Sep 01, 2011

Mobile Marketing and the Quick Response (QR) Code

by: in Mobile

The QR Code. It sounds like something straight out of a James Bond movie. These funny-looking boxes have been popping up more and more and have really captured my attention. For example, last weekend I was reading a local publication and just about every other advertising space was using a QR code. Now, this blog post won’t go into how a QR code technically works (to be frank, because that is over my head), but I wanted to talk about the dos and don’ts when using a QR code for a mobile marketing campaign.

DO have a call to action for the user. Whether it’s a freebie, an opportunity to join your mailing list, or unique content that only people scanning the QR code can get, make sure it is worth the user’s effort. Calvin Klein did a great job of this last summer. CK has had some scandalous ads in the past, and when the company posted a huge billboard with “Get it Uncensored” across the top, who wouldn’t want to see what they were talking about? By the way, they didn’t have anything naughty — but they did have a 40-second commercial premiere of their 2010 advertising campaign.


DO create a fun experience for the user. For example, Starbucks created a scavenger hunt when a customer scans an in-store QR code. Over a two-week period, users were given clues that revolved around Starbucks’ sites and blogs; these clues tested a customer’s knowledge, all for a cool prize. Everyone loves a hunt!

DO make sure it is social. Have people share experiences with everyone in their networks. This is huge and should not be overlooked. Maybe you will have to dangle a larger carrot, maybe they have an extra chance to win for tweeting about their experience or posting to Facebook, but in the end you will be the one winning!

DO track successes. There really is no sense in creating a mobile marketing campaign with a QR code if you don’t run analytics. Understanding the user-experience is important. After all, it will only help you in the future.

DON’T use a QR reader on your advertisement and link to your website if your site hasn’t been optimized for mobile use. No one wants to scroll through tiny print on a smartphone — they will move on to something else, and move quickly.

DON’T forget to include instructions on how to download a QR code scanner. This may sound pretty simple, but I have seen several ads with no mention on how to download a proper QR reader.

DON’T forget to test, test, test. If the QR code will only work for certain devices, make sure that is indicated on the advertisement. But let’s be real here … it’s better to make sure it works on all smartphones.

DON’T shut everyone out. Be creative in ways to include people who may not have a smartphone — whether that is by tweeting or signing up for your email list, make those methods available as well.

Whew! So this list could go on and on, but those are a few things to consider when engaging in a mobile marketing campaign. These funny-looking boxes are continuing to pop up everywhere you look today — and it will only continue. In fact, they began in 1994 with Toyota using them to track parts. Now the digital advertising world is bringing them to the next level. I have my iPhone ready for the next amazing mobile marketing campaign. Do you?


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(Contributed by Ryan Bares, account coordinator)