Recently in a meeting with a client, our discussion came around to the effectiveness of QR (Quick Response) codes. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it”, the client stated, “QR codes are just not catching on in this country like they did in Asia and Europe, and I truly wonder if they ever will!” I pointed out to my client that while I agree that QR Codes are not quite mainstream here in the United States, there are many reasons contributing to that fact. “First and foremost”, I stated, “there are so many examples of poor usage of QR Codes in the US that it’s surprising they’ve had any success at all. When QR codes arrived on the scene a few years ago, marketers started slapping them on everything in an attempt to appear ‘cutting edge’. Unfortunately, most of those codes merely linked to a home page that was difficult (or impossible) to read on a mobile phone.”
To support my argument further, I pointed out that QR Codes are extremely effective when used properly within the right demographic. I provided an example of an ongoing direct mail campaign we manage that realized a significant increase in response rates when we added a QR Code as a response channel for their audience. The percentage of respondents using QR Codes vs. respondents typing in a URL on a PC runs from 20% to 30% of their weekly interactions. The use of the QR Code as a secondary response channel, along with multi-touch, integrated methodologies, is providing our client with a weekly response rate of 20%!
So why is our client having this level of response and interaction? The QR Codes we print are clearly visible on their direct mail pieces and we include brief instructions on how to use them. Most importantly, the web site where the QR Code takes the recipient is optimized for use with a hand held device. The fact that the site is optimized keeps the respondent engaged and clicking through the marketing campaign. Linking QR Codes to sites that are not optimized leaves the respondent frustrated and disappointed, and the normal response is to “click off” the web site, often times never to be seen again.
You cannot expect to have a successful marketing campaign simply because you have added a QR Code onto your direct mail piece, if you do, you are in for a disappointment. From our observations, a full 90% of the QR Codes we see in local advertising, or on direct mail pieces, do not take the viewer to an optimized site. Instead, viewers find themselves at a standard web site with type and imagery that is much too small to see on a phone unless they enlarge it take the time to scroll back and forth so they can read the content. NOTE! – in order to take advantage of the vast mobile market available to you today, you MUST give your viewer a response channel that is comfortable for their use and viewing. Otherwise, you will be disappointing your audience and they will immediately “click off” rather than “clicking through” your online offers.
It is always wise to employ best practices when using QR Codes, so here is a bit of a road map for you to follow. As you read each item, keep in mind that R.C. Brayshaw and Company can help you with any or all of these initiatives to improve your marketing results.
Optimize the content for mobile viewing and interaction – Think in terms of keeping things simple for your audience, and keeping them “clicking through”. Keep pages, coupons, videos, etc., as simple as possible with minimal clicks and keystrokes.
Simplify the recipient’s life – If your intended demographic is on the go, being able to access a promotion from their mobile phone is much more convenient than finding the time to sit at a PC to engage. Making an offer accessible to a mostly mobile demographic is an excellent use of a QR Code, and your audience will appreciate you for it!
Provide a benefit for scanning the QR Code – Special offers, special videos, discount coupons, etc., the list goes on and on. There are many immediate benefits you can provide to your mobile audience that will keep them coming back for more.
Test, test, and then test again – The QR Codes should be at least 3/4″ square, a full inch if possible. Then they should be scanned with a variety of different cell phones to ensure they work. If the QR Code is too small, it may not scan, leaving your mobile user disappointed and frustrated.
Provide Instructions and an alternative – Keep in mind that there are smartphone users who still do not know how to scan a QR Code. Provide some simple instructions along with the code and, in the event the user prefers to view the promotion on a PC monitor, always include the URL that they can type in manually.
When used effectively, QR Codes will help to improve your response rates. There is a reason why so many of our customers are experiencing success with their Marketing Programs, and it comes down to exercising best practices in EVERY case when using the multiple, emerging technologies available today. We can help you be a winner as well and demonstrate for you how to engage your audience with the latest in marketing technologies.
Authored by Rick Hall, Business Development