Posted on December 20th, 2013 by Timothy Boyle
I was reading my latest issue of Reason magazine when I happened upon an advertisement from Philips for their LED light bulbs (full disclosure, they use Qfuse for their QR code needs, though I was not aware of this at the time). But what is special about this advertisement, at least in my opinion, is their good use of their QR code, which I will highlight hear as an example to be emulated.
Now you might say that this QR codes use on the face of it isn’t all that creative or exciting, and you would indeed be correct. Creativity, though often times an important factor, does not make or break a QR code’s effectiveness.
The first thing that stands out about this code, and arguably the most important factor for any QR codes, is the fantastic call-to-action. Right next to the code reads “Scan the code with your smartphone to see the savings!” This is great for a couple different reasons. First it tells people what to do. Even this far into the 21st century there are still people who do not know what to do with QR codes, this helps them realize how to interact with it.
Second, it gives them an idea of what they will get upon scanning the code. In this case they will see just how they can save by purchasing these particular light bulbs. Typically telling people they can save money is a great way to entice them to do anything; scanning a QR code is no exception.
The next thing Philips marketing staff did well here was connect the QR code to a mobile optimized landing page. From here the prospective customer is given information Philips believes is valuable to the consumer to choose their light bulbs. It also lets them watch a video on LED lighting. This is all good information that can help drive the sale of their light bulbs.
A simple use of a QR code for sure, but an effective one at that. There is not a single area where the Philips marketing team has gone astray from QR code best practices, and because of that they created a fantastic QR code. If your looking to start using QR codes in any of your marketing or advertising this is a good place to start if you wish to see exactly how it should be done. Of course creativity is rarely a bad thing as well.
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Posted on December 19th, 2013 by Timothy Boyle
Most of the time when someone makes the decision to use QR codes in their marketing or advertising they assume all QR codes are built equally. They then search out a free QR code builder, connect their preferred landing page and call it a day. Unfortunately many people don’t realize that the vast majority of QR codes are limited in their capabilities. The phrase “you get what you pay for” applies here.
Usually the type of QR code you get when you use a free (or even some paid) QR code builders is what you would call a “static” QR code. What this means is that the code cannot be changed once published. If you made a mistake on your code too bad, you can’t fix it. If your promotion has changed, or wish to change the content, you are out of luck, you can’t change it. If the season has changed and you wish to adapt it your QR code again unfortunately you cannot do so. You have one shot to get your code right, so it better be perfect, that includes predicting all future needs—an impossibility.
The alternative is spending a few dollars on a QR code builder that creates “Dynamic” QR codes. The difference here is that a dynamic code lets you make changes. No matter if you simply made a mistake, or you wish to change the special offer you might be highlighting, or you wish to re-direct to a new website, or whatever, changes can be made whenever you need. This is a huge benefit and makes the dynamic code far more valuable, since it is far more adaptive to your changing needs.
One other key difference between static and dynamic QR codes is the former does not let you collect the data you might want for your QR code campaign, the dynamic code meanwhile lets you collect whatever data you desire. This again makes the dynamic code far more valuable since it allows you to see what is and isn’t working and adapt your campaign to this information.
To illustrate the difference, let’s say you run an advertisement and use a static code. You link the code to a coupon for 20% off. Assuming you didn’t make any mistakes with your landing page (you wouldn’t be able to fix it if you did), the QR code serves its purpose for that say two week period you were planning on offering the promotion. But what happens when those two weeks you wished to run the promotion are up? You still have QR codes out there offering the coupon. Your only choice is to shut down the linked landing page. But this sometimes is not possible and also means you now have useless QR codes out in the world on your advertisements. You also have no idea if your code was worth the hassle since you can’t collect the data.
But if this were a dynamic QR code as soon as the two week coupon promotion period ended you could switch the code to a new promotion or link to some non-coupon material, or another special. Your QR code content remains relevant to your needs and usable for consumers. In addition, you also can see how your codes worked and with this information perhaps you make changes into what you are offering and improve your QR code campaign in real time.
The dynamic code is really the only way to go, and it is certainly worth the money. So the next time you plan on using a QR code make sure you find a company that offers a dynamic code rather than just a static code. It also helps if said company provides you with an easy to use platform to make the necessary changes and provides the analytics tracking for you to adapt your QR codes as you see fit.
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Posted on December 18th, 2013 by Timothy Boyle
These days, social media exposure on Facebook, as well as positive reviews on sites like Google+ and Yelp, are critical to the online visibility and success of many businesses. This is especially true for small local businesses that rely on word of mouth and positive exposure to reach their local customers, and reinforce and expand their reputation within their communities.
The challenge for many local businesses has traditionally been motivating their customers to leave feedback on the various social media platforms. The remedy is quite simple: make it easy for them. This is where QR codes and mobile landing pages can be practical tools that make it easy for businesses to engage their customers while they are physically at the place of business, and in turn grow their online reputation.
So how do you make it easy for customers to leave social feedback? The first step is to create a mobile landing page where they can conveniently get to social media pages and review sites on their smartphone. The Qfuse mobile site generator makes it easy to create icons and links to pages on Facebook, Google+, Yelp and many other sites.
Once you have created the mobile page, the next step is to make it easy for your customers to get to it. That’s where QR codes can come in quite handy; just generate a QR code and point it to the mobile landing page so that customers can easily get to it when they are physically at your place of business. It can also be helpful to include a short URL so that customers who may not be familiar with QR codes can also get to the page.
