Local businesses generate leads, experience immediate results with effective QR code strategies
In just six months in 2010, from July through December, the use of QR codes (abbreviated from Quick Response Codes) increased twelvefold. And in 2011, ScanLife’s mobile barcode trend report documented that, worldwide, scans increased by 440 percent.
QR codes were created in 1994 in Japan to track vehicle parts. So why did they suddenly, almost in a virus-like effect, become as widespread so quickly?
The answer: smartphones.
While it’s no secret businesses, including top brands such as Starbucks, Ford, Best Buy and Audi, are taking advantage of the QR code boom, there are a few businesses out there baffled over how to use them correctly and effectively.
QR codes are a type of matrix barcode that encodes information, and its contents are able to be decoded at high speed using a QR code scanner app on smartphones. They have been found virtually everywhere — product packaging, business cards, magazines, restaurant menus, marketing collateral and more. But, the real question is, can all businesses benefit from using QR codes?
According to both Jeff Gottschalk, CEO of Gotty Code, and Rebecca Heft, senior creative director for Gate6, QR codes can work for nearly everyone, it just takes a bit of creativity, targeting the right audience and following up. Not only are the results immediate, but this is also a cost-efficient way to interact with customers and develop one’s brand.
“Every business can benefit from QR codes if they have a compelling use for them and the right customers,” Heft says.
Heft recommends businesses think about what they want to deliver to their customers and then determine if adding a QR code would enhance the experience.
For example, Amber Cox, Phoenix Mercury president and COO, says the team used QR codes on placards given to fans in the arena, on signs located near the ticket office and in other in-arena advertisements. Scanning the QR codes offered fans an opportunity to win prizes. However, she says, this was also an experience for the person to engage with the Mercury brand on another level.
“We’ve been able to quickly accumulate sales leads for people that we know have engaged with the Mercury on some level prior to us talking to them,” Cox adds. “That is valuable in itself.”
Shell Vacations Club, which offers vacation ownership in destinations nationwide as well as Canada and Mexico, used QR codes to gather data and leads with a giveaway. If you scanned the QR code, you earned a chance to win a one-night vacation at a Shells Vacation resort.
“They captured 866 leads in 30 days,” Gottschalk says. “They experienced more than 1,300 visits to the campaign on their website.”
Other popular uses for QR codes include offering coupons, product information, making purchases and linking to the business’ social media pages.
However, for GreenbergTraurig, LLP, which takes a business-to-business (B2B) approach, QR codes were used as an electronic medium for paperless delivery of attorneys’ white papers to the business community with timely, relevant information.
“QR codes have allowed GreenbergTraurig attorneys to become even more effi cient with their presentation of resource materials and community education on legal aspects of timely topics within the business marketplace,” says Matt Burrow, director of client relations and business development.
For instance, two GreenbergTraurig lawyers put a QR code at the end of their powerpoint presentation during a seminar and asked the audience to scan or opt in for a report that covered everything they discussed. They garnered about 37 leads, improving their leads by about 1,000 percent.
“QR codes offer real world interaction where companies are able to tell their story and capture data in an environment where they normally wouldn’t,” Gottschalk says.
“Businesses need to understand what data will give the most return in investment and help make your marketing initiative as effi cient as possible moving forward.”
More importantly, Gottschalk says the key is following up and using the data collected through the QR code campaign, data such as names, emails and phone numbers. “The fortune is in the follow-up,” he says.
So when is the right time to use a QR code? According to Heft, perfect opportunities to scan QR codes are during those with built-in waiting times, where potential customers or clients have to wait.
“Give a virtual-world bonus for your real-world location,” Heft says. “Think about places where people have to wait, such as airport. Create a fun and interactive way for them to get to know your brand by using a QR code as a catalyst.”
Cox agrees that QR codes are an innovative way for companies to interact with their customers, crucial to the development of a brand. And with more than 450 million smartphones sold in 2011 and a total of more than 600 million sold by 2015, now is the time for businesses to consider their mobile presence.
“With mobile Internet set to outpace desktop Internet usage towards the end of 2013,” Heft says, “it is becoming more and more important that businesses think about way to promote themselves on the mobile Web.”