Happy Valentine’s Day peachy peeps! I have to climb up on my nerdy soapbox briefly, but also want to simultaneously help school you on some new-ish technology :)
During this year’s Super Bowl TV ad’s, GoDaddy promoted QR codes throughout Danika Patrick’s cloud commercial. While this will help raise awareness about using QR codes to a large audience, the mobile site that was presented after scanning the code lacked some crucial elements to effective QR code campaigns: worthwhile information, clear instructions and rewards for those who take the time to scan the code. The same commercial is featured upon scanning that was featured in the TV spot and there is not a compelling call to action or any reason for visitors to take action such as a discount coupon, free VIP membership, etc.
For marketers & consumers, one of the most effective ways to jump from the mobile real world to the online virtual world is by scanning QR codes (Quick Response, also known as 2D barcode) with a smart phone. Although current usage is only 5% of Americans who own mobile phones (and those 14 million early adopters tended to be young, affluent and male), marketers are certain that this number will only continue to grow. Just last year users increased more than 800% from January to December. As more and more people are being indoctrinated into the process of scanning codes to get more information, it’s our jobs as marketers to make that process as rewarding and easy as possible.
Traditional UPC barcodes can typically hold only 20 characters of numerical information, where as a QR Code can hold up to 7,089 alphanumeric characters. This means QR Codes can hold up to 350 times more data! The information held within a QR Code can only be unlocked through the use of a free QR Code Reader app on a smartphone. Whether you’re looking in the App Store, the Droid Marketor the Blackberry World Market, it won’t be difficult to find your preferred free QR Code Reader app; also, some smartphone manufacturers are designing their phones pre-equipped with QR Code Readers.
Decoding a QR Code is simple – it just takes two steps:
1. Open QR Code reader app on smart phone.
2. Point the camera phone at the QR Code.
That’s it! The information held within the small black and white box is decoded and you haves access to whatever data is being shared (contact information, website URL’s, Google Maps, YouTube videos, Facebook “Like” buttons, Twitter “Follow” buttons, other Social Media and much more.)
QR codes are an important part of the mobile marketing toolbox, which needs to include text messages, apps, and a mobile site. They can provide tremendous value in print advertising and CPG packaging when used correctly. While some may argue that QR codes can be visually distracting from the design, there are ways to enhance the looks by including a logo or colorizing beyond basic black & white. Awareness is still growing and not everyone knows how they can benefit from them, so make sure you are adding a great user experience for those who make the effort to scan it.
Best uses of QR code campaigns worldwide:
- NYC Central Park: Last year, the New York City’s Central Park has launched a campaign called “The World Park”, using QR codes as a key motivator to re-invent the park experience. They wanted to attract and engage visitors by creating an outdoor mobile museum; letting people scan the series of free standing posters placed throughout the park to join an interactive board game related to the visitor’s exact location.
- Croatia Postage Stamp: QR Code postage stamp was issued for the 20th anniversary of the issuance of postal stamps by Croatian Post Hrvatske pošte, the national postal service of Croatia. Each of the 3.10 Kuna (0.56 U.S. dollars) stamps has a unique code printed below the QR Code. When you scan the QR Code you’re taken to a mobile site where the unique code can be entered and you can view confirmation on the receipt of your mail as well as additional data about its route. Users can find out when the mail was sent, how many kilometers it had traveled, when it reached its destination and more.
- Starbucks with Lady Gaga album release: Last year, the two global brands collaborated for an online and offline six-round scavenger hunt featuring prizes of GaGa’s music, Starbuck’s gift certificates and more, played by thousands of enthusiastic fans of both brands.
- Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats is adding them to more than 12 million boxes. The brand is banking on QR codes as the primary distribution vehicle for “Honey & Joy,” a web-based sitcom that premiered exclusively on Jesta Digital’s mobile-web platform BitBop. Katie Lay, Honey Bunches of Oats’ brand manager, cited research that showed the demand for QR-code experimentation outstripping the supply, particularly among the cereal’s target audience of women ages 25 to 54. The brand found that a third of its target is looking for the codes already.
Best practices when incorporating QR codes:
- Be creative, provide incentive, and be sure that you can track the metrics.
- The message must be clear; you need to make sure your target audience is intrigued and enticed to make them scan the code, creating more engagement with your brand via mobile devices. Make sure to give directions about what to do with your QR Code. “Scan this QR Code”, “Scan me with a QR Code reader app”, etc.
- On magazine print ads, place them in a position for easy photographing – not near the center fold of the page. A sweepstake competition entry or in-store prize redemptions can also be good ways to connect with your consumer via QR codes.
- A QR code should link to an immediate, relevant, valuable and especially mobile-optimized payoff. Once code scanned, if the final destinations’s content is not mobile optimized, this causes a very frustrating user experience.
- ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS test before promoting to the public.
- The best way to measure your ROI is to make sure you are adequately rewarding your consumer and making the effort to provide something really worthwhile.
- DON’T place codes in hard to scan places (fast-moving TV ad’s… reaction time to get your phone out and scan is too slow during a 15 or 30 second commercial, really tall billboards with codes too small to be recognized from the ground) or places where you can just use a regular hyperlink (websites, email signatures, within mobile app’s or mobile sites… how are you supposed to scan if you’re ON YOUR PHONE?) or places where you don’t have cell phone service (like subways signs… no service underground!)