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                                                                                                             March 18, 2013 / Issue #4

Mobile Marketing with QR Codes
Pixels Potential Packs a Powerful Punch

by Mike Hamers, Lightspeed– Edited by Kirsten Nelson, C3 Writing

Have a lot to say, but not enough room to say it? QR Codes offer just what the marketing department ordered. You’ve seen these peculiar images displayed on posters, business cards, billboards and signage. QR stands for Quick Response.
Around since 1994, use of QR codes as a relevant marketing tactic arose over the last few years.  As more people migrate to smartphones, the use of QR Codes will undoubtedly become a more powerful, and popular, marketing tool.

Decoding QRs – 9 Facts & Insights on Successful Integration & Implementation

1. Link to any Media: Tailor User Experiences

The power of the QR code is twofold. It allows users to link to various kinds of media, and gives marketers the power to tailor unique brand interaction for a beneficial user experience. While the most popular use involves simply linking to URLs, they can actually link to a wide variety of interective media. Imagine the power of allowing your end user to send an email or text message, get special coupons, view site maps, review location details, watch a video, log in to WiFi, access Google Maps, Paypal or Buy Now, receive a phone number, or even make a phone call. The possibilities afforded by QR are endless, limited only by your imagination.

2. Marketing Mainstream: 1-in-5 Snapped
Despite rumors that over-enthusiastic marketers create QR code "buzz", the real data coming in suggests otherwise. In April 2012, one in five Americans scanned a QR code, and this number is steadily rising. QR code acceptance has finally happened; they have, as The Economist put it, “…quietly slipped into the marketing mainstream”.  A July 2012 report by Econsultancy revealed that 50% of company marketers say they use QR codes to encourage customers to interact with their brand.
              Antimatter packaging with QR Code Link to Videos of actual Flight Liftoffs
Above: We used QR codes to link participants to view actual videos of space launches at the Albuquerque Space Port America launch site as part of a campaign promotion.

3. Free & Easy Codes and Reader Apps
That’s right, free! 100’s of do-it-yourself websites offer QR code creation with a few clicks and in a matter of seconds! Need a scanner on your phone?  Just search for ‘QRCode Scanner’ in the app store on your smartphone device.  To use the QR code, the end user must have a smart phone. Newer Apple, Droid, and Windows phones or tablets come equipped with a QR reader, while older devices may need a free downloadable and easy-to-use app such as "NeoReader", "QR Reader", or "QR App".

4. Location plus Time: The “Q” Factor
Steve Groves of Social Marketing Conversations reminds us to consider both location of the code and adequate time to scan it. “Some highly visible locations just don’t work because scanning is hard if either the code or the person themselves is moving.” Steve offers the following examples to illustrate this point.  “A QR Code on a bus may not lead to many scans since speed and movement limit successful scan opportunities. Placing one in a bus or rail stop, however, would be brilliant – especially if those riders are part of your audience demographics.

5. Demographics: Who, Why, and Where

Who Accesses QR codes?
A clear skew towards young (18-34) and male adopters currently exists in QR code utilization, but this will likely change with familiarity and popularity, particularly as targeted and tailored end user experiences gain popularity.  For instance, a US postal service promotion offering direct mailers a 3% discount for use of QR codes proved a smart move, one destined to increase QR code adoption by marketers and consumers.

              Female and Male Ratio

Why and Where They are Used
Mobile specialist NellyMoser analyzed U.S. data on action code usage in print magazines and recent marketing campaigns. There is a clear message in the data about where consumers use QR codes, which in turn points to why end users scan them.


60% vs 23% The existence of this at home / at work bias in the use of QR codes strongly suggests that consumers accept QR codes as a new form of “web response” to direct mail.  This in turn leads to new opportunities for tying in to personal URLs. NellyMoser expected outdoor usage to be higher given the featuring of QR code containing ads, so there is definitely a takeaway for those involved in direct mailing. NellyMoser notes that the use of QR codes in retail and supermarket proves quite high as well, likely due to bar code scanning rather than promotions, but an interesting trend none the less. Restaurant use appears low but as new reward programs gain customer buy-in, that may change -- See example below.


Above: Digital technology is changing the restaurant business. Belly, a Chicago-based startup launched last August and now available in 29 cities, provides a universal local business customer loyalty program. Smartphones already allow consumers to make reservations, place orders, and write reviews. Now, with the integration of QR codes, consumers earn points for free food and drinks as well.

QR Code Media Placement
U.S. Comscore data analyzed QR code location on packages, products and publications. Clearly, opportunities for the use of QR Codes on packaging and websites exist as both ranked quite high.

6. Want Variety: Use Colors and Shape

There's no need for QR codes to look boring.  Get creative and combine a variety of colors and logos into a QR code just so long as the creator remembers not to obscure the three corner squares.


Error-proof: Can Handle Elements and Damage
QR codes contain error-correction, which means that minor defects can easily be ignored. Similar to the scratched CD that still plays music, up to 30% of a code can be damaged or obscured and the QR code will still be scanable.

8. Drive-By Technology: Convert Leads into Buyers with a Snap

Mary Ellen Wood, Broker Associate for Homestead Real Estate claims “QR Codes have changed the way people shop for homes. Buyers driving through a neighborhood can immediately receive photos, get details, connect with a realtor, schedule showings – even take a virtual walk through. All with one click! Through the QR reader apps on their smartphone, prospective buyers scan a property-specific QR code that links to a property-specific mobile website - a quick, paperless option for the tech savvy homebuyer to access additional info about any home available at their fingertips.

Realtors can’t fit everything on a lawn sign or flyer – nor should they try. Research has shown that the ability to convert alead to a buyer for your home disintegrates in 30 minutes!  By leveraging QR codes, realtor scan now provide consumers with the information they want immediately.”
9. Print & Promos: On Anything Fit to Print

Larry Trainor, president, Trainor Printing & Promotions praises the unique branding opportunity QR codes offer.  “Adding a QR code is easy. They can be used to send your prospects to your website, provide free reports, coupons and other creative promotions. QR code use is not limited to print on paper; effective use can be achieved with screen printing and reflexography on promo items and tradeshow freebies such as water bottles, coffee cups, key chains, bags, calendars, magnets, stickers, anything that can hold the image quality and size.  Carefully consider what information or media to make available to prospective clients – then work with an experienced graphic designer who can help design and integrate QR codes into marketing products effectively.


Savvy marketing specialists understand the importance of embracing innovative technology – and the QR code is just that. There is no limit to the ways this technology can be used to generate sales. It’s quick, easy and inexpensive. It’s virtual.  Let us show you how you can get in on this great marketing strategy today.  Thanks for Reading – MH

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