Archive for the ‘QR Codes’ Category

Thoughts on QR Codes Designers Need to Hear

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

I recently posted a response to a discussion that is raging in one of the LinkedIn graphic designer discussion groups about QR Codes. I might more accurately describe it as a bash session. There were a handful of posts in support of QR Codes, but most of those were mine.

Designers were railing against QR Codes because they are deemed to be ugly, they disrupt the beauty of their designs, and there are newer, more innovative technologies available.

One of the designers was particularly certain about his position on QR Codes because he had recently graduated from design school. Here is his comment, followed by mine. Please chime in with your own thoughts.

Designer: As someone who just recently graduated from college with a degree in the media field, I can confirm that QR Codes are dead. It is sort of like still having an aol.com email address — just shows that you aren’t keep up with the current trends in technology. We kind of snicker at those people still trying to use them.

Me: Good marketing isn’t about design only. It’s about creating marketing pieces, whether online or print, that achieve the marketing goal. Part of achieving a goal is generating response, and when it comes to generating response, smart, results-oriented marketers use multiple response mechanisms because they know that not everyone wants to respond the same way. One of the ways certain people respond (not all, but certain ones) is QR Code.

I can vouch for the fact that there are plenty of marketing communications that I would not have responded to if it hadn’t been for the QR Code.

I would love to know what percent of people actually use 800 numbers anymore. Yet no one questions their value. People love to kick around QR Codes, but I see them everywhere, I see their use becoming more focused on end user functionality.

Are there more sophisticated technologies out there? NFC, for example? Of course, but they require a lot more capital investment than QR Codes. They are more expensive to produce. They require more third-party coordination, supplier vetting, experimentation, design, and testing. The sales cycle is longer, and so on. No every marketer can afford that. MOST marketers cannot afford that. Consequently, technologies like NFC, AR, etc., while offering definitely value for certain applications, are accessible only by a limited number of marketers.

By contrast, QR Codes are free to produce and add to print pieces, and with the number of websites automatically optimizing pages for mobile, the barrier to entry is low. QR Codes are a reasonable, practical option for the broad base of marketers.

As a designer, your goal should be to produce the most results for your clients, not restrict their options because you, personally, don’t care for them.

Designers can scorn QR Codes all they want, but here are a few facts to remember:

  • It’s not about what YOU like, it’s about what achieves the end result for the marketer.
  • Your CLIENTS don’t care whether there is an “ugly box” on the marketing collateral, direct mail piece, or packaging. They want results, and those marketers pay your salary.
  • Digital snobbery doesn’t produce results. Smart marketing focused on the ultimate user of the product does.

When QR Codes stop producing results, I’ll ditch them. But from the case studies I read, from the marketing surveys I am up to my eyeballs in, and from my own experience, QR Codes serve a practical, functional purpose. For the right audience, they draw more eyeballs than the marketer would otherwise get without them, and marketers are getting better at using them every day.

This is spoken by someone who has watched this industry for 20 years. Things don’t become so snobbish and black-and-white when you’ve been around for awhile.

By the way, I’ve had an AOL address for 20+ years. I keep it because I like the interface and because everyone in the industry has my email address, even from 20 years ago. I’m practical that way. It works for me, and for someone who cares about results, that’s what matters.

The same should go for designers and QR Codes. When people snicker at them, it suggests to me that they 1) don’t really understand when and how to use them; or 2) are more focused on their own preferences than on the true, grassroots functionality for their clients and the people who would be using them.

Great QR Code Use for the Haters

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

I have been participating in a LinkedIn discussion for designers in which the QR Code haters are out in force. The consensus was that QR Codes are dead because they are ugly, there are more innovative technologies out there, and designers don’t like them.

If you ask me, that’s the wrong way to look at it. This isn’t about what’s innovative, what’s aesthetically pleasing, or what designers like. It’s about what accomplishes the goal set by the client. If QR Codes are the response mechanism (or one of the response mechanisms) that accomplish that goal, then great.

Designers should be thinking more about matching goals to channels than what looks pretty and stimulates their personal interest.

