THE QR CODE IS ALIVE AND WELL
BY BILL REGENHARDT, YUMA SUN DIGITAL MEDIA MANAGER
ON MY RECENT visit to my mailbox, I pulled out a handful of direct mail pieces along with my typical bills and periodicals. On almost every solicitation letter and postcard I found a QR code. Since its initial introduction in 1994 by the Japanese company DENSE WAVE, the QR (Quick Response) code has seen its popularity ebb and flow. More recent events, however, have seen this little piece of code popping up on everything from billboards to key fobs. Anyone going into a restaurant can find QR codes being used instead of hard copy menus. And marketers are increasing the use of QR codes to direct consumers to specific landing pages for easy dissemination of information. A QR code is essentially a two-dimensional pattern of square black and white dots. With this pattern, it is possible to imbed 200 times more information than a standard barcode. The codes can contain basic information like links to websites or large volumes of data consisting of over 4,200 alphanumeric characters that are encoded into the patterns. To access the information, a person needs only scan the QR code – an easy process thanks to smartphone apps that can bring up the QR information in seconds. QR codes are being used by millions now. Over 2.75 billion people were using smartphones in 2019 and as of 2021, roughly 90% of the population is estimated to have access to high-speed internet. Coupled with the fact that Apple’s iOS 11 update added QR code scanning capability in the camera app along with the latest Android smartphones being able to do the same, QR codes have become an integral part of everyday life. In doing my research on QR codes, the phrase “ubiquitous” kept popping up. Indeed, the QR code is everywhere. Neil Patel of NP Digital lists a number of ways a business can use QR are codes effectively. This list is not exhaustive by any means, but it does give you a good example of how utilitarian QR codes can be. 1. Direct clients to your resume, LinkedIn profile, or website. 2. Use a QR code in a direct mail piece, business card, or postcard to provide a discount. 3. Give customers an inside look at your new Facebook promotion. 4. Share a digital menu for your restaurant, food truck, or catering company. 5. Direct users to download your app. 6. Take them to a page with more detailed information that wouldn’t easily fit in a print ad, such as a product sheet or pricing list. 7. Deliver step-by-step instructional videos or a printable setup sheet. 8. Have the QR code send a tweet when scanned, or check in with Foursquare 9. Let them enroll in an event such as a webinar. 10. Use the QR code to let customers send themselves a reminder via SMS. 11. Link them to a special “exclusive” YouTube video. When considering using QR codes in your business there are some things to consider. You should have a good strategy and standards for their use. Some notable best practices for you to consider are as follows: • Have a goal: Since a QR code is a link to take the user to a specific place, make sure that you have a specific reason for them to go there. If you’re trying to drive traffic to a specific landing page on your website, there should be a benefit or value for the organization or the person scanning the code. Having a well-planned destination is a good part of the overall strategy. • Have a strong call-to-action: People need to know why they need to scan the QR code. A strong call to action will garner more engagement. Using phrases like, “Scan the QR Code Now to Learn More”, “Scan This QR Code to Enter to Win ...”, “Scan This Code to Watch a Video On...” The call-to-action can be placed adjacent to the QR code. • Mobile Friendly Landing Page Is an Imperative: A smartphone will be used to scan the QR code. If your landing page is not mobile friendly you will create a negative user experience which is absolutely counterproductive. • Tracking and Reporting: As I always say, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Use a QR code tracking system to measure your data including total scans vs. unique scans, time, location and device type. • Test, Test again: Finally, stay on top of your QR codes by frequently testing the functionality. You can test them on different QR code readers and on different devices to ensure that they are functioning properly. QR codes remain a creative way to drive traffic and connect with your customers. The possibilities of expanding your marketing message and reaching new audiences are limitless. Using a good strategy and some best practices will pay big dividends and help your bottom line. For more information about Sun Media Digital and our Digital Media Strategies, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com, or call us at (928) 539-6825.