3 Secrets for a Successful QR Code Campaign This Holiday Season



3 Secrets for a Successful QR Code Campaign This Holiday Season

A QR (Quick Response) code is a type of 2-dimensional matrix barcode that has become popular with mobile consumers due to its fast readability with an on-board mobile phone camera and comparatively large storage capacity. QR codes are seemingly everywhere this Holiday season. Small wonder: people who scan QR codes tend to have higher-end mobile devices (and so appreciate the finer things in life) and are likely to have some disposable income as well. People scan QR codes for price comparisons (81%), product reviews (63%), and to receive special offers (63%) (Source: ScanLife)

Here’s what reading a QR Code with an iPhone app Red Laser looks like:

figure2-qr-code-secrets-mochi-reading-qr-code.jpg

According to comScore:

  • 14 million Americans scanned a QR code in June 2011
  • 60.5% of code scanners were male
  • 53.4% were 18-34 years old
  • 36.1 percent had a household income of at least $100,000.

How do you reach these millions of Olympic Caliber Shoppers?

While there are many finer points to a QR code campaign, there are 3 key strategies that help your campaign be successful.

Not surprisingly, getting these QR campaign secrets wrong causes serious problems that could repel customers instead. Here is one example. Mochi Massage is a high-end SF downtown spa. Mochi is running a QR code ad campaign, implemented using street signs, like the one shown below:

figure1-qr-code-secrets-mochi-street-sign.jpg

This strategy makes sense: stressed out Holiday shoppers might be willing to simply scan a barcode to get a comfortable 30-minute massage discount, as well as stress-free mobile directions on how to get to the establishment. Unfortunately, the Mochi Massage QR code falls far short of the goal. Why is that? Missing the sweet spot outlined in my QR campaign secrets (presented below in reverse order):

Secret #3: Track your QR code scans

In the Mochi Massage street sign example, the URL encoded in the QR code is simply a link to their desktop website:

figure3-qr-code-secrets-mochi-qr-code-url.jpg

Anything you value that you want to nurture must be measured, or it will be simply ignored. Not tracking the code means that no way exists for the company to track how often their QR code is used, when, or by whom.

Tracking is key for any new technology requiring some investment risk, such as QR code campaigns. Without tracking it will be impossible to tell if the company should put up more walk-up signs, provide coupon handouts with QR codes or employ a different marketing strategy altogether.

Fortunately, tracking QR codes is very easy using Google Analytics (ask me how), or by using a URL redirect service such as Bit.ly.

Secret #2: Use a mobile-optimized landing page

While many potential points of access are possible, QR codes are most often scanned with a mobile phone. The web page your customers will see after scanning your QR code should naturally support the device most people use to access the page. While this is a simple concept, it is astonishing how many companies do not take the time to create a mobile-optimized page. That is a mistake. After scanning the Mochi Massage QR code, the first page customer sees on his or her iPhone is the un-optimized desktop web page shown below:

figure4-qr-code-secrets-mochi-homepage.jpg

Unoptimized web page does more harm than good for a stressed out shopper holding a mobile device.

Instead of providing comfort, the design irritates the customer by forcing them to poke and prod the page, zooming and panning multiple times. Especially unpleasant when browsing with one hand and holding heavy shopping bags in the other. So now, Mochi’s customers feel more stressed just trying to read the page; you can sense their shoulders getting tight as they crane their necks to see what the page is about in the glare of bright afternoon sunlight. Relaxing initial customer experience? In the words of immortal Rudyard Kipling, “Not so, but far otherwise.”

Which brings us to our #1 secret:

Secret #1: Provide a clear value proposition

All the panning and zooming necessary to see the page is certainly irritating, but they are minor compared to finding nothing of value once zoomed in:

figure5-qr-code-secrets-mochi-homepage-bad-zoom-on-mobile.jpg

That’s right.

A full 95% of a typical homepage is irrelevant in the mobile context of use.

How disappointing!

A customer has taken the time to open and unlock their phone, launch a special app and take a picture of your code. In our fast, post-Internet world, that’s a large amount of work and a high level of commitment to your ad campaign.

If the person who scanned the QR code does not get some immediate perceived value back for their trouble, the resulting outcome will be decidedly negative toward your brand.

Interestingly, Mochi Massage is showing some small value on their website, but because the page is not correctly formatted and the discount appears in the right bottom corner (the last place anyone would look while “keyhole browsing” on a mobile device) any value proposition is completely lost:

figure6-qr-code-secrets-mochi-homepage-promo_zoom.jpg

In addition to that, there is no clear call to action for the next step the customer should take, such as to get directions, email or call for an appointment, both actions that naturally integrate with mobile context of use.

Start with Value. Build for Mobile.

In your own QR code campaigns, be very clear to your potential customer what your offer is and what you want them to do with that offer on their mobile phone.

For example, here is a DesignCaffeine, Inc. QR Code for URL bit.ly/designingsearchbk that leverages all 3 secrets:

figure7-qr-code-secrets-qr-code-designing-search-book.png

1) Clear value proposition:

By scanning this code, you will get:

  • a free download of Chapter 1 of my book, Designing Search: UX Strategies for eCommerce Success
  • ability to read the downloaded PDF right on your iPhone or Android
  • a link to buy the book on Amazon.com, right on your phone
  • instructions on how to get your free copy of Lou Rosenfeld’s Search Analytics for Your Site (when you leave an Amazon.com review for Designing Search)
  • ability to easily share the link with your friends using a variety of sharing services available on your mobile device, so you look smart and helpful.

2) Mobile-optimized landing page:

While not precisely mobile, the web page you will see when you scan the code is Future-Friendly.

Future-Friendly means that HTML and CSS has been carefully optimized to work on the greatest possible number of today’s devices: mobile phones, tablets and desktop web browsers. It is also likely to support many of the future devices going forward.

The page is part of the new site that was designed by DesignCaffeine, Inc. and custom-built for us by Bill Erickson Word Press Consulting. (Incidentally, Bill is offering an amazing special of his own: “Design to Website, Five Days, $1,500” so check it out http://www.billerickson.net/wordpress-consulting/psd-to-genesis and let him know I sent you.) I will tell you more about Future Friendly designs in the next articles, but feel free to drop me a line today if you are curious.

3) Tracking QR code scans:

The encoded URL uses a Bit.ly redirect for tracking. While it’s also simple to implement a Google Analytics tracking code, I like Bit.ly, because it has fewer characters and so allows the barcode to be more compact and robust. A QR code with a shorter URL is more likely to be scanned successfully with greater number of mobile device QR code readers even when bent or partially defaced (although that depends also on error correction level, something we won’t get into here) The key point is: smaller URL is handy, if you are planning to put your QR code in the corner of your printed promotional material (instead of taking up space front and center).

Greg Nudelman

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