Print Goes Well with These Trending Digital Technologies

Print may be a traditional medium, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally old school. In fact, print integrates successfully with a number of trending (and trendy!) technologies. Have a look at just 3 of them.

QR Codes

QR stands for “Quick Response.” QR codes are 2D mobile barcodes that are based on smartphone technology. You’ve seen them everywhere: those square, typically black-and-white boxes of codes printed on signs, menus, postcards, flyers, T-shirts, and all sorts of promotional items. They capture tons of data, from a special landing page to a video. The codes are accessed via your smartphone. They require that you first download and launch a free QR reader.

Marketers use QR codes in all sorts of printed materials, including direct mail campaigns, labels – even floor graphics at trade shows to attract passersby.

One of the most successful examples of this technology is Macy’s holiday campaign. During the winter holidays, Macy’s been using QR codes on in-store signage, offering shoppers a chance to win valuable prizes if they scanned the codes. Best of all, QR codes are reprogrammable. Macy’s changed the offer hourly, which enticed shoppers to stick around and keep trying to win again and again.


PURL stands for Personalized URL. This technology lets you create individual landing pages for everyone on your mailing list. A PURL’s easily identifiable on a postcard or other direct mail piece because it tends to be a really long URL ending with a “/yournameinsertedhere.”

Often, PURLs are used to gather information. Many are used for event registration or to launch a form for you to complete, like a customer survey. They can be effective if done strategically and if the effort is seamless, easy, and engaging. For example, a PURL that launches a feedback survey will work if the survey form is easy to fill out only takes a minute or two. Better yet, offer an incentive for completing the survey to make it worthwhile – and make the PURL mobile friendly.

One of the benefits of a PURL campaign is its ability to capture results (and data) in real time. You can receive email alerts instantly when someone launches a PURL, allowing you to follow up with interested prospects. PURLs are great ways to collect valuable information about your prospects, which can be used in future campaigns.


NFC stands for Near Field Communications, and it’s the least known of the three technologies we’re covering. It’s a type of wireless technology in which a very short-ranged wireless radio field is used to transfer data between two devices.

One device is active and transmits a signal, while the other “passive” device receives the signal, allowing the transfer of data. Its most common use is for mobile payments. Most smartphones are NFC enabled today. (Visit NFCworld for a complete list.)

NFC technology provides a secured gateway. One thing that makes it particularly attractive is that it doesn’t require your having to configure anything or even access the Internet. Basically, you bring two NFC-enabled devices in proximity and voila, information is exchanged.

Printed materials can be the “carrier” of a passive NFC tag. Did you know there’s smart paper available, which comes “pre-loaded” with NFC capability? We saw a nifty little video on, which demonstrates how to embed business cards with an NFC chip. With this smart card in hand, you can exchange your contact information easily and instantly to someone with a smartphone that’s NFC-ready. And you can update your business card content as much and as often as you want without changing the tag. Don’t toss the smartcard – refresh it!

There are other print applications for NFC. You can print a smart label on a poster or POP display, so that someone with an NFC-ready phone can capture data stored in the printed piece. Put a tag on movie posters to let people watch trailers. Print tags on store coupons to give shoppers special offers. There are lots of possibilities.

In her article about game changers in the print industry, digital printing pioneer Barb Pellow shared a case study about Kraft’s in-store marketing efforts. Kraft pitted NFC tags against QR codes in side-by-side shelf talkers (those printed cards attached to shelves to grab your attention). After a month, NFC engagement was 12 times higher than the QR codes.

The most significant benefit of these digital technologies is that they make your printed materials trackable.

We are experts in marrying print with digital technologies. Let us help you create a campaign that extracts the most from your client intelligence and enables you to develop more relevant communications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *