How to Combine QR Codes With the Power of Facebook

social media how toAre you looking to leverage the popularity of QR (Quick Response) codes with the wide-spread adoption of Facebook?

Over the past several months, QR codes have inserted themselves squarely into digital media conversation (even appearing on late-night TV).

In this article, I’ll unpack how to get your QR codes to go viral on Facebook.

I’ll start by walking you through the process and an example campaign, and conclude with an analytical discussion examining five need-to-know success factors.

Setting Up a Viral QR Code Campaign

Step #1: Generating the QR code

For the uninitiated, QR codes provide a means to open a URL on a mobile phone.

However, a closer look reveals that most QR code generators provide functionality for executing a host of mobile phone actions, including creating a calendar event, sending an SMS or providing contact information.

Like all things viral, choose a QR code type based on what you think people will want to share.

For the purposes of our example campaign, we used scan-to-SMS. Once generated, keep in mind that saving the QR code in a user-friendly format (e.g., jpeg or png) will be useful when integrating with other applications.

code functions.

QR codes can execute various phone actions. Scanning the above QR code sends an SMS with message "smexaminer" to phone number 44144.

Step #2: Customizing your Facebook post

The next step is to upload your QR code to a server that can communicate with the Facebook Share API.

Something you share on Facebook contains four components (see graphic below). All of these components are fully customizable for a viral QR code campaign.

facebook share

A Facebook share has four customizable components: image (1), title (2), source (3) and description (4).

Some important points to keep in mind when customizing these elements:

  • Image: This is where you will put your QR code. It should be sufficiently large for people to scan easily.
  • Title: This is your headline. Crucial for grabbing attention in crowded Facebook feeds.
  • Source: A brand running a campaign should host the QR code on a URL that provides context for the campaign (for those scanning our example campaign, you’ll see a URL connecting to a generic “wmclientservices.com”).
  • Description: A great place to provide valuable and pertinent information about your campaign.

Step #3: Taking your campaign live

Once integrated, Facebook provides you with a campaign-specific Facebook share URL.

Use a URL shortener to make it more viral-friendly (trackable and easy to share). To ensure maximum uptake, test your code with multiple QR code readers before deploying into the wild.

Speaking of uptake, here’s the flow for our example campaign (with select screenshots below):

  1. Users will see an ad for socialmediaexaminer.com with a QR code.
  2. Users then scan the QR code and send the SMS.
  3. They will receive two links, one to socialmediaexaminer.com and the second to share on Facebook.
  4. When the second link is clicked, Facebook’s share prompt automatically opens.
  5. Users can personalize the message and share.
  6. The QR code is automatically posted to users’ Facebook wall and news feed.
  7. Friends can scan the QR code within Facebook to share with their friends.
sms message with link

After the QR code is scanned and the SMS sent, this is the link delivered to share on Facebook (#3).

share for customer

After the share link is clicked (or tapped), users can personalize and post to their Facebook wall (#5).

other people

Once posted, others can scan the QR code within Facebook to share to their wall (#7).

 

The benefit of taking this viral approach to QR codes is easy to imagine: 10,000 people scanning and sharing the original ad equates to (from Facebook stats: 10K x 130 friends) 1.3 million additional pairs of eyes—and that’s before those Facebook users start sharing with their friends, and those friends with their friends, and on and on.

Five Need-to-Know Success Factors

Alas, if only it were that easy. Like everything in social media marketing, the process (sending a tweet, creating a Facebook page) is much easier than the actual execution (doing it well). Viral QR codes are no different.

Here are five factors that bridge the gap between success and failure:

#1: QR code reach

A commonly cited figure is that smartphone market share will reach 50% by the end of 2011. In a different light, that’s a minimum of 150 million people who won’t be able to scan a QR code through the end of 2011.

Maybe you’ve noticed, but our example campaign snuck in an alternative call to action that achieves the same result as someone scanning the QR code.

alternative

Alternative call to action included in the Facebook share.

As you can guess, this was intentional. Include an alternative call to action (SMS, for example, is accessible by 99% of phones) to considerably increases the potential of your viral QR code campaign without much additional effort.

#2: Incentives

Let’s say we were to take the above campaign live. At heart, its value proposition is, “Check out our website. It has great content we want you to share with your Facebook friends.”

Now let’s add a couple of phrases. “Check out our website for the chance to win a million dollars. It has great content we will reward you to share with your Facebook friends.”

I’d be willing to bet my winnings that more people will participate in the second campaign than the first due to better incentives. Though often overlooked in technology marketing, incentives shouldn’t be a surprise given that they turn up all the time.

What I think happens is that marketers mistake engagement resulting from “Wow, this is cool technology,” with engagement from people genuinely moved to action by a campaign. Social media marketing, like marketing in general (and maybe even more so), is a two-way street.

#3: QR code design

QR codes grab people’s attention due to their curious design. But assuming QR codes continue turning up in more and more places, the design’s intrigue may start losing its ability to captivate people amidst everything else bombarding them.

