Good QR Code, Bad Piece, Huge Missed Opportunity

Ah, when a well-intentioned QR Code goes wrong.

This was a great, well-intentioned use of a QR Code.  The marketer added it to the top left of the direct mail piece — highly visible location — with text saying, “Scan to speak to a sales rep.” I scanned the code and the landing page showed the phone number and provided links to dial, send a text message, or save to contacts. It also had a social media share button.

QR Code Landing Page ITSNicely done! The problem is this:

1. It was sent to the previous owner of the house (who has since passed away)

2. I have never ordered from the company.

So this record has been inactive for the past four years.

The marketer (a pool supplies company) went to all that trouble to create a very well done, highly useful QR Code, but sent it to a list that hasn’t been cleaned or updated in at least 48 months. I wonder how many other inactive records it is currently mailing to?

Here’s an idea — use the QR Code to say, “Update your contact preferences.” Send folks to a page that allows them to indicate whether they still have a pool, and if so, where they purchase their pool supplies.  They could also update their contact information and select a contact preference — email, direct mail, or mobile.

Imagine how truly useful that QR Code would be! The marketer would eliminate bad records, gather data about inactive records (potentially allowing them to re-activate those customers once it knows more about them), stop offending recipients by using incorrect names, and even save money by transferring direct mail recipients to email or mobile contact if that’s what they prefer.

Now that would be a good use of a QR Code!

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5 thoughts on “Good QR Code, Bad Piece, Huge Missed Opportunity

  1. Fadel F Iskander


    A pool supply company may not really be trying to reach Heidi.
    Instead, they probably ordered a list of properties that the county assessor indicates have a pool.

    It may have been better for them to address it to “Pool Owner” instead of to the “Not too recently deceased” individual.

    So, unless your property doesn’t have a pool, the data record isn’t really bad. They just shouldn’t have tried to personalize it.

    If I get a piece saying “To Pool Owner” I will not be offended especially if:
    I have a pool,
    The offer is good, and
    I am almost out of chemicals.

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Point well taken. In this case, however, the pool company is mailing to a former customer who did purchase pool supplies from them. Once I purchased the property four years ago, the record became inactive. Sudden stop in purchases for the past four years. So absolutely, if this was a prospecting dm piece, your points are well taken. But considering this is a customer list . . . 🙂

  3. Fadel F Iskander

    Fully agree. However, they are working the percentages.

    For instance, in my case, we have built our pool at or around 2004.
    I cleaned it my self for a few years, then I asked a cleaning company to clean it for me.

    The cleaning company gives me the option to either buy the supplies myself or have them buy it and charge me for it. I can change my mind at any time and purchase the chemicals myself should I feel that the cleaning company is taking me to the “cleaners”!

    So, again they send 4,000-10,000 pieces and are just trying to get the standard 1-2% plus an additional 1-2% or more by using the QR code.

    I have not purchased pool chemicals for at least 4-5 years, but I could start tomorrow if conditions warrant. Therefore, my record is a valid data record.

    Again, if the property has a pool, it needs to get that mailing.
    Obviously, it is preferred to have the piece properly addressed.

  4. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Ah, yes! The postal discount . . . a great reason to use a QR Code. Thanks for the insights. As an industry, we are trying to push relevance and personalization, but still, “working the percentages” is all too common.

  5. Mike Porter

    I too noticed an increase in mail addressed to the former home owner at my house. As in your case, it started about 4 years after they moved – about the time that the 48-month change-of-address record with the Postal Service would have expired. I suspect that some of the mailers were passing mailing files through NCOA, changing the address on the fly, but never updating the source data. Once the NCOA record is gone, those addresses no longer find a match and the mail starts going back to the address on file.

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