In my 2014 blog post QR Codes and Other Alternatives, I talked about QR Codes and if they were still a viable marketing tool. As we launch into 2016, I thought it would be worth revisiting QR Codes to see what the marketplace is telling us about their use since 2014.
Let us first consider how fully integrated mobile technology has become in our personal and professional lives. According to a 2015 report from the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of Americans own a smartphone. We use our smartphones to research everything from health issues to performing online banking. Despite some blogger chatter saying that QR Codes are on the downslide or completely passé, they aren't. QR Codes are still being used. QR Codes are still relevant, at least for now.
QR Codes still offer an efficient and cost-effective way to communicate information to your customers. They are used for a variety of applications in the manufacturing, medical, and services industries. (I recommend you visit the Denso Wave Incorporated website, the inventor of QR Codes. It gives a full account of QR Code invention and applications, which is worth reading). QR Codes are being used in the consumer market as well. A blog by Heidi Tolliver Walker on Xerox Blogs talked about how companies like Walmart and McDonalds are using QR Codes to provide targeted information to its customers.
What about your company? Are QR Codes a mobile technology you should be using? My answer remains the same as it did in 2014 - Yes! Along that line of thinking, I want to suggest you consider the following as you tweak the use of QR Codes and mobile technology into your overall marketing strategy:
- Ensure your QR Codes are a positive user experience
A well-executed design and user experience is paramount for the success of QR Codes. The user experience needs to be slick, seamless, and the destination (landing page) fully functional. The pervasive nature of high-tech has increased customer expectations for excellence and flawless execution. You have to exceed those expectations.
Consider how the company Visualead has taken the next step in QR Code design by creating a dotless QR Code. TechCrunch.com reported the new design offers, "90 percent more space for branding and messaging from retailers and tighter security." This new design gives enhanced visual engagement to the user while broadening the options for the company's branding.
- Evaluate how you could apply QR Codes in your marketing strategy
There are no limit's to you or your team's imagination on how to use QR Codes in your marketing strategy. In Mark O'Neill's Small Business Trendsmagazine article in 2015, he listed 12 ideas on how QR Codes can be used. Perhaps you have done some of these including pricing embeds, link to a promotional video, or landing page on your website. It really comes down to what works for your industry.
- Evaluate if QR Codes are used by your customers
As I mentioned, QR Codes are still a viable resource in your marketing tool kit. But, a tool is only as good as its value to the end user. If you currently use QR Codes, verify your customers are using them. Are there any enhancements you need to make? If you are exploring using QR Codes, how are they used in your industry? It may be worth running an A/B test to evaluate interest comparing the follow through via a QR Code or a shortened URL.
- Educate your customers in the use of QR Codes
Depending whether your QR Codes are to the consumer or commercial market, it may be worthwhile to educate the user. The reality is that QR Codes may be a mystery to some less tech-savvy users. A brief 1-2-3 action description may be helpful, particularly if using QR Codes with printed material at a client meeting or conference.
QR Codes still have a place in marketing today. But, like with all technology, innovation improves applications and slowly takes us into new spaces. The same is true for QR Codes in the future. I read an article in the technology news section of the Telegraph that included a brief interview with the creator of QR Codes, Masahiro Hara. Here is what Masahiro said about the future of QR Codes:
"…it is likely that they <QR Codes> will be replaced by new technology such as near-field communication and sophisticated image recognition algorithms... To tell you the truth, it may last for 10 more years."
As marketers, particularly those of us who have been in the business for a while, change is a constant. It is why we keep our thumb on the pulse of marketing trends and technology innovation.
So, where does this leave us in the use of QR Codes today? It means moving forward and leveraging the value that QR Codes brings today to the printed materials we supply to our customers and prospects. It reminds us to periodically evaluate and tweak our marketing tools, like QR Codes. Our goal is to always exceed the user's experience. In the end, it strengthens our brand and helps us stand out from the competition.
Are QR Codes a part of your marketing tool kit? If so, what has worked to enhance your user's overall experience?
Graphics Plus, Lisle, IL. provides MARKETING SUPPORT solutions to help organizations create, print, produce and distribute marketing communication messages cost effectively. Visit us at www.gpdelivers.com