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What is a QR Code? Why they must be part of your Marketing Strategy?

Tania Jacksons’ QR code
QR codes: what are they, why they must be part of your marketing plan and how you can adapt them for your business?

QR stands for Quick Response and it is able to connect your phone to contact details, websites, maps etc. A QR code is a matrix barcode that the current crop of smartphones can read very simply: install a QR code reader (many Blackberry, Iphone and Android operative systems have one pre-installed), take a photo of the QR and consequently receive the information.

Initially used for the identification of parts in vehicle manufacturing, it has seen widespread use in Japan since 1994. The code is free and is published as an ISO standard. Despite Denso Wave owning the patent rights, it has chosen not to exercise them.

Recently in the US and European markets QR codes have been employed in the integrated marketing communication of small and medium sized enterprises and big corporations. For example, Heineken, SKY Network and Pizza Express.

A QR code on a café in Seattle, WA links to Google Places and reviews on Yelp and around the web.

Latest research on the global growth in Mobile Barcode Usage by 3Gvision highlights that worldwide usage has increased by 61.9% . In terms of geographic coverage, this can be broken down as follows:

Top 10 users of mobile barcodes during Q1/2011
(1) 1. United States
(2) 2. Italy
(3) 3. Germany
(7) 4. United Kingdom
(8) 5. Netherlands
(6) 6. Canada
(5) 7. France
(4) 8. Hong Kong
(17) 9. Spain
(15) 10. Switzerland

Top 5 growing countries for Q1/2011
1. United States (181.1% growth over Q4/2011)
2. United Kingdom (166.5%)
3. Netherlands (146.3%)
4. Spain (94.4%)
5. Canada (94.0%)

The QR codes offer marketers an effective and precise measurement tool for understanding response rates, which allow for easier ROI calculation. In practice this means that a traffic analytic tool can be set up to evaluate the QR campaign in the same way as the traffic on a website is evaluated. What’s more, they help to boost traffic to websites and can be installed inevery kind of physical product.

They are used everywhere – in magazines, on billboards, flyers, business cards, shop windows, streets even (as a QR code guerrilla marketing strategy). As soon as a business relies on an optimized website or blog to market its products it is time to start a QR code campaign in order to increase sales and enrich the customer experience.

QR Code at the Naperville, IL Public Library assists visitors with helpful advice.

The strategies for QR codes vary: from local restaurants that uses them for couponing and special offers; to big corporations that use them to offer exclusive digital content.

How you can you maximize your effectiveness with QR codes:

Provide explanations about their use and benefits
Encourage actions that support your marketing plan
Assuage the fears of the technically challenged
Give reasons to come back
Experiment with the size, location, and color of your QR codes
Study your analytics
Make the process fun, such as a QR code scavenger hunt

When developing a QR code strategy it is extremely important to ensure that a business clearly defines its goals and objectives from the outset. This type of marketing campaign must consider customer requests and expectations and be tailored to complement any wider marketing strategy in place. In addition, the monitoring of results and developing a flexible approach to tactics must be considered in order to gain a better ROI.

So ..which is your QR code strategy?