Although the technology is nothing new, in the past few years, Quick Response (QR) codes have become more commonly used. They can be seen everywhere from cash register receipts to billboard advertising and even in store – creating an entirely new shopping experience.
QR code adoption has been the biggest challenge to its growth. With the majority of consumers unaware of the function, there is an even larger number who experience QR code blindness.
With more advanced QR readers becoming available as downloadable apps, the opportunity for using QR codes is increasing. As more mobile devices begin to have QR readers built in, it will become more mainstream, opening up the possibilities for advertisers even further. A number of Blackberry phones already have a QR reader built in (although this can be quite difficult to find).
By including a QR code in a marketing campaign, advertisers are able to create interactive media. For example, QR codes are becoming more prevalent in print media where advertisers providing more information on specific products and linking through to a transactional page where customers can purchase there and then. It also provides an opportunity to become even more creative with advertising campaigns, bringing them to life and delivering engaging content.
As well as utilizing print media for effective use of QR codes, this is being seen more often in store. eBay is a great example of an advertiser looking to use QR codes effectively in store. They currently have a London based store which doesn’t have any physical products to purchase, but a number of images of products with QR codes that can be scanned. Once the code is scanned it is possible to order the item on your cell phone – increasing the opportunity for impulse purchases and changing in line with consumer shopping habits. Ebay is not the first to trial this and they will not be the last. With more stores having wifi access, it is making it even easier to transact this way in store. Connection speeds have been an issue for QR code adoption as consumers become impatient with slow load times but in store wifi eradicates this issue.
The development of mobile marketing strategies is really helping to build a true multi-channel experience, with the ability for advertisers to ‘close the gap’ between online and offline. While initiatives such as location based targeting are proving successful in generating instore footfall, QR codes have shown the ability to send customers online from an offline promotion, allowing the advertiser to engage with consumers in various different ways.
When using QR codes as a form of marketing, it is important to ensure that they are well executed and are viewed as more than just a gimmick. Advertisers often fall short and send visitors through to a site that has not been optimized for mobile, resulting in a poor user experience and not maximizing the opportunity for acquisition through QR codes. To increase the propensity to purchase and increase the use of QR codes, advertisers should consider offering customers something extra such as a discount for using the code of some additional content beyond just driving the customer through to a standard website.
It is also important that advertisers understand their audience. Is the target market likely to be tech savvy and understand what a QR code is in the first instance? Are they likely to have the technology to use the QR code? If not, then using QR codes is not going to be a relevant tactic.
With the use of mobile expected to increase further, QR codes are likely to become more mainstream. This is something that is going to be driven further by new handsets having built-in QR readers in the near future. It is important that advertisers make sure that they are using this technology effectively to ensure that they move beyond simply being a fad.