In the US today, almost everyone has a cell phone and many people use smart phones. Smart phones allow people to surf the internet, find what they need and where they need to go. Most importantly, the wide majority of people use smart phones use them all the time. One of the newest and most popular forms of technology that compliments the smart phone is known as the QR code. Let’s have a look at why generating and using QR codes is a good idea.
A QR code is essentially a digital image that can be read by a smart phone by taking a picture of it. QR codes are often used in the promotion of products or services and in conjunction with some sort of marketing plan. Web marketers and traditional print advertising agencies are extremely excited about QR codes because it bridges the gap between these two forms of media.
For example, when a real estate agent wants to advertise a listed property they will take pictures and put them in a local real estate listing magazine. Simultaneously, the realtor might place ads on the internet using display advertising or Google Adwords. However, the print campaign is entirely separate from the online campaign and the print ad has an unknown conversion rate. The QR code solves this problem. By printing a QR code along with an incentive for visiting the QR code landing page in the real estate magazine ad, the realtor is able to capture more potential leads from the ad and increase the value and ROI of the print campaign. However, the QR code doesn’t work like magic. It has to be accompanied by a good incentive.
When the potential home buyers see the print ad, and assuming they are a smart phone user, they will have the option of scanning the QR code. Common incentives include offering a prize for entering an email address or signing up for some form of free trial. However, if the perceived value of the service being offered is high, or if the potential buyer is far along in the purchasing process a simple email opt in form providing future updates is all that is needed. To visit the realtor example again; the use of a QR code offering email updates on homes in the market is ideal because while the potential buyers might not be interested in the houses depicted in the ad, they may be in the market for a realtor.
In addition to serving as a way to generate leads, QR codes are a great way to track and compare the exposure of various advertising media. Because every QR code that is generated is totally unique the codes can be placed on different print advertising materials and used as a way to add metrics to a media that normally has no way of being tracked. For example, considering that two idential ads are used and a marketing firm wanted to measure the relative success of an ad placement in a magazine versus a newspaper or within one demographic or another, a QR code would be the only tool available to compare which one converted more interested potential customers. The QR code offers a whole new dimension to print advertising and is accompanying the massive growth of the mobile advertising industry.
Overall, QR codes are not a new concept. Afterall, bar codes have been in use since the 1960s and they revolutionized the way stores all over the world manage inventory. Today, QR codes simply use the same barcode technology and combine it with the capabilities of the smart phone. The result is a tool that will shape the way marketing and advertising evolves over the next decade. By allowing enhanced metrics and tracking for print ads, billboards, and other stationary objects, the codes might just have the power to reinvigortate the ever dwindling print media industry. Interestingly, QR also has it’s place in guerrilla marketing. Some groups have printed stickers with noting but a mysterious QR code that leads the user to a website that reveals the secret behind the code. It seems that the technology only wants to evolve and is doing so quickly. QR codes will play an important role in the advertising world of the future.