Archive for the ‘Mobile Marketing’ Category

Are We Making Cross-Media Accessible?

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

When we read about cross-media marketing, we are most likely to read about sprawling, comprehensive campaigns that involve multiple social media sites, TV, mobile, posters and billboards, integrated dashboards and real-time metrics from global brands. White papers abound from IT services and data management companies like SAS.

It’s as if cross-media marketing has to be big or it’s not effective.

But what is cross-media marketing really? It’s communicating a marketing message using multiple channels or moving consumers from one channel to another to reinforce branding or communicate a marketing message.

That means that QR Codes are cross-media marketing. Personalized URLs on direct mail or email are cross-media marketing. Direct mailers with email follow-ups are cross-media marketing. These are campaigns that are easily implemented, and as long as they are done well, they generally achieve much better results than a single channel alone.

In an ideal world, every marketer would be able to use big data, gain a 360-degree view of the customer, and start, monitor, and measure social media conversations relating to their brands. But if that’s the only way we talk about cross-media marketing, it makes these campaigns sound inaccessible to the average marketer.

It’s time to bring the cross-media marketing conversation down to earth and talk about real campaigns that are really implementable by even small and mid-sized marketers.

How are you helping your customers do that?

 

3 Places to Get Content for Blogs, White Papers, and Other Content Marketing

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

When it comes to marketing, content is king. Sure, you can go out and try to find customers on your own, but increasingly, customers are finding you. They know what they want, and they are actively searching for, filtering, and vetting their print and marketing partners based on the content they find.

But where do you get the content? Especially for smaller companies, this can be a real challenge. For SEO and differentiation, you need a constant churn of print and email newsletters, white papers, blog posts, Webinars, case studies, and content for social media. What if you don’t have the resources to pay a copywriter to produce them?

If you are not in a position to write your own content (or need more content than you can create in-house), here are 3 ideas for places to get it.

1. Third-party providers. There are a number of third-party content providers that offer content you can brand as your own. They write it. You brand it. Use your logos. Even lay it out in-house so it matches your own in-house style. However, as with anything else, not all purchased content is the same. For PSPs and MSPs, content should be 1) industry-specific, 2) reflect your company’s individual expertise and business focus, and 3) offer solid, useful information but not be text-heavy.

For example, I write the content for Great Reach Communications’ Market Builder and 1:1 Messenger programs. In the seven or so years I’ve worked with them, there has been a very clear trend. E-mail articles and blog content has always been short, but especially for print, the text is getting shorter and the graphics are getting more prominent.The print newsletters are now featuring shorter, pithier articles and standalone graphics with relevant data bytes. Readers can scan the page and get the main points very quickly. This increases the chances that the newsletter actually gets read.

2. Third-party providers . . . a la YOU. When you purchase third-party content, it’s yours. That means you can tweak the content to suit your company’s unique niche or perspective.

Clients of third-party providers will often use the purchased content as base, then add to it with their own data, metrics, resources, and case studies to create custom newsletters for less than they can write from scratch. As another example, I sell brandable white papers on the best practices of digital printing, personalized (1:1) printing, Web-to-print, QR Codes, and so on. Many printers will purchase them as templates, then I will do an interview with one or more people at the company to  customize the content. I will use that time to replace generic examples with their own case studies, their own perspectives, and their own technology.

3. Tap into your suppliers.  Many suppliers develop white papers and other content that you can brand as part of the value they offer as a supplier to you. Look not just to press suppliers, but software vendors, as well. Even if they don’t offer content you can brand as your own, you can often distribute it as a resource. They will often have case studies and white papers you can draw from or cite in your materials.

Contact your sales rep and peruse what your hardware and software vendors have available on their websites, then you can reference the highlights in your blog, social media, and other communications. If you see something you want to use verbatim, ask the company permission to do so. More often than not, you’ll find the answer is yes. You’ll often see at the bottom of blog posts and magazine articles “reprinted from . . .” and the original source. With permission, you can do it, too!