SeaWorldScanbuy has an interest use case that I think exemplifies QR Codes at their best. The use case comes from SeaWorld, which wanted to drive traffic to its mobile app, where it could communicate park details and share special features.

Using the tagline “Put the Park in Your Pocket,” SeaWorld added QR Codes to signs throughout the park to drive visitors to the app. In addition to providing general information about the park, the app included features of real value to the user, such as a car-finder, wait time information for popular shows, and GPS navigation throughout the venue. SeaWorld also generated 20,000 app downloads in just six weeks.

That doesn’t sound like QR Codes are dead to me. It sounds like a great match of campaign goals to marketing channel.

Innovation Ennui: Hidebound by History. Is Print’s Prudence proof of Paralysis?

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Many years ago, when I was president of one of the first quick printing franchisor companies, a wise-man counseled me with this pearl — smart franchise companies know that almost allgood marketing ideas do not occur at franchise HQ, instead they happen on the front lines — in the franchised locations, as the result of franchisee and customer interactions.

Implementing the advice meant that I sought the counsel of some of our best and brightest franchised owners and one of them told me about “Ed.” Ed was the head of research and development for Lee Newspapers (now Lee Enterprises) a chain of community newspapers based in Davenport, Iowa. Ed’s job was to actuate the punch line in George Bernard Shaw quote made immortal by Teddy Kennedy’s eulogy for his brother Bobby. “…Others dream things that never were, and ask why not?”

Ed didn’t go to graphic arts industry trade shows; he went to the shows his newspaper ad space clients might attend. He wanted his skunk-works of innovation to be forward thinking, changing and ever willing to try things, even things that failed.

Dr. Joe Webb, renowned commentator on the printing industry has long cajoled us to do much as Ed once did — go to conferences of designers and ad buyers to learn what moves them, not what servo-drive moves the roller train in the Iron Horse press. I found this article posted by Dr. Joe in the Economics and Research section of WhatTheyThink to be amazing and worrisome in equal measure, because Dr. Joe’s research protocols are so stellar.

I administrator a Facebook Group page for people in the graphic arts around the world. Every day, I post items about new and exciting uses of print, oft-times centered on what I like to call smart, interactive print – print made more valuable to the customers of your customers, through response drivers like QR or NFC or AR or printed electronics and so forth. But there is another observation that makes one wonder — the articles that receive the most comments, and likes and shares and so on, are often about print’s past — XYZ Print Shoppe in Palooka-ville. No one values the 600 year-old patrimony of print more than me, but change happens. We change or we wither.

Seize the Day, or glissade gently into that long good night?

Back on February 2nd, 2012, John Newby of the Ottawa Times (Illinois) wrote a great blog about the potential of Augmented Reality and newspapers. His final line applies to every segment of the printing industry:

“It will be interesting to see how and if the print industry embraces such technology or if we squander yet another opportunity”.

If we look at Dr. Joe’s chart, it would seem that thus far, the amorous advances of AR have been largely rebuffed. Only 7.1% of the 209 surveyed participants offer AR.

In a very visual and interactive age, AR, QR, NFC and whatever comes next add value to print by making print more interactive and more visually dimensional. Yet we tarry – 93% seem to say, let’s hurry up, but then wait?

What’s past ain’t prologue Poindexter!

Exactly one day after Dr. Joe’s post went up on WhatTheyThink, Jennifer Matt wrote a fiercely disruptive piece on WhatTheyThink that should be taped to the bathroom mirror of every C-level print industry executive. Jen put this line in bold in her article:

The human resources in the print industry are predominately “experts” at yesterday

So accurate and so ‘hidebound by history.’

This week I happened to spot on someone’s LinkedIn profile a pic of Steve Jobs, the Apostle of Apple with one of his pithy epithets:

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology, not the other way around.”

We print peeps are hard-wired to admire technology. In this change agent era, we might do well to re-consider.

