You’ve seen and used QR codes even if you haven’t decoded one. Used by a number of industries, not just avant-garde communicators, QR codes are:
- A 2D step beyond the UPC code, (sorry about that George Laurer ) a.k.a. “mobile tagging”
- Contains much more data than bar codes – your airline boarding pass contains all your ticketing information, scanned at the gate before you board
- Scanned by mobile handsets, using QR reader software and decoded into a text message, an interactive link to digital content on the web, activating phone functions
- Can be created by anyone using a free QR generator like KAYWA, or even Google Charts.
Research indicates swelling customer trial/use of QR codes. ComScore released a study in August 2011 on mobile QR code scanning that found:
- 14 million adult mobile users scanned a code on their mobile device in June 2011
- Those scanning were most likely to be male (60.5% of the scanning audience) and betweekn 18-34yrs. of age (53.4%)
- scanned QR codes were most often in a print magazine, newspaper or on a product package (84.7%)
Since the format of communication continues morphing to digital and interactive, and smart phones have become a preferred method to communicate and transact – Marketing, Sales and Customer Service need to understand QR codes to effectively employ them as an engagement tool.
To date the US Marketing cognoscenti have mixed reviews on QR codes, because results lag when this tactical tool is used as “techy” eye-candy and not integrated into a well-planned multi-channel strategy. These four rules and one example will safeguard your communications from “next-shiny-tactic” syndrome:
1. The Code is Not the Thing
When your team insists on QR codes in your communications, like tweets and Facebook posts, be sure they’ve woven it into your communication plan with a committed mobile strategy so that the execution delivers both customer traffic and engagement.
2. Mobilize the Landing Page
Make sure your QR code is deployed with a strong call to action and resolves to a mobile web site which provides engaging interactivity tied to the goal of your ad – whether it is to demonstrate brand benefits, or capture customer information through a promotion.
3. Keep the URL short
Offer an alternative URL for those without a smartphone, or who don’t wish to scan. Keep the QR URL short because the more information packed into a code the more sensitive the scanning application required, and the greater risk of decoding errors.
4. Make the Content Valuable
Focus on the experience you want to give the customer who’s taken the time to decode your QR. The linked content should be valuable, original and persuade the customer to do more – as in provide their contact information, download a coupon, or make a purchase.
Best Practices Example
Roger Marquis’ detailed review of a Trevis tumbler holiday campaign, in his article Best Mobile Barcode Campaign 2011, demonstrates the QR best practices of mobile strategy, proper deployment, and valuable customer engagement.