This industry’s need for content is voracious. Don’t think you have to write everything yourself. If you can, that’s great. If you can’t, there are resources to help you.

Interested in Learning about NFC Tags?

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Happy New Year to all! Now is a time to make resolutions and innovate. For those of us in the print industry, one of our resolutions likely involves making traditional print more interactive.

In this Printing Impressions webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America, moderator Lisa Cross talks about where Near Field Communication (NFC) tags fit in accomplishing this goal. If you’re like me and you’ve wondered what NFC Tags are – this is the place to learn. This webinar defines NFC technologies, shows how they are creatively implemented, and provides statistics from recent studies of their success.

Let’s jump to the content. Lisa introduces Matthew Bright, the Chair of NFC Forum’s Retail Special Interest Group and the Technical Marketing Director of Kovio, who focuses on the importance of NFC technology and provides examples of its use. To complement Matthew’s expertise, Nate Mullikin and Jill Krueger from Corporate Graphics International tell their company story and provide interesting examples of print interactive products and solutions.

To set the scene, Lisa highlights how technologies have emerged to combine traditional print and digital media to maximize the communication experience; a combination referred to as ‘tradigital’. Like most of us know, the key challenge in navigating the tradigital space is reaching an audience that now has control over the media they consume. In an Infotrends study, Lisa points out that 47% of printed marketing materials were linked to online and digital channels. Specifically, mobile use is the fastest growing channel within spending distribution. Therefore, a market for NFC solutions exists to cut through the communication clutter and to make strategic connections throughout campaigns.

Building off of Lisa’s introduction, Matthew describes how NFC is a ‘magical technology’ for interactive print. There are three main cases of NFC use, but the focus of this presentation surrounds the ‘touch to learn more’ concept. The ‘tags’–or stickers—connect printed material to multimedia content uploaded onto the cloud. The stickers can be adhered to posters, mailings, and even embedded into product packaging. For example, with a NFC sticker on a wine bottle, the consumer can then touch his or her phone to the tag, which links to tasting tips and optimal meal pairings on an online interface. It takes a view from print to digital in mere seconds.

Nate and Jill add to the discussion by citing how Taylor Company has adopted the use of NFC technologies in the solutions they provide their clients. From networking with customized business cards to the creation of interactive digital booklets & registries, NFC technologies offer an enhanced gameification of brand, product, and services.

This blog really just touches the surface of NFC technology. Take a deeper dive and be sure to check out the webinar here:


 

Marketing Ideas You’ve Overlooked?

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

We’ve all got lists of marketing ideas for the new year, but are there a few you’ve overlooked? On its website, Great Reach Communications has just published its downloadable “10 Marketing Ideas for Printers,” and there were three ideas I thought were particularly interesting.

1. Blog content. Yes, blogs are the “in” thing right now, but the point made in the white paper is that Google’s Hummingbird algorithm is a game-changer when it comes to this investment. It used to be that you had to load everything up with key words to help with search rankings, but that’s not the case anymore. You no longer have to be an SEO whiz to get noticed. It also gives you more to tweet about.

2. Write a letter.  Yes, it’s old school and you don’t see this often, which is one reason why you should do it, Great Reach president Patrick Whelan writes. I thought this was funny because of how true it is. In our email, text, and social media dominated world, it’s easy to forget the most obvious (and truly personal) ways to contact people. Like the way I catch myself texting to make plans with friends all the time, forgetting that I can also just use the phone and call them.

3. Add downloadable content. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on social media and web content itself, forgetting that search engines find your downloadable content, too. So white papers, case studies, and other downloadable resources will not only help you track who’s accessing your site and how popular certain content / services are, but help with search engine rankings, too.

Happy marketing in 2014!

More Positive QR Code Data for the Naysayers!

