The Recent Marketing Buzz on QR Codes
There has been a lot of buzz at conferences and in blogs and websites lately about QR Codes. The primary usage for marketers has been to link url's in various forms of advertising. For reading the barcode, most users must install specific software on the mobile device to be used in order to read the image. There are numerous devices available in the market with scanning capability, usually using camera. Various software providers have applications that can be loaded onto phones that do not come with the functionality pre-installed, such as the iPhone.
Mobile tagging is the process of providing data on mobile devices, commonly through the use of a web address that has been encoded in a two-dimensional barcode that can be read and accessed using a camera phone and the devices web browser. The reason for the success of mobile tagging is the quick, precise and customer-driven access to specific content. There is no license required to use QR Codes.
QR Codes that contain a web address to a content specific landing page may appear in magazines, on signs, buses, business cards, or just about any printed material. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader software can scan the image of the QR Code causing the phone's browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL. Users can also generate and print their own QR Code for others to scan and use by visiting one of several free QR Code generating sites.
The small picture generated can contain a vast amount of data. QR Codes can display 7,089 numeric characters and 4,296 alphanumeric characters. There are approximately a dozen types of codes and various readers available.
Is this just another gimmick for marketers to capture attention like drawing a name in the clouds or on the beach? Probably, but it may have good applications. Next, look for design tips on mobile applications when using QR codes.
Designing For Mobile
So now that you have decided to put a QR Code on your marketing, how do you generate them and what kind of landing page do you create? The most useful way to implement a QRC campaign is to use the same type of dedicated landing page to act as a collection mechanism in the same way this blog has developed them for PURLs, email, direct mail and other channels.
There is absolutely no need to pay for a standalone service to create and host QR Codes. A few new subscription services are out there which provide code creation and tracking, but using one of these is a terrible idea! The goal of employing a cross media channel is to collect user information while at the same time avoiding data silos. Adding another system to track them is nonsense. The goal of any cross media marketing effort is to consolidate data and collection in one location, not add to clutter by throwing on a "me to" product. The key to success with this technology is to integrate it as another tool to complement existing efforts, not start a new one.
For Static Applications
Use a free code generator such as http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ to generate your image. This image can then be incorporated into the design of your advertisement. It can appear almost anywhere. The QR Code can drive respondents to content specific landing pages that include an opt-in form.
For Variable Applications
For variable marketing applications such as email or variable data print such as VDP Mail®, individual codes can be generated for each recipient. This code can contain a Personalized URL (PURL) or other specific content, such as a prize or discount code.
Landing Page Design
Since the QR Code is most likely to be accessed by mobile device, the content needs to take this into account. Some mobile browsers are able to expand and pan, but many cannot. A few specific suggestions include:
- Keep the design simple and bold for easy viewing and navigation
- Avoid using large images and adding content to the page which makes requires a lot of bandwidth
- Use basic elements like <div> tags and unordered lists ( <ul> tags ) with minimal styling to create menus and buttons instead of images. By simply adding a background color, a border and making internal <a> tags display as block elements your navigation will appear as buttons and stretch nicely across any size mobile screen.
- Remember that different mobile browsers or QR Code readers will override some site code (such as scaling), so use minimal styling
- Some QR Code readers, such as Mobile Tag, add a query string onto the URL which can cause issues with some sites
QR Codes are an easy way to direct mobile device users to specific content without requiring them to type in an address and have a few good applications in mobile and event marketing. They are like every other tool in the cross media suite that can add one more collection mechanism to start a two way conversation.
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