Jim Daly, owner of Fine Arts Imagery, a giclée printing atelier in Asheville NC commented on the Jobs quote as follows:

“Isn’t it ironic that the most profitable companies speak in terms of customers, creating value and experience, while the others talk about efficiencies, share price, etc.? The former create the future while the latter seem satisfied to “optimize” that which has been successful in the past.”

Print has changed mightily over the centuries and yet, even now, there are aspects of everyday print production that could be easily intuited by Benjamin Franklin or even Johannes Gutenberg. Much of traditional print has moved to the evanescent stage of the Internet’s ether and it’s not coming back; ergo, print and perhaps especially smart, interactive print, presents ostensible opportunity to those who’s glass is slowly filling with optimism.

As the whirling dervish of change continues to upset the conventional and disrupt the traditional, some print segments wither while others flourish. There are massive people costs, (I wonder how many folks I know from print who are now in real estate, a dozen?) and the stresses on the owners and senior managers to try to get it right when embracing new strategies cannot be understated. But in the maelstrom we can be certain of the terrible beauty of this trifecta:

Innovation is crucial, Innovation is cruel, Innovation is cool.

Or, in a cornpone hat-tip to that certain beefcake TV commercial we posit:

“Print, it’s what’s for Winners.”

Get Your (Augmented) Reality Check!

Friday, June 13th, 2014

You’ve heard about Google Glass(es) before, right? But have you seen those magazine advertisements that come to life on your smart phone? You might be thinking of QR codes, which isn’t too far off, but I’m referring specifically to a leading-edge technology that facilitates the most digitally enhanced communication pieces. The technology, Augmented Reality (AR), consists of software integrations to marketing pieces that add layers of digital content (photos, videos, sound effects, games) to a printed advertisement. With AR, a traditional print ad becomes an interactive communications tool that can be used to further inform consumers, gather consumer information, offer promotions, and create deeper brand experiences. At the end of the day, AR helps maximize ad shelf-life and foster consumer dialogue.

To get a better understanding of key applications and examples of AR, I encourage you to check out the recent webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America titled “A Reality Check: Augmented Reality.” The webinar defines and exemplifies how AR interacts within both print and marketing communities. Barbara Pellow of Info Trends leads a conversation with Martin Ahe (Partnerships Manager at Layer) and Deborah Haskel (VP of Marketing at IWCO Direct) surrounding AR value and its implementation process.

Today, there are five critical trends associated with AR technology. The first involves an embedment of AR technology in ‘wearables’. Google Glass(es) are just one example, where the ‘wearer’ issues a verbal command to scan and perform a certain task. The second and third trends leverage AR to enhance the brand experience in retail and at live-events, like concerts. The fourth surrounds AR involvement in the educational space with do-it-yourself learning tools, like books and student projects. Lastly, AR has patterns of success in the automobile industry specifically. From sales brochures to owner’s manuals, brands like Ford, Volvo, Nissan, and Audi are using AR to interact, inform, educate, and strengthen relationships with their customers.

With AR growing in popularity in a variety of fields, you might be asking: “How do I start the implementation process today? And what does that process look like in conjunction with direct mail or printed communications pieces?” One way to start is by consulting the firm Layer, who is at the forefront of the AR industry. Ahe explains that the implementation process unfolds in a couple of simple, user-friendly steps:
1. In Layer Creator, upload a page that you wish to make interactive
2. Drag, drop and specify what you would like to link
3. Click publish

It’s important to remember, however, that the majority of customers are new AR technology. Thus, make sure to keep your blends simple, intuitive, and user-friendly. Haskel highlights: “In order to make effective use of AR, you have to help your clients understand the best way to use it. Think quality over quantity.” Content size (video, imaging, etc.) and the appropriate ‘call to action’ are two major components in creating a successful AR experience. And be sure to educate your audience. Many consumers are used to scanning QR codes where you only scan the small square with your smart phone. But with AR, you scan a larger area, usually the entire printed area, with your smart phone. Since this is a relatively new technology, it’s helpful to provide some direction on your printed piece for the consumer.

