QR Codes: The Future of Opt-In Marketing
March 30, 2011 2 Comments
Do you know what a QR code is? If not, you will soon. QR (short for quick-response) codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can be read by QR code readers and certain apps (like WiMo) on smartphones. The code is referred to as “2D” because the scanner reads both horizontally and vertically on the image to decode it. Each square-shaped pattern can be customized to send the person/device scanning it to a website, image, video, or a packet of data. When Matt Martin, Senior Manager-Mobile & Emerging Media at Sam’s Club, came to speak to our Marketing Strategies class at John Brown University, he described QR codes as “hyperlinks on paper.” Anyone can make a QR code: just go to a website like http://delivr.com/qr-code-generator, enter the appropriate information, and wah-lah! you have your own QR code that you can place in your store or on your products, put on your business card, or display anywhere else you want.
After the invention of the QR code by Denso-Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, in 1994, they have been used in artwork, marketing, cemeteries and entertainment. For marketers, QR codes have huge potential as smartphones continue to proliferate the consumer market. They are the future of opt-in marketing. Unlike traditional ads on television or the Internet that interrupt the life of a consumer, QR codes are optional: only those who are interested in what the code has to offer will scan them. In a recent article on CNN, the author found a February survey of U.S. smartphone users by MGH, a Baltimore social-media marketing company. According to the survey, 32% of respondents said they have scanned a QR code. Of those, 53% said they used the code to get a coupon or discount. And 72% said they were more likely to remember an advertisement with a QR code.
The important key to QR codes is linking to content that the consumer will find interesting or helpful, like in the commercial above. Matt Martin shared several ways that he is implementing QR codes at Sam’s Club:
- Direct consumers to the Sam’s Club app. In class, Mr. Martin put a QR code on the projector screen and had students scan it. It took them to the app in iTunes so that students could download it.
- Allow customers to see product reviews in-store. Matt said that several items, such as big-screen TVs, have QR codes below them at the stores. If a consumer wants to learn more about the product and see what others are saying about it in the “Customer Reviews” section of the Sam’s Club website, they simply scan the code.
- Connecting consumers with special offers and promotions.
These are just some of the ways that QR codes are being used in retailing right now. To see some other ways that advertisers have used QR codes, check out this Google search for “QR code ads” and scan away. As the technology becomes more common, marketers will continue to find ways to make it even more useful and creative. Since it is entirely an opt-in experience for consumers, the potential ROI for QR codes is enormous. So, have a little fun with QR codes for yourself: make them, scan them, and enjoy them as they continue to increase in popularity.
Learn It. Love It. Live It.
[image credit: Scott Blake on Flickr]