Most importantly, you need a call-to-action to engage customers while they are physically on-site at your place of business, and motivate them to leave feedback. If you’ve already got a supportive customer base established, and/or if you routinely provide exceptional service, many customers may be willing to leave you positive feedback if only you would ask; so make it easy for them and they will.
In other cases, you may need to motivate customers with a special discount or some other incentive. In either case, the important thing is to make it clear and easy for customers, and let them know what you want them to do. If you are a retail store, you can place a display near the cash register, if you’re in the service business, you can place a poster in a waiting area, or if you’re a restaurant you can place a notice in your menus, or on tables; your staff can also mention the promotion to customers directly.
Ultimately, it’s your day-to-day customers that physically walk in your place of business who will also be your strongest allies for building a strong online reputation on social channels and review sites. Using a few simple tools—such as mobile landing pages and QR codes—you can make it easy for your customers to share their real-world experiences online, and help grow your business at the same time.
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Posted on December 13th, 2013 by Timothy Boyle
I bought some Norte Blue Chilean blue berries at my local grocery store the other day and when I got home and opened the container, to my surprise, starring back at me was a QR code. QR codes are popping up more and more on product packaging, though it remains rare on food packaging. Upon discovering this particular QR code I thought I might use it to illuminate the possibilities and also the mistakes of such usage.
This particular QR code use I found interesting for a few reasons. First, I actually did a double take on this code, likely because at first I thought it was just a normal bar code of some sort, but after starring at it for a few moments I realized it was actually a QR code that I could scan. Second, it was underneath the lid, thus not visible to the shopping public. And third, once I scanned it I was a bit perplexed at the landing page.
When using QR codes on product packaging it can serve numerous purposes, often you might be using it to try and provide additional information about the product, and this information may or may not be used to help drive sales of the product in store. But you may also use the QR code to provide additional value or information to the consumer AFTER the purchase has already been made. So it is an appeal to the second use that I suspect Norte Blue was intending since it was under the lid and not on top of the lid for shoppers to see. This of course is a perfectly fine use of a QR code, as long as you are actually providing additional value to your consumer (though placing a QR code on the visible lid just seems like a more efficient use of the code no matter your intended purpose).
This particular code unfortunately did a few things wrong. First, it contained no call to action, so no one will likely scan the code, even if they knew it was a QR code to be scanned. This almost completely negates the purpose of using a code on your product packaging. Second, the landing page is Norte Blue’s desktop website and thus not mobile optimized. This means more people will likely leave the page due to its difficult navigation. This is particularly bad if you intend to push sales from this landing page. Third, and likely a rare issue but specific to this case, Norte Blue’s website is in Spanish, so I have no idea what they even offer on their site. Know your consumer. If your consumer generally speaks English, make sure your landing page is in English.
Though Norte Blue may have not used QR codes very well in their first attempt, the possibilities are many for QR codes on food packaging.
Depending on the food we are discussing, you might use a QR code to provide possible recipes that use said ingredient you are selling; or perhaps you have a kid’s cereal or other kids food, you might have the QR code take the child to a fun game or app; or perhaps you want to try and promote online sales of your product, you might offer a lower price if they order directly from your QR code landing page, etc. Be creative and give the consumer something you actually suspect that might want, or find enjoyable.
A QR code can do many different things for your brand, your sales, or your customers, just make sure if you use them you use them properly and creatively. And please, please, make sure you use the language of choice when selling your product in a particular country. It works better when your consumer can understand you.
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Posted on December 8th, 2013 by Timothy Boyle
I’m not often a McDonald’s customer, but seeing that I spend two to three weeks a month on the road for work I consume their products more than I would otherwise, particularly lately. So when I recently saw an advertisement for McDonalds that found its way into my house through a stack of junk mail I pulled out of my mailbox I didn’t automatically toss it in the trash. The advertisement seems to have accomplished its goal.
The McDonalds ad sat atop this stack of junk mail. Typically I would have thrown it away, and indeed I had just opened my kitchen trash can about to toss the junk pile when the ad struck my eye. It was a picture of an iPhone with a screen shot of free large sandwich coupon, and a QR code.
I read the call to action and it said I could get special deals sent directly to my phone if I downloaded their app. I figured I could use this to save a few Federal Reserve notes while I was on the road, so I scanned the code.
I was then taken to a great looking mobile optimized website with a button prompting me to download their app. I then proceeded to do so. Clearly their QR code advertisement worked.
This is one of those rare cases I have found where a company’s marketing team actually used a QR code perfectly. Everything about it was perfect, and it got me to do exactly what they intended for me to do.
Now when I am on the road I will more than likely be purchasing more McDonalds, thus benefiting McDonalds financially. At the same time I will spend less on nourishing myself. A win-win.
If it weren’t for the QR code, the call to action, and the easy to use mobile site they would likely have missed out on many of my future purchases. This is exactly how QR codes are supposed to be used, and this example points out one of the many ways QR codes can help you keep and/or increase sales if used properly.
Start using QR codes in this way if you aren’t already, just make sure that along with your QR code you have a great call to action, a mobile optimized website/landing page, and you are offering them something that they will actually want (like an app that gives them special deals for tasty Hamburgers). Do this and you are sure to see an increase in sales, app downloads, or whatever it is you are trying to accomplish with your advertisements.
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