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Just out from Mobile Shop Talk — new data from Marketing Land shows that 15% of shoppers are scanning barcodes or QR Codes as part of the shopping experience.  Here’s the range of what shoppers do:

  • 31% — Compare prices of products through Amazon, other online retailers
  • 30% — Look for offers and coupons
  • 28% — Call friends or family for advice
  • 27% — Look for product reviews
  • 18% — Found other stores that have a desired product in stock
  • 15% — Scan barcodes or QR Codes
  • 13% — Look for gift ideas

Granted, scanning other types of barcodes is not the same as scanning a QR Code, but increasingly, we see barcodes and QR Codes being lumped together in mobile shopping surveys. This tells me, not that QR Codes are going away, but that they are mainstreamed.

These days, I am no more surprised when I see a QR Codes on a label, postcard, product package, or magazine ad than I am a web address. They’ve become part of the landscape.

I see fewer and fewer codes with text above or below them explaining how to scan them or how to access a reader if readers don’t have one — less frequently enough that, in combination with the steady, consistent 15-30% rate of scanning among smartphone users, I’m considering removing the addition of “how to use” text from my list of best practices for QR Codes.

What do you think?

Improve Your Marketing for 2014

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Happy holidays Digital Nirvana readers!

To help get you started and to welcome the New Year, I have a special gift for you all below.

As 2014 is rapidly approaching, all companies are getting ready to start fresh with a new plan for the New Year. Is improving your company’s marketing efforts a major part of your new strategy? It better be! This year, it’s your opportunity to make new connections and strengthen old ones, all while increasing marketing efforts and filling the sales funnel.

I’d like to share our special eBook, 12 Marketing Tips for the New Year, to get you on a path to marketing success for 2014!

On behalf of everyone here at interlinkONE and Grow Socially, I’d like to wish you all a happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!

[P.S. I'd love to hear your feedback as well as any other marketing tips you might have for 2014 in the comments below! Also, feel free to share this holiday special with others here: http://ilnk.me/NewYears, it's free!]

Tapping into the New Cross Media

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

It’s a loud, busy world out there. With so much information available, getting your voice heard is a challenge for any company. For mailing, print, and fulfillment providers, cross media marketing is really vital right now.

A well thought out cross media campaign is one of the best ways to communicate any message clearly, consistently, and in a way that’s relevant to the hearer. Keeping up with cross media marketing trends is an important component of your ongoing success – and that of your clients.

Are you having trouble connecting with customers?

Learn how you can use cross media marketing to better communicate with customers by downloading “Tapping into the New Cross Media,” FREE for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/NewCrossM; your customers will appreciate your dedication! Do you have any comments or opinions on cross media marketing or customer communication? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

Big Data: Success Starts with the Problem

Friday, December 6th, 2013

There as a great article on Forbes.com recently that talked about the key to big data. It’s not building better databases. It’s not integrating data silos. It’s not the use of multiple channels (although all of those things are important). It’s starting out by knowing what problem you want to solve.

It sounds simple, and it should be. Like QR Codes, personalized URLs, and all of the other hot buzz technologies in the marketing world today, big data is not an end unto itself. It is just a tool to get somewhere else.

The article gave some great examples of how big data solved real world problems, such as how UPS used big data to predict likely truck repairs and bring down its maintenance costs and how the U.S. Tennis Association used big data to draw its fans more deeply into the matches, and they’re worth a read. But how to take that focus and apply it to the world of marketing?

Start by asking what the client wants to accomplish. For example, I want to boost my sales on Tuesdays, my slowest day of the week. Or, I want to get people to buy maintenance contracts with my products. Or, I want to get sell more X to this demographic. Nail it down. Be specific. Then ask what data — specifically — is needed to accomplish that goal.

Do you have that data in-house? If not, where can you get it? Should you gather it in-house or is this really a list purchase with the right qualifiers?

It’s not about “Let’s do a big data program.” That’s overwhelming and meaningless anyway. It’s about targeting a specific problem, then bringing resources to bear on that problem.

Sometimes simplicity and focus are the most important assets you have!

