Enhancing Your Marketing with QR Codes & Smart Phone Technology
We recently had an article published in the CNY Business Journal. It focuses on QR codes and how to use them to improve and get more from your marketing and advertising. Read it below….
If you’ve picked up any magazines or newspapers recently, you may have noticed these new odd-looking, square objects in print ads. Usually about the size of a postage stamp, these objects are known as QR Codes, or Quick Response Codes. QR codes are 2D barcodes that were invented in the ‘90’s but just now are rapidly growing in popularity throughout the world and especially in the US thanks to advancement in smart phones and mobile devices. These web-enabled devices are able to use built-in cameras and special free applications to scan and decode these barcodes. Once scanned by a device such as an iPhone, Android phone or Blackberry, they instantly take people to websites or provide information.
Many large corporations like Starbucks, Best Buy and Target have been using QR Codes to encourage consumers to scan for coupons and other special offers, or just get additional information. Small businesses throughout the U.S. have joined in to begin enhancing their own advertising and marketing efforts with these easy-to-use barcodes.
A recent study reported that QR code scans increased by a whopping 4,549% between the first quarters of 2010 to 2011. Sixty-three percent of scanners were between the ages of 18 and 44 with, 64% overall were female. This year already, the number of 2D codes printed in U.S. magazines is up over 400 percent. These numbers aren’t surprising, though, to early adopters and users given the low-cost and high-benefit QR codes can provide when used properly.
Attract More People to Your Website with QR Codes
While QR codes can hold a good deal of information and have many functions, the overwhelming majority of them take users to a specific web page. Using QR Codes in advertising and on print materials (post cards, flyers, etc.) in conjunction with an effective website, blog or social media page, can help further sell an interested viewer on a product or service, or allow them to instantly connect online and even contact the business or make a purchase. QR Codes can also contain contact information, a phone number or even a pre-written text message, ready to be sent by the user. Businesses can even build up their social media followers on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Some examples of creative uses of QR codes are:
• Directing users to a web page to sign-up for a give-away or sweepstakes, get a special offer or coupon, join a newsletter or just get more product information;
• A text message QR code that instantly adds the sender’s phone number to a text message list for receiving special offers on their phone;
• Taking users to a social media page so they can instantly follow the business for company news, or special offers in the future;
• Business cards with QR codes that contain a person’s entire contact card for instantly adding them to the phone’s contacts.
The versatility of QR codes is greatly increased when combined with well-built websites. And, because they can be printed and included anywhere from window decals to billboards and even clothing, when added to a well-thought out marketing strategy, QR codes can significantly enhance the return on marketing investment and campaign results.
Make Your QR Codes Eye-Catching
If you’ve seen a QR code out in the wild, you probably saw the standard black and white checkered design; but, as QR codes have become more mainstream, people are beginning to opt for “designer” QR codes. A number of websites and agencies offer designer codes already. A designer QR code puts your brand in the forefront of technology and design by simply adding color and your company logo.
Give People a Reason to Scan Your QR Code
A study has shown that most people expect a coupon or special offer when scanning a QR code. Some marketers encode a website address to an online sweepstakes form, others have the QR code take users to a coupon they can present on their phone at the cash register for a discount. QR codes are an excellent and fun, interactive way to drum up excitement about your business. An attractive looking QR Code coupled with a good offer will lead to more scans.
Focus on Usability
Every person who scans your QR Code is on the go. It is important to understand that people will be viewing your content from their mobile phone. A website should be mobile-friendly, load fast and be easy to navigate. In other words, your website should be designed for your mobile audience and not just for those who view your website from their PC. If your site takes a long time to load or people have a difficult time navigating through it on their small phone screens, they will leave and go elsewhere. Many businesses now are creating alternative, simplified websites designed specifically for mobile phones and to load very fast with large buttons for easy navigation.
QR Codes Are Here to Stay
As studies have shown, QR code usage by advertisers and the number of QR codes scanned by consumers is growing at a tremendous pace. The reasons are obvious: QR codes offer advertisers an inexpensive way to enhance their current marketing, connecting consumers out in the real world with the advertisers’ online presence. And with the number of people using web-enabled phones and mobile devices growing strongly as well, consumers are getting online more and more via their mobile devices instead of their desktops and laptops.
Thanks to rapid advancements in mobile device technology, combined with faster tech adoption rates and faster mobile networks, businesses now have new avenues and opportunities to reach consumers. QR codes are an effective tool to bridge the offline world with the online world and enhance marketing efforts for all types of organizations, leading to more interaction and communication with consumers..