QR Codes: Learning The Basics

Everywhere you look QR codes are making their way into mainstream marketing.  Most recently I was having dinner out at a local restaurant and noticed that the ketchup bottle had a QR code.  Out of curiosity, I took out my smart phone and grabbed it - redirecting me to a URL from Heinz.  The landing page offered additional information and the ability to sign up for special offers.  Can you say direct response?

QR codes made simple

QR codes have appeared in mass thanks to smart phones and digital technology.  Entering a long URL into a web browser on your phone has become easier but still requires typing of multiple characters.  Enter the QR code.  With a simple free app you can click and button and be redirected to a web page.  I guess it's a good thing that we're inherently lazy - its the motivator for a number of technological advances.

In this post I wanted to give you the basics of QR codes to help you get started.  If you haven't run any promotions with QR codes, your goal should be to have one up and running in the next week or so. They are extremely easy to implement.  Here's how:

1.  Develop a QR code strategy.  I like to think of QR codes as the means to an end.  The functionality of a QR code is to get you to a web page.  As a marketer, I always think about the end goal which is to have your prospect complete a transaction of some kind.  This could be to provide you with an email address or make a purchase. 

What's the goal of your QR promotion?  What do you want people to do once they get to your landing page?  What's in it for them?  Why should they take a snapshot of the QR code in the the first place?  One of the best strategies is to offer incentives to people who use the QR code to arrive at your landing page.  Have them sign up for special offers or something of value.  This is one of the more popular strategies that builds your list and grows your business.

2.  Develop your landing page.  Just like any marketing initiative it's important to build and test multiple landing pages for your offers.  You should create a landing page that is consistent with your branding, easy to navigate, and has an offer above the fold.  When users visit your page through the QR code make sure they find what they're expecting.  Ensuring a consistent user experience will improve conversion rates.

3.  Create a QR code.  Creating a code is incredibly simple. There are tons of free sites that allow you to punch in the URL you want prospects to visit and spit out a ready-made QR code.  The one I like to use is available at http://qrcode.kaywa.com.  My recommendation is search "create QR code" on Google and you'll find plenty of resources.  Once the code is created make sure to include it on your promotional materials.

4.  Promote your QR code.  Once you've developed a strategy, created your landing page, and generated a QR code, the next step is to promote your QR code.  What's so great about your code is that it works in virtually any format.  You can use your QR code on a label, post card, package, in an ad, on your website, email, etc., virtually anywhere an image can appear.  

Think through all of your touch points.  Can you add the QR code in multiple locations to increase the likelihood that someone will use it?  In addition, always use some type of language that encourages your users to access the code.  For example, "Scan this QR code with your smartphone to get access to special offers."  By adding a reason why consumers should click through, you increase conversion rates significantly.

QR codes are here to stay

The technology of QR codes has actually been around, in experimental formats, for quite some time.  They are only now becoming pervasive in all types of marketing from advertisements to packaging.  If you haven't already started using QR codes in your marketing, now is the time to start using them.  As the number of smartphones begin to expand, as well as the comfort level of those who use them, the ability to connect in new ways continues to grow.

Start planning your next promotion using a QR code.  Even if you start small, say putting a QR code on your next post card, you'll not only engage your prospects but improve your campaign tracking and results.  The QR code allows you to drive people to an online environment where it's easier to track behavior and outcomes.  Let me know if you're using QR codes in your promotions and what type of results you're getting.  And as always, have fun marketing!