By Steve Yates, online marketing manager, The Gift Experience
What is a QR Code?
A QR Code is a specific matrix barcode, readable by dedicated QR barcode readers, and camera phones with a barcode reader app (free to download and readily available). The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data. QR is the abbreviation for Quick Response, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.
Ways to use QR Codes
QR codes are fairly new in the UK but, unsurprisingly, they are already big in Japan. Many people will not recognise them when they see them or will not have a smartphone with a barcode reader app downloaded, which limits their impact.
Because of this, you need to decide if QR codes are a good fit for your business and your audience. If you feel there is a place for QR codes in your marketing strategy then here are some ways you can use QR codes.
QR Codes on business cards. Create a QR code that leads people to your website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, etc.
Storefront displays. Put a QR code in your storefront window and direct customers to your online store, so if your shop is closed or they do not have time to shop with you then, they can always shop with you online anytime.
Promotions, discounts and giveaways. If you want to encourage people to shop from their iPhone or Android handset, create discounts that are specific to the QR codes.
Increase e-commerce sales. Since QR codes can lead to URLs, you can create a code that will populate a shopping cart with specific products.
Get your phone ringing. QR codes can also make a phone call, so if you want to get your phones ringing at your business you can create a code that will dial a predetermined number. Likewise, QR codes can generate SMS text messages.
How to generate
QR Codes are incredibly easy to generate, simply search 'qr code generator' and there are many sites offering a free service, alternatively you can set up and account with other suppliers who offer tracking and more stats based on scans and clicks. As with most things, you will get what you pay for, so if you want to try it out as a test then use the free codes, but if you choose to use it as part of a marketing strategy then the tracking service will be vital to track your ROI.
What we did
In 2010 we created a dedicated mobile site, fully integrated with all our back-office systems so we cpi;d effectively manage stock levels and provide customers with real-time information, just as we do on the traditional website. Since the mobile site launch in early November 2010 we have seen a year-on-year increase of 1211% in mobile revenue, and the feedback we have received has been incredibly positive. It suggests the idea of shopping on your mobile phone is something that consumers have really embraced.
We wanted ways to drive more traffic to our mobile site to raise the awareness of the channel and QR Codes allowed us to drive traffic from web or print direct to our mobile site. Our affiliate marketing network, Webgains. has a voucher code management tool that enabled us to offer our affiliate marketing campaign multi format tracking across both mobile, web and print.
How does it work?
Step 1: The 3D bar code is displayed on a webpage, within a banner or on any printed media
Step 2: The customer scans the code with any bar code scanner app on their mobile phone. This then automatically opens our mobile site on their phone.
Step 3: (this is where is gets really clever!) Hidden within the link is a branded voucher code that will offer the customer a specific discount on their order, the code is displayed on the landing page and is automatically applied to the basket. Since the Webgains Voucher Management Tool attributes the branded code to a specific affiliate, as long as the code is used on either our mobile site or standard website, the sale will track and commission will be paid to the referrer.
Going forward, we are also going to use the codes on the flyers we send out with all our packages. Because we thought the costs of production and distribution could be prohibitive on an untested concept, we felt it would be a safer option to release it on web first to ensure the technology was accepted by customers.
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