QR Codes – Bridging the Gap Between Print and Digital

iPhone-QR-CodeBy now, we’ve all seen them; those little black-and-white squares on print ads, posters or magazine covers. With a quick snap using a QR (Quick Response) reader app on your smartphone or tablet, a QR code will take you pretty much anywhere.

Unfortunately, they’ve also gotten a bad rap over the past few years, damaged by the same implementation mistakes that scar many new marketing tools—overuse, misguided implementation and lack of “WIIFM” for the end user.

So, What’s a Digital Marketer to Do?

When used properly, a QR code can be a real problem-solver, bridging the gap between print communications and digital—fusing your marketing tactics together to create one seamless customer interaction.

Get off to the right start by considering these three critical QR code success factors:

  • Location. Think through the entire user experience. Make sure your QR code is clearly visible and easily scannable (preferably on something that’s standing still!). Finally, ask yourself if your message is in a place where people actually have their phones or tablets handy (a QR code in a water park isn’t much good to anyone!).

  • Payoff. It takes a little effort to use the QR code scanner. Your audience has to get their phone, open an app, point, focus and click! So give them a reward for their effort. Try a giveaway, like an e-book, coupon or special “members only” access to something they can’t otherwise get.

  • Implementation. Optimize the end site for mobile compatibility. Remember, the user is scanning the code on their phone. Don’t send them to a site that they can’t see once they get there! Simple is better; less is more.

Speaking of Implementation…

Here are a few QR code applications that Creative Media Works clients have found useful in building their brands.

  • Reaching busy conferences delegates. Use QR codes at crowded conferences where busy attendees are frenetically networking, presenting and just moving fast in general. For example, Creative MediaWorks clients have experienced great success adding QR codes to scientific posters instead of distributing collateral paper handouts. These digital assets are easily downloaded to attendees’ digital devices and thus much more likely to be viewed and shared with others. They also open a richer, multimedia world of online references, video, audio files and more.

  • “Text-back” messaging. A QR code can trigger SMS (Short Message Service), which is used to send text messages to cell phones either from another cell phone or from a computer. When the user scans a QR code, a pre-formatted message pops up in their text box. When they hit “Send”, that message goes back to the source, along with the user’s phone number. It’s a great (and immediate) way to secure contact information for sales leads, customer service or new connections.

Parting Thoughts

At Creative Media Works, we consider the QR code a “stepping stone technology.” In a few years we’ll be able to point our phones at anything to jump to a website through emerging technologies like Instant Visual Recognition (IVA) and Near Field Communications (NFC). Most of that technology is out there now, but still in the final stages of refinement. For now, the QR code is tried, true, tested…and best of all, free!

Don’t have a QR Code reader on your phone yet? Download one from the Apple App Store (for iPhones) or click here for all other current smartphone models.

Think you’re ready to implement a QR code strategy on your next project? Contact Creative MediaWorks. We’ll guide you through the process and help you determine exactly the right location, payoff and implementation to meet your goals