Even though Google Places recently stopped allowing businesses access or the ability to print QR codes there’s still a big opportunity for these to become a staple in getting any marketing information over to your audience quickly, efficiently and creatively. And they aren’t going anywhere, in my opinion.
For those not familiar, a QR code is a 2D image (usually something like the above) that can hold information both vertically and horizontally; allowing for more data to be stored and ultimately accessed by their targets. Businesses have been getting creative with these.
For one, you need to have a QR code reader – I won’t go to far into these but here are a few nice apps for reading these when you come across them:
- MobileTag – I believe works across Android, iPhone and Blackberry.
- ATT Scanner – note, this has been giving me issues lately so I’m a little weary about recommending it
- QR Reader for iPhone
- QR Code Reader and Scanner
- QRreader – A desktop app utilizing your i-sight camera (on a mac if you don’t have a smart phone to download the previous readers.) NOTE: I haven’t tried this out but it’s one of the only ones I’ve seen
The ultimate focus in marketing is getting your message across quickly, and efficiently; leaving an impression on your target strong enough where they could possibly turn into a lead and later a conversion on whatever product or service you’re offering. QR codes have the ability to be short and sweet, and aren’t limited to any one way of sharing.
QR codes give you the ability to:
- Share your business URL to take users directly to your site
- Share your address for instant directions
- Share assets – images, videos, other media
- Link to social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Namesake, Foursquare etc.
- Accept Paypal payments
- Send out v-cards
I’d be here all day if I listed the uses. There’s so many creative ways to use these it’s ridiculous other than the cut and dry ones I mentioned above. That will probably be another post though.
By having all this information accessible through a QR code, not only are you simplifying steps for users, but you’re extending your link into real life. As you’re walking into a storefront, you may take notice of a URL (actually, it’s decently rare in some areas to see a URL on a storefront still) but will you write it down? Will you check it out immediately on your phone?
But chances are, if you have a QR code scanner and you’re anything like me, you want to scan everything and anything you come across just to see if there’s something fun or interesting there.
Ease of Editing:SXSW Giveaway
Websites change, job titles change, phone numbers change, email addresses change… the only constant is change and if you’re carrying around a business card, you know how frustrating it is to have outdated information, and if you’re a small business or individual, you’re likely not looking forward to spending more money on business cards just because one detail changes.
By integrating a QR code onto your business card, you can actually edit the QR code without needing to reprint your card or code; so if your email address changes, just update the QR code and you’re good to go- this is something you would have to create an account to do depending on the service, if you want rewritable QR codes but it’s totally worth it.
You won’t worry about losing possible leads, falling out of touch with potential clients or even losing out on the ability to get to know someone you met at a conference.
Multiple Campaigns & Analytics:
Don’t think that QR codes are just floating around out there without being tracked or analyzed. If you’re taking these codes a step further and actually running multiple campaigns, you can test different creative or marketing strategies and track the QR codes assigned to each to see what creative/strategy was more effective and pulling in more interest.
Consider it the A/B split testing like you would experiment with Facebook ads or Adsense.
You may think your only option with a QR code is to stick it in your storefront window or on marketing material, but there’s tons of other ways to get these in front of the eyes of potential consumers. You may also think that QR codes are only for large businesses or a certain kind of “elite” marketer. This couldn’t be more false.
For one, there’s plenty of QR code creators, QRStuff for example where you can create and print them out, and you can even use Google’s chart API to design your own or the built in one in the ATT scanner app – so don’t feel like you need to be running a big business to really integrate these into your strategy.
For two, there’s already some great (and some random) uses of QR codes out there.
[iframe http://www.hulu.com/embed/zg3t9oWyfsj8-ZSvacfPlA 512 288]
For anyone who has been haunted by Rebecca Black’s horribly catchy “Friday” song, I’m sure you’ve come across the lovely Stephen Colbert’s (<3) version with Jimmy Fallon.
Anybody notice the guy in the background (next to the man in the bee harvesting costume and the big white abominable snowman looking guy) waving his QR code up in the air like an idiot? Yes he drew attention to himself although he didn’t consider the fact that flash doesn’t work on the iPhone and probably alienated half the population. This link apparently led you to a video of Stephen Colbert discussing a charity that was featured on that episode.
Even though many wouldn’t know what this QR code was, or what the crazy guy was doing holding it up, I’m sure the majority of people were interested and either tried to capture it with their reader or at least looked online for it.
Curiosity is an integral part of marketing because curiosity can draw your audience into checking out something they haven’t seen before.
Daytona Speedway Social Squad
International Speedway Corp. unleashed a great “Social Squad” during the Daytona 500- taking check-ins to the next level by having their squad utilize not only Galaxy Tablets, but QR codes on their shirt sleeves as well. With Galaxy tablet users were able to both become a fan on Facebook as well as automatically check in.
The QR codes on the sleeve allowed users to scan the social squad shirts with their smartphone and check in as well- giving participants multiple ways to experience new tech and be social at the same time. The nice thing about this strategy is for those who weren’t sure what QR codes were, they were definitely curious and willing to go the extra step to check it out. Over the weekend there were around 1,000 Facebook check-ins using these methods- I’d say that’s success given the wide range of demographics and different types of social users that were frequenting the audience.
Lisa Miano from ISC was kind enough to speak with me so I may be following up with more insight into how effective this was instead of using traditional check in methods with no social aspect (setting up booths, etc). While the QR code method may limit itself to those with QR readers on their smartphones, the benefits definitely outweigh that as they exposed those who were interested to their social presence which will allow them to hopefully continue interaction with the brand after SpeedWeeks.
This QR code, from SET Japan, allowed users to donate directly to Japan Red Cross for tsunami relief- a creative and charitable use. You’ll notice some of the little designs in the QR codes if you look closely. We’ve see the use of tech to solicit donations via text message (for Haiti Relief) so I was happy to see that people are getting creative while helping others. Who says donating can’t be fun?
CNN also ran this QR code. I didn’t catch it myself but I did hear about it. Oh CNN. I love you because you’re always working on being social AND you have those great huge touch screen displays. It’s not surprise that they decided to hop on board and use these QR codes to make it easy for viewers to donate to aid Japan as well.
YAY QR CODES!
I’m pretty enthusiastic about these QR codes and I’d like to continue to see creative uses for them. If you’re a business (or even an individual) I suggest you take a look at various ways to integrate QR codes into your marketing plans or just utilize QR codes to make your life cooler (and more creative). Wouldn’t you like to check in to a beach house that you’re renting, have the ability to scan a QR code there and be taken to a site where other guests have written about their experience? I think that would make life way more interesting than simply finding a notebook. But that’s just me.
What are some creative uses of QR codes that you’ve seen? Have you taken the steps to integrate this into your marketing strategy if appropriate?
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