Unlocking the secrets of QR codes

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Laura Marriott
Laura Marriott

Mobile barcodes bring together interactivity and engagement and combine them with valuable user data and tracking tools to open up new opportunities for marketers. Mobile barcodes are a means for marketers to build lasting relationships with consumers in a targeted and measurable way. To achieve maximum results, they must be thoughtfully integrated into the broader strategy. 

There are many examples of poorly executed mobile barcode campaigns in the market today – these are campaigns that don't achieve the brand owner goals or don't deliver value to the consumer. Such poor execution discourages repeat consumer engagement, negatively impacts the brand's image and, potentially, costs the brand sales and repeat business. NeoMedia has identified the most common mobile barcode pitfalls and have outlined tips to avoid them to ensure your initiatives not only motivate but engage your target audience.

Have a cohesive strategy

First and foremost ensure that campaign goals and objectives are defined and brand owners determine what media elements will work best for their needs. Selecting barcodes simply because they are cool or fit well into your creative will not create the value and experience that you are seeking.

Encourage dialogue

Mobile barcodes are a great way to make previously one-way communications more exciting and interactive. Integrate mobile barcodes into all digital and traditional media, as long as it fits within the campaign goals, and this will help to ensure and encourage that consumer experience, dialogue and interactivity.

Provide incentives

Scanning a barcode should result in a brand experience that is exclusive, dynamic and interactive. Research has shown that initiatives that incorporate giveaways, discounts, free tickets or priority access will have higher response rates. Incentives will increase customer retention and new customer acquisition, while providing the brand with valuable information about their target audience and what inspires them. By linking a mobile barcode to the mobile version of a brand's site or the video of an advertisement that's already available, consumer adoption may not be as significant as hoped.

Location, location, location

The mobile barcode's location in an ad determines its success. So on outdoor ads, place it at eye or arm level, not down at foot height. For print, make sure the barcode does not fall over a fold as this will hamper scanning, as will placing it in the middle of a busy page. For TV or cinema remember that the code needs to appear on screen long enough for the viewers to find their phone, launch the scanning application and capture the code (typically 15 seconds or more). 

Don't over-complicate things

Producing your code in simple black and white format will increase the number of phones and code readers that can scan it, rather than using the ‘branded' codes that are available. Branded codes might look nice, but they can limit reach particularly when scanning from a distance. Also, ensure you use global, open standards (e.g. QR, Datamatrix) to maximize customer awareness and accessibility and ensure that the content is mobile-optimized for display on the broadest range of handsets.

Plan for mobile

Remember that the consumer who has just scanned your code is on the move so make sure the barcode links through to a mobile-enabled site rather a PC-designed site. Don't forget that "dead links" (codes that go nowhere or deliver the wrong information) mean a negative consumer experience which will dent [consumers'] perception of the brand, so test the barcode across a variety of devices and scanner applications before launching to make sure it works every time. 

Continue the conversation

Once initial interaction with the consumer has taken place, it is important to continue the dialogue, adding value throughout every interaction. Continued consumer engagement should be a key benchmark in determining the overall success of a campaign, so planning for it early-on will only serve to boost the popularity of your campaign with consumers.

Use a platform that provides campaign analytics

When executed properly, mobile barcode interactions are measurable and can provide valuable time, location and demographic data in real time and on a code-by-code basis. This information can help brands focus their spend on the most profitable channels or media locations. This data can be used to determine success rates and [return on investment], help to shape future barcode campaigns, make for better advertising purchase decisions and ensure better communication of your message the next time around.

Next year, 2012, will be the QR code's biggest year yet. Thanks to increased marketer and consumer awareness, as well as the proliferation of smartphones, we anticipate that barcodes will continue their meteoric rise. However this means customers will also be less tolerant of weak campaigns. Instead they will increasingly demand more sophisticated interaction with their favorite brands. 

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