(The following is an excerpt from DirectMarketingIQ's new report "Cracking the QR Code: The ultimate guide for using QR Codes, including current trends, Best Practices for implementation, marketing strategy, creative and measurement, and QR Code campaign samples.")
"While some people see QR codes as a gimmick, we’ve seen it become a lasting technology in Asia over the last fifteen years," says Keegan St. Onge-May, marketing manager for Indros Group and Easypurl.com. In the past six months alone, he's seen marketers embracing the versatility of QR Codes, whether the codes are used to view personalized mobile landing pages, watch videos, view social media profiles or download coupons.
"A year ago, most people were just trying to figure out how to scan QR Codes, let alone implement them in marketing campaigns. And until every single person in the U.S. owns a smartphone, QR Codes still have a lot of room for growth," asserts Onge-May.
Some marketers see the fact that smartphones have migrated from the business to the home as the key reason for more QR Code usage and success. "Although smartphones first became popular among business people, today many new buyers select them for personal use. Many people don't leave home without them and view their smartphones as very personal devices," says David Henkel, president of Johnson and Quin, a leader in targeted full-service direct mail printing. "Additionally, faster mobile web connectivity is growing, and mobile web search is becoming one of the most common uses for these devices."
Indeed, perhaps QR Codes are that new bridge for consumers for offers, as they can be more personalized and relevant through mobile devices. "Right now, these devices are smarter than we are," says Susan Kelly, vice president of communciation management services for Xerox. "How do I use a QR Code to really connect [for prospects] when they really want to know something? How can I connect it with my product, my service, and be able to leverage that? It's very compelling."
She says that QR Codes offer the opportunity to engage and connect with the brand-aware consumer. And by providing additional content in a new way, the marketer is making progress toward their principal goals: providing awareness and driving a specific conversion or call to action.
Kelly refers to the "digital media invasion" that completely altered the marketing landscape. The first sector includes certain media channels (direct mail, radio, newspaper, magazines) that had used analog technology but now have gone interactive. She says you can see that many of these are natural channels for QR code, as they can transform a one-dimensional direct mail piece into multimedia, online content with only the scan of a barcode.
"The second sector was born interactive, including mobile services, online media, online games, social media, new sectors and distribution channels," she continues. "But you talk to customers and they don't want just one or the other. They want both!"
Therefore, you must have strategies in place to make them more interactive, and QR Codes can play a vital role in this evolving integration.
Speaking of that evolution, the tablet is likely to only further QR Code usage for marketers. The front-facing cameras in the second generation of tablets such as iPad 2, Xoom and Tab allow some users, who may be reluctant to browse with the smartphone, to interact with mobile barcodes for the first time. Like the smartphone, tablets, will be able to interact with printed campaigns via QR Codes but with a much larger screen.
In other words, for web-enabled tablets, this represents a huge opportunity for the integration of print and web. Some marketers believe that the larger screen in essence allows QR Codes to reach their full potential by connecting people to products and brands through an improved user experience.
Ethan Boldt is the Chief Content Officer of DirectMarketingIQ, research division of Target Marketing Group, and co-authored the new special report, "Cracking the QR Code."