As a consumer, you have probably noted a large influx in the use of QR codes on direct mail pieces and magazine ads. In fact, the US Postal Service is currently offering a discounted postage rate on pieces that include a QR code.
With QR codes popping up everywhere, we couldn’t help but notice that many are just not up to par. If you are planning to incorporate QR codes into an upcoming campaign, avoid some of the common pitfalls.
1. No call to action. Avoid including a QR code on a magazine ad, direct mail piece, poster, etc. without providing consumers with a clear direction on what they should do with it or where the QR code will take them. It is important you tell your audience what to expect when they scan the QR code. For example, Home Depot made excellent use of their QR codes on nursery plants tags. The tags very clearly instruct consumers to scan the QR code to receive more plant care tips.
2. Linking to a generic web page. Just like advertising or campaign web landing pages, QR codes should take the scanner to a relevant destination. For example, promoting a new product in a magazine ad? The code should take the scanner directly to a page with more information and purchasing options for that product. Providing a special offer through direct mail? Take the consumer directly to a location to redeem the offer.
Consumers should see an immediate connection between your call to action and the content they reach through the QR code; they should know what the next step is immediately and intuitively. Guide them to the content they are looking for.
3. Linking to a non-mobile website. Ensure the location the QR code drives users to can be viewed on a mobile phone. If it is impossible to navigate, too small to read or missing important visuals, you will lose the chance for a meaningful engagement.
4. Not tracking results. There are a few ways to track QR codes. If the QR code links to a page on your website, you can simply add website tracking to that page and use your analytics provider to track activity.
However, if you are driving participants to a site not associated with your company (YouTube, etc.), you can develop and connect a QR code with a unique URL through a shortening service like bit.ly. Simply go to the bit.ly website, enter the URL and click shorten, click on Info Page+, right click on the QR code and click “Save Image As…” to use in your creative. Then, simply save and visit the Info Plus+ page to view results. Keep in mind you will only have limited tracking capabilities using a service like bit.ly (e.g. clicks, referrals and location).
Also, consider providing unique codes to different audience segments (based on location, age, gender, etc.) to determine where your QR code achieves the best results.
We just returned from the LightFair International trade show in Philadelphia and noticed lots of exhibitors using QR codes creatively in booth signage, literature, product displays and much more. So, we thought the post below on QR codes deserved another week on top. Have other examples or case studies on using QR codes creatively? Tell us more in the comments section below.
QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that when scanned by a smart phone display a website, coupon, photo, video or more information. These black and white, pixilated squares can be found on and applied to almost on all types of media from posters, and point-of purchase displays, to email, direct mail, videos, ads and even business cards.
Why QR Codes Are Important
According a Nielsen forecast from 2010, 1 in 2 Americans will have a smartphone by Christmas of 2011 – a dramatic increase from the mere 1 in 10 Americans with smartphones in the summer of 2008.
In short, adding QR codes to your marketing strategy provides another way to reach the rapidly expanding smartphone audience and provide your customers and prospects with more information. If used properly, QR codes can work with and enhance your communication strategies by offering more benefits than simply directing mobile consumers to a website, Facebook or Twitter page.
There are endless ways to utility QR Codes. Below are a few ideas on how to take advantage of these bar codes in your next marketing campaign.
1. Integrate print and digital campaigns: Add QR codes to direct mail, posters and print ads to direct users to a specific web landing page. You can use a different code for each medium to track which strategy is most effective. Also, you can test different landing pages to determine which one your customers and prospects are responding favorably to.
2. Share multimedia: Use a QR code to direct consumers to a video or photos that provide more details, provide instructions or after purchase information about your company, product or service.
3. Offer a special promotion or discount: QR codes can display coupons or discount codes on a user’s smartphone, encouraging product trial.
4. Share media coverage or customer reviews: Include a QR code on a point of purchase display or directly on product packaging to share customer reviews and even positive media reviews . This can help a consumer with their purchasing decision quickly, and increase the odds they make a purchase that day.
5. Explain complicated information: Whether it is an ad, product label or email blast, there is often just not enough space to effectively communicate important health, safety and ethical considerations for your brand. Enlist QR codes that provide additional important information when scanned.
6. Support online retail sales: Use QR codes on any media, from retail window signage to emails and Facebook to direct consumers directly to an e-commerce site. You can even promote a particular product or group of products by showcasing them in an ad and then using a QR code to send consumers to a shopping cart already filled with those items.
7. Streamline contact information: Business cards, postcards and print and online ads can get cluttered with too many links to websites, Twitter profiles and Facebook pages. Add a QR code that can display all that information directly on a smartphone screen and be stored for future reference.
8. Build your email database: Have QR codes direct consumers to a form to sign up for your email list, but be sure to provide a compelling reason why they should sign up.
9. Provide customer service support: QR codes can be designed to make a phone call directly to your customer service department for consumers who have questions and want to speak to a live person.
10. Support social media connectivity: Direct users to your Twitter page or Facebook to grow your followers. Again, be sure there is a clear incentive – more information, discounts or giveaways – for consumers to connect.
With a bit of creative thinking, there are endless possibilities for using QR codes to enhance your marketing efforts.