Qfuse Blog - QR Code, NFC, and Mobile Marketing News

How to Implement a Great QR Code Campaign

Posted on April 29th, 2013 by

terramar_modalThere is far more to QR code usage than you might suspect at first glance.  In fact in order to start, implement, and maintain a QR code campaign there are important points you should know, and certain tool attributes you should be looking for before choosing what company to use for your QR code creation and maintenance.

Sure you can always simply print out a QR code and attach a link to your desktop website, but this sort of primitive usage provides little benefit, no knowledge, and ensures your QR code campaign will be a total flop.  The probability of this type of QR code user saying something like “Oh my God, QR codes are sooo dumb,” is probably 100%, give or take 0%. Of course the reality might not be that QR codes are dumb, but actually that something (or someone—hint, hint) might actually be.

Mobile Web Site

If you are going to use a QR code you MUST make sure that the QR code connects to a mobile web site.  This means creating a separate website meant specifically for mobile phones and tablets so that the user interface is easy to navigate.   Who wants to create their own mobile site though, and pay for it?

QR Code and Mobile Site Analytics

qr code scansTo understand if your QR code campaign is working you must have a way to track your many QR code’s usages.  For this you must have analytics, that is every scan and following usage must be trackable and all data on said user accumulated.  This data collection will then ensure that you see what is working and what isn’t, allow the campaign to be more appropriately targeted in the future, and allow changes to be made during the campaign to determine the most productive usage of the codes.  It is important that each individual code be trackable as well.  But really do you even know how to go about setting up tracking on each code for each mobile site?  Unlikely.  If your QR code is pointing to a mobile landing page, which it should be for optimal user experience, then tracking how visitors use your mobile site is important for the same reasons.

Features of Your QR Code Campaign

Various other features that are important are as follows:

  • URL shortener, to ensure a less dense code for easy scanning.
  • Maps for directions and locations.
  • vCards for downloading contact info.
  • Contact or capture forms, to allow for capturing of more user information.
  • Social media buttons, to allow easy access to the various social media channels.

Some of these are mainly for your mobile websites, and the guy you pay to create your site will likely have these available, for a price.

Use a Mobile Marketing Platform

dashboard-overviewReally in the end what you want is a single platform that offers all of the above and more, and means you don’t have to be hassled with the complexities of it all.  Well it just so happens that Qfuse has such a platform.  From the Qfuse platform you can generate QR codes, and tied to each code is a mobile web site that can be easily molded to fit your design preferences and include all the features you might need, such as vCards, maps, GPS, contact and capture forms, coupons, social media, pictures, videos and much more.

From the Qfuse platform you will have access to detailed QR code analytics to allow for learning on the fly.  In addition, from the Qfuse Dashboard you will be able to view all of your QR codes in use, make changes to the landing pages, and easily manage you QR code campaign(s).

Using a platform that incorporates all of the important functions needed to implement a great QR code campaign, and continually manage such a campaign, is vitally important to the success of your marketing and advertising QR code operations.  Make sure you find a good, easy to use platform, and one that is reasonably priced…of course we all know that describes Qfuse perfectly.

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TV and QR Codes: A Case Study in Faith and Human Failure

Posted on April 24th, 2013 by

So there I was, watching a Boston Red Sox game on a lovely spring evening, thinking to myself “I wonder who the Red Sox play next series?”  Sure I could have opened up my lap top and searched online, but really who has time for that?  Instead my mind drifted to some other thought, likely as useless as the one before it.

So there I am staring away at the twenty-first century opiate of the masses when something unexpected occurred, something you could probably never imagine, something you would likely find simply preposterous.  As if my previous wish had been heard on high by YHWH, there appearing on my television screen, a bright glowing QR Code shown, granting me my wish and presenting me with the ability to know the truth of my question.

SoxSo there I was stunned at the miracle that presented itself to me, and amazed that someone up above truly cared.  When I finally pulled myself together I grabbed my phone, caring more for my readers than my own hopes and dreams, I opened up the camera and took the screen shot which you see here.

What a genius use of a QR code by the NESN broadcasters I said to myself, and a brand new world opened in front of my eyes, completely destroying my previous view that QR codes and TV generally do not go together.  This one use, made specifically for me and designed to answer the question I was just dwelling on moments prior was all the proof I needed to re-shape all my misguided preconceptions.

I took my photo, opened my QR code reader and as I lifted my phone to scan the code POOF!  Just like that, it was gone.  “NOO!!  WHAT IDIOT PUTS A CODE ON SCREEN FOR TEN SECONDS!!!!  CURSES!!!” (though I didn’t say “curses”)  This whole time I was being tricked not by YHWH but his antonym.  Teasing me, testing my faith in codes.  But no worries I thought, they will surely show the code again, and I will be ready to find my truth.

