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Connect to the digital, mobile & social world using QR Codes – What’s the business value? Is this a fad?

There are many new technologies that pop-up in the market regularly with a lot of “buzz”. QR (quick Response) codes is one of them

I didn’t pay a lot of attention to this funny looking (maze like) 2 dimensional box with black/white modules and shrugged it off!! I thought this was one more marketing gimmick and was just one more fad.

You must have seen the QR codes in the magazine pages, magazine ads, bus stop, bus sign, business cards etc. For the last couple of months, I am hearing a lot of buzz and seeing how some companies are using and leveraging QR codes in very very innovative and creative ways across all business functions to boost customer experience, sales & marketing campaigns and lead generation. Recently USPS announced QR code promotions and savings on direct mails. So QR codes are going mainstream!! Still want more convincing info, see the following stats from Comscore.

14 million Americans used QR codes  from their mobile phones. Not all of 2011, this was just in June 2011. This is 6.2% of the total US mobile population. The study also shows that a mobile user that scanned a QR code during the month was more likely a male (60.5% of code scanning audience), skew toward ages 18-34 (53.4%) and have a household income of $100k or above (36.1%).

Where were the QR codes scanned from? Print magazines and newspapers were half of them and the remaining were mostly from the product packages (35%) and websites (27%).

From what location were these QR codes scanned? Mostly were from home (58%) and the rest of them were from a retail store (39%) or from a grocery store(25%). This is particularly true in Tesco’s case (as detailed below in use cases).

With the combination of camera enabled smart phones and QR codes, the business value is limitless. For marketers, QR codes can provide them with new, creative and innovative ways to reach their target consumers and also engage them in new ways. When you combine this with Social platform, there are more innovative options (like Verizon’s combination of QR code, mobile and social…it’s simply superb!!, I have listed this use case below).

I started exploring more into QR codes and how this technology can be leveraged for business needs and generate value. Following is my high-level analysis. I will start with the basics…

What’s a QR code?

A QR Code is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera enabled smart phones. The code consists of black/white modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or any other data. This data doesn’t expire.

QR codes have the ability to store more complex information than a standard bar-code. It has been used in the transport and logistics industry for tracking, for over 15 years. However, recently marketers have put their thinking hats on , and came up with ideas to not only measure ROI on certain campaigns, but also spark the attention of some early adopters and get them to scan these funny-looking barcodes, to see what happens.

What usually happens is that the code behind the image is linked to a URL, or a website, with more information on the product or the company. Since the code is scannable by any camera enabled smart phone, scanning the code can start a phone call, deliver a vCard, redirect to a website, registration form, bookmarks etc.

See the following video – brief overview of QR codes

Benefits & Value

Following are some business use cases on how are QR codes are being leveraged and generating value. I will start with some interesting ones.

Storefront displays: Few retail businesses are open 24/7. Don’t disappoint potential customers after you’ve left for the day. Create a Shop Online Now! QR code and put it in your storefront window. One quick scan and you’ve turned a potential lost sale into an online customer who’s going to share a lot more of their contact information with you. See the following video on how Tesco is leveraging this in South Korea and driving commerce. It’s just amazing!!

Cemetry: This is kind of interesting business use case. The following video says it all.

Business cards: This is probably the de-facto way many businesses use QR codes. Rather than overload a business card with all of your contact info you could include the bare minimum for reaching you, then create a QR code that leads people to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. or to your profile on the corporate website.

Labeling: A restaurant patron is enjoying wine from your vineyard. They notice the QR code on the bottle and quickly scan it. That takes them to a mobile site where they can learn more about your wine, your vineyard, and links to where you can buy a case for delivery…all before the bill comes. See the following video – one more brief overview of how QR codes are being used in restaurants, bus-signs, mailers etc

Email subscriber list: Use your QR code to send people to your email sign-up. Just make sure you give people a compelling reason to subscribe to your list, otherwise you will have just wasted their time. Not the best way to engage your audience.

Facebook likes and Twitter followers: Linking your Facebook page or twitter account to a specific QR code, you can use it in product or POS promotion, with a short message: “Scan this code to join our Facebook community”, or “Scan this code to get notified of future promotions on Twitter”. Verizon recently did a “Hipscan” promotion using QR codes. This generated a lot of buzz and generated a ROI of 3500%. Click here for more info.

Brochures, magazine ads and other print media: Have the QR codes in the brochures, product pages, magazine ads for readers to quickly scan and see more information and bookmark it. This will be very useful especially when readers are commuting and don’t have the flexibility to write down the link.

Conferences/Events: Have the QR codes for conference check-ins, session check-ins, take surveys and take polls, exhibitor signage. Attendees can scan the QR code from the conference mobile app and take the poll, survey and register for the sessions. How cool is that? This will engage the attendees in a new way and provide a great conference experience.

More use cases on how QR codes have been used for better conversion rates (source)

  1. Product comparison data on price tags
  2. Feedback surveys on sales receipts
  3. On-demand interactive video support
  4. In-house Facebook “Like” promo
  5. Google Paces – Review posters
  6. Foursquare Check-in posters
  7. Interactive custom maps

Click here to see more details on the above use cases.

QR code in not a fad. It’s real and mainstream now !!! Start leveraging this 2D technology to generate more business value

Appreciate your feedback and comments.

Contact Info

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  1. January 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm | #1

    This is by far one of the best explanations of qr codes, uses and qr code 101 i have yet to find
    Thanks for the info
    http://qrblaster.com

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