QR Codes: 3 Ways 2-D Barcodes Add Multiple Dimensions to Your Marketing

An interesting blog post by an old marketing pal, Mike Sprouse (Thinking Global or Acting Local?) has gotten me thinking about the extra dimensions mobile barcodes can add to the cross-channel marketing mix.

As you’ve probably heard, the US Postal Service’s current summer special is a broad-based 3% discount on mailings containing QR codes, also known as mobile or 2-dimensional barcodes.

It’s a nifty way to engage your customers online while taking advantage of the more tangible benefits of direct mail.

But there are even greater possibilities inherent in using QR codes to drive traffic to your site:

  1. Carve out your own local “mini-marketplace.”  As Mike suggests in his blog post, the number of potential customers on the World Wide Web is truly vast, but brick-and-mortar businesses really need local customers. Ideally, he says, we should all be thinking about ways to use the power of online resources to carve out high-potential segments geographically. Coupling mobile barcodes and direct mail could be a key to doing this successfully. Direct mail is the easiest way to target local customers, and even here in the Springs we all know that people on the south end of town are loath to travel to the north end, and vice versa.  If a prospective customer scans your QR code and then leaves some info behind, this is a “known known” – someone who lives near your business who is interested in something you are offering.  Another thing – and I assume some smart tecchies are already doing this – is to use GPS fixes in conjunction with QR code scans to both gather and hone this information even more precisely.
  2. Greater engagement by 25-44 year-olds.  A recent study reported in DM News has shown that QR codes draw surprising levels of engagement among the coveted 25 – 44-year-old demographic. Perhaps the video-game-like qualities of “shooting” a code and watching where it leads is more enticing to that group. They certainly own far more smartphones, and feel most comfortable using some of the more arcane features. And I am sure I need not explain why most businesses would like to engage this particular crowd.
  3. Contests and sweepstakes produce a higher response rate. Mobile barcodes are a fantastic way to get customers to interact with your website – leaving their all-important email addresses behind – for sweepstakes-style promotions. Taking the work out of navigating to your website – just point, scan, and voilà, the contest page appears! – can make all the difference in the amount of information you collect.  Not everyone feels a burning need to win a free widget, but if putting your name and email address in the contestant pool is sufficiently painless, then only a twinge of desire might be necessary to enter.

    QR codes are only two-dimensional, but they add multiple dimensions to the cross-channel marketing mix. Increased response rates, added depth in your database, greater knowledge of your potential customers, a broader understanding of where your local marketplace is and who inhabits it: the more you explore the inherent possibilities, the more dimensions you find. All that AND a 3% discount on your favorite tried-and-true direct mail piece. How can you lose?

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