That’s why it’s important to make your QR codes unique. By customizing various features of your QR code, you can bring a sense of personality that will increase brand identity and engagement.

qr code

Customized QR code linking to a downloadable QR code eBook.

#4: Customer lifetime value

Customer lifetime value is simple to understand. Every marketer in the world would rather have a customer who spends $50 every day for the next two weeks than a customer who spends $100 today.

However, whether it’s due to the idea of purchasing television spots or just the word “campaign” itself, marketers have a tendency to adopt a one-off mentality when it comes to tools like QR codes.

The problem is that QR codes at heart are an interactive medium. Failing to develop lifelong, instead of one-time, customers is a missed opportunity.

Luckily, there are a number of ways to achieve this end, the most important being opting someone in to a subscription list. Two viral QR code examples:

  • Using a mobile application service provider, you can enhance your scan-to-SMS campaign with an opt-in that captures the mobile phone number.
  • For scan-to-URL QR codes, you can use a mobile landing page to add subscribers to a database.

#5: CRM

QR codes are made up of three different types of data. The first—scans—accounts for the number of times a person successfully uses a QR code reader.

The second—phone operations—describes what a user does after scanning (e.g., clicks, downloads, page views). The third—user data—describes the people actually doing the scanning and phone operations (e.g., phone type used, age, gender).

I’ve seen far too many QR code campaigns that solely focus on scans. That’s great for predicting the future of your QR code campaigns, but you miss a key opportunity to gather knowledge of how and what type of people interact with your brand.

Viral QR codes, given their ability to get in front of more people, make it even more mandatory to learn as much as you can about your customers in order to inform your future marketing decisions.

To quote Henry Luce, “Business, more than any other occupation, is a continual dealing with the future.” A QR code campaign that fails to address the entirety of data available misses this point entirely.

More than anything, viral QR codes demonstrate a simple truth. Success in mobile and social marketing requires a database strategy. Not a channel strategy. The reason being that a database strategy is customer-centric, which affords significantly more value creation opportunities. Developing this mindset and working with people who share this mentality will ensure that you see maximum value from your QR code campaigns.

And as a mobile and social CRM aficionado, I’d love to hear what other ways you use to enhance QR codes with a cross-channel approach.

What do you think? Please post your thoughts or comments in the box below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Kane Russell

Kane Russell is VP of marketing at Waterfall Mobile. Waterfall's mobile and social CRM platform, Msgme, provides businesses the means to build and monetize a mobile subscriber database. Other posts by »




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  • http://ShivBlog.com/ Shivbhadra Gohil

    Very innovative idea… I’m surely gonna use it…

  • http://www.braveriver.com Chad Westleigh

    I think one of the biggest hurdles with QR codes is that even though there is a growing number of smart phone users, the majority of them don’t have a QR reader app downloaded, thus creating an extra step before actually scanning the QR code. Once the QR scanning capability is integrated into mobile OS as a basic function I believe the usage rate of QR codes will sky rocket.

  • jobnomade

    @chad: good point. In Japan QR codes are so popular and in use because the mobile vendors integrates the QR apps when they ship them. So there is no additional effort for the end-user.

  • Rob Birgfeld

    Chad brings up a valid point on adoption. Another issue I have is with the use of Facebook’s mobile site. If you have a smartphone, and you have a QR reader app, chances are very strong you access Facebook via an Android, iPhone or BlackBerry app. Very few people use, or have ever logged into Facebook’s mobile web presence. From what I have seen, this is another significant hurdle to any sort of desired conversion. Does anyone know of QR programs that tie directly to any of FB’s official mobile applications? Seems like this would be so much smoother.

  • Carmen Sognonvi

    I apologize if this is a stupid question, but I have never understood the logic of putting QR codes online. Why would you do this?

    Isn’t the whole point of QR codes to bring together the online and offline worlds? To make it easy for someone to take a piece of print collateral and access a website by scanning a code, so they don’t have to type in a long URL?

    But if someone is already online, they’re going to be reading the website, blog, or social network on either a computer or a smartphone. 

    If they’re on a computer, why make them go through the hassle of taking out their smartphone, starting the QR app, and scanning the QR code when instead you could just give them a URL to click on? 

    And if they’re reading the site on their smartphone already, how can they scan the QR code when they’re already using their phone?

  • Liz Zanter

    Am I missing something here?  It seems that if they’re on Facebook, they’re in some way connected to the internet – why would I have them scan a QR code with their phone from Facebook to then click another link from a text message when I could just include a link or the Facebook Share button?  I understand, and use, QR codes for print applications to integrate the web interface with the printed material – and this makes perfect sense to me.  I don’t quite understand the point of adding 2 extra steps to getting the user to share the information that is already in a digital format.

  • Carmen Sognonvi

    That’s exactly what I always wonder when I see these things on Facebook!

  • DebbieWard

    I agree with Carmen and Liz.  It would be simpler to just click a link if you’re already on your computer.

    I have experimented a little with QR codes and wonder what everyone thinks is the most effective link for a QR code.  Is it straight information, a website, a video, a Facebook “like” button? What do people really want when they scan that little square, beyond the delight of seeing the camera snap a shot and transform it into something else?