Seconds turned to minutes as I sat there like a little kid in anticipation, but the code never re-appeared.   My hope turned to sorrow as I slowly moped back into my chair.  Reserved to the horrible fact that I would have to suffer through the next twenty-four hours in ignorance before I could finally learn the truth that I had been seeking, I ragged deep inside my soul, and all because the damn NESN graphics department couldn’t seem to figure out that if you are going to use a QR code on TV you had best give the viewer time to scan the damn code.

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QR Code Case Study: Product Packaging for LifeProof™

Posted on April 21st, 2013 by

lifeproof coverProduct packaging is one of the most obvious uses for QR codes and can help drive sales, create added value, or simply provide more information about a given product or service.  At a recent large retail event near my hometown I stumbled upon my latest QR code case study, where I point out the pros and cons of a specific example of QR code use.  In this case it was the product packing for LifeProof™, a protective casing for IPhones.

The Good

– They used a QR code.  That alone means they are off to a great start.

– There is a call to action next to the QR code to “find out more.”  Not the most exciting call to action, but it exists.  Not having a call to action would make the QR code very unproductive.

– The connected desktop site has as much detail as could possibly be desired and will likely answer any question a customer might have had.

– Lastly, and unrelated to the QR codes, but important to point out:  the cover graphics are AWESOME.

lifeproof topThe Bad

– The QR code is on the top of the box, making it hard to see and decreasing the likelihood that it will be scanned.  The QR code should be moved to the front of the box if the marketers really wanted to increase the value of the code.

– Not necessarily a negative, but offering something more exciting to the customer for scanning the QR code would be nice, for example a coupon, an app download, or anything more than just finding out more about the product.

– Lastly, and this is possibly the most important, the QR code landing page is not mobile optimized.  Instead of taking you to a nice mobile website you are taken to a desktop website.  The desktop website is nice and all but it is still hard to use.  Not only this, but the landing page is simply the home page for LifeProof™, not the most exciting or interesting content for the customer.  Instead the landing page would be better served by directing the customer to a mobile optimized landing page that provides a information of frequently asked questions, or perhaps a video on the product in action showing how awesome it is.

LifeproofThough this is certainly not a perfect use of a QR code, the fact that they are using them on their product packaging is a step in the right direction.  And as soon as their QR code creativity matches their fantastic graphics creativity you can count on their QR codes helping to drive their sales.

Remember in order to use a QR code well, and maximize its effectiveness, you must be able to check off at least these few important things:  Ensure the QR code is clearly visible, ensure there is a good call to action, and lastly make sure it directs the user to a mobile optimized landing page.  Do these three things and you will be off to a great start.  Oh, and it certainly helps to have a platform that makes your QR code creation, use, and tracking easy to manage, not to mention inexpensive.

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QR Code Competition and Why QR Codes are here to Stay

Posted on April 21st, 2013 by

Various QR code competitors have popped up over the years, but none have succeeded in pushing QR codes out of the market.  Yet over and over again for the past four years or more QR code critics have been proven wrong, and instead we see even greater QR code adoption and use, meanwhile these other newer technologies drop by the wayside.

So why do these QR code critics get it wrong?  And why do these other supposed “better” technologies fail?  Well let us look at a handful and try and figure out why they might have failed or why they might at least fail to de-throne QR codes.

StarStar Numbers

starStarstar numbers are intelligent phone numbers that allow the transmittance of information through the dialing of a Starstar number.  The number is dialed just like an ordinary phone number but the dialer can be directed to a voice message, text message, mobile content, a game, or prompted to download an app.  For example, if you dial **USA you will be prompted to download the USA Today news app onto your phone.

The Starstar number is hurt due to the proprietary nature of it, which impairs its ability to be largely distributed and used by a critical mass.  It also contains the same drawback that many critics of QR codes point out: that it requires a prompt; that is you must choose to dial a number, just like you must choose to physically scan a QR code.  The problem for Starstar is that almost no one knows what to do when they see a Starstar number, whereas most smart phone users do know what to do when they see a QR code, and because QR codes are NOT proprietary the market for QR codes will only continue to grow at an exponential growth.

JagTag

jagtagThe JagTag works by taking a picture of the ‘tag’ and sending it to the JagTag server where it is decoded and sent back to the sender in the form determined by the marketer.

The benefit to this is that it works on non-smarphones.  The negatives are that smartphones are dramatically increasing in use, making this technology pretty much unnecessary; it also takes longer than a QR code to scan and access the data; and most importantly, as with the Starstar numbers, the JagTag is proprietary and greatly hurts its ability to grow in use.

Microsoft Tag

03-Microsoft-TagThis works in an identical way as QR codes, but that it can be completely designed to represent your logo or whatever other design you wish.