Can You Scan These Pants?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

There are a lot of things in Garden & Gun magazine I’ve never seen before, such as recipes for fried rabbit and glorious interior shots of the most incredible Southern architecture imaginable, and last night, I saw my first QR Code in the shape of Bermuda pants.

It’s a really clever idea, thought up by the Bermuda Department of Tourism, to help promote the island destination to a high-end audience.

Of course, the first thing I did was whip out my phone to scan said pants, and to my disappointment, the image didn’t scan. At least at first. QR Codes are designed to be scannable even with up to 30% degradation of the image, which allows codes to be manipulated, branding added, and even turned into a pair of shorts.

Go BermudaLots of things can disrupt scanning, however. One of them is contrast. This image was in a dark red, which is fine. Not as good as black on white, but usually fine. But the marketer also degraded the image by creating the shape. Consequently, my phone had trouble recognizing the image in the lower light environment of our kitchen. I moved around a little, and on my third try, I found enough light to get it to scan.

That’s great for me (especially if I want to go to Bermuda), but will readers of this publication or any other publication in which it appears know to move to a brighter environment if they can’t scan the code? Or will they simply give up and move on to the next advertisement? Most likely the latter.

If your clients are going to degrade the image for branding or other marketing goals, test, test, test! Don’t just test on different phones. Test different lighting conditions, as well.

Got to give them one thing. At least they didn’t put the QR Code in the gutter of the magazine. But if the ad ad been on a left-hand page, they would have!

Time to Add Mobile Coupons?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

U.S. consumers have a love affair with coupons. They love printed coupons, but the data says, they love mobile coupons even more. In fact, new data from Jupiter Research shows that mobile coupons are 10x more likely to be redeemed than printed coupons.

Nobody is saying you should give up printing coupons for your customers, but why not do both? Encourage your customers to use both print and mobile versions. How often has my attention been grabbed by a coupon I got in the mail, but when I was actually near the store, I realized the coupon was sitting on the counter?

Do I wait until next time? Sometimes, but other times, I go online to see if I can find a mobile version somewhere. But the only reason I looked for the mobile version is because the printed coupon came first.

Many PSPs are looking for ways to get their customers into the world of mobile. For some it’s QR Codes. For others it’s SMS. Maybe for your customers it’s mobile coupons. (Check out Apple Passbook.)

Anyone here offering mobile coupons? What are your experiences?

Lead Scoring: Don’t Set Yourself Up for Failure

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

We are hearing about lead scoring more and more these days. As print providers and their customers grow increasingly comfortable with personalization and multichannel marketing, those programs are becoming more sophisticated and automated. That is opening the door to lead scoring, lead nurturing, and trigger-based content delivery.

As you begin to develop automated lead scoring and lead nurturing for your customers, there is a critical point to remember. Lead scoring is typically based on information people input into online forms and triggers the appropriate lead nurturing path that follows. However, people lie.

It’s not necessarily that they are awful, horrible human beings setting out to mislead you. It’s that those online forms are often monstrosities unintentionally designed to frustrate. Respondents just want to get to the information they are looking for (watch a video, download a white paper, access a presentation). They don’t want to spend 10 minutes filling out an endlessly long, frustratingly complex form first. I know I don’t. Consequently, they will often select the first thing on the list — accurate or not — just to be able to move on.

I was reading a great post on Eloqua’s blog this morning that made this very point:

How many contacts have you generated from those who have selected Afghanistan in the country dropdown menu? It’s the first country available in most dropdown lists, and frequently selected to bypass necessary information and proceed to the next option to access gated content.

Amen! If you try to gather too much information, if the level of depth and complexity of those forms is inappropriate to the target audience, you can set yourself up for disappointing results. So when setting up lead scoring for yourself or your clients, don’t just think about the information you want to gather. Think about what respondents are most likely to actually provide . . . and provide accurately. Balance your goals with the likelihood of getting what you want.

The goal with lead scoring isn’t to get it done. It’s to get it done right.

