Developed in Japan by Denso-Wave, QR codes (or Quick Response codes) are two-dimensional bar codes that store up to 7,089 characters of numeric code that provide a great, easy way to enhance marketing and content. QR codes require that users have a smartphone with a QR code reader installed and they link to a mobile website.
Increased smartphone usage is driving QR code use. While smartphone penetration is only about 30 percent of the U.S. market, it’s slightly over 40 percent for new acquirers according to The Nielsen Company. QR code usage increased in Q4 2010; in part this usage is attributable to the holiday season. Mobio Identity Systems, Inc.’s raw data shows that this is a growing trend consistent with Google Trends.
10 Ways to Use QR Codes
Here are 10 ways to incorporate QR codes into your marketing to connect with prospects, customers, and the public by providing them with additional information.
- Link offline marketing to online. Including a QR code in your offline marketing, such as out-of-home, print, and/or direct mail enables viewers to connect with a tailored landing page with the snap of their smartphone. Of course, consider the QR code placement in terms of usability. For example, billboards on highways and in subway stations may not yield optimal results. (Here are more examples with photographs.)
- Create location-based engagement. Get prospects, customers, and the public to interact with you by placing QR codes on maps, windows, and other physical plaques. They can be used to supply additional information or be part of a game like a scavenger hunt through your store or park.
- Supply additional content in unusual locations. Use QR codes to provide users with additional information in locations where space is limited. Among some of the places where QR codes are utilized include maps, buildings, museums, and even tombstones.
- Provide contact information. Employ QR codes in lieu of business cards and related handouts at a conference or event. Or attract prospects that are in the vicinity of your establishment with billboards and other signage.
- Give viewers a special offer. Attach a targeted promotion to the QR code. For example, this can be useful at a presentation to give attendees a discount to buy your product.
- Enhance in-store information. Since research shows that buyers check their smartphones for information while they’re in a retail store, support their need for additional research with product reviews and other similar information. Be aware that they may also be checking your competitors at the same time, so integrate this into your promotional offers.
- Provide product usage information. Don’t restrict your content to text. Consider where your customers will use the content. Think complex products like cars (Have you ever had a problem with your car and needed more information than your owner’s manual?)
- Educate customers. QR codes can supply post-purchase information as well. Think in terms of related content that’s important for customers and end users. Give them a show-and-tell video or additional information related to your product. This works well for magazine articles and/or ads.
- Extend store hours. Integrate QR codes into your store window or display to give passersby product and price information when the store’s not open.
- Measures otherwise untrackable media and surfaces. With the use of targeted URLs, track your QR code metrics for related promotions. Given that QR codes are similar to incorporating URLs to other forms of marketing and usage is still relatively new, your results may not be as strong as you would like. To improve usage, give viewers an incentive to snap your QR code with special offers or unique content.
While QR codes have hurdles to expanded usage, namely the need to learn a new behavior, the need for a smartphone with a QR code reader installed, and connectivity, consumers are finding their diverse functionality convenient and snapping them more and more. As a marketer, this is a good time to jump and experiment to broaden your potential response channels with consumers.
Have you added QR codes to your marketing mix? If so, how are you using them and what has been your experience? Please include your feedback in the comments section below.