By: Matt Verrecchia, Dalton Agency Account Executive
We’ve talked a lot these days about the importance of engagement. It’s the single most desired action by social media strategists. And now it’s becoming a favorite tactic across traditional advertising mediums as well. The ability to develop engagement with content or a brand is a tactic that has proven successful in creating affinity groups among loyal customers, creating brand ambassadors and sub-brand cultures, as well as assisting in the developing research. That’s why it’s important to alter our conversational thinking with our customers and create interaction in ways that were previously unavailable.
One popular way of executing this is with the use of Quick Response (QR) codes. QR codes are scannable matrices that are capable of translating large amounts of information to a smart phone. This information can populate fields of contact information within email software or drive the consumer to a URL address. The combination of the birth of the QR code, it’s growing recognition and the smart phone becoming standard among cell phone users has led to QR codes serving as a successful tool to engage consumers between different media platforms. Print media can now be used as a delivery system to serve up exclusive video or web content or deliver immediate access to an App or POP locations on the web.
Yet, like any tool or piece of machinery, the QR code must be used correctly in order to be effective and avoid causing harm to the campaign. Simply adding a QR code to an advertisement without the integration of content to supplement the code is not recommended. There are three cardinal rules of QR code usage:
Know Your Market: The first step in determining whether a QR code will be an effective tactic is to know your market. Important factors to consider are the percentage of smart phone owners vs. total cell phone users within a target market, and the strength of cell phone signal in their predominant location. It’s not beneficial if your market is comprised of non-smartphone owners that live in remote areas, incapable of accessing internet quickly on there mobile devices.
It Better Scan: The size and print quality must be considered when deciding to use a QR code. The lower the quality of the printing (i.e. newspaper), the larger the QR code will need to be. An unreadable QR code is really just unused advertising real estate. So, what do you do with “a large, rather ugly box?” This is where the exploration of customizing QR codes comes in. Due to an error correction factor that exists with QR code readers, the codes have the ability to consume the brand’s look and feel and take on lives outside of the traditional black and white box that’s commonly seen. The incorporation of logos and manipulation of the box shapes can begin to take place as long as they fall within that error corrected level. Further explanation and examples of this are explained in reading this article by Hamilton Chan
Wow Me! – Perhaps the most important rule is that the location the code drives to must be engaging for the consumer. If the content does not interest and/or exceed the customer’s expectations, then the element of mystery is lost and the receptiveness of the experience is gone. More importantly, the functionality of the content on the consumers phone must be created with mobile capabilities in mind. This does not mean simply driving to a standard website where the user experience is limited based on mobile viewing capabilities. Content is key in capturing the conversation and engagement and ultimately the retention of the brand and messaging. Therefore, many successful QR code campaigns drive consumers to a platform that was specifically created with for QR capability.
The conversations about QR codes rage on and continue to have a variety of opinions among marketers. Some claim their “immanent failure is looming right around the corner” while others say “their explosion and growth in the market place is only the beginning”. What is undeniable is that when executed well, QR codes provides a secret weapon for marketers in providing a messaging and brand experience that is otherwise lost in the gridlock of traditional advertising. Check out the successful use in the New York’s “World Park” initiative created and implemented by Agency Magma seen here.