Mobile Marketing with QR Codes

May 4, 2011
Mobile Marketing with QR codes

Do you wish that you could track the success of your offline marketing engagements to the same degree as those online? Leveraging your mobile marketing using QR codes might be the solution to your problem.

QR Code basics

A QR code is a two-dimensional representation of textual information, such as a website address, email address, phone number, or a plain text message. They were created in 1994 by Japanese company Denso Wave (a subsidiary of Toyota) to track car parts, but have recently become popular in the United States as a way to transfer lots of information very efficiently

QR codes can be used in marketing to engage the consumer by providing:

  1. a special offer, or
  2. access to additional content that otherwise wouldn’t be displayed in the advertisement.

For example, a user with the appropriate device (usually a mobile phone) and an app capable of reading these codes can scan a QR code that leads them to a web page where they can receive free shipping on the product being displayed. Another example could be a car manufacturer that uses a QR code on their print advertising that takes the user to a video of the car.

Effective QR Code Marketing

You can see QR codes popping up all over the place, but often they are used inappropriately or ineffectively. Keep in mind this very important fact about QR codes: they are scanned by mobile users. Everything in the marketing campaign has to be mobile-centric:

  • The website that the QR code points to should look good on a smart-phone web browser. Ideally it would be a mobile site specifically designed for display on a small screen.
  • If you are providing the user an offer, it should be something that a mobile user can take advantage of easily without access to a computer or printer.
  • The lead capture form (yes, there must be one!) should be short enough so that it doesn’t annoy a mobile user. Keep it short and simple, just a name and email address.
  • The code must be big enough and clear enough for cameras to read them easily.
  • Keep the message (website address) as short as possible which reduces the complexity of the QR code and makes it easier for the device to understand it.

This short list is not exhaustive, but you get the point. Think mobile!

The Future of QR codes

Should you use QR codes? Absolutely, as long as it makes sense in the larger context of your marketing strategy and your current marketing campaign.

Having said that, I recommend not getting too attached; it is my opinion that QR codes will be short lived. As the cameras in mobile devices get more powerful, users will be able to take a picture of anything (a product, billboard, storefront, etc.) and the device will find the relevant information without the need for a QR code — information such as website URL, phone number, address, email, price, SKU, a video demonstration, and even competitor prices all from one photo, and all at the user’s fingertips. This is called augmented reality and is a few years from becoming mainstream, so in the meantime mobile marketing with QR codes makes a ton of sense.

If you are convinced that using a QR code in your marketing could benefit you, then you can make your own QR code. Add it to your marketing strategy and let us know in the comments how it works out for you.

Additional Resources:

Get a Free QR code reader for your smartphone: iphone, android, webos, blackberry