  • Carmen Sognonvi

    I think what the QR code leads to should just depend on the goal of the marketer. If you want to generate leads, have it link to a mobile-friendly sign-up form to capture their email. If you want to educate the prospect, have it link to a webpage or video with info about your products or services.

    My biggest pet peeve when it comes to QR codes is when companies don’t say what you get if you scan it. If you’ve gone through the trouble of including a QR code, at least tell me what it links to so I can decide if it’s worth getting my smartphone out or not. Just a simple “Scan this code to watch a video” or whatever makes such a huge difference.

  • http://www.kristofcreative.com Kristof

    That was the first thing that popped into my head; if they’re on Facebook via computer why not just use a link? And if they’re viewing via a smartphone, they can’t scan the code.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kiwichampagne Liz Zanter

    Debbie, I use QR codes on our hard-copy sell sheets to link to the web page directly relating to the topic on that sheet, to online shopping pages, and/or to create/manage customer accounts online.  

    We offer product sample packets that include QR codes for online purchase of, or further information on, the samples.Another way is that we include the codes for a quick purchase option – if it’s a product we have available for online purchase, the customer can simply scan the code on the sell-sheet or in the catalog and be taken directly to the purchase screen for that product on our website. 

  • http://www.kristofcreative.com Kristof

    Agreed. I don’t think it will be long before all smartphones have a code reader app included as a basic app — like a browser — or that browser evolve to include a reader as another feature.

  • http://www.kristofcreative.com Kristof

    A related article we just posted on creating more readable QR Codes that can be updated to reflect a new URL location without having to create a new QR code. http://bit.ly/nbPE76

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Some great points by everyone – thanks very much for sharing your thoughts and insights. 

    RE: QR Code limited reach, it’s a great point and one that we try to stress continuously. That’s why need-to-know #1 is so important. By adding an alternative call-to-action your QR code’s can reach the rest of the mobile phone population. In this scenario your QR code becomes an attention grabbing mechanism, as if nothing else QR codes are eye catching. RE: Scanning from Facebook. Bunch of things to think about here. First are the stats: according to Mobio 65% of barcode scans came from social media in second half of 2010. So people definitely scan from social media sites. Second is what I said with regards to incentives (need-to-know # 2) – people are not going to scan/share a QR code on Facebook unless given legitimate reason to do so. Third is that seeing a QR code in a news feed (at least right now) is different, unique, and cool, so people reading will be intrigued to follow up as opposed to clicking a link (which everyone does – marketing today is about creating something novel – that’s the power of viral). Fourth is that by having someone click (as opposed to an alternative), marketers miss out on some key opportunities, e.g. capturing someone’s mobile phone number/email address for future direct targeting/messaging. As a result a key opportunity to increase customer lifetime value is missed, as all you are left with is impressions, which are more difficult to tie back to individuals. Fifth is that an alternative CTA (need-to-know #1) allows people to interact with the marketing campaign regardless of whether they scan the QR code or not. Ultimately, the goal in marketing in my opinion is monetizing a customer database through the use of cross-channel communication. Social media should be part of this strategy – not a self-contained silo. 

    RE: QR Codes not having context – couldn’t agree more. This is why the Facebook share architecture is so useful – you can effectively build in context to your QR codes so that people understand the exact benefits of the marketing campaign. 

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Thanks Kane! I’ve found both the article and the comment thread here very useful!

  • Carmen Sognonvi

    > Fourth is that by having someone click (as opposed to an alternative), marketers miss out on some key opportunities, e.g. capturing someone’s mobile phone number/email address for future direct targeting/messaging. As a result a key opportunity to increase customer lifetime value is missed, as all you are left with is impressions, which are more difficult to tie back to individuals. 

    I assume that by capturing someone’s mobile phone number, you’re referring to the scan-to-SMS capability. But if you use that, does it send the marketer the person’s cell phone number? 

    (As an end-user I would hope not, since that triggers all kinds of privacy alarm bells in my mind.)

    If it doesn’t send the person’s mobile number to the marketer, then ultimately in order to capture that data you’d still need an opt-in form, which can be just as easily done with a text link.

    I guess I’m still not convinced that putting QR codes online makes any sense.

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    @Cindy King – thanks! I think that the world of Facebook combined with other communication channels is both fascinating and challenging. Lots of room to explore new and innovative ideas!

    @Carmen Sognonvi – thanks again for your comments and responses. There are a number of ways that you can capture mobile phone number – you can scan to SMS, scan to a mobile landing page, scan to download an app where people enter their phone number as part of the app download process. It’s up to you. The main point I want to make is that cross-channel communication presents marketer’s with infinitely more opportunities than sticking all your marketing channels in individual silos. RE: SMS opt-in: both the carriers and Mobile Marketing Association provide strict regulations and best practices regarding mobile marketing data capture. If you capture phone number without adhering to these guidelines/best practices you can get yourself into a lot of trouble with regards to the privacy issues that you mentioned. However, when in compliance with these guidelines mobile opt-in works much the same as other database marketing channels (e.g. email, direct mail). You build a list so that people can receive relevant information from your brand/company and once people no longer want to receive these updates they can opt-out at any time. Though effective database marketing is a topic for another day, the main idea is that you need to deliver relevant and targeted messaging/content, which is why metadata and CRM (need-to-know #5) are so important. 

