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QR code trends: The physical/digital toggle switch

By Spyro Kourtis

Marketers are beginning to commit themselves to finding consumers wherever they are – and to being available wherever consumers look. That is a basic premise of mobile marketing.

Many marketers believe that the goal is to get consumers to connect with them in the real world – often at a retail store. But what if that is not the consumer’s preference? Wouldn’t a better customer experience allow the consumer to connect the way they want?

That is the magic of those little QR codes we see popping up everywhere. They allow people instant access to a mobile site, even when they may already be at a retail location.

How many times have you seen something and been a little curious about it – and maybe even promised yourself to look it up the next time you are in front of your computer? This happens to me all the time. And, naturally, I never remember any of it after I leave.

Even with a smartphone in my pocket, I do not go any further, because – as we all know – mobile search is not much fun.

Code language
A QR code on a hangtag or poster or storefront gives almost instant gratification.

Just by snapping a picture, consumers can get authoritative information without having to ask a store clerk who may or may not have the data they are looking for.

QR codes have even made their way onto high-end restaurant menus, so you can learn about the provenance of the organic mushrooms you are eating.

From a marketing point of view, we can offer consumers a seamless brand experience, again, without having to depend on a perhaps untrained clerk or waiter. You can even post a QR code that automatically generates a Facebook “like” for your product whenever the code is scanned.

That is augmented reality, in reality.

Let me go further.

A QR code ought to lead to a very specific mobile site that answers immediate questions, shows a brief video or creates some fun for the user – but it should not stop there.

If someone continues to want to know more, it should be easy to get to your regular mobile site. And from there, it should be easy to get to your optimized desktop site – that is another toggle, this time between mobile and desktop.

In our practice, we firmly believe that everything we do, all marketing communications, must function well in the mobile space.

Your audience dictates what you should do. We do not know where our target market will find us. We do not know how they will prefer to respond. We cannot make assumptions, no matter how tempting.

I know, for example, that my response habits are different when I am using my mobile phone versus my landline.

But I cannot assume that everyone in my target audience has both a landline and a mobile phone.

In some cases, you can focus on smartphone users and ignore feature phone users. But there are still more feature phone users right now – so it is important to be strategic in your decisions.

Bar some
QR codes are not for everyone. Some people will not have the software needed. That is why, whenever possible, we also include a printed URL, so the site can be found without a QR code reader.

The point is not to look so cool that only those in the know can find you. The point is to actually be found and to bring the consumer a little closer to buying.

Now is the time to experiment with QR codes in your mobile marketing. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Just avoid being boring in your execution. That is really the only unforgivable error in marketing.

Spyro Kourtis is president/CEO of the Hacker Group, Seattle. Reach him at [email protected].