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How to build email list with QR codes?

With the exploding rise of smartphones marketers are mobilizing their email marketing programs. Some tactics include making emails mobile-friendly, signing up for newsletters via SMS and social media engagement in email list building. Many marketers are finding QR codes are one of the most attractive and exciting new ways to gather email subscribers.

What is QR code?

If you are not familiar with QR codes, you’ve probably seen them on billboards, labels or advertisements and didn’t even know it. The code is a two-dimensional matrix barcode readable by QR reader apps on camera phones. It consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded in a QR code can be text, URL or other data.

In short: it is a scanable picture that instantly redirects you to a website with more detailed information or sign up form. Other versions of codes include Microsoft Tag and Google Goggles.

QR codes are commonly used in Asia and are starting to become more common in the US. From July to December 2010, QR code scanning jumped dramatically by 1200% from the first half-year 2010.

Offline list building

More and more we find QR codes are a fun new way to build your subscriber list from sources other than online. Place a QR code on an outdoor ad for people to scan be led directly to a sign-up form.We’ve got some tips for placing QR codes:

  • print ads, newspaper articles, press releases;
  • brochures, leaflets, posters, stickers;
  • business cards, online PDF materials;
  • bills, receipts, order forms;
  • books, CD covers, menus, packaging;
  • souvenirs, T-shirts, clothing tags, name tags;
  • exhibition stands, store windows, checkout counters.

Another engaging use of QR codes is polling new subscribers. After filling in the survey, invite them to join your email list and then segment them with the information collected. (read about Mailigen online surveys). Couple that with adding social sharing buttons after people have subscribed to your email list (see our blog on importance of social sharing).

Online to offline

QR codes can be a many faceted tool, here’s why you should include QR codes in your email newsletter.

  • Encode a special promotion code in your QR code. Recipients will scan it, store it in their mobile phones and then show it to salesmen, increasing offline traffic and sales.
  • Use a QR code in newsletter instead of a link in order to make call to action more appealing and to make the call to action pop.
  • Add a QR code at the end of newsletter and encode in it your contact information. Recipients can easily add it to their phonebook.

How to create a QR code for your sign-up form?

There are a lot of pages where you can create QR codes. Let’s take for example

Choose the URL and enter the address of your sign-up form (Mailigen offers creating sign-up forms).

And here it is – your brand new QR code! Simple and fast.

Check and recheck

  • Make your landing page (with sign-up form) simple and mobile-friendly.
  • Avoid too many fields to fill in. Remember mobile phone users don’t like typing much.
  • Use black and white for your QR code. Sometimes people use other colors instead of black, but if the contrast is low, the mobile phone won’t be able to scan it.
  • Leave white empty space around the QR code to detect it easily.
  • Avoid too many characters encoding in the QR code. Some mobile phones won’t be able to detect too complex QR images.
  • Test your QR code with different mobile phones and applications to be sure it works.

It’s a good idea to create a special sign-up form for QR code subscribers to track their activities and then evaluate QR campaigns. Think also about a special welcome email to subscribers and treat them differently, of course including QR code activities in campaigns.

If not yet subscribed for Mailigen newsletters, you are welcome to do this right now via QR code

Have you ever used QR codes in your email marketing campaigns or would like to do it? Share your opinion about offline list building on the move.

How to build email list with QR codes?
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  • Dean AAron

    Hey, thanks for your sharing.
    QR codes are really cool stuff. There are plenty of free sites available for generating QR codes. And I love Onbarcode best.
    Often, I would check the message encoded in QR code before I use it. You see, accuracy does matters a lot.

  • Adam

    Nice article, thanks for sharing.
    I agree with Dean, using QR codes is first and foremost a convenient time-saver for the user. If they cannot find what they were looking for (or were expecting to see) straight away, they are not going to give a second thought to searching for the relevant information themselves.

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