Are QR Codes Here to Stay?

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QR codes play an increasingly important role in the B2C marketing world. According to one 2012 study from Chief Marketer, marketing use of QR code and barcode scans grew to 68% of the firms surveyed — up 15% from last year. That makes it the top mobile marketing tactic.

Another study from The Temkin Group, found that 24% of U.S. consumers use QR codes. The coded images are extremely popular among a younger demographic who readily embrace mobile technology.

QR Codes Do What Very Few Other Technologies Can Do
They create a flexible, easy to use interface between print/physical and online content. Whether you’re talking about print ads, business cards, trade show content or direct mail, QR codes make it easy to move your customers from print to online — and thus into your marketing automation environment.

From a hyperlocal perspective, QR codes can be a powerful tool too. It’s important to consider them as an engagement vehicle to drive traffic to your local destination, whatever that may be.  Local store, local event, doctor’s office or coffee shop — they can be leveraged to increase footfall and ultimately revenue.

Brands Are Embracing the Technology
Retail clothing chain Express is putting mobile in the center of its direct mail strategy, with a new initiative that lets consumers shop featured looks using QR codes and SMS.

Over the last few weeks, mailers were sent out as part of a campaign running through June 29 that promotes Express’ line of denim. The Express mobile bar codes appear on the back side of the six-page mailers in the bottom left-hand corner with an SMS call-to-action below. Users who scan the QR code are taken to a campaign-specific page on Express’ mobile site that showcases 12 pairs of jeans for men and women.

Another brand, Guinness, wanted to get more people talking about the brand, so they gave local bars some new pint glasses. At first glance, the glasses looked like a regular pints- but bartenders and patrons learned that when they were filled with a Guinness, the glasses were actually printed with a QR code. Created by BBDO NY, the QR code could only be scanned when a Guinness was in the pint glass; regular beer didn’t create enough contrast, and when nothing was in the glass, the QR code just looked like a creatively etched design on the side of the cup. When bar-goers scanned the QR code with their smartphones, the app shared the news to friends that they were enjoying a Guinness via twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, and Instagram updates.

Scanning the QR code even sent out the bar-goers’ locations — with the hope being that friends who saw the updates would join their pals at the bar for more Guinness drinking.

Get Creative in Your Application
Whether you are a big brand like Guinness or a small business, QR codes can be a great way to communicate information in a simple, cost effective manner.

Here are some quick ideas on other potential uses:

▪          Show them a video of your product or service in action. Visuals like this are perfect for smartphones.

▪          Show a customer testimonial or a 30 second collage of customer testimonials. Social proof in action!

▪          Link them to a digital version of your brochure

▪          Place QR stickers on your printed brochures that were created before you found out about QR codes

▪          Place them on the back of envelopes you send to your best customers, when they scan it, it’s a personal thank you message from you

It’s clear that QR codes are relevant and useful, however, there is a potential pitfall that must be considered — QR landing pages that deliver disconnected and/or dead-end content. Remember that a QR code landing page isn’t a destination. It’s a front door. Make sure your customers can open it and that it leads to somewhere interesting.

Asif R. Khan is a veteran tech start-up, business development and marketing entrepreneur currently serving the community as founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association (The LBMA). Weekly podcaster at This Week In Location Based Marketing every Monday. Can be found at @AsifRKhan @TheLBMA on Twitter.