Get started today by checking out the webinar for classic examples and further details on the implementation process. It’s no wonder AR is here to stay when a brand can tell a story like this! Consider this your (augmented) reality check!

Utilizing Multi-Channel Marketing, the Right Way

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

What is Multi-Channel?

Multi-channel marketing is the use of many different channels, such as direct mail, print, digital, and social media platforms, to spread one consistent, comprehensive, and effective marketing campaign. As a marketing or print service provider, it is important to promote the solutions that enhance the life of your brand as well as your printing services throughout a variety of channels.

If your business is still around in 2014, chances are you have realized that multi-channel marketing is not the secret formula to success, but rather a necessary component to the continual transformation of your print-centric business. In fact, you’re probably reading this and thinking, well… duh! So the real question now has become, what is the secret to successfully establishing a printer’s role as a marketing service provider (MSP) in this rapidly changing industry?

The Success in the Solutions

When thinking about marketing your business and the services you provide, remember that with Internet at every professional’s fingertips, finding a service they need is as easy as the click of a mouse or touch of a finger. That’s why your marketing message needs to reach prospects on a variety of channels while promoting what your services can do for each individual prospect. Knowing your target audience means knowing what they need, even if they do not. Make your marketing customer-centric. Try to stay away from promoting what your service is, and focus on what it does for your customers. Keep in mind that in order to sell solutions in a multi-channel market, developing a plan and strategy is paramount.

Planning for Multi-Channel

So we’ve established the need for marketing your solutions as well as your customers’ solutions on multiple channels. The roadblock now is managing the time and effort that this kind of inbound approach requires. A lot of MSPs that I work with or consult for are not struggling to wrap their heads around what must be done, but rather how to possibly accomplish such layered campaigns, without running their marketing into the ground.

The most important component, and I cannot stress this enough, is developing a multi-channel strategy that incorporates both marketing and sales. Have your teams work together to establish the bottom line of your multi-channel efforts, define:

  • Who you want to reach; the target audience you want to stay in front of.
  • What you want to say; what makes your company the best choice? Why are you different from your competitors?
  • When will your multi-channel efforts be most effective?
  • Where will your multi-channel efforts be most effective?
  • Why are the tactics you have chosen the best path for success?
  • How can you establish an execution strategy to market not only your brand and solutions, but also your customers’?

Once you have answered these questions, map out your marketing campaigns with visual charts and calendars. Keep in mind that multi-channel marketing is not a sprint, but rather a carefully executed relay race between sales and marketing, which requires orchestrated and practiced handoffs, that when done right will drive your prospects down the funnel.

Fortunately for MSPs struggling to handle the volume of multi-channel marketing and communications, several technological advances in customer communications management have emerged.

Objects in the Mirror

If you drive a car, even if you don’t, chances are you know the classic warning, “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.” These words, which we see daily, are a prevalent theme in the problems that printers and MSPs are presently facing. The classic predicament of knowing that something was coming, but not realizing it would approach so quickly, has left many businesses stuck in the dust of the industry leaders racing by.

My advice to you is to dedicate your time to developing a plan that will accomplish maintaining the standard of multi-channel marketing, which has pushed your top competitors to the head of the pack. Once you’ve mapped out your goals, tactics and execution strategy, stay tuned to my blog for insight and advice on the tools and best practices your business can implement to achieve positive recognition and grow your business in this multi-channel era.

To learn more about multi-channel marketing strategies, see my previous post, The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing!

QR Code Fail at Sweet Frog? Or Was It Just Me?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

I’ve written a lot on the subject of QR Code fails, along with best practices for designing and implementing these codes, so I thought I was on to another example when I scanned the QR Code on the loyalty card at Sweet Frog the other day.

I took out my phone (okay, who am I kidding? It was already in my hand), scanned the code, and nothing happened. I scanned again, making sure it was the proper distance for the camera to focus, and again nothing. Must be the low light, I reasoned. I moved the card underneath the overhead light and tried again. Still nothing.