Got any lead scoring disaster stories to share? Sometimes the best lessons are learned while laughing . . .

10 Trends to Define Marketing for 2014 – 10 Experts Weigh in

Monday, November 4th, 2013

As we approach 2014, and all of the marketing challenges that come with it, SourceLink is rolling out our “Ten Trends to Define Marketing” series again, with a twist. This year, we sat down with ten industry experts and asked them what trends they anticipate in 2014 and the years to come. We will be rolling out these articles over the next six weeks – Here are the experts that we sat down with, and a brief synopsis of what they had to say:

1. Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News – “The Virtuous Cycle of Customer Centricity” – Oct 29

Into 2014, consumers will wield the power to dictate how they are marketing to, and marketers are tasked with creating content that is driven by consumer preference. Understanding customer behaviors and preferences will lead to sophisticated micro-marketing campaigns, and marketers will then be tasked with modeling content creation and communications strategies based on how content is being utilized.

2. Judith Hemmel, Vice President of Customer Intelligence, SourceLink -  “Moving From Creepy to Credible” – Oct 31

An overarching theme through several of the interviews is was the extreme importance of mobile marketing. Consumers now have the ultimate choice of whether to engage with a brand, cultivating an environment of permission. This phenomenon will further strengthen the move from push to pull marketing, and messaging must move from “Creepy to Credible.”

3. Skip Henk, President and CEO, Xplor International – “Sitting on the Sidelines or Taking the Leap of Faith” – Nov 5

Human behavior is the true game changer in 2014, and there is tremendous value in how customers allocate their time to take in new information.  Augmented Reality, a still-emerging technology, very well could lead to a print revival. Marketers will fall into two categories in embracing these new technologies, those taking the leap and those sitting on the sidelines waiting for more proof; which Skip sees as the “winners and the losers” in the fight for customer attention.

4. Bryan Yeager, Financial Services and Mobile Payments Analyst for eMarketer–“Social Media and Mobile Craft a Path to Purchase” – Nov 7

Mobile penetration reached a tipping point in 2013, and looking into 2014, past trends converge because of the smartphone and its ability to enhance the customer experience. Marketers using social media up until now have merely been laying the groundwork for the real opportunities for engagement and conversion. Wearable technologies bring flashy new avenues to truly connect with customers.

5. Roehl Sanchez, VP and Chief Creative Officer, BIMM Direct & Digital - “Data Drives The Creative Process, and the Modular Builder Emerges” - Nov 12

Data begins to drive creative decisions, and creative decisions facilitate the use of data. We are entering age of real time marketing, and the definition of marketing and advertising “Creative” is shifting, especially when it comes to mobile design. Marketers must familiarize themselves withmicrocampaigns and start thinking mobile first. The creative professional must start to be a “modular builder,” and embrace a shift toward strong creative rooted as much in functionality as in design.

6. Rich Brown, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, SourceLink –SOLOMO and the Evolution of Location Based Engagement” – Nov 14

Social plus location plus mobile (SOLOMO) will a gamechanger in 2014, as marketers truly perfect geofencing technologies and make actionable use out of location data using offer-based engines. Data use concerns and privacy legislation gain lots of attention in 2014, and marketing organizations rally to support the responsible use of data. Marketers start to effectively link return on investment between offline transactions and social engagement.

7. John Foley, CEO Grow Socially and CMO InterlinkOne– “The Amazing Powers of Personalization” – Nov 19

2014 will see BIG advancements in mobile technology, which will allow for in-store personalization and other amazing interactions. A surprising amount of companies are still behind the content and social engagement curve in 2013, and will evolve into more social businesses in 2014, with more content being distributed than ever. Personalization sees a surge in the depth and relevancy, paralleling advancements in marketing automation.

8. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs – “Organizing your Company Around Content and the Emergence of Short-form Media” - Nov 21

Marketers have been making content creation a priority, but next year will see a need to allocate resources to dedicated personnel. Next year’s trend will be a wider adoption and need to understand short-form content. Social media engagement leads to emotional connection and a better brand experience. Print remains a crucial part of marketing spend, and continues to claim significant portion of marketing budget.

