American Marketer


QR codes beat out direct mail in driving response: report

October 8, 2012


QR codes are spurring consumers to take action with response rates that are higher than other direct marketing tactics, according to a new report from Nellymoser.

The report, "Scan Response Rates in National Magazines," found that readers of national magazines scan QR codes, Microsoft Tags, digital watermarks and other mobile action codes at an average rate of 6.4 percent. The report also found that mobile users are actively engaged and view an average of 18.9 mobile pages.

“The big news is that QR-style mobile codes in magazines get higher response rates than other printed direct marketing tools,” said Roger Matus, executive vice president at Nellymoser Inc., Arlington, MA.

“We never knew this before because this is the first time anyone has been able to measure the complete impact of printed mobile codes from the initial scan to the delivery of the mobile experience,” he said.

Targeting marketing

The number of QR codes and other mobile action codes appearing on print ads in magazines has been steadily growing. A recent report from Nellymoser found that approximately 10 percent of magazine advertising pages contained a QR code or other activation mechanism in the second quarter of 2012, up from 5 percent a year ago.

The codes are being adopted by brands as a way to easily link readers to content such as video, a sweepstakes, a social media page or an ecommerce site.

This latest report from Nellymoser is the first to measure the response rate for the mobile action codes appearing in magazines.

Per the report, the median response rate using mobile action codes was 4.5 percent to 5.9 percent and the average 6.4 percent. In comparison, the average response rate for direct mail is 4.4 percent, according to the Direct Marketing Association, and the average response rate for a catalog is 4.3 percent.

Key findings from the report include that the total number of scannable codes has the strongest impact on response rates, with more codes raising visibility and interest in the codes.

The report also found that codes promoted with the promise of a discount, coupon or chance to enter a sweepstakes have a higher response rate.

Additionally, magazines that repeat a program in multiple issues get higher response rates over time than those who run a campaign just once.

Engaging readers

While the study does not address why mobile action codes have a strong response rate, this could be because they enable a targeted audience to connect with related content in which they are interested.

“Magazines are very effective at reaching highly targeted group,” Mr. Matus said. “Sports Illustrated reaches sports fans, while Martha Stewart Weddings and Brides reach a specific group.

“Therefore, the campaigns in magazines can deliver specific mobile experiences that enhance the reading experience for the target audience - thus bringing up response rates,” he said.

The report also points to the fact that readers who peruse a magazine with a mobile device in hand are actively engaged, with users of Nellymoser's companion app keeping the app open approximately 10 minutes during each visit, opening it an average of 2.4 times and viewing 18.9 mobile pages during that time.

The report is based campaigns over a 12-month period delivered through Nellymoser's Companion App, which enables users to scan and engage with action codes in print magazines.

The results suggest that marketers should be considering adding QR codes or another mobile action code to their print campaigns when looking to drive a specific action.

“When done well, mobile action codes can turn a print advertising campaign into a direct marketing tool with a higher-than-average response rate,” Mr. Matus said. “It ought to be considered whenever a direct response campaign is being used."