In today’s business environment, there are three types of marketers:
1. Those who think the QR code is the greatest marketing invention since the television commercial and will solve any problem,
2. Those who think QR codes are a complete waste of time, and
3. Those who realize that you can never have too many tools in your toolbox, provided you use them properly.
What is a QR code?
A QR code is one of those odd-looking square bar codes you may have seen cropping up all over the place. The technology has been around for a while now, but only in the last year or so has it gained enough popularity to appear on most marketers’ radars. The little barcodes can store a hefty bit of information, though most people simply use them as hyperlinks to a website.
How does that relate to email marketing?
Besides being a simple link to a web page, a QR code could be a gateway to your email list subscription page. For example, someone walking past your advertising on the street could quickly subscribe to your list simply by snapping a picture of the code. Pretty simple, right? The same could be said about someone reading your printed catalog or direct mail piece in their home –then snapping a picture with their iPad and going right to your site for a promotion.
More than a Compact URL
Anyone can shorten a URL, but creative marketers can use these codes to do a lot more. The great thing about QR codes is that because you hide the URL of the destination, you can get creative with how that URL is composed and where it goes. For example:
Which one is easier for your prospective customers to navigate to?
Both go to the same place, but the QR code is a much easier way to get there. Meanwhile, it allows you to stuff all sorts of tracking and segmentation information into every new email sign-up. In the above example, anyone using that QR code would pass the click through Google Analytics, and record the behaviors associated with the QR code clickers as a segment.
In fact, if you can find a way to encourage people to scan the code multiple times, you can put together a pretty accurate picture of their daily routine, from where they live, to where they work, to where they shop. That type of data is market tracking gold.
So will QR codes solve all your marketing dilemmas? No, of course not. They’re still incredibly limited, and until all mobile devices come with a QT scanner as a standard feature they’ll remain that way.
However, if used correctly, what they can help you do is begin the process of merging your marketing and advertising channels to increase the effectiveness of both. Between the ability to link print material quickly and easily to your email marketing endeavors, and the increased ability to track consumer behavior and segment your mailing lists, QR codes can become a very powerful tool in your email marketing toolbox.