Since the first business anal(yst) came up with the TLA* ROI, marketers have tried to come up with matrix to prove their advertising work. There are statistics of Direct Mail, TVC and billboard eyeballs and views, and specific phone numbers, to measure the effectiveness of the call-to-action of the particular ad or campaign.
A bridge was built over 15 years ago, in Japan, by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave, which was named QR (Quick Response) code. The term and idea was trademarked and had been registered as a patent, however the inventor had made a decision not to restrict its’ use, and make it publicly available.
What are QR Codes?
A QR Code is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data. (via Wikipedia).
This doesn’t seem to be too exciting, does it? QR codes have the ability to store more complex information than a standard barcode. So what? It has been used in the transport and logistics industry for tracking, for over 15 years. However, recently marketers have put their thinking hats on (doesn’t happen too often), and came up with ideas to not only measure ROI on certain campaigns, but also spark the attention of some early adopters (geeks), and get them to scan these funny-looking barcodes, to see what happens.
What usually happens is that the code behind the image is linked to a URL, or a website, with more information on the product or the company. Since the code is scannable by any smart phone (or camera phone), scanning the code can start a phone call, deliver a vCard, etc. Still not that exciting, is it?
Here are some examples, to show how QR Codes can be used for marketing purposes, before talking about ROI:
1. QR Codes on business cards. OK, not the most creative idea ever. In fact, this is probably the de facto way many businesses use QR codes. Rather than overload a business card with all of your contact info you could include the bare minimum for reaching you, then create a QR code that leads people to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. or to your profile on the corporate website.
2. Labeling. Somewhere, a restaurant patron is enjoying wine from your vineyard. They notice the QR code on the bottle and quickly scan it. That takes them to a mobile site where they can learn more about your wine, your vineyard, and links to where you can buy a case for delivery…all before the bill comes.
3. Storefront displays. Few retail businesses are open 24/7. Don’t (fully) disappoint potential customers after you’ve left for the day. Create a Shop Online Now! QR code and put it in your storefront window. One quick scan and you’ve turned a potential lost sale into an online customer who’s going to share a lot more of their contact information with you.
4. Build your email subscriber list. Use your QR code to send people to your email signup. Just make sure you give people a compelling reason to subscribe to your list…otherwise you will have just wasted their time. Not the best way to engage your audience
5. On the same note, increase your Facebook likes and Twitter followers. Linking your facebook page or twitter account to a specific QR codes, you can use it in product or POS promotion, with a short message: “Scan this code to join our facebook community”, or “Scan this code to get notified of future promotions on Twitter”.
I think you get the idea. There are more creative ideas on Rich Brooks blogpost on FastCompany.
QR Codes were invented to control inventory, as they can hold over 4000 alphanumeric characters (compared with the 10 digit barcodes). Wollongong University (South of Sydney, Australia) have been using QR Codes in their library, directing student to specific content, and directories.
Google and Facebook have been experimenting with QR codes for Google’s applications, and Facebook’s geolocation application, so far it is just an experiment.
This is a short video that demonstrate how easy it is to create the QR Code, and read one:
I’ve recently added a QR code on my own business card, as my company is now including them with most of our campaigns. We have created specific strategies to measure their effectiveness, and as the awareness of QR codes in the Australian marketplace will grow, I’m sure they’ll become even more effective.
If you’ve seen a campaign, or have an idea how this can be used (or currently being used) in your business – please share! Remember – Sharing IS Caring.
*TLA – Three Letter Acronym. hehe