QR codes are the small squares with black and white areas that are increasingly seen on ads, bills, catalogues, brochures, business cards or food packaging for enriching them with additional content – for a good reason, as a study conducted by the global market research institute ComScore show, as these codes have become increasingly popular. Nearly 20 per cent of smartphone users in Germany now scan the codes, mostly for getting product information, information about events or vouchers. (1) Many times, however, the users are disappointed: reasons for not using QR codes are mainly lacking surplus values and insufficient possible applications. (2)
Making use of cross-media potential with QR codes
The potential of the two-dimensional codes, however, is enormous: whether a link to a website, a business card or a product comparison – by QR codes, any content can be encrypted. This way, every advertising medium can be enriched with additional content, dissolving the boundaries between the different media and creating a cross-media experience. QR codes bridge the analogue and the digital world. (3) The consumer just needs to scan the code with a QR code-reader, and the software decodes it. There is, however, a large gap between its technical possibilities and present use – one of many reasons to call on the mobile marketing experts of bam! interactive marketing GmbH for your QR code-campaign.
A story of success: from the EAN barcode to the QR code
The two-dimensional QR codes originate from the well-known EAN codes on the backside of every product packaging, but their additional level of data coding allow for adding significantly more information. These codes were developed in Japan as early as 1994, originally for labelling logistic components in the automotive production of von Toyota. The company Denso Wave initially designed the code as a matrix of black and white square components, allowing the encryption of 4,000 alphanumeric signs. (4) The highlight is that QR codes have a built-in bug fix: even when nearly one third of the code is destroyed, it is still possible to properly decode it. It is exactly this bug fix that many brands take advantage of, e.g. by placing their logo directly in the middle of the code.
The placement of the logo is, however, not a crucial factor for the success of a QR code-campaign. Rather necessary are a comprehensive strategic planning and the consideration of some key aspects, e.g. that the QR code should only provide the user with added value and location-related content. At the same time, despite the codes’ increasing popularity, the users need an explanation – there is probably nothing more annoying than getting on a static instead of a mobile website after having successfully scanned the code. This is also the reason for strategically considering the following elements in order to avoid media disruptions. There should always be a fallback version, generated for instance via a short code. The size and positioning of the code should be determined dependent on the designated location and context of use. Placing QR codes in underground stations, for example, can become a big problem due to lacking internet connections. (5)
QR code-campaigns have great potential. One the one hand, offline advertising spaces can be digitally extended, and on the other hand, you can become more familiar with your target groups and their behaviour. It is thus recommendable to track every single QR code and analyse its level of efficiency: when, where and how intensively were its contents used? A comprehensive tracking can quickly identify potential for optimization and improved existing contents behind the codes. Furthermore, these analyses allow for a much more profitable future use of QR codes in marketing campaigns.
For being able to consider all key aspects of a successful QR code-campaign and ensure smooth processes, experience and expertise in the fields of mobile marketing and QR codes are a basic requirement. The experts of bam! interactive marketing GmbH are able to master any QR code challenge, ensuring the use of any content.