QR codes are a type of barcode that can be read by smartphones with a camera. This innovative mobile technology looks set to become widely used as a marketing tool, as Richard Gauder of CMS Web Solutions tells Sonja Jefferson
What are QR codes?
RG: “You’ve probably started to see them without knowing what they are for. QR codes or Quick Response codes are a two-dimensional barcode that can be read by smartphones with a camera. They’ve been a common sight in Japan since 1994 and are becoming increasingly popular in the rest of the world.”
What can QR codes do?
RG: “With the growth of smartphones, businesses are finding all sorts of marketing and operational uses for them. You can place them on printed marketing material, on products, in store windows, on billboards, TV commercials, newspapers, t-shirts, anywhere!
“When a smartphone user takes a picture of the code they are directed to a page on a website. That’s the opportunity businesses are now taking advantage of. A business could have anything on that webpage. We’ve seen product/service information, coupons, store hours, promotional offers, even links to the company’s Facebook page.”
Why should businesses use them?
RG: “QR codes are a fantastic marketing opportunity that will delight the growing community of smartphone owners, helping them to find your information more quickly.
“Worldwide smartphone sales reached 115 million in the third quarter of 2011 and accounted for 26 per cent of mobile sales according to Gartner. In the UK, research by Ofcom found that 27 per cent of adults and 47 per cent of teenagers owned a smartphone. As more customers move to smartphones, they’ll increasingly expect instant information: take the opportunity to lead the way in giving them just that.”
How easy is it to use QR codes?
RG: “QR codes are taking off because they are quick, convenient and easy for the consumer. For businesses they are simple to set up and can be generated for free — a great new way to interact with your customers. Results are easy to track; you can quickly adjust your marketing strategy based on what works best.”
Can you suggest any marketing ideas?
RG “You could use a QR code to direct people to customer reviews. How about a page that they show on check out that gives them an extra gift or discount if they sign up for your newsletter? They are not just for retail. How about putting one on your business card sending people to your website? Estate agents could consider adding a QR code to the For Sale sign: interested buyers can scan the code and immediately access details about that property.”
So how do you set up a QR code campaign:
RG: “For best results, direct visitors to a customised landing page on your website. Visitors to that page will be using a mobile device, so make sure your page is mobile-friendly. You want it to load quickly and have the most important information near the top. Include contact details so that visitors can quickly connect.
“Once you’ve created your landing page, you’ll need a QR code for it. It’s easy to generate — URL shortening services such as bit.ly or goo.gl let you create a code from any web page address (usually by adding a ‘.qr’ to the end of the shortened URL). With services such as QRStuff you can create other types of response such as text messages or phone numbers. It’s simple. Use QR codes to engage and delight your customers and prospects.”
Richard Gauder is president of Canadian company, CMS Web Solutions.