Barcodes, QR codes, readers, 2D barcodes (have you ever seen a 3D barcode?). There’s a lot of debate in the marketing world about just how useful these scan-able images can be for businesses. Opinions range from “who would waste their time using those?!” to “I just don’t think marketers have figured out how to use them yet.”
What the Heck Is a QR Code?
QR stands for quick response, and barcodes are nothing new. But to clear up any confusion, a QR code is simply a matrix barcode that is readable by QR barcode readers that can be installed on smart phones . The information that is encoded by QR codes can include text, a URL, or other data. Barcodes have been around for quite some time, but their use as a mobile utility for accessing information is new in the scheme of things. Just like any new piece of technology, the mass market will show signs of resistance before it starts to adopt it. And while there will always be naysayers out there, the fact of the matter is that if QR codes catch on with consumers (and there is nothing that suggests they won’t), businesses – especially local ones – can really stand to benefit from them.
Even though the mass market has yet to fully embrace them, there are multiple reasons why local businesses should be embracing QR codes now as part of their mobile marketing strategy.
QR Codes Can Help You Stand Out From the Crowd
Differentiating your business from your competitors is definitely a marketing 101 lesson. The fact that QR codes have not yet been adopted by the masses means there are many people who see them and don’t know what they are. If used correctly, QR codes can spike the curiosity of your customers and prospects alike. Use this opportunity to link QR codes to exclusive offers or valuable content to carry that curiosity through to a sale.
Boston Photobooth Rental is a local shop that rents photo booths for all sorts of occasions. They recently redesigned their business cards and used the back of the business card to host two QR codes. One leads to their website and other to their reviews page. Tell me using this otherwise wasted real estate is not a good idea!
QR Codes Let You Target Consumers On the Go
Retailers, don’t you wish there was a way to interact with customers on the go? Integrate QR codes into your store signage and other print advertising. Whether you’re providing coupons for shopping in-store or an easy way to sign up for your newsletter, QR codes make it super easy for customer and prospects to access your information fast on their phone.
REI, an outdoor sports apparel retailer, had this signage on the front door of one of their stores to pique interest about their frequent shopper program. Instead of calling out the program, they focused on the benefit (dividends) and provided a QR code linked to a list of products people were able to purchase with their dividend.
QR Codes Make Real Life Interactive Like the Web
The incredible growth of the online marketing industry isn't a fluke. Businesses are shifting their time and budgets to online channels because it’s much easier to track the success of their efforts and prove their strategy is working. QR codes essentially allow you place call-to-action buttons on any piece of physical content you have.
The best time to look at recipes (at least for me anway) is while I'm at the grocery store. My local Whole Foods store has a recipe board equipped with QR codes so shoppers can open the recipe right on their phones and make sure they buy all the ingredients they need. Genius!
Setting Up QR Codes Is Free & Easy to Set Up
There are multiple resources businesses can access that will allow them to insert a landing page URL and create a QR code that will direct users to that URL with the click of a button.
Sites like Kaywa QR Code allow you to set up QR codes in a matter of minutes and provide you with proper image formats to use in your designs.
The Market May Be Slow to Adopt, But the Telecommunications Industry is Ready for You
An industry has sprung up around the use of QR codes and other mobile barcode technology. A great example is Neustar . They are veterans in the telecommunications space and recently launched a mobile barcode service that lets you take QR use to the extreme.
Neustar users can utilize features like dynamic URLs for geographic or device targeted offers, day parting, and web analytics to make their campaigns incredibly efficient.
All the Cool Kids Are Doing It
This is not true at all. In fact, you could argue that only geeks are using these things. All kidding aside, the use of QR codes could open up new channels of traffic and customers to your business. At HubSpot, we talk all the time about testing new forms of media and marketing tactics. You won’t know if QR codes will work for business if you don’t at least experiment with them. Go ahead, test them out. If they work -- awesome. If they don’t, then who cares? You’ve got nothing to lose. Either way, we’ll still think you’re cool, and actually, you'll look like the cool kid in your industry if your use of them really pays off.
Have you started to use QR codes or other mobile barcodes? Please share how you’re using them, how you are measuring results, and some tips to getting started.