  • Tyler Coffin

    The easiest way to integrate QR Codes into social media campaigns is with http://www.SocialQRCode.com

    It allows you to create a “Like” button or “Follow” button for your fan page. It also allows you to “Share” content and articles on Facebook and Twitter.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com/ Joseph Lalonde

    I really like the idea of QR codes. One area that could greatly benefit from QR codes could be podcasts. I hate typing in url addresses on my phone and find it very useful to scan a QR code to subscribe to the podcast.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Williamson/100001814961345 Ryan Williamson

    I’m with ya Carmen. In fact its high time someone floated a simple YES NO double graphic showing simply how dumb it would look to whip out you phone to scan a link over the much more called for traditional link. 

  • WIN Merchandising

    Awesome for greater understanding of the additional depth and extent the QR coding can be used for. If anyone would like to check out some of our proprietary uses for, database gathering, calls to action, viral branding, games, contests, awards & sweepstakes please visit our generic website explaining in greater detail somewhat like this article has outlined, at http://www.grandprizewheel.com, you will see it at 1 0r 2 atop google page under the heading CMPS.

  • Avalon75

    Hi Russell, what you wrote it is absolutely amazing: I’m writing my hons dissertation about Mobile Marketing and all these news and future applications are giving me a lot of ideas to enrich my research.
     
    Thinking about mobile marketing campaings, what you said has a meaning, but despite your answers that I quoted, I still miss the point: if I’m just online, why I have to post a QR code on a web page?  And if I get a QR code by text, how can I scan it?

    I’m sorry but I really lost the point..

  • http://www.mdurwin.com Michael Durwin

    This makes no sense whatsoever. Now, I’m a huge fan of QR codes; they are a great way to tie the real world or traditional media to the digital world. They are great on t-shirts, business cards, billboards, TV commercials, subway signs, cars, store windows, real estate signs, etc. The part that males no sense is: why are you putting a QR code on a website? So I can get my phone out, scroll to my QR code reader, take a picture and get to your link on my phone, while I’m sitting at my desk in front of my computer? If I view the QR code on my mobile phone, how do I take a picture of it with my QR code reader?
    Duh, the point I’m making is, why are you using a tactic with low saturation rate on your website than simply adding a link to click on? I’m obviously on a computer with a mouse, or a mobile device with a touch screen, why add the extra step of requiring a QR code? You could even add a link that, when clicked, can send an SMS to your phone with a link to open in your mobile browser. All you’re doing by using a QR code on your website is adding another step, and requiring an app that a majority of people don’t have. 
    I advise against putting QR codes on anything that can be seen via a computer, mobile device, tablet, etc. QR codes are for use when someone can’t click, like on a beach, in a magazine, in a subway, in the bathroom, etc.

  • http://www.kimtag.com/fabrizio Fabrizio

    To answer some queries about why use a QR code online, it’s very simple to get people to surf your site on their smartphone. My paper crafting website PaperMood.com is hosted on tumblr and it automatically reformat for smartphones so I want people to save my site on their phones so they can peruse it even when not in front of a computer. I’m lazy so anything that saves me tapping on my phone is welcomed. My tactic worked as I have more people accessing my site through their phones than with their computers. They get their daily fix of card making that way. I added the QR next to my website name and now when they see the QR code on facebook through the fan page they associate it with papermood ….I need to tart the QR code up now that’s a good tip from Kane. Thank you for your article ! 

  • http://Nickbmartin.com Nick Martin

    Great point, Carmen. We’ve found that the best scenarios for including a 2D code online is if it offers something that the user will want to take with them such as a mobile coupon, map/directions to the nearest store, or a mobile app.

    Another possible use that we haven’t seen yet is transforming a mobile device into a universal remote: http://tag.microsoft.com/community/blog/t/remote_access.aspx

    Nick Martin
    Online Community Manager
    Microsoft Tag

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    One thing that I want to stress: QR Codes in and of themselves are not what makes a QR code marketing campaign successful. It comes down to execution. A QR Code alone, just like anything in marketing, will not be the key to success. If you have a compelling call to action and a well thought out campaign, this will guide your success, not the particular channel that you are using. 

    Also, as you can see from the user flow described in the article at the end of the “Setting Up a Viral QR Code Campaign” section, the initial call to action for the campaign is something that is in the physical world. So in essence you are amplifying the presence of your QR code that is scanned from the real world into the electronic world. By solely self containing a QR code to one person who scans, that’s the only uptake you will see. But sharing a QR code scan to another channel gives you access to that many more users who share the campaign. It’s similar to why retweets are powerful for people who use Twitter. They amplify a marketing message to other users/eyes. 

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Avalon75: I’d be happy to discuss with you in a format that’s easier to answer direct questions. Please reach out to me directly at the link provided. 