9. Cindy Randazzo, Vice President Strategy and Insight, SourceLink – “A World Where IT and Marketing make each other Stronger” and  “Multisource Attribution in an Omnichannel world” – Nov 26 and Dec 3

Cindy had so much to say that we will be covering her thoughts over two articles.  First, 2014 brings the realization that IT and Marketing cannot be siloed, as their strengths will make each other stronger and will account for the weaknesses in the other, as the “right and left brain” come together. Big Data becomes relevant for all industries, as it is mined for interests, and used for multiple forms of variable advertising. Consumers start to ask the question “How is it possible that you don’t know who I am?”

10. David Burstein, Fast Company contributor and author, “Fast Future: How Millennials are Shaping our World.” – “The Marketer’s Role to the Millennial” – Dec 5

Companies must make consistent strides towards social responsibility and innovation as core tenets to developing as an organization. “Millennials” (those born in the second baby boom years of 1980 to the early 2000s) have become the most messaged-to generation ever, and marketers embrace emerging technologies and develop new means to stand out. Deep customization stands as central to the communications experience between marketers and Millennials.

To read the entire series, keep checking back to the SourceLink blog here.

The Big Potential of Big Data: A Field Guide for CMOs

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

If you haven’t downloaded a copy of “The Big Potential of Big Data: A Field Guide for CMOs,” it’s worth your time.

Put out by Rocket Fuel and Forbes, it’s a free 22-page report based on a survey of 211 senior marketers designed to gauge their perceptions about the success of their marketing initiatives, as well as their use of and the benefits of big data.  Granted these were bigger companies than most of those in this industry (revenues of at least $500 million and marketing budgets of $10 million or more), but it supports the trend line and will give you great talking points with your customers.

(Download the report here.)

Key data points from the survey:

  • Of the organizations that used big data at least 50% of the time, 60% said that they had exceeded their goals. By contrast, of the companies that used big data less than 50% of the time, just 33% felt they had.
  • More than nine in 10 companies (92%) who had “always” or “frequently” made sufficient use of data said that they had met or exceeded their goals, while just 5% who said that they were making sufficient use of data said that they were actually falling short.
  • Eight in 10 (79%) marketers and advertisers who use big data more than 50% of the time felt they were able to pick out the right audience in all or almost all of their media. This compares with just 35% of those who used it less than 50% of the time.
  • Of those who use big data to drive more than half their marketing strategies, 75% said that they were able to monetize their audience.
  • Likewise, 75% believe their company is making the right media buys, compared with just 50% of those who use big data in less than half of their programs.

There is lots more, of course, but what’s interesting is the focus not just on reaching customers and increasing revenue, but undersatnding customer behavior, including the channels most effective at reaching them.

Also interesting about this report is how it is interwoven with personal interviews and mini case studies that flesh out these issues and put the data into a real-world context.

Check it out.

 

New Services – Same Old Sales?

Monday, October 7th, 2013

At Print13 event last month, Howie Fenton and Andy Paparozzi of NAPL delivered a presentation on “The Secrets of Leading Digital Companies” in which they propose that industry leaders are characterized by a willingness to change. They talked about changes as seemingly simple as buying a new piece of equipment to complex challenges like acquiring a company or moving into new areas of service. The latter issue was a major focus of the talk as more and more companies are diversifying their services in order to add value to customers.

“Despite economic challenges and structural changes, between January 2000 and March 2013, Leaders’ sales are up 54.2%, while the industry at large is down more than 21%,” according to Paparozzi.  The leaders are better at recognizing the need to change and are better at implementing that change and, I suspect that these changes extend beyond the operational aspects of the new technology or service that they have adopted. Which leads me to the topic of this post: you can’t change what you sell and expect to sell it the same way.