I tried several different times at different angles, and in the end, I input my email address into the low-tech, most unmobile fingerpad device. As I walked to the table in defeat, I wondered if I would have done better to scan the QR Code on the wall poster instead. Was the code on the loyalty card too busy perhaps? Printed too small?

I realized this morning, no, it would not have done me any good because the problem was not the code. The problem was that I had not launched the scanning software on my phone first. I had simply pointed the camera at the code and expected it to scan.

I can laugh now (and I’m sure you’re laughing at me now, too), and I’ve just embarrassed myself publicly . . . but to make a point.

It would be great if mobile phone cameras activated automatically to scan barcodes without launching software first, and I’m sure that some day, they will. But QR Codes won’t live or die by people who don’t have the software or forget to use it. They will live or die by the value of what consumers receive on the back end. If the code doesn’t work or people don’t know how to use it, your clients should make sure they have another way to access the content.

Over time, non-QR-Code-scanning consumers will figure it out. Once technology has reached critical mass (as it has with QR Codes), people always do.

Scanbuy Making the Back End of QR Codes Easier

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Ever since QR Codes have come on the scene, there have been complaints about the often poor experience scanners are receiving on the back end of the scan. Much has been made out of these poor experiences (although some codes lead to user experiences that are exceptional) as if such experiences, in themselves, will kill QR Codes.

Now Scanbuy has come out with a remedy, it believes, for the poor user experience. It has developed a new platform for refining the back-end experience of what the person sees after scanning the code. The idea is to start the process with what the marketer wants the user to see rather than starting with the code itself.

The platform uses templates to force — I mean, make it easy for — marketers (or their PSPs) to create more positive, useful experiences after a scan. Templates can deliver dynamic and customized results that change based on factors like device operating system, time of day, location, and consumer loyalty. Marketers can embed YouTube videos, Google Maps, and photo galleries. Other post-scan activities can be launched, as well, including making a call, receiving a contest winner notification, displaying a note or sending a text or email.

I’m not sure this solves all of the problems of back-end experiences, but it takes a positive step in getting marketers an their PSPs to think in the right directions.  Or they can just think about those things on their own, during the development stages of the marketing campaign. Still, having a template-based solution always makes things easier. When things are easier, people are more likely to do them.

For me, I just like having an excuse to remind people that back-end experience is really the most critical element. Just as finishing needs drive design, so too, the user experience drives the QR Code.

So when you think QR Codes, remember: strive for a back end everyone wants to see.

The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Building a successful multi-channel marketing campaign is a bit like making a cake. For the recipe to be a success, you need to add all of the right ingredients.

In order to help you do so, let’s take a look at some quick dos and don’ts for executing multi-channel campaigns that will keep your clients and their customers happy.

Learn how you can execute a successful multi-channel marketing campaign by downloading, “The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing,” free for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/DoDontMMC! Do you have any additional tips for executing successful multi-channel marketing campaigns? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

Can Social Media and Direct Mail Merge Seamlessly?

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

“Social media isn’t a fad, and I think we can all accept that,” said moderator Barbara Pellow, Group Director of InfoTrends, in January’s webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America.

This we know: social media isn’t a new trend. It has an established yet evolving role within the marketing sector. So the question becomes, how does the print industry integrate social media into traditional marketing pieces, like direct mail, to offer optimal customer outreach?

Renée Hall, VP of Business Development at Dukky, and John Ortiz, Director of Operations and Sales at Your Preferred Printer, give an overview and case-study examples of successful, seamless integrations. The speakers touch on strategies and software tools for merging social media with direct mail, which ultimately bolster a client’s network and increase bottom line sales.

Let’s consider the facts. When 1000+ enterprises were surveyed in 2013, social networks were cited as the number one area in which media usage will increase. In addition, 47% of printed marketing materials were linked to a digital channel in order to reach broader audiences and boost response rates.

Now, how are these social networks leveraged?

In order to answer this question, printers must first start by defining their business altogether. Hall finds that most printers have either transitioned to become full marketing agencies with in-house printing capabilities, or they now characterize themselves as a ‘printer+’. As a printer+, the business presents itself as a traditional printer, but integrates online, digital components to complement mail pieces. “Embrace new technology, keep and expand your services, provide tools for measurement and analytics, and leverage what already exists” are just some of Hall’s suggestions for success.