  • Jeff

    Has FB given QR codes in Ads “the boot”? If someone uses a QR in there ad instead of a clickable link then you person paying for the ad isn’t being charged. Too busy to read up on it so I figure someone intelligent here already knows. Great article!

  • KapCarl

    Great discussion regarding yes/no for posting QR codes online. The argument for having something unique and eye-catching in your Facebook news feed could be countered with the fact that QR codes can be printed anywhere. We are giving away 3D printed models at an upcoming press party with the QR code printed right on the back of the model. I’ve seen them as jewelry, on clothing, as art, etc. There’s lots of room for creativity and the challenge is to print them in a way that makes sense for your campaign but will get you the results you want. I agree that it’s counter intuitive (for most situations – @fabyon:disqus  , yours does seem worthwhile) to take your smartphone out to scan a QR code when you could just click the link.

  • Marcio

    Greetings from sunny Brazil
    I really loved this discussion…it was a kind of cold till Carmen put her hands on it! And we started a classic “all questions you would like to ask about QR but didnt have the b…to ask”.
    Down here we are just starting use QR’s…my friends living in Japan, for example, use them all the time, cause people know is relevant to them…a promo, a launch, a vip pass for some place…whatever.
    I would add the human curiosity factor…as mentioned by Kane, it still catches. No matter if in a print or a screen…people are curious…thanks god!
    Two months ago I was grabbing a coffee in a mall and saw a huge QR stamped at a lady’s front window shoes store along with a sentence like “take a picture of me…”…everybody – and I mean everybody – stopped in front of it..
    World is analogic…so are we…if we were more rational than emotional, youtube’s hits would be things like “the origin of the species” and not “Rebecca Black’s Friday”…
    Marcio

  • http://www.708media.com/ Chris Edwards

    Would it not be easier to just use a QR code landing page maker? A lot of them allow you to link to social media and some give you the ability to like stuff without having to even leave the page. I use http://qrmobilize.com to make mine however there are several others out there. To me that would make it easier. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/leonid.jack Leonid Jack

    Facebook app for automatic QR code creation for your account:
    http://www.facebook.com/jd.qrcode

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Kane – Please reply directly to comments rather than grouping them like this.  Thanks and welcome!

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Chris – I mentioned that you could use mobile web, I just chose SMS for the purposes of the example campaign. The main thing is that you have to incite people to click a link in order to execute the share. One thing to note with landing pages is that it’s harder to capture mobile phone number (as people have to type it in manually), which is important if you want to use QR codes as an incentive to build a mobile subscriber database (e.g. a Sweepstakes campaign). Overall, whether SMS or mobile web, the key (as I mentioned above) is execution of your campaign. The channel isn’t the main focus. 

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Marcio – good points and cool to hear that you are in Brazil. It’s a beautiful part of the world. A bunch of people have brought up Japan – it’s fascinating the proliferation of QR codes there. They’re literally on everything (if you read the eBook I referenced in the article you can see examples) from receipts to fast food containers. A Japanese company, the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave, was the first to fashion QR codes (in 1994!). 

  • http://www.708media.com/ Chris Edwards

    Ah ok I see what your getting at. Thanks.

    Oh, BTW, thanks for linking to my QR code list. I try to keep it up to date with so many new generators coming online recently. 

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    No problem – it’s a great resource.

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  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Shilpi Roy – Virtual Assistant

    Kane,

    Great post and thanks for the share. “Combining QR codes with Facebook” Great post once again.
    You always are on the edge of thinking outside the box and very clever.
    Thanks! ”

    Shilpi
    Singha Roy

    http://www.obvainc.com

    Facebook fan page – http://on.fb.me/i9Oifw

  • http://twitter.com/alvintaffy TechMark

    It doesn’t make sense to combine QR codes with Facebook, thats a good point Carmen. Great article thou

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  • http://screenplayinteractive.com/ Ken Lonyai

    Kane – great post and follow-up comments!

    So many agencies are lost in the technology and the craze of he moment mentality, that they slap QR’s on anything and don’t think the path through. Like a hammer held by the wrong end, if you use the tool improperly, you’re going to hurt yourself.

  • http://www.providentpartners.net/blog Albert_Maruggi

    Basically your bet is that the additional step of interacting with a mobile device is novel enough that the consumer is going to go the extra steps.  You also are using it as a way to capture a mobile number albeit with or without some disclaimer, for future use?  

  • http://www.providentpartners.net/blog Albert_Maruggi

    If this is true in terms of usage and the extra steps, the lesson learned is never underestimate the intelligence of consumers.  

    Here’s a challenge – today count the number of people you see scanning a QR Code, take a picture of them if you can.  In fact I’ll make it easy, take the whole weekend.  I bet you don’t count 5 total.   This is not a knock to QRCodes, it’s a comment to put them in context.  That context is that they are appropriate in the environment of smartphone users, early adopters, and I’d add crowds.  If QR Codes are used in public places where others can see the person scanning the code, it will create a learning moment and potentially greater adoption.  

    If I was a printing or an advertiser of a print publication I’d be pushing the hell out of them.  

