Although I have not downloaded the app or used them, I’ve been getting more curious about QR codes and how we can use them in our marketing. I went to expert Steven Levine, President of Mission Mobile, and we had a discussion about QR codes and some of his recommendations for utilizing them to best advantage. To be perfectly honest, I just recently joined the smartphone users of the world, so I’m a little behind in most things mobile, but I’m working hard to catch up and spreading the word, and these QR codes are attracting a lot of marketing attention. Will they have a long life?
So Steven started by telling me that QR (Quick Response) codes are the small barcode squares showing up in an increasing number of print ads, billboards, business cards, and other media. Mobile users scan the QR code with their mobile device and then are automatically redirected to a website (preferably, a mobile site), a video, a social media page, and so on. Steven told me QR codes were invented by Denso Wave of Japan and were originally intended to be used in the automobile industry. As soon as the advertising industry realized the codes could be used as marketing tools, their popularity took off. At present, QR codes are free of any license fees and to date Denso Wave has chosen not to exercise their patent rights.
In a study by comScore, 14 million mobile users scanned a QR code or barcode in June 2011. Some 58% of these users scanned a QR code or barcode while they were at home, while 39% scanned them in retail stores. Also of marketing note, 53% of the 14 million users were men between the target ages of 18 and 34.
As the statistics show, QR codes are perfect for advertising materials and packaging. They can provide users with a more interactive experience. Mobile users often feel that they will gain access to more exclusive information if they follow the code.
As I said above, I haven’t done this yet, but to scan a QR code you need to download a QR code reader for your smartphone. These readers are available free of charge from any app store.
Steven continued our discussion saying there are other types of codes used in the market today, the most popular being QR codes and Microsoft tags. QR codes are the more popular choice, and this is especially true in the United States, where QR codes have gained a lot of traction with client companies including The Mobile Payment Conference, the Los Angeles Downtown Art Walk, Real Estate Giant Keller Williams, and Sempra Energy that have started incorporating them into relevant packaging, events and advertising.
Steven did have a cautionary point to make: Although there are websites that will create free QR codes, there are multiple benefits to choosing a paid provider for this service. He said you never know what kind of quality you are getting with a free service. It’s important to note that a QR code from a free service provider may not scan as readily as one from a paid provider.
His second recommendation deals with the marketing and tracking management of multiple codes. If you are running a number of campaigns concurrently, you may discover it difficult to manage and track them without a platform that organizes everything for you. It can also be difficult for you to share information with employees and coworkers in different locations if you have teams working on the campaigns. Some providers also give you the ability to change the URL. This comes in handy because it allows you to print codes, put them in your ads and marketing materials, and then specify the URL you want the code to lead to. You want to be able to do this on the fly if you are tracking social or viral trends and trying to influence the message! …And this minimizes the problem of the code leading to a wrong URL, as has happened to a number of companies. You really need to exercise care as to which professional company you choose to partner with to take advantage of all the marketing opportunities available through QR code marketing and advertising, and many of the existing providers do not leverage the interactivity of mobile messaging to the extent possible, as a way for product brands to interact with their target markets. The Mission Mobile messaging software enables companies to generate a more unique mobile experience. This includes interactive replies maximizing consumer interaction with your brand.
When all is said and done, by choosing a paid provider for your QR codes, you receive reporting and analytics tools that allow you to track all your campaigns and quantify how effective your QR code advertising really is. These tools can also help you determine in which advertising medium you are getting the best responses.
Steven’s real-world list of applications for QR codes:
- In Print ads: Use QR codes in print ads to direct the mobile user to your website (preferably your mobile site).
- In Magazines: Use QR codes to let readers access exclusive info on the website or mobile site.
- In Social media: QR codes make it easy for users to connect with your social media pages.
- For Downloading: QR codes make it quick and easy for users to download your apps.
- Exclusive material: Direct readers to exclusive videos using QR codes.
- In Existing advertising: Use QR codes to help leverage your existing advertising and make it interactive.
- In Videos: Use QR codes to connect customers to video tutorials.
- At Tradeshows: Add QR codes for an interactive element in your booth and on tradeshow materials.
- On Business cards: Use QR codes on your business cards to display your contact information.
QR codes can:
- Deliver an interactive marketing experience to your mobile audience.
- Measure various media effectiveness.
- Improve integration of online and offline campaign components.
- Keep you at the forefront of the technology advertising curve.
QR Code Marketing Tips from Mission Mobile:
What is the goal of your QR code?
- To provide product information.
- To provide easy access to a mobile app.
- To generate leads.
- To create a call-to-action response.
- To retain customers.
- To drive traffic.
How will you add value for your mobile users?
- Save them time.
- Reduce costs.
- Enhance the user experience.
- Deliver mobile-friendly content.
What kind of user assistance will you offer?
- How-to steps.
- Links for downloading a reader app.
- Provide an SMS text messaging alternative for users without the scanner.
How will you ensure that your QR code works?
- Test to ensure codes are accurately scanning.
- Examine code size and placement across different readers and handsets.
Steven Levine is the President of Mission Mobile and I want to thank him for providing me with basic foundational information on the QR code phenomenon. It’s a great place to start. His Mission Mobile is a mobile marketing company specializing in QR codes, text messaging and mobile Web development. He can be reached at Steve at missionmobile dot net.
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About the Author: Joe Devlin III
Joe Devlin has been active in Internet Marketing, branding and eCommerce education since helping to establish early online distance learning efforts at Florida Atlantic University beginning in 1996 — while earning a Master’s degree in Communication Disorders. With a special emphasis on New Launches and Webmaster Affiliate Marketing articles and tutorials covering every aspect of website growth and success, Joe also enjoys specific expertise in successful marketing and sale of alternative non-card payment methods and optimization of local international conversion techniques to maximize Client Merchant revenues on a Global basis.
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