Thoughts on using QR codes on letters and more

16 Replies

Hi BP,

  Are any of you using QR codes in your marketing? I am thinking that I might add a small one to the bottom of my letters and postcards as I send them out. With today's technology driven culture I think a lot of people will use it to go straight to my web site instead of putting the letter down and logging onto the computer. Its quick and easy information for them.

Thoughts, experience? 

NO dont do it.  The yellow letter get a higher response rate than any other form of direct mail.  The reason for this 30% + response is that it looks very unprofessional.   I have heard a lot of theories about why, but my belief is that people like to think they are smarter than the guy they are selling a property to.  It gives them comfort.  If you look too slick, then your marketing will scare potential sellers off.  Dont scare your sellers. 

I am personal friends with one of the leading direct mail gurus, and Kathy Kennebrook agrees.  The simple look is much better.  The more personal you can make your direct mail the better. 

The converse of this argument is the Ted Thomas approach, you can do silly things like mail a note attached to a frisbee (called lumpy mail) to get your letter opened, but even that level of effort wont get you the reply that a simple yellow letter will. 

There are two parts to direct mail.  Getting the letter opened, and getting a reply.  The personal look of a yellow letter gets the letter opened, the simple message inside gets you a phone call the rest is up to you.

Dont over think it, copy success.

If you want to be slick, internet marketing isthe place to show off you tech skills, not direct mail.

I hope that helps


PS feel free to connect on BP

QR codes are a waste of time. Not only are the an often misused in marketing, they really don't provide THAT much value. I'd rather make someone type in my website address then take a picture and open a browser. Why? Because now my website name or brand is in their head. 

Also, you can't assume EVERY or even MOST of your recipients have a phone with the necessary technology/app to make use of a QR code. I think QR codes cater to a small portion of your recipients unless you are sending them to 18-35 year olds exclusively.

You mention that QR codes might make someone go to your website instead of just putting your letter down and logging onto the computer. First off, if they have to logon to the computer, they aren't going to use the QR code if it was there. Second, whether you have a QR code or add your website address, people can still get to your site almost as easily through either avenue (assuming you don't have some overly long domain name, which you shouldn't). 

Outside of that @Josh Caldwell pretty much nailed it. Don't get too cute. Use what works, make some minor tweaks, but once you get off the beaten path you lose the benefits of the tried and true. 

Sounds like great advice from @Josh Caldwell

I would also add that while QR codes seem popular, I think they are dying out. Most people I know do not have a QR app to even take advantage of the quick link to the website. Also, while I am still learning the ins and outs of direct mailing, it seems counter-intuitive to drive them to a website, hoping they will contact you (instead of just calling directly). Just my $.02.

Just as @Josh Caldwell stated:

Dont over think it, copy success.

Keep it simple @Keith Belzner or if you're really interested in seeing the outcome, do a small batch and test your results.

The more complicated the letter, the faster they throw it away...

@Chaz Reid @Corey Fick  @Tyler Weinrich @Josh Caldwell

Ok , thank you all for this input and help. Here is a copy of my letter without the qr code. What do you think? Im marketing to AO's in my neighborhood. My area SF homes avg 250k - 300k  with rents in the 1400 - 1800 range with minor to mid level rehabs as opposed to full guts. After researching the owners most live in nicer areas. I looked at a lot of yellow letter examples and to me for this area and owner income range I felt the typical in your face letter would be to "low brow"(no offense to anyone). I personal like the more business look. The highlighted areas are were i input automatically from my database, I also sign each one.Just a side not I sent out 50 last week and received 1 call from it. Im doing 200 as we speak.

Im telling your from experience that letter will get a limited return.   The real yellow letter is so simple.  The creaters were the McNeils, I have met them on several occasions.  The real yellow letter is this, written on yellow lined paper in red ink with a #10 yellow envelope.

Hi ____

my name is josh

my wife Stephanie and I would like to

$ BUY $

your house at

123 main st

please call me at


That is it, any variance from that formula will result in a lower reply rate.

I just negotiated onwer financing on a $3,200,000 single family house and a wholesale deal on acreage in put in bay OH that I can buy at 2 mill and I am looking to sell at 4.9 mill using that exact yellow letter. 

Do not over think this, do not reinvent the wheel.  The better that letter looks, the worse it will perform

to your success


Keep it simple, yes. No need for a bunch of nonsense that will confuse or annoy people. 