  • http://www.providentpartners.net/blog Albert_Maruggi

    If this is true in terms of usage and the extra steps, the lesson learned is never underestimate the intelligence of consumers.  

    Here’s a challenge – today count the number of people you see scanning a QR Code, take a picture of them if you can.  In fact I’ll make it easy, take the whole weekend.  I bet you don’t count 5 total.   This is not a knock to QRCodes, it’s a comment to put them in context.  That context is that they are appropriate in the environment of smartphone users, early adopters, and I’d add crowds.  If QR Codes are used in public places where others can see the person scanning the code, it will create a learning moment and potentially greater adoption.  

    If I was a printing or an advertiser of a print publication I’d be pushing the hell out of them.  

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  • http://BlueBoat.ca Cara Lynn

    Clearly many of us would agree that online use is (mostly) ineffective, but there’s a whole lotta people out there who disagree. According to a recent comScore report,
    QR codes are being accessed most frequently from (in descending order): magazines and
    newspapers, product packaging, website on pc, poster/flyer/kiosk, business
    card or brochure, storefront, and TV.

  • http://BlueBoat.ca Cara Lynn

    Clearly many of us would agree that online use is (mostly) ineffective, but there’s a whole lotta people out there who disagree. According to a recent comScore report,
    QR codes are being accessed most frequently from (in descending order): magazines and
    newspapers, product packaging, website on pc, poster/flyer/kiosk, business
    card or brochure, storefront, and TV.

  • http://BlueBoat.ca CaraLynn
  • http://BlueBoat.ca CaraLynn
  • http://hotlooksforless.com/ Hot Looks For Less

    Or you could just use a company like QRE8.com that allows you to change a destination URL as many times as you wish without knowing how do to your own re-directs every time.

  • http://hotlooksforless.com/ Hot Looks For Less

    Or you could just use a company like QRE8.com that allows you to change a destination URL as many times as you wish without knowing how do to your own re-directs every time.

  • http://hotlooksforless.com/ Hot Looks For Less

    Branded QR Codes are a must and are one of the main things our clients love.  Here are a few we did for Jack Astors Bar and Grill, Drink Owl and Chris Pirillo.

    http://twitpic.com/68hpq6
    http://twitpic.com/635msl
    http://twitpic.com/68hmtf

  • http://hotlooksforless.com/ Hot Looks For Less

    Branded QR Codes are a must and are one of the main things our clients love.  Here are a few we did for Jack Astors Bar and Grill, Drink Owl and Chris Pirillo.

    http://twitpic.com/68hpq6
    http://twitpic.com/635msl
    http://twitpic.com/68hmtf

  • http://perderepesovelocemente.org Carlo

    Thank You very much for the article, i will try to do the same on my new post on FB :)

  • http://perderepesovelocemente.org Carlo

    Thank You very much for the article, i will try to do the same on my new post on FB :)

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Albert – thanks for writing in. As I mentioned in need-to-know success factor #2 (incentives), you cannot ever rely on technology to get people to participate in a marketing campaign. You have to use incentives (or something else that compels consumers – just like anything in marketing) to see participation rates that will result in success for your campaign. More than anything it is my belief that people get caught up in what channel they want to use for their marketing campaigns. Execution is much, much more important to focus on. And when you can integrate channels (cross-channel marketing, not multichannel) with customer lifetime value as your main goal you’re really cooking. 

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Albert – thanks for writing in. As I mentioned in need-to-know success factor #2 (incentives), you cannot ever rely on technology to get people to participate in a marketing campaign. You have to use incentives (or something else that compels consumers – just like anything in marketing) to see participation rates that will result in success for your campaign. More than anything it is my belief that people get caught up in what channel they want to use for their marketing campaigns. Execution is much, much more important to focus on. And when you can integrate channels (cross-channel marketing, not multichannel) with customer lifetime value as your main goal you’re really cooking. 

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Cara – thanks for posting this research. I always thinks it’s important to use data to inform our decision making. As I mentioned in the article, you can put your initial call to action anywhere (literally) depending on the campaign that people can then share to FB. The TV use case is interesting (I also saw a QR code on a rotating digital signage piece in an SF mall) as people need time to whip out their phone, open their reader, and capture the code. If anything I could imagine a game where brands rewarded consumers who were savvy enough to engage in a limited time frame. Kind of like a “next ten callers receive this prize” campaign on a radio station. 

  • Jmolitor

    can i execute a qr campaign in which i place QR codes around say a retail store (diff depts) and incent people to come in and scan to 1) “like” the retail facebook page (maybe at the front of the store), and 2) gain entries into sweeps (via the diff dept QRs)?

    trying to get to a program in which i can have user scan QR to “like” facebook & enter sweeps right from the phone

    thx!

  • Jdumphy

    How do you track the scans and other information from QR codes?  I wasn’t aware that you could do so.

  • Jdumphy

    How do you track the scans and other information from QR codes?  I wasn’t aware that you could do so.

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  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Definitely – sounds like a cool idea. At this point you probably need to think through dependencies, which will increase the complexity of the campaign, but might help you track your analytics. For example – do they need to like the retail page in order to sign up for the sweeps? 

