QR codes are a great interactive way to help promote your business. Their popularity is growing rapidly, and this will continue.
QR codes are like barcodes in the sense that they contain information. The big difference is that QR codes can hold a lot more data than barcodes. Barcodes can communicate up to 20 numbers, but QR codes can represent thousands of alphanumeric characters.
QR stands for “Quick Response”. QR codes have been around since the early 1990s but they have started to become more mainstream with the rapid uptake of smartphones. QR codes are usually black and white, but colours and logos can be used if you want to be more creative.
Google has been encouraging the use of QR codes, so using them is likely to help you improve your search engine rankings.
When you register your business with Google Places you should receive a decal that includes a QR code linking to your company website. (Make sure you link it to information such as your business hours and address details.)
Obviously, as more and more of your customers get smartphones, the potential for QR Codes in your business will grow.
Here are a few ways you can leverage QR Codes for your business:
People scan codes that can take them to specific mobile-friendly web addresses for additional information.
While this might seem like a relatively passive use of QR Code technology, providing information instantly if you are selling high-end products where potential buyers are seeking (say) feature comparisons, can make life easier for your sales team – your buyers are qualifying themselves.
Plus QR Code information requests can be tracked so you know what information people are seeking per product and align your online and offline promotion accordingly.
QR Codes can be used to generate Facebook likes and create a coupon that a user can show to (say) a cashier. We estimate that at least 20% of all adult NZers have the ability to scan in-store QR Codes right now, and that this will rise to 25% by the end of 2012. About 50% of adult New Zealanders use Facebook (45% male/55% female), and about half of them are aged 18-35.
This means that around 10% of your customers are equipped to engage with a Facebook/Coupon promotion. 10% might not sound like a big deal – but when that person “Likes” your business or your product, potentially every one of their Facebook friends will know about it within 24 hours.
With the average Facebook user having over 100 friends, by using the Facebook/Discount QR Code combination your customers are providing you with a cost effective and very powerful “word of mouth” or “viral” marketing advantage. (Facebook Stats: http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/new-zealand – Smartphone Stats: http://blog.jericho.co.nz/new-zealand-smartphone-penetration/)
QR Codes can be used in conjunction with SMS Message campaigns. For example, you could use a QR Code to deliver a specified text message containing a unique code to a smartphone. The message could be an electronic coupon with a predetermined expiry date/time.
The smartphone user could then send your sales message to everyone in their phone book in return for future in-store rewards. In this way you can quickly and cost-effectively cultivate your own customer loyalty programs – by product, by ranges of products, by store, etc.
And of course the chance of your message getting read is many times more likely than other forms of advertising because the message is coming from a trusted friend.
Including a QR Code with your existing newspaper or magazine advertising is a no-brainer. You could easily link it to a web page that gives people directions to your business. Or include a standard QR Code that links to a web page you update with information about specific promotions and specials.
An easy extension to this idea is to direct people to your Facebook page (your business does have a Facebook page, right?) that requires them to “like” your page before they can access a printable coupon or special offer of some kind.
Depending on the products and services you promote, you can easily provide web links to installation instructions and/or sources for replacement parts and/or after sales service contact information. And of course, links to complementary products and services are a good option – cross-selling and up-selling can make a big difference to the lifetime value of each customer.
QR Codes not only signal to your clients that you are serious about after sales service, but taking the QR Code approach is likely to save you money on support costs.
It’s not too much of a stretch to consider using a QR Code to point your customers at a web-based customer feedback form. Customer testimonials an excellent addition to any website. The “social proof” that is telegraphed by testimonials normally provides a significant boost to your sales conversion rates.
You can use QR codes pretty much anywhere. Here are a few ideas:
Your business card – it signals your commitment to technology – which is a great subliminal message if your clients are heavily involved with technology.
Your brochures and other marketing materials might seem obvious – but imagine a brochure with one QR Code per product, and each QR Code links through to a special offer of some kind. Your brochure investment can be leveraged exponentially.
No doubt you’re aware of the the huge increase in the use of web addresses on trucks of all kinds. But imagine people being able to scan your QR code on your truck while you are delivering products to clients.
People who felt so inclined would know exactly what your company is about, right there from the footpath. So your vehicles become a moveable product tag – via a direct link into the Internet.
In a similar way to business cards, using QR codes on name-tags is a simple idea. And you don’t need to wait for conventions or major events (although the idea would work here as well).
Imagine your staff with nametags that link straight to their personal page hosted on your business website – especially if your sales people are paid on commission and want to keep in touch with clients. Leveraging QR gives you and them the chance of developing far deeper relationships – way beyond the old “Can I Help You?”.
Restaurant menus offer some interesting possibilities. People wanting to order could easily scan QR Codes on your menu and see the recipe for each meal, along with the dietary information like calories. And you don’t need to pay for a mobile app to do this.
Point-of-sale receipts are another option. It does depend on how sophisticated your till is of course, but if it is technically possible to load in a graphic then you could print a QR Code on every slip that you print. And you don’t have to keep on changing the slip – you simply change the content of the web page that the code is pointing to.
Many organisations use T-shirts to promote themselves – especially at shows and other public events. Your logo coupled with a large QR Code and the message “Scan me with your phone” would be a novel and memorable promotion technique.
If you are in a service industry, you could easily print your own stickers and put them on each product that you sell. Stickers that point clients to product guides, and safety tips are obvious examples. Then there are items like fridge magnets…
It’s pretty obvious that QR codes provide you with a wealth of opportunities to improve your marketing capabilities. And that they are here to stay. You can get started with QR codes with relatively little outlay and a simple strategy and then expand your use of them as more and more people start using mobile phones.
Whatever your intentions there are some simple tips to bear in mind:
Mobilize the landing page – Wherever the destination for the user of your QR codes, make sure it is optimized for mobile phones. It’s pretty obvious, but since QR codes are usually primarily by mobile devices, it makes sense to have a landing page that is viewable to a smaller screen. If you need a mobile friendly version of your website we can help. (Click here to learn more about mobile-friendly websites).
Short URLs – Ensure that the web address for the QR code is as short as possible. When you use unnecessarily long URLs you increase the chances of reading errors. Shorter URLs have a higher level of error correction. To reduce the length of URLs we use URL shortening services such as bit.ly.
Only link to valuable content – use QR codes to link to content that will engage mobile visitors and keep them coming back for more.
And remember – you can easily create your own QR Codes. Use Google to search for ‘QR Code Generator’ and use one of the sites in the results. Then just save the QR images that the generator creates and start using them.
Always bear in mind though that creating QR codes is usually just a small part of an overall solution.
And remember that we can take things beyond sticky labels to cost-effectively integrate QR code technology with your online marketing campaigns. That is where we can help you the most. So to help us help you, contact us for an obligation free consultation about QR codes.
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