-time event. If the information is inaccurate or expired, it can result in a negative customer experience.

One Code vs. Several Codes

If you want your customer to be able to take several actions, we recommend using one QR code to bring the user to a landing page instead of printing multiple codes on your postcard. You can print one QR code and then outline the explanation (or Call to Action) on that landing page that informs the customer one their options. By doing this, you keep your postcard clean and eliminate customer distraction.

In the example below, the intent is to provide multiple options for the user, which is great. However, the risk of scanning error due to how close the codes are, as well as customer distraction due to the multiple codes reduces the likelihood of Stephen’s customers scanning any of the codes.

It would have been a better user experience if Stephen had provided one QR code that took the user to a landing or link tree page that then allowed the customer to choose the following options; add to phone contacts, check out Stephen’s LinkedIn profile, or his public key.

Multiple QR Codes

Mobile Optimization

It is important to remember that scanning and opening a link is just one part of the user experience. Keep in mind that most people will scan your QR code from their phones, so be sure your web page is optimized for mobile devices. If it isn’t, your code won’t do you or your customer any good and may lead to customer frustration and disengagement.

Final Thoughts

The use of QR codes in direct mail will continue to increase and simplify the customer journey. The effectiveness of using them depends on the details, and forgetting those details can turn your customers and prospects into detractors in a hurry.

When you choose an all-in-one mailing service like SnailBlast, you can be sure that each detail when using QR codes is accounted for (and then some!) and that when your postcard arrives in your customers’ mailboxes, it will bring the response you were looking for and make for a positive customer experience.

Try SnailBlast today!

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