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Definitely – sounds like a cool idea. At this point you probably need to think through dependencies, which will increase the complexity of the campaign, but might help you track your analytics. For example – do they need to like the retail page in order to sign up for the sweeps? 

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  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Great question – tracking data from QR Code scans is a vital piece people often overlook. As I mentioned in the post, the easiest (most cost effective) way to get data if you are doing scans for your own personal business is through a URL shortener that can provide analytics about who is visiting your website. Other than that you can set up website tracking for sites that you direct people to (Google Analytics being the most famous example). Outside help from mobile application service providers can help you learn a ton about the people scanning your codes. I could go on and on – perhaps best to reach out directly at the link provided if you have more questions, as a lot depends on your campaign and context. An eBook I wrote http://bit.ly/iHxZua may also be useful to you. 

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Great question – tracking data from QR Code scans is a vital piece people often overlook. As I mentioned in the post, the easiest (most cost effective) way to get data if you are doing scans for your own personal business is through a URL shortener that can provide analytics about who is visiting your website. Other than that you can set up website tracking for sites that you direct people to (Google Analytics being the most famous example). Outside help from mobile application service providers can help you learn a ton about the people scanning your codes. I could go on and on – perhaps best to reach out directly at the link provided if you have more questions, as a lot depends on your campaign and context. An eBook I wrote http://bit.ly/iHxZua may also be useful to you. 

  • Sergio

    Interesting that in the US you guys are still talking about the oldest technology in QR Codes. There are much more powerful codes in other countries that are bringing a complete new set of features that the one in the example is not able to offer. Hope the largest market in the world start becoming more innovative and up to date. Cheers !

  • Sergio

    Interesting that in the US you guys are still talking about the oldest technology in QR Codes. There are much more powerful codes in other countries that are bringing a complete new set of features that the one in the example is not able to offer. Hope the largest market in the world start becoming more innovative and up to date. Cheers !

  • http://www.prismelectrical.ie Terry Reilly

    Thank you for a great article, have just started using QR on a flyer. Hope to get some results

  • http://www.prismelectrical.ie Terry Reilly

    Thank you for a great article, have just started using QR on a flyer. Hope to get some results

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001063281089 Nancy Rose

    This is one of the best articles written that clearly explains how to set up a QRcode. I’ve read thru all the comments and great discussion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001063281089 Nancy Rose

    This is one of the best articles written that clearly explains how to set up a QRcode. I’ve read thru all the comments and great discussion.

  • http://www.prime-qr-codes.com Billy Martin

    Great Info, I think that QR Codes are the wave of the future, most new phones have a QR Code Reader app installed and if they dont they are APP Ready, meaning they can download and use a reader,

    QR Codes are starting to pop up everywhere, so I dont think it will be long for them to be the big thing LOL 8=)

  • http://www.prime-qr-codes.com Billy Martin

    Great Info, I think that QR Codes are the wave of the future, most new phones have a QR Code Reader app installed and if they dont they are APP Ready, meaning they can download and use a reader,

    QR Codes are starting to pop up everywhere, so I dont think it will be long for them to be the big thing LOL 8=)

  • http://twitter.com/3cmediallc 3C Media LLC

    I am looking to customize some QR Codes… Any idea where I can get that done?

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  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Depends on what kind of customization you are looking to do. There are tons of providers out there who can help with making the code look, feel, and act according to your needs. Feel free to contact me at the link provided and I can give you more details. 

  • juliot2012

    In the CRM Section you statated that “QR codes are made up of three different types of data.1)  scans—accounts for the number of times a person successfully uses a QR code reader.2) phone operations—describes what a user does after scanning (e.g., clicks, downloads, page views).3) user data—describes the people actually doing the scanning and phone operations (e.g., phone type used, age, gender).How do capture two and three?

  • http://queenbeeconsulting.com Danelle Brown

    Wow. Kane – this is one of the best QR articles I have seen yet. You made some very valid points – ones I have not even thought of yet. It was very detailed and I got A LOT out of this article. Thanks for writing!

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Simplest answer is that phone operations comes from website tracking and user data comes from the phone itself. As I said above, perhaps best to reach out directly at the link provided if you have more questions, as a lot depends on your campaign and context. An eBook I wrote http://bit.ly/iHxZua may also be useful to you.

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Glad it was useful to you! Thanks very much for your feedback. 

  • http://twitter.com/CAAdvertising C.A Advert Solutions

    Thanks for this post!

    I totally agree that one should give consumers a reason to scan–if they see no benefit, they may be hard pressed to do so.

    This being said, I was shopping for a tv last weekend. We were at a big box retailer, and they had QR codes by their displays. We dutifully scanned them, only to find the exact same information we were staring at in print. I felt cheated. Why did I take my phone out and go to the trouble of scanning if there was no new information provided?

    Alas. I’m sure as they become more popular in America the effective use will improve!

    Thanks again for the article!

    Lacey
    SMM for C.A. Advertising Solutions

  • http://www.squidoo.com/best-laptop-under-400 Anna W. Mize

    very good article however, why would I have them scan a QR code with their phone from Facebook to then click another link from a text message when I could just include a link or the Facebook Share button? 