The very factors that are causing printers to offer new services, channel complexity, tidal waves of technological change, shifting demographics and intense competitive pressures are the same factors that are causing major changes in the buying behaviors of their target clients. Consider that:

  • Today’s business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete (source: Corporate Executive Board)
  • 10% of print sales originated online and this trend is expected to reach 18% by 2014 (source: InfoTrends)
  • 4% of B2B executives have made purchases of over $100,000 via their mobile device (source: Google and Forbes Insight)

This means that multi-channel marketing is not only a service printers should consider offering to their customers, it is one that printers absolutely need to be using for their own business development. Many printers, even relatively large ones, have operated without significant marketing resources and often with no dedicated marketing department. Now, more than ever, they need to consider the buyer’s full process from awareness through purchase and all of the potential touch points along the way. If buyers are researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, and benchmarking pricing before ever having a conversation with a sales rep – it’s marketing that has to close the gap by making sure that their company is on the buyer’s radar during this research process.

Marketing support and lead generation will become increasingly critical as service portfolios and related selling tactics become more complex. Printers may need to look at making investments in marketing as well as redistribution of sales resources to include focused selling teams and inside sales support.

Marketing support is what helps keep your pipeline full and your sales people efficient enabling them to focus on what’s important once they get in front of the customer. However, your strategy also needs to consider that literally getting in front of buyers is getting harder and harder. In 2011, American businesspeople took a total of 445 million trips and over 124 million people telecommuted in 2012. That means that part of your sales and marketing strategy needs to include making it easy for “on the go” executives to find information about you from their mobile device, making it easy to engage with you from their mobile device and making it easy for them to track the progress of their business with you using their mobile device. Buyers are transacting big business directly from their smart phones – how will your site show up on the small screen? Don’t overlook mobile and get your sales force comfortable with Skype.

Printing leaders are diversifying their offers. Printing leaders are better at change and therefore their sales growth is nearly double that of the industry at large.  Printing leaders understand that to diversify your capabilities requires a complementary diversification of your sales and marketing tactics as well. Selling has evolved along with the industry. Today, how you sell is as important as what you sell – and the leaders know that too.

Research: Not All Designer Codes Created Equal

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

According to research released by the AIDC Lab of Ohio University (part of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology), not all designer codes are created equal. While QR Codes have error correction, allowing up to 30% of these codes to be degraded or altered while rendering the codes still readable, it matters where this degradation takes place.

You can remove, alter, or degrade certain portions of the code while retaining readability but not others.

Although the full research study has yet to be released, the AIDC Lab has released a white paper outlining the main issues and the results.  The goal of the paper — to answer the question: “What sort of design modifications can be made while still ensuring the maximum number of people will be able to scan the symbol?”

In general, there are three ways to alter QR Codes to incorporate a branded symbol or other design:

  • Change the color
  • Insert a graphic design inside the physical design of the code
  • Geometrically distort the cells used to create the code

“While all of these work, it is important that the designer understand how the QR Code works so that they do not inadvertently damage key components or push those components beyond their ability to adjust,” write the authors of the paper.

For the study, more than 200 codes were scanned. In total, 166 responses were usable. Depending on the types of distortions used, researchers found that scanning would product different results. Ignoring the benchmark symbol, for example, resulted in read rates ranging from 9.6% to 88.6% — a huge range.

The implication of this is that, at best, 11% of the symbol’s target audience will not be able to read the bar code. And for almost half of the symbols 50% or more of the scanning public will not be able to decode the designer QR Code.

This a fascinating study that anyone involved in 2d barcode design, branding, and marketing campaign develop read. Before your designers start messing with the codes, thinking they can add branding as long as they degrade 30% of the code or less, make sure they know the facts.  You can download a copy here.

On a completely unrelated note, I grew up in Athens, Ohio, where Ohio University is located, my father taught, and I spent much time on campus. This is the first time I’ve heard the university mentioned in connection with this industry, so this was really fun research to run across. Go Athens Bulldogs!