Use QR codes to enhance your mobile marketing

You’ve seen them on posters advertising vacation packages and in automobile ads in magazines: those squares with the black-and-white geometrically arranged designs. Implementing these codes in your print and offline marketing materials can create renewed engagement for your website and ultimately your business.

But what are these barcodes and how do they work? These Quick Response, or QR, codes hold information about your business such as contact details or website URLs as well as special deals for shoppers that can be read by QR scanners or special smartphone applications. As mobile technology adoption increases, consumers are becoming more familiar with QR codes. Users who access QR codes can get information on anything from flight check-in times to outtakes, previews, and actor interviews for a favorite movie.

If you want to incorporate QR codes into your marketing materials, first decide where you want to place the code: print ads, subway posters, bus shelters, or point-of-purchase locations, for example. Then consider what information to put into the QR code. What information might customers want while on the go? How could the information in your code help them? Make sure you provide information next to the code that gives users an idea of what to expect if they scan it.

You can create QR codes through free online generators such as ZxingKaywa, and QRStuff.com. Some URL shorteners generate QR codes associated with the shortened links created. Bit.ly can create a QR code by adding a .qr at the end of the shortened URL; the code image appears once you paste the shortened URL into a browser. Google also provides the same methodology for its shortener, goo.gl.

The QR code should contain a URL associated with a specific offer, sending the user to a landing page you tag for a campaign. Tagging the page will allow you to measure traffic through an analytics tool and the level of interest in the QR code. There are online URL builders, such as one offered by Google Analytics, that let you measure traffic to the page.

Usage of QR codes in the United States is relatively new compared to other countries. Apps for iPhone users include QR Scanner and Red Laser. For Android users there is QR Droid, while BlackBerry users can download  QR Scanner Pro.


Pierre DeBois is the founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and midsize businesses that rely on Web analytics data.
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