What the hell do I know, but the suggestion that the best direct response copywriting requires nothing more than a 3rd grade education, a wife, a piece of yellow paper, and a red pen is a bit preposterous. 

Maybe only idiots are motivated to sell real estate? Though, that does correspond well with the thread that Ben Lebyovich started last week about the majority of real estate investors being "idiots".

I'm actually going to test dumbing down the copy that @Josh Caldwell suggested to see how low the common denominator can go.

@Jeremy T  good idea, split test the classic version against any other form of direct mail. 

I do a lot of split testing to measure my results.  In this case I would suggest sending out 50 or each version to the same list and tally up the results.

I can tell you that my split tests give the origional yellow letter a 30-50 % responce and everything else I have ever tested gets less than 10%.  Robyn Thompson's famous  "horsey letter" gets a 1% response. 

@Josh Caldwell @Keith Belzner @Jeremy T. @Chaz Reid

To play a little bit of the devils advocate role here, don't you all think that if everyone pulled the same yellow letter, my wife and I, dumbed down version of direct marketing that no one will stand out? I personally prefer cold calling to direct mail. I have used direct mail (including the dumbed down yellow letter) but still see a much better return on cold calling. Not to mention that cold calling only costs me a couple seconds of being a little nervous before I dial the number (:

I have tried more professional letters, and do agree that yellow letters tend to work better. However, I usually am a bit more thorough in my yellow letters. Has anyone tried the huge post cards? I want to give that a shot next.

to the question.  

As someone who mails millions of letters no on QR codes.  I've tested  it.  The reality is that we want the call not the redirect. 

As for all of the other conversation. 

Yellows do not get a 30% plus response rate.   Please don't think you'll get that.  Certainly exceptions happen however you should use a predictable response rate not hype when evaluating marketing. 

And certainly use several delivery methods.  

To your letter.  

1- use a signature.  It's easy write it once, scan and attach it.  

2- left justify. 

3- make it look like a professional letter 

4- you need a better first line.  It's too general.  Tell them why you. 

5- dont all cap your URL 

6- and am I the only one who see bankruptcy in the logo.  I think that's a huge red flag. 

@Michael Quarles

#6- and am I the only one who see bankruptcy in the logo. I think that's a huge red flag.

Michael please explain.

Just from a personal standpoint, my 77 year old mother received a colored small envelope (like it was a birthday card or something like it from a friend) with a handwritten printed font, that was pretty good with just a quick glance. When she picked it out of the mail stack she saw in an instant that it was a fake and her words "more junk mail".We opened it and low and behold a postcard ad for AT&T. Im not going to argue against others here who have been at it longer then me, I read all that you / they say and listen. I just think sometimes things need to be changed or even tweaked. I dont want to reinvent the wheel but maybe just them shine a bit brighter. Again my disclaimer is I am new and just only sent my first small campaign out a week ago, less then 100, and received a few calls. 


Remember one important concept.  We can't create reasonable motivation.  We can only be there when there is motivation. 

My comments earlier were  to help your message be read and understood.  

Everything unwanted becomes junk.  Be wanted.  

@Micah Copeland

You are correct that if everyone sent that same letter, nobody would stand out, but it almost never happens that way. When a motivated seller is contacted in a non-threatening way, they sell me that house.  There is no way for a second letter to arrive unless the rarity of two investors sending on the same day.  In that instance, the yellow letter is much more likely to get answered. 

I have tried oversized and undersized postcards in split tests, and they just dont convert as well.  My theory is that they get tossed with all of the other junk mail.  The glory of the yellow letter is that it looks like a hand writen note, a personal correspondance, and that is why it gets pulled from the mail pile and opened in the first place. 

Ive never found anything that even comes close in head ot head testing.  I have no stake in this debate, I dont own any of the yellow letter companies.  I wish I did, but even that market is too over saturated.  The only time yellow letters fail is when one of the less reputable gurus comes to town, there are two or three of them that advocate sending out thousands of (their version) yellow letters per month.   I have  3 assistants and we couldnt field all the calls that that volume of letters would generate. 

I hope that helps


@Keith Belzner Yes use them as much as you can. But use it in a way that it leads back to your website of something they can get for free. This will force people to come over to your website which should lead to more capture of leads. 

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