5 Ways to Harness the Power of QR

By John Arnsdorf

QR Codes are literally everywhere these days, their explosion due to higher-resolution cameras on smartphones, faster Internet connections, larger screens and lower data rates.

Between July and December 2010, QR Code scanning increased an astonishing 1,200% across North America, according to a report from mobile payments and marketing firm Mobio Identity Systems.

A separate study found that 57% of Facebook and Twitter users said they have scanned a mobile barcode at least once in the past year, while as many as 40% had done so five or more times in the past year. Considering the Facebook population surpassed a staggering 900 million active members earlier this year, that is a lot of people scanning a lot of QR Codes. Now that QR Codes have gone mainstream, the challenge is to utilize them in new and creative ways that engage customers and allow them to interact with brands in a whole new way.

I am frequently asked by customers, “How can I use QR Codes in my marketing campaigns?” The real question is, “How can you more effectively use QR Codes in your marketing campaigns?”

It is not enough to simply slap a 2D barcode onto something; you need to thoughtfully incorporate QR Codes into each touch point. Use one to link to online content, use it as a vehicle to interact with customers, or create experience around your brand. Personally, I don’t like answering a question with a question, so I’ve written five tips to get you thinking about how you might integrate a QR Code into your next campaign.

1.    Make a QR Code part of the call-to-action. I’m more likely to make the effort to scan a code if I know it might lead me to a personalized coupon, contest, game or something that is out of the ordinary and unique. I might even scan a code to reveal a surprise, but it better be good. It’s always a good idea to offer a strong motivator to entice your target audience into scanning your QR Code.

2.    Use QR Codes in your signage and displays. I’m a foodie. Consequently, I frequent a lot of wine and cheese shops and other specialty stores to learn about and buy the products they sell. Even though I like learning about the products I choose to spend my money on, I don’t like stores that litter the shelves with information about each product. Displays should have just enough information to draw me in and use QR Codes linking to supplemental information, such as varietal information, tasting notes and food pairings.

3.    Use QR Codes to save your customers time. If you are inviting your loyal customers to an event, use the code to add the event to their calendar with all the relevant details. If you are prospecting to new customers and want them to visit your brick-and-mortar store, use the code to give them a map with door-to-door directions. QR Codes can contain up to 4,296 alphanumeric characters, so use them!

4.    Make it easy for your customers to give you money. Like many of you, I get countless donation letters from every not-for-profit under the sun. The vast majority of them expect me to fill out a form, write a check, and worst of all, find an envelope and stamp. I’m sorry but that takes too much of the precious little time I do have, and chances are I don’t have a stamp. (I think I am still using the same book of Forever stamps I bought years ago.) Give me a QR Code I can scan that links to a personalized site with all my information filled out and a place to enter my donation and pay with PayPal, and you’ll get my financial support.

5.    Give your customers something they can keep. Sometimes, after a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is spend the next 1-2 hours cooking dinner. So, I turn to my restaurant drawer, which is stuffed to the brim with to-go menus that are typically hand-folded photocopies of photocopies. These notoriously poor reproductions of the normal menu are my take-away impression of the restaurant. What a lost opportunity to “wow” me. Restaurateurs, if you are listening, use a QR Code outside your establishment, which links to a PDF of your menu that I can download and keep on my phone. Now I can have your menu instantly accessible any time I feel like going out for a bite to eat.

However you choose to use a QR Code in your next campaign, make sure you leverage what you already know about your customers and give them a personalized experience. And if you don’t know anything about me, use the QR Code to get me to a page where I can tell you a little about myself. If I think there is something in it for me, I’m liable to give up a little information.


John Arnsdorf is the Product Marketing Manager for XMPie, a Xerox company, where he is responsible for creating and delivering the core values and benefits of the XMPie platform through strategic marketing, direct communications, collaterals and industry events. He draws on his 20+ years of experience in the printing, advertising and marketing space to crystallize industry needs, helping to shape future product development. Additionally, he regularly contributes to publications and online forums, sharing his insights on the world of individualized communications.


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