After a few years of buzz in mobile marketing circles, “quick response” or QR codes are finally starting to pop up in the United States, thanks in large part to the proliferation of smart phones.
QR codes are two dimensional bar codes that can be scanned by smartphone cameras to automatically pull up text, photos, videos, music and URLs. Almost any type of data you want to encode.
These codes have become mobile-friendly ways to point people in the offline space to online resources.
Small businesses can particularly benefit from use of QR codes. Make that QR code link to a mobile-optimized page.
QR codes are appearing in major print publications and plastered on storefronts and buildings. At this rate, it won’t be long before most people can immediately recognize and use QR codes.
So How Can Small Businesses Take Advantage Of The Emerging Technology Of QR Codes?
The most obvious use of QR codes is to drive real-world customers to your company's Web presence. This is nice and all, but simply sending people to your site's homepage isn't always going to be particularly useful. Instead, send them to a specific destination on your site. For example, build a simple, mobile-friendly customer survey. Enter people who fill it out into some kind of giveaway and (transparently) collect their email addresses for future marketing messages.
Rather than sending users to your own site, why not connect them with your social media profiles? Sending them to your Facebook page or Twitter stream will give them the opportunity to 'like' or follow your brand and continue to receive updates long after they've walked out the door. It's now even possible to encode a QR code to automatically 'like' a brand on Facebook.
Including a QR code on one's business card can be one way to drag that die-hard relic of last century into this one. As long as business cards still exist in paper format, we might as well put them to some good use in the digital space. Embed a link to your company's Web site or social media presence in a QR code. It might not flood your site with traffic, but it can help reinforce those real-world connections you make.
QR codes could be used to measure the success of your offline marketing. Using Google Goggles and Google Analytics makes this totally possible and especially useful for small businesses.
Use QR Codes to create a "2-in-1" campaign that also acts as as bridge from the offline to the online world. Essentially, promotional products become "media" for your brand! And bring the customer online with you.
A QR Code is a way to add Google Calendar event reminders to posters; perfect for sale dates or upcoming events for your business.
If you really want people to pay attention to your QR codes, make them good for something fun. Say you’ve placed a QR code decal in your storefront window, why not reward those who scan it with 10% off their purchase or a free pastry? Give them something small to thank them for their patronage. Simply create a custom QR code for the freebie you want to offer. You could even get creative and hide the QR code offers online, like on your Facebook page or website, or somewhere inside your store.
Yes, more and more people are starting to associate the codes with action, but never assume your customers will know what to do. Make it a point to spell out how to scan the QR code, and help instruct customers on where they can grab scanner apps.
Also, remember that QR codes should provide some kind of value to the scanner. It may be easiest to direct QR code scanners to your website, but that’s likely not the most engaging place to send people.
Does your small business use QR codes? If so, how are you using them? And if not, which types of uses might fit your marketing efforts?