After updating the business approach, printers must next consider the new role of direct mail. It’s no longer a one-way, exposure-oriented form of communication; rather, it’s an entry point to cultivate a conversation and gather information. Take Hall’s Chick-Fil-A example: 5,000 mailers were sent out to gather demographic information of potential customers and to inform them of the branch’s opening. The postcards featured free food promotions that required online validation. Once online, customers were prompted to take a short, information-gathering survey. Once completed, they were able to receive the promotion and “share” the offer within their social network. On opening day, 14,000 customers walked through the branch’s doors. 20% of which accredited the decision to the direct mailer and it’s online component ‘call-to-action’.

Sounds like one successful way to get customers engaged, mobilized and excited. For more examples of seamless integrations and for the complete list of tips, check out the recorded webinar here:


 

 

QR Codes Being Mistaken for Tracking Codes?

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

I’ve put the question out there for awhile: Has there been sufficient adoption of QR Codes that we should start removing the explanatory text around them?  The answer has been a resounding “No!” Feedback is that the explanations are still necessary.

The other day, a friend mine, knowing that I write about QR Codes frequently, pointed out a “QR Code” on a label that might be of interest to me. It was, in fact, a Datamatrix used for tracking.

That made me wonder. Have consumers become so used to seeing the square black-and-white tracking codes (such as those used for inventory management) that, when they see QR Codes, they think they are just larger versions? Could this by why some consumers still don’t recognize QR Codes as marketing response mechanisms?

If so, then it makes sense why some sort of explanatory text is necessary. Perhaps that explanation doesn’t have to be how to scan, how to download a reader, or that level of detail. Perhaps it can be something more subtle, such as making it part of the call to action: “Scan this code to get a 10% discount!” Or, “Scan this code for a chance to win free tickets!”

Such calls to action should be used anyway. The point is just that perhaps it’s less critical to tell people how to use the codes than it is simply to draw the distinction between codes for tracking and inventory management (which consumers ignore) and codes for marketing response (which they shouldn’t). What do you think?

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?

 

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:


 

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!]

QR Code that Works!

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

In contrast to QR Codes that take you nowhere and that legitimately draw the disdain of the QR-skeptical, I ran across a great use for QR Codes that, even if you aren’t going to use them on beverage labels, might spark some ideas for your clients.

IMG_2555I recently was intrigued by a package of Angry Orchard hard cider. I hadn’t run across the brand before, so it came home with me. On the label was a QR Code. I scanned it, of course.

There were no instructions with the code, so there was an assumption that the brand’s audience understands and uses QR Codes. Either that or they were seeking response from a specific demographic within their broader customer base — a more tech-savvy demographic for whom no explanation was necessary.

Upon landing on the microsite, I found a well designed and very interesting microsite. It contained an invitation to connect with talking trees, a store locator, and links to visit trees in flavors offered by the brand beyond what was on the shelf at that particular store. Apple Ginger — who knew?

I had no idea what to expect from the talking trees, so I clicked through the link for crisp apple and was posed with the question: “How do you like your apples?” I typed in, “In applesauce cookies, of course.” I could then hear the tree speak it back in animation a la Lord of the Rings to me only or I could post the animation via social media.

Also available was a flavor profile, which gave me ABV, color, and food pairings I never would have thought of, such as Thai red curry with coconut milk and earthy spices, as well as more mainstream “steak and cheese, with slightly charred onions and peppers that add smoke to contrast the sweetness of the apple.”

So here we have a great use of QR Codes to draw in a specific demographic and give them something of value — entertainment relevant to that demographic, entertainment that is interesting enough that that demographic will want to share it (while simultaneously promoting the brand), product information relevant to that audience, and cross-sales information in an interesting and relevant way that is interesting rather than heavy-handed.

I just thought this site was very well done and shows that QR Codes do have an important and very relevant place in mainstream marketing.