Thursday, 2 February 2012

Scanning a QR Code will take you to another dimension.

Have you seen any of these black square boxes around recently, have you wondered what they are?

Well for those of you who don't know what it is, it is a QR code otherwise known as a two-dimensional barcode or 2D barcode.

Scan My QR Code To Get Daily
Marketing News And Updates.
So WHAT is a QR code? QR stands for "Quick Response" which basically means they can be scanned and decoded at high speed. They have been around since 1994, and were originally created by Denso Wave (a subsidiary of Toyota) to track motor parts, but only since the adoption of Smartphones have they found their true potential in the mobile marketing industry.
Many businesses large or small and across a multitude of industries are using them to bridge their offline print marketing efforts with their online marketing campaigns. 

Today QR codes are all abuzz and are being used almost everywhere. An article by Chantal Tode of Mobile Marketer reports that in the US 2D barcodes used in magazine advertising rose by 617% in 2011, and recent research by Charterhouse found that 51% of their marketers plan to use QR codes in the next 12 months. Scanlife the worldwide leader in mobile barcode scanning apps, reports that 2011 saw a 300% growth over 2010 and a massive 1000% growth over 2009. In Q4 of 2011 there were more scans than in 2009 and 2010 combined, they also signed up 3,000,000 new users in the same quarter. 

QR codes are scanned with a users smartphone camera but require a barcode scanner or reader to decode it (If your smartphone doesn't come with a reader pre-installed then you can download one at QRPal, i-nigma or Scanlife).
Once scanned the user could be taken to a calender event, a persons contact information, an email address, a location on a map or perhaps a URL link. The web link could be to a video of a new product on your website, a new game, or how to video. Maybe it could take the user to your online sign up page, or one of your social networks such as your Facebook or Twitter page.
Above is my QR code and when scanned it will take you to my Twitter page, where you'll find me tweeting about new developments and technologies that can be used in the marketing world.

Below are just some interesting ideas and some real life uses for QR codes across a variety of industries. 

Any Business: 
  • Business Cards: Scan for a persons contact information and save to your contacts list. Can include name, company address, telephone number, email address, company website.
Film Industry:
  • Movie Rental: Attach one to the DVD outer case and once scanned a trailer of the movie is played. How many times have you got a movie home only to find that the film wasn't what you expected. 
Entertainment Industry: 
  • Concerts: Bands are using QR codes to direct users to their website where fans can purchase the bands latest music CD, buy merchandise like t-shirts or watch videos of previous events. Others are directing fans to their social networks where fans can interact with the bands in real-time, how cool to be able to watch a live video from behind the scenes or even chat live to the band.
  • Festivals: Direct users to a map so they can find their way around the grounds.
Retail Industry: 
  • Mobile Coupons: Your out shopping at your favourite store and you notice that the item you like has a price tag with a QR code on it, when you scan it you get a mobile discount coupon to redeem at the point of sale.  
  • Store locator: You see an advertisement in a magazine, scan the barcode and it takes you to a map of your nearest store and opening times, which in turn uses your smartphone's GPS to find your location. 
Food and Drink Industry: 
  • Restaurants: Put them on your food menu's, when the user scans the QR code it could take them online to images or more information about the food they want to order. It could be nutritional information, even when dining out customers are still counting those calories. Or maybe if you have a family of diners in, the barcode could direct the user to a game for the kids to play online, so they don't get bored whilst waiting for their food to arrive. Would you like to see your food being cooked perhaps, scan to watch your food being cooked live via a webcam link.
  • Wine Producers: Include them on your label and direct the user to your website where they can watch a video of the wine production process. Or scan to purchase and reorder more cases direct from the supplier.
  • Delicatessen: You can even wear your QR code as part of your social media marketing  plans. Print one on your t-shirt or your apron and direct the user to your business's Facebook or Google+ page.
Hospitality Industry:
  • Hotels: When your guests have checked into their room they will want to know what is available to them at the hotel or in the locality. Instead of having the usual bunch of leaflets and brochures in the room, just leave a postcard with a QR code on it and instructions how to scan it. Once scanned it could direct your guests to the hotels mobile concierge service. Restaurant and bar opening times, menus, interesting things to do and see nearby or if they want to go further afield taxi rank numbers.
Automotive Industry: 
  • Car Sales: In your print marketing include a QR code that directs users to your web page for a video or images of the car that you are selling. Maybe you want to grow your mobile marketing database? Include one on your direct mail flyer and when scanned it could open the users text messaging feature, with a keyword and shortcode number already pre written ready for the end user to send and opt in to your mobile marketing campaign.
Real Estate Industry: 
  • Estate Agents: Imagine a couple of house hunters are searching for houses for sale in a particular area of town that they like, there's this one that catches their eye, on the "For Sale" sign there is a QR code and when they scan it, it takes them online to images and more information on the property. All this without contacting or even visiting the estate agent, but if they like it that much they can call you for a viewing. 
The list of uses for QR codes are endless and i will touch on them a bit more in future posts. Remember be creative, use them in all your marketing campaigns online and offline and give the end user a great experience. We've listed some important tips to help you achieve that great user experience, and that you should apply to your QR code marketing campaign.
  • Since QR codes will be scanned by a Smartphone make sure that if directing the user to a web link, it is optimised for mobile viewing. If it directs to a full desktop website it will almost certainly be slow to load and hard to navigate, the user will have a bad experience and will probably not return.
  • When printing in magazines or placing on any surface, remember that it must be on a flat surface and in close proximity to the users smartphone. eg not on the centre seam of a magazine, or out of reach of the user etc.
  • If you can, make sure there is wi-fi connectivity for the user, especially if you are using QR codes at live events.
  • Make it easy for the user, don't send them round the houses to get to point A. Keep it simple!
  • Test, test and test again before you release your QR code campaign to the masses, make sure that you are happy with your experience scanning it.
If you've scanned a QR code before, why did you scan it and was the end result worth it? I welcome your comments.