Bridging the gap of online and offline marketing with QR codes.
SEO is all about getting the right people to your content and converting them. If you're doing SEO well - then, yes, you are driving the right traffic. But unless you are synergizing your SEO with your company's other efforts - you're not getting the full benefit.
So, here's another edition of my SEO plus stories.
The new generation of smart phones and the 2D barcode - quick response code (QR code) technology are bridging the gap of online and offline marketing. QR codes have emerged as a hot topic in mobile marketing as more and more marketers begin to embrace them in offline marketing and advertising initiatives. Let's examine some of the advantages of QR codes, look at some great examples of their use in traditional media, as well as how to use them in your business.
Advantage of QR Codes
There are numerous advantages of QR codes. They can drive website traffic from traditional media such as print and direct marketing efforts. For example, instead of using traditional URLs in offline marketing efforts such as magazine ads, which require your audience to manually type in their phone or computer, scanning a QR code will automatically allow a person to access content as if he had clicked on the link. Or perhaps, you are sending out direct mail pieces about specific products or offerings. Including the QR code on the mailer allows the person to quickly and easily access additional information about your product, potentially leading to an immediate conversion or sale. In addition to the convenience, QR code tracking is available through services such as Bit.ly; these services allow you to monitor usage and the success of your campaigns.
QR Code Usage in Marketing Campaigns
I see them all over the place now, as today's biggest brands, from Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton to the National Football League, Ford Motor Co., and Best Buy embrace 2D barcodes in direct marketing print campaigns. These codes are being used in magazine ads, editorial articles, television commercials, billboards, posters, and many other places. For additional information on the types of data that can be stored within QR codes, Angie Shottmuller compiled a list of the "Top 14 Things Marketers Need to Know about QR Codes."
Geico, in particular, does an outstanding job of integrating traditional offline marketing channels with online media. It has created direct mailers that incorporate QR codes on the front of envelopes. Additionally, there are clear instructions on what the code is, how the recipient should use it, and what they will gain in return for doing so.
Ralph Lauren is another company leveraging QR codes via magazine print ads. In one example, QR codes link over to its online shopping site, allowing people to move immediately from print ad to conversion funnel. (Image, left, courtesy of Campaign Planning.)
Using QR Codes in Your Business
These are only a few examples that you can apply to your business today to drive customer acquisitions, generate more leads and improve conversion rates. The possibilities of how you bridge the gap from offline marketing to online conversions are limited only by your creativity.
Imagine the ability to add an easy call-to-action with a QR code that takes advantage of YouTube. Once scanned, you are automatically taken to a one-minute welcome video that has an annotation in it to other videos that leads the person into the sales funnel on your website. Or perhaps you embed a link to a Google map so potential customers can locate your closest office or nearest store based on their location or are presented with a special offer they can use by presenting their phone when checking out.
In summary, QR codes are quickly being adopted and gaining in popularity by many major companies and industries as an effective method for immediately capturing conversions from offline initiatives. To promote direct mail and create awareness of the benefits of QR codes, the United States Postal Service is offering a special postage discount during the months of July and August 2011, according to a TheDirectMail.com news report.
Direct mail marketers and mail houses can save three percent on first-class and standard presort mail postage simply by including a QR code that must be easily visible on the outside of the mail piece. Interesting right?
The question now is how can you leverage QR codes while standing out from the crowd? How can you use SEO and its principals to drive the right traffic and get in front of the right people and convert them in multiple new ways? Or, if you are already using them, what tactics did you use and what were the results?
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Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.
Crispin has proven that search learnings and keyword insights work hand in hand with social media marketing and together can effectively drive B2B lead generation. Furthermore, the development of the SAP.com Test Lab has contributed significant success to SAP's digital marketing efforts.
A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.
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