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Marketing Communications QR Code Customer Engagement

Marketing Communications: Engaging Customers with QR Codes

March 27th, 2015

Odds are, you already know what QR codes are. They’re everywhere! These two-tone grids have been around since 1994. Their original use was similar to that of standard UPC barcodes, but they have invaded the world of marketing communications over the past several years. You might be thinking they are just a fad that will be gone in about five years. While there may be some truth to this statement, you can still make the most of these little boxes and find unique ways of interacting with your prospective customers.

A lot of websites make it easy to create a QR code for free. Kaywa, QR Stuff, The QR Code Generator, and Unitag are just a few. These websites allow you to choose the type of information you want the code to contain, such as your contact information or a website URL. The website will then generate your custom QR code and allow you to save or print it so you are able to use the code immediately.

Just in case you didn’t know, QR codes cannot be directly read by a smartphone or a tablet’s camera. Free scanning apps are available for both Apple and Android products.

Putting a QR code on everything may be tempting since everyone seems to be doing so recently. However, this could be more damaging than you realize. QR codes are very easy to use. They’re free and have a vast number of business uses, such as collecting contact information, providing visitors with an email newsletter signup form, and sending people to your company’s Facebook page so they can “like” it. QR codes are great, but their proper use is important.

Although they have many uses, QR codes should be used both sparingly and intelligently. This means that they should not be plastered on every flyer, business card, email, and poster your company produces. They should be placed in only a few key areas to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing communications campaign and engage your customers.

Choose the placement and destination of your code wisely. Remember, QR codes are for mobile devices. If the code leads to a web page, that page must display properly on a mobile device. A mobile or responsive website is paramount. QR codes should not be placed on your website, for obvious reasons.

The concept of snapping a picture with your phone doesn’t seem like a big deal since it is such an easy task. However, that is one extra thing that your customers have to do. Give your customers a reason to take the time to take a picture of your code. You will need to essentially “bribe” them, perhaps by having your code send them to a special webpage available only through that code. This page should contain something that your customers will want, something that makes them glad they took the time to scan the code. Have a page setup that contains an exclusive offer, such as a discount for your product or service.

Many companies have managed to find creative ways to use QR codes. Some of these include TIME Magazine, the TV show True Blood, Disney, and the creative agency SET’s “Help Japan Now” tsunami relief campaign. View samples of these QR code masterpieces. There are also many great examples of “QR code art” that feature incredible graphic design work.

Want a custom QR code for your business? Hire a graphic designer to start the creative branding of your code.

These codes shouldn’t be just a square sitting on a piece of your marketing material. Give customers an explanation of what it’s for or what will happen if they scan it. If your QR code contains a link to a page that allows people to enter their email, you will want to write text that says, “Scan the code to sign up for our newsletter.” A plain QR code with no explanation will dissuade people from scanning it because it will just get lost in the jungle of mysterious codes and not be worth their time. Keep it simple. Don’t send customers on a “wild goose chase.” Send them directly to where you want them to go without a list of lengthy directions.

Many people believe that QR codes are a dying trend and that they should not be used at all. The reason for this mindset? Improper use and overuse. QR codes, when used correctly, can be a great way to engage your customers with your next marketing campaign. 



Written by: Carol Palichleb

President and Chief Information Officer,
Palicor Communications



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