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Lacey – couldn’t agree more. Great point and I agree that marketers will get better and better at launching QR Code campaigns. 

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Anna – please see the discussion above. Happy to discuss more if you want to reach out direct, but here are some quick thoughts: the initial call to action is not in Facebook, so you are effectively bringing a physical QR code into the electronic world; when someone scans a QR code you get certain data about them that you would not otherwise be able to get if they clicked a link; certain marketing campaigns want to direct someone to a mobile phone (for example to download an app) and need the ability to interact via that medium. 

    The most important takeaway is that it’s not the channel that matters as much as the execution of the marketing campaign. Focusing on channel (clicks vs. scans) is not as effective in my opinion as focusing on the campaign and what strategy makes the most sense in that context. 

  • Kbrann

    SpyderLynk’s Social SnapTags is a cool technology that a colleague told me about that addresses some of the ideas above such as offering an incentive, a streamline consumer experience, using a technology that feature phones and smartphones can access, etc.  Glamour just did an awesome program with them that I read about in The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/business/media/glamour-magazine-bets-that-readers-will-use-mobile-codes.html?_r=3.  Check it out! http://spyderlynk.com/types-of-snaptags/socialsnaptags.html

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  • http://sandrostudio.com/ Alessandro Brunelli

    Let me resume.
    CASE1  Step. 1 You now have your QR code on your Facebook page. Step. 2a A visitor comes to your Fan page (he/she is using a home computer/laptop), see the QR code, understand what it is, go grab his/her mobile phone, if already installed he/she opens the QR app, then scan it, then lands on the landing page but…on his/her mobile….What the heck? A simple link on the fanpage would have been better.
    CASE2Step 1. DittoStep 2b: someone is browsing your fan page from his/her mobile phone or tablet. See the QR code, understand what it is…now what? How can she scan it? Oh yeah, everybody has got two phones! Brilliant….
    CONCLUSION: QR codes are for being PRINTED on physical media (postcards, business cards, T-shirts, mugs…) not for screens. IMHO

  • Nolan Antonucci

    Very useful post.

    I’ve tried out a few QR code generators and I really like http://www.qreateandtrack.com

  • Kelly Walker

    How do QR codes track user data (the third type)?  Does it require login every time?

  • juliot2012

    I downloaded the eBook, but it doesnt provide information about a service that provides QR code tracking data for all QR Code behaviors.

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Julio, as I mentioned please reach out directly at the link provided if you need this kind of detail. 

  • http://waterfall.com/blog Kane Russell

    Simplest answer is that you need a mobile marketing CRM service provider to track this type of behavior.

  • Michaelhansen

    Great post!
    When I scan a sms QR code it opens within the QR application, not the sms application. I have to click a (not logical) button to open the actual sms app to send the message. Do you konw if there is a way to get directly to the sms app? I use QRReader and i-nigma for iphone.

  • Michaelhansen

    Great post!
    When I scan a sms QR code it opens within the QR application, not the sms application. I have to click a (not logical) button to open the actual sms app to send the message. Do you konw if there is a way to get directly to the sms app? I use QRReader and i-nigma for iphone.

  • http://twitter.com/MargieTravels Margie Jordan

    I have to say that I’ve found value in using QR codes online when the QR code is simply your contact information. It automatically adds my contact details directly to a potential customers cell phone. Works wonders at a conference too. Rather than handing off business cards, it’s so easy to scan a QR code and have the contact information I need right in my phone.

  • Johnspikee

    Yes, amazing article. The power of QRcode is being unleashed now. Another product in this line is http://www.qrspider.com

    It’s worth checking. It gives free  dynamic QR Codes for websites.

    John

  • Shantel Collins

    I totally agreed. I just mailed my customers Christmas postcards and added my QR code and 5 of them have already contacted me asking how to get the coupon code from the picture. So now I’ll be sending out New Year’s postcards with the a word coupon code to make it more simple for them.

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  • Lucas Wasiak

    I have recently developed a QR Code for our company’s Facebook page and I have come across the following issue that I am wondering if it is a common issue and if its easy to resolve. The QR code that has been developed seems to be viewed easily by most people but when I scan it on my Iphone (with several apps I have downloaded) it actually takes me to my personal Facebook page…not the company’s. Have you seen this before?
    http://s1152.photobucket.com/albums/p482/Was1ak/?action=view&current=JohnSandsFacebookPageQRCode.jpg

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  • Andrew

    Moving foot traffic from your store onto your website is key, and its really easy with QR codes. We made a way to incentivize it –
    with Coupon City you can offer foot traffic a coupon by scanning a QR
    code and Liking your Facebook Page. Check it out free for a month: http://www.couponcityapp.com

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  • jerrybsharp

    anytime there is a majority with a problem, there is an innovator with a solution. this article did well to explain the importance of incentives. if you gave a smartphone user without a Qr reader app an enticing reason to want one, im sure they would download it to take part in the incentives available by simply scanning one of those “weird bar codes” they are seeing more often.

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