Glance at a print advertisement, a sticker on a product, or some direct mail marketing and you may see a black and white square that looks like someone was scribbling. It's called a QR (for quick response) code -- a two-dimensional barcode that is the new hot thing in mobile marketing. QR codes might work for you in your print advertising ... if you use them right.
Originally intended to track manufacturing processes, QR codes have become common in such areas as electronic ticketing and shipment tracking. Increasingly, companies including automobile manufacturers
?and credit unions
are experimenting with them to market their brands and products. Consumers photograph a QC code with a smartphone or tablet camera. Any of a number of available free apps then takes them to the marketer's website, or maybe plays a video or downloads other content. ?It's one quick way to drive traffic from a print publication to your website.
Try it! Scan this QR code with your mobile phone. It will open up our social media tool that helps you decide where to post your social media content.
Consumers are increasingly curious about QC codes. For example, one single Android app has been installed between 5 million and 10 million times
. That said, it's still only a select group that you can expect to reach with them. A recent online survey suggested that about a third of people knew what the codes were
?and only 11% had actually used a QR code.
In June 2011, 14 million U.S. consumers scanned QR codes
?with their smartphones, according to market research firm comScore. That was only 6.2% of the total mobile audience. Some marketers have found that responses to QR codes
?typically run between 0.01% and 0.1% of an ad's reach.
But don't toss the baby, because there's good news behind these numbers. According to comScore, people who actually scanned QR codes skewed male (60.5%) and young (53.4% were between 18 and 34). And 54.7% had annual household incomes of $75,000 or more. That would be a strongly desired demographic for many companies.
There's more marketing good news as well. Those who scan QR codes tend to do so either off newspaper and magazine ads or from product packaging and scan both at home and in stores. As the number of people with smartphones grows, so will the portion that becomes familiar with QR codes and has a way to scan and read them.
Creating QR codes is as easy as going to a website
?and is free or, at worst, inexpensive, depending on your needs. There's no incremental cost to design a QR code into a print ad.
However, slapping a QR code into an ad isn't enough. The code becomes like a mini direct response mechanism within the ad. You'll need to plan its use so that it becomes an effective tool. That means the following:
- Make sure the QR code is large enough to catch the reader's eye.
- Include instructions on what to do since so many people have no idea what QR codes are.
- Have a benefit and call to action to give the reader a reason to bother scanning the code.
- If you're driving someone to your website, be sure the QR code's landing page is optimized for mobile, because the person is likely looking at your site on the small screen of a smartphone.
- Test a mock-up of the ad to be sure that the code scans
easily and leads where you expect.
Do the groundwork and you can add an extra draw to your advertisements at a bargain price.