Technology can be quite exciting.  And in case you haven’t heard, your direct mail appeal can now be hyperlinked to your website … in a manner of speaking.

By printing a “QR Code” on your letter (or any print piece), donors and members can use their smartphone (mobile phone with certain features defined below) to scan the code and hyperlink to your website.  In other words the QR Code serves as a link that takes readers directly to a landing page on your website.

What is a QR Code? 

Blase Ciabaton has an informative post – “Star Trek Technology has arrived with Direct Mail! How to Beam Customers Directly to your Website!” – on the subject on his blog, The Direct Mail Man.

Ciabaton explains that a “QR Code is a square, 2-dimensional barcode that can be read by smartphones with the appropriate free software.   The smart phone converts the QR Code into a URL and brings the owner of the phone to a corresponding website.”

Sample of a "QR Code"

Sample of a "QR Code"

Again, your donor or member scans the barcode with their smartphone and then the landing page identified by the barcode opens up on their mobile phone.  No clicking.  No texting of a short code. Just scan and “POOF” they’re on your website. [Click here for an A-to-Z resource that makes you mobile savvy FAST.]

Bring them to your website to donate, to respond to a survey, read an article, sign up for an event, volunteer to help, etc.  With mobile everything becomes easily interactive.

This is another way to help integrate  ALL your campaigns.  In previous blog posts I’ve written about how important an integrated multi-channel approach is to your fundraising and marketing  (April 20 post and April 7 post).

Oh, and as Ciabaton points out in his blog post, you can track and measure response with QR Codes.  He makes several good points on this cool tool, including resources for free software.  Be sure to read his post.

Granted, not everyone has a smart phone . . . yet.  But Nielsen predicts 33% of the US mobile market will be smartphones by the end of 2010; and increase to more than 50% by the end of 2011.  So it’s a significant portion and growing. 

Plus you need to devote a little space in your copy and layout to briefly explain what a QR Code is and how to use it.  But we already know it is wise to do everything possible to give your donors and members choices.  And since it’s also wise to make it easier for them to take action – to respond to your call to action – why not start incorporating QR Codes in your offline marketing and fundraising?

Even if the initial response is low, it will build.  As your readers see the QR Code over and over again in your direct mail and other print messages, response will build.

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Definition of a smartphone (excerpt from Wikipedia.org): “A smartphone is a mobile phone offering advanced capabilities, often with PC-like functionality. There is no industry standard definition of a smartphone.  For some, a smartphone is a phone that runs complete operating system software providing a standardized interface and platform for application developers.  For others, a smartphone is simply a phone with advanced features like e-mail, Internet and e-book reader capabilities, and/or a built-in full keyboard or external USB keyboard and VGA connector. In other words, it is a miniature computer that has phone capability.  Most devices considered smartphones today use an identifiable operating system, often with the ability to add applications (e.g. for enhanced data processing, connectivity or entertainment) – in contrast to regular phones which only support sandboxed applications (like Java games).”