Best of TM 2011: How To Engage the QR Code Prospect

The following is an excerpt from DirectMarketingIQ‘s new report “Cracking the QR Code: The ultimate guide for using QR codes, including the current trends, Best Practices for implementation, marketing strategy, creative and measurement, and QR code campaign samples.” Judged by traffic, social sharing and reader response, it’s been one of the Best of TM 2011.

Provide value. Be relevant. That’s what the mobile prospect wants. They don’t have time to waste, so they want to be served content, offers, surveys, etc. that matters to them.

The concept of using the phone to get something in return is not new, as “text to win!” SMS campaigns have been very successful. It’s the same trigger for QR codes. For example, providing a coupon through a QR code is an attractive call to action. As the ad agency MGH study found, it’s also the number one reason why a prospect will scan a QR code. Groupon, for example, has a mobile coupon app that makes people even more likely to use their smartphone for getting a discount.

Meanwhile, the other reasons—get information, enter a sweepstakes, see a video—cited in that study also provide value that a prospect can immediately appreciate on a smartphone. If you’re not providing such value, then you could actually damage the brand. For example, just sending a prospect to the company’s Facebook page, or even worse, just to the company’s website without any special content or coupon, will turn off many potential customers.

In order for QR codes to be worth the investment, marketers need to stay true to the basic principles of marketing. “People will only engage and interact with the content if it is relevant to them,” advises Susan Kelly, vice president of communication management services for Xerox.

When he first began to use them with some of his clients, Russell Kern, CEO of the integrated marketing agency The Kern Organization, asked the simple question: “Will they increase engagement and response?” For the B-to-B client Symantec, they created a direct mail package that used a QR code to direct prospects to an informative video that expands on the letter’s key message. The landing page was personalized for the 100,000 list. The QR code was a success as a new response mechanism, as 15 percent of the total response came from the QR code vs. 10 percent with the traditional BRE. “So it started to elminite the use of mail back responders, which is the first time we’ve seen that,” says Kern.

“The future is not just response mechnaism, but to change the experience,” continues Kern, who believes the smartphone allows a marketer to enrich the communication experience and especially with every printing channel. He doesn’t think the billboards and posters provide the intimacy that most prospects seek, as the print QR code campaign can deliver another level of one-on-one communications that can raise the chance that the prospect donates to a cause, gives their contact information or uses a coupon, for example.

“With the QR code, you’re asking for crosschannel behavior and your phone is probably closer to you than your computer. In other words, it’s simpler and easier than typing in a URL, and it has a great future,” Kern asserts. But he also mentions that smartphone users are a sophisticated audience that your business must have a solid conversion strategy in place for. “Have you advanced the sale? Did you get their permission to use their email address? Did you convert them? Or did you just give them extra information? You can’t just be giving away video content forever,” he comments.