The problem is that quite often you do not even know that it is a ‘tag’, whereas with a QR code you will always know what it is and know it is scannable due to its consistent appearance.  The Microsoft tag is incompatible with QR code scanners, which again, makes this technology highly unlikely to be adopted by the overall market, since it requires the downloading of a new app and current use is limited.  Think Betamax vs VHS.  You need some critical mass to become universally used, and the MS tag will likely never reach that critical mass.

 

Augmented Reality

This is a little different than the first three in that it could very well be successful, but it would never replaced QR codes since it is a different medium and not used for the same reasons.  AR requires a screen of some sort to display graphics onto of the real world around it; certainly a very cool technology and potentially very useful, but serves a different purpose than QR codes.  There could, however, be some slight overlap depending on the future of the technology, but only time will tell.

NFC

nfcdiagNear Field Communication, like AR is different than the first three technologies in that it is likely to have a more successful future.  NFC allows the transfer of data between devices at a close range; for example sharing photos between smartphones.  This allows for easier transmittance of information than a QR code in that it doesn’t require the downloading of an app and scanning of a code, instead you simply wave the device near a known NFC chip.  A chip could then replace the QR code, though it still lacks the visual prompt that a QR code contains which is of vital importance in a marketing or advertising use, and the chips cost a substantial amount more at this time.

The future of NFC is still questionable in that the technology isn’t in all smartphones, and has yet to be widely used.  We are waiting to see if all newer phones will be adding the capability, and if they do we expect it to take off, and of course, Qfuse will be there for the ride.  QR codes on the other hand are far ahead in recognition and market use.

QR Codes

staples-qr-codeQR codes are widely known, widely used, and aren’t going anywhere.  They were the first to enter the game and have far more benefits than all other similar technologies.  They are a consistent visual medium which makes them ideal for marketing and advertising reasons.  They are non-proprietary so they can be used by anyone with no licensing, allowing for easy spread of use and very low cost.  They allow for analytics to track their use, ideal for marketers and advertisers.  Internet connection is not required for some uses.  And all smartphones already have QR code reader apps and are thus already compatible with the technology.

QR codes can also be used in tandem with other technologies like NFC to give more than one way to connect with users and connect the real world with online media.

For these reasons and many more QR codes will be the technology to use for the foreseeable future and new competitors will likely only continue to fall by the wayside.

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Small Business Must Evolve With the Times or Fail

Posted on April 17th, 2013 by

ChartOfTheDay_1009_Mobile_Internet_Traffic_Growth_nSmall businesses are falling behind as a recent Forbes article points out.  The reason for this falling behind and increasingly high failure rate is an inability on the part of many small business owners to get with the times.  I see it in my other line of work on a daily basis, small business owners are stuck in the 20th century and afraid to change the ways they have always done things.  The mobile revolution is a confusing and scary thing to many small business owners due to their lack of familiarity with this new medium. If you are a small business owner it is imperative that you understand the importance of this mobile revolution and how you can ensure your company is 21st century compatible.

Typically the traditional small business owner is set in their ways, and has an inability to adapt.  Yet as a small business owner your greatest asset should be your ability to make quick changes and adapt to various market forces and/or technological advances, since there is not bureaucratic red tape, or hundreds of committee meetings to make simple decisions.

Adding Mobile to Your Marketing Mix

Despite this great benefit, the small business owner often steers clear of new technologies and tries to fight against market forces as opposed to moving with them.   For example, the use of mobile technology has increased exponentially in the past few years, but what are small businesses doing?  Pouring advertising dollars into boring old traditional media instead of diverting resources to mobile advertising, mobile web sites and mobile apps.  And when they create their old school print ads or brochures, they don’t connect them with their online content (using QR codes of NFC for example), thus failing to make them relevant to the 21st century consumer.

If you are a small business owner, it is incredibly important to evolve with your customers, the technologies your customers use, and the technologies that will enhance your customer experience and drive sales.

Here are four things you MUST be doing to catch up with the mobile revolution:

1)      Create a mobile optimized website.  If you haven’t done at least this by now you are in big trouble.

2)      Advertise online, both mobile and non-mobile.  By far the most bang for your buck, and the biggest area of growth in the past few years.

3)      Create an App or mobile website app —assuming your business could benefit from it.  Provide links to your new app in the physical world.

4)      Mobile optimize your physical store, marketing and advertising materials.  Make sure you don’t lose to mobile competition, pre-empt their in-store internet price searches.  Connect your offline media to your online media, and unite your customers with relevant information, entertainment and deals.

Do these four things and your small business will likely succeed; don’t do these and you will likely fail.  Times are changing and as a small business you must adapt with the changing conditions.  Get out of your comfort zone, stop complaining about the internet and embrace it, it is your new best friend and greatest sales person.    The mobile revolution is here and it isn’t going anywhere, it’s time to get on board.

Chart reference: http://www.statista.com/topics/779/mobile-internet/chart/1009/mobile-internet-traffic-growth/

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