Have you seen this squirly pixel box?
by Kimberly A. Hawkins facebook.com/watergraphics
This silly box is a QR code (short for Quick Response). Flip through this month’s ELLE magazine and check out all the lil pixel boxes placed within the ads. Have you seen one and didn’t know just what the heck it was?
I’ve been slipping QR codes on all kinds of client’s projects: direct mail pieces, movie posters, business cards, in-store displays and I will be putting one on a billboard next week. I started implementing them into design about a month ago and now I see them everywhere –and I bet, now you will too.
:: What is a QR code
A QR code is a 2-D barcode that can be scanned by a smart phone’s camera and transfer information. Based on the type of code it is, it might direct the viewer to a website, make a phone call, deliver a vCard or more.
:: Effective Use in Your Marketing Campaign
QR codes are fairly new to US (no surprise, they’re big in Japan), many people won’t recognize them or won’t have a smart phone with a QR reader installed, which limits their impact. A Harvard study resulted that YES we need to put directions next to the code: http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/opinion/columns/8121.html
Limited the instructions is perfect solution: ACTION (scan), FEATURE (where this leads audience) BENEFIT (will they get sale items or whatever)
example: ‘SCAN, WATCH, LEARN”
You need to determine if QR codes are a good fit for your business and your audience. If you feel there’s a place for QR codes in your marketing toolbox, here are some creative suggestions on how you can take advantage of QR codes.
- QR Codes on business cards. Eliminate all the type-clutter and create a QR code that leads people to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Plaxo, Yelp, FourSqure, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Whrrl, and MySpace profiles. clean + sleek.
- Labeling. Check this out: a restaurant patron is enjoying wine from your vineyard. They notice the QR code on the bottle and quickly scan it. That takes them to a mobile site where they can learn more about your wine, your vineyard, and links to where you can buy a case for delivery…all before the check comes.
- Storefront displays. Few retail businesses are open 24/7. Don’t (fully) disappoint potential customers after you’ve left for the day. Create a Shop Online Now! QR code and put it in your storefront window. One quick scan and you’ve turned a potential lost sale into an online customer who’s going to share a lot more of their contact information with you.
- Promotions, discounts and giveaways. If you want to encourage patronage from the iPhone and Android set, you could create discounts that are specific to the QR codes. You could run these codes in advertisements or post them throughout your store. You could even turn them into a “retweet” so that your shoppers share their discount with their followers.
- Laptop stickers. Slap a QR sticker of your vCard or website to your laptop, making it easier for other geeks to connect with you when you’re local coffee shop.
- T-shirts. Put your QR code on your t-shirt for some shameless self-promotion. Or, make a bigger impression by printing up 100 t-shirts and put them on 100 interns and have them attend a public event like a ballgame, street fair or campaign stop. For more engagement from the crowd, put different messages on the shirts, so people take more scans of more of your codes.
- Get funky with your QR Code design. QR codes allow a little wiggle room, meaning that you can “hack” the code itself. A famous, early example is the BBC’s QR Code. However, you can play around with the QR code once it’s been generated in an image editing tool like Photoshop and work in your own logo or brand. Always be sure to test your QR code before printing up a few thousand copies, however.
- Use QR codes to get Likes and Follows. You can create mobile-friendly landing pages with Facebook like buttons or lead them to your Twitter page for a quick follow. The name of the game is engagement, so a like or follow can create a long-term marketing opportunity. Caveat: so far the Like buttons that QR tags generate lead to the Facebook website rather than the mobile app. I don’t know about you, but I rarely log into Facebook’s website from my phone, so that requires extra steps the average person may not be willing to take.
- Supplement your retail space. QR codes next to pieces of art could help art galleries move more art, or museums replace those aging audio tape tours. Hardware stores could link to how-to videos on YouTube of how to use specific power tools. Groceries could link to pages that talk about how their products were sourced, and perhaps to interviews of the farmers who grew the food. Electronic shops could bring visitors to review sites so they could get unbiased reviews of stocked products. Or to an e-commerce site where shoppers could buy out-of-stock items. Book stores could link to their own reviews of books on their blog.
- Increase e-commerce sales. Since QR codes can lead to URLs, you can create a code that will populate a shopping cart with specific products. (Assuming your e-commerce solution can handle that.)
- Build your email subscriber list. Use your QR code to send people to your email signup. Just make sure you give people a compelling reason to subscribe to your list…otherwise you will have just wasted their time. Not the best way to engage your audience.
- Get the phone ringing. QR codes can also make a phone call. (Oh, imagine the mischief!) If you want to get the phones ringing–at your business or at campaign headquarters–you can create a code that will dial a predetermined number. Likewise, QR codes can generate SMS text messages.
There are plenty of ways to use QR codes to connect and engage your audience.
I looove love how South by Southwest conference used ’em! Organizers of the Austin gathering for film, music, and Web geeks even included a QR code on every registrant’s badge to cut down on paper waste and manual data entry. The SXSW site explains: “When you meet someone at an event, let them scan your badge with their smart phone, and they will automatically be following you on [the conference’s social network] my.SXSW, where they can message you or access your contact information. Hopefully, this will cut down on the paper footprint of SXSW by reducing the need for business cards.”
QR codes can provide additional information, including photos, reviews, directions and event dates and times. There’s a certain amount of fun and surprise with QR Codes, so that you can take advantage of a “what’s behind door number one” mentality.
Have you used QR codes in your marketing and communications? If so, how are you using them, and what results have you seen? Share with me in the comment section.