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The Continual Rise of the QR Code

Think for a moment if you will, when was the last time you walked down the street, and didn’t have your cell phone with you? If you are anything like me, there a couple of things that I always make sure I have prior to heading out, whether heading into the office, to meetings, or simply out and about in my free-time.

Wallet?             Check.
Keys?               Check.
Cell Phone?      Check.

As cellular phones have evolved over the years, whether in size, morphing from large brick like objects, to what is essentially a miniature computer that fits into your pocket, so too have they opened up the almost endless possibilities as to what they can actually do, past the original point of enabling people to communicate with other people, without being tethered to a land line. Throw in the plethora of features that most cell phones, whether smart phones or the regular handsets have, and you suddenly find that you have a veritable miniature computer squeezed into your pocket, or lurking at the bottom of your bag.

Mobile Marketing, defined by the Mobile Marketing Association is “the use of wireless media as an integrated content delivery and direct response vehicle within a cross-media or stand-alone marketing communications program.”

The potential power of marketing via this medium is enormous. Consider if you will, the opportunity to communicate your message to a targeted audience, directly to their pocket. Whether utilizing SMS/MMS, Mobile Apps, Mobile Smart Sites, Mobile Optimized Websites, or finally, through a nifty little image, called a QR Code. All of these elements can either operate as stand-alone items or as part of a cross-media campaign, aimed at getting up-to-date, informed and relevant information to your customers, quickly and cheaply.

You may have seen QR codes whilst out and about, a small square box with a scattering of pixelated dots and lines. I first saw one on the London Underground some years ago whilst riding up the escalator. The advert that it was resting at the base of wasn’t particularly relevant to me (make-up), yet the funny box piqued my interest enough to wonder what it was. Alas, whilst I didn’t manage to whip out my own phone in time, had I managed to I would have been disappointed as it lacked a good enough camera let alone an application that would decipher them. Fast forward to now and I, like many of my peers, own a device that allows me to capture photos better than many digital cameras.

QR codes were developed in the early 90’s in Japan to facilitate the tracking of vehicle parts, yet it has only been since the availability of smart-phones, that QR codes have also become common place in consumer advertising and marketing campaigns. By providing a QR code on a printed piece you can increase the likelihood of a sale, or, without much effort encourage prospects to move further down the conversion funnel. QR Codes can be found on the street corner, advertisers have placed them on lampposts, cars, billboards, and even buildings advertising anything from local yard sales to million dollar-marketing campaigns for multi-national organizations.

In one of my earlier blog posts I wrote about Personalized URLs, which can be accessed either by typing in a URL, linking to a URL through an email or link on a website, or, fancy that, you can also view a PURL campaign via a QR code. Along with having a personalized landing page created using variable data, you can also have variable QR codes, which deliver your customers to their personalized page on their smart phone. This not only increases your response rate by providing another way that the customer can reach your campaign, but it also increases the potential return on investment by getting your customers to the parts of the campaign that matter the most, quickly and easily.

QR codes can be used in a multitude of different ways, linking to website URL’s, Google Maps locations, YouTube videos, or simply calling, emailing or connecting with someone via a Social Media outlet. They can also be used to link to Mobile Smart Sites, which provide a quick overview of your organization, your products or perhaps just yourself, all accessed by a QR code.

In the US alone, QR code scans increased by 4559% between Q1 2010 and Q1 2011, with the vast majority of QR codes linking to product info, coupons and social media. I recently attended a DMA (Direct Marketing Association) class, where the facilitator mentioned seeing a QR code marketing campaign whilst walking in a mall. Standing outside the store she scanned the over sized QR code in the window and was immediately prompted to take a coupon into the store to receive a free item. Talk about a quick introduction to the product!

Where QR codes will take us in the future no-one can be certain, however, so long as there are smart phones, and an audience hungry for offers and incentives, delivered right to the palm of their hands, then these should continue to be a useful method of enabling interaction between the customer and your business.

AlphaGraphics Business Centers can fulfill all of the products written about in this article, for more information on your nearest location, visit this website, or scan the QR code below.

Sources:
www.sparklogix.com
www.mashable.com

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