Scan this QR Code. See how you can get 30% more business.
Quick Response codes (or QR codes, as they’re better known) are here to stay. Though these “next-generation bar codes” have originally been used for tracking purposes (of packages and equipment parts), they are increasingly being used for new marketing and advertising purposes in the consumer world. We’ve all seen QR codes popping up on everything from real estate signs to magazine ads, and even appearing on digital mediums like TV and websites.
So… what are these ubiquitous but mysterious-looking black and white squiggly squares, and as a marketer, how can you use them most effectively to maximize value?
To put it simply, QR codes effectively link non-digital and digital content, enabling smartphone users to quickly access additional valuable information about the product, which leads to increased conversion rates.
But how do the most effective marketing programs use QR codes? Typically, through three simple but critical steps:
- Identifying clear objectives for the QR code’s purpose: i.e., What information will it provide?
- Defining the end-goals of the program: Increased sales? Increased client base? Increased community interaction?
- Ensuring increased user-value: Is the additional information provided by the QR code fun, interesting, useful, and relevant?
Creative and Value-Laden QR Code Content:
Taking it to the next level, many successful programs deliver highly creative and varied amounts of valuable information to their QR code users. For example, I recently received a sample package of K-cups, those little single-serving size coffee cups that are used in specific kinds of coffee makers to yield a fresh cup of coffee with minimal effort to the caffeine-deprived user. This particular sample contained four different flavors of tea, not coffee. As a dyed-in-wool morning-joe-drinker, at first, I thought, “into the trash you go!” until I was brought up short by the text on the package that reminded me: “what better way to enjoy a summer day than with iced tea? To see how to brew this tea over ice, scan this code with your smartphone.” Intrigued and thirsty, I scanned the code to find out how I could enjoy a frosty iced tea from my coffeemaker. The QR code immediately brought me to a perfectly designed mobile site including video content that demonstrated how to brew single-serving K-cup iced tea, as well as providing links to their Facebook page (over 120,000 “likes” strong!), Twitter feed, and a menu of tea flavors that, frankly, all sounded good as iced versions, on this particular steamy afternoon.
This marketing program clearly used packaging text and QR code content effectively to market a previously unknown product to a new user, likely increasing summer month sales of K-cups (if not teacups).
As a contrast to the prior example, take the following case as an illustration of how NOT to use QR Codes.
A Really Dumb Way to Use Smart Codes:
Recently, I found an ad in my mailbox with the headline, “Scan to Win!” above a QR code. Sounds good (and simple), right? Maybe at first glance, except the text continued in a rather circular and confusing way: “Scan this QR Code to get your special code.” To further complicate matters, the program required participants to write down the “special code” and mail it back to the company via snail mail. A marketer using technology developed to capitalize upon rapid response and immediate results somehow managed to create additional confusing (not to mention old-fashioned) steps for the poor user. Who has time for all of these additional steps with no guaranteed return? Few to none.
The structure of this program is also in direct conflict with goals of mobile marketing: defined as giving users what they are looking for at the most opportune time. This case clearly highlights ineffective use of a new marketing technology, resulting in countless lost opportunities!
If you’re thinking about how to get started with Smart codes, consider these questions:
- Who is your audience?
- What additional information do you want to give your audience?
- How is your information best delivered?
- What markets will the smart code target? (e.g., rural areas without internet access are not the best market for QR codes!)
Keep in mind that QR codes can be used not just for product marketing, but in other marketing avenues including travel, retail, loyalty programs, brand building, social media, lead generation and information-dissemination.
And for some final tips on using QR codes effectively, make sure to:
- Use shortened URLs. The size of the URL directly corresponds to the complexity of the data that must fit in the QR code. The more complex the code, the more difficulty some applications may have in scanning the code.
- Make sure that your content has value.
- Ensure that your content is easily viewed on a mobile device: Make all content “Mobilized.”
Though the “hype” around QR Codes might appear overwhelming at first, the technology yields significant opportunities for enhanced customer engagement, improved user experiences, and increased conversion rates. In addition, with the ability for real-time tracking and updating, QR Codes are a cost-effective tool we should all add to our cross-media marketing mix.