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What are QR Codes and How to Use Them Effectively

QR or "Quick Response" codes started out small but quickly became ubiquitous in the advertising world. You’ve probably seen these square black and white smudges on flyers, billboards, posters and other real life advertising platforms. For the uninitiated, these are graphics that can be scanned with any smart phone and usually contain a wealth of information about a product or service being offered. There is a lot of controversy over how effective these codes can be but if used in the proper way to reach a target market, they can provide some very useful marketing information.

The act of pulling out a phone to scan a code in public is essentially disruptive to a routine and can be embarrassing for the user. For this reason, merchants must make it as easy and worthwhile as possible by following some very simple tips:

  • Value, value, value. There must be a reward offered to the consumer for taking their valuable time to scan your code. A healthy discount coupon, a funny video showing off your sense of humor or more details about the product they’re scanning all qualify as value. The customer has taken the first step to connect with you, make sure it was worth it!
  • Easy and private. Try and make sure the code is placed on an easy to scan area that’s plainly visible within arm’s reach but also not on a busy thoroughfare where there is a lot of foot traffic that would make it embarrassing for a user to stop and scan it. Don’t place codes on your websites or emails unless they link to a mobile version of your site that makes it easy for users to shop on their phones. Direct mail pieces, flyers, menus, newspaper and magazine ads are all good examples of places to use codes that can be scanned with privacy.
  • Something new! Make sure that the mobile page the user lands on is not an exact replica of the ad they’re scanning. Give them something new, valuable, informative and fun!

What sort of information can be stored or collected with a QR code and how can it be used? They can be used for any function of a business including customer service (having the phone dial customer service directly for a live sales person), advertising (offering incentives like coupons and discounts) and detailed information (easy access to online reviews of the product being scanned). Here are some other things that can be stored in a QR code:

  • Contact entry – Vcard QR codes can automatically enter your contact information into the user’s smart phone. Great for business cards.
  • Geo Location – Many QR scanners can offer a wealth of analytics information to marketers such as demographics and location as well as number of scans or repeat scans. This information can be used to fine tune marketing campaigns to a target demographic or even create games like product scavenger hunts.
  • Calendar entry – A VCalendar QR code can automatically add a date for an event to a user’s smart phone. Things like limited time sales, concerts or other special events can inform the user with a reminder to participate.

There really is a great wealth of information and opportunity that can come with the proper use of QR codes especially when it comes to tracking real life marketing campaigns. If you’re interested in any of these uses for QR codes or have some inventive ideas of your own, get in touch with a Bloomland representative to go over all your options.