What Do QR Codes Have in Common With Tear-Out Forms?

By | January 11, 2011

Will 2011 be the year of the QR code? It’s possible. They are gaining traction in major brand marketing, as well in B2B and individual vertical markets. I’m even starting to see them in my direct mail at home.

As interest in QR codes mounts, one of the questions I am hearing is whether there are case studies or examples of QR codes being used in the digital printing marketplace specifically. It is an interesting question. It is interesting because if you’re focusing on the production method, you’re missing the point.

It’s not about use of digital print or offset print. It’s about how QR codes are integrated into a marketing campaign. Short run, long run, personalized, not personalized — it doesn’t matter. It’s about understanding who you are targeting, why you are targeting them, what your target audience expects to see, and how to give them what they want.

When it comes to QR codes, that means understanding mobile marketing. In order to know when and how QR codes are to be used, you need to understand the mobile culture, the value QR codes provide to this audience, and how to use QR codes to get them to do what you want them to do, which is to move from Point A to Point B.

We don’t learn these things from looking at case studies by digital printers. We learn them by looking at successful marketers and how they are integrating QR codes into sophisticated multi-channel marketing programs. The Ace Group, for example, did a phenomenal job with a campaign it did with Time Out New York using QR codes as a bridge to a mobile site that worked extremely well.

In my QR code primer, I have a long list of best practices and examples of best-in-class QR code campaigns, and as far as I remember, there is not a single mention of production technology.

I have the same response to people who complain that marketers are not releasing  quantitative data on response rates, sales revenues, or bottom line profits using QR codes. Like personalized URLs, general URLs, social media, telephone numbers, and tear-out forms, QR codes are merely a response mechanism for the campaign. Again, they are a way to get the recipient from point A to point B. The key is to use the right response mechanism for your target audience and your campaign goals. To do that, we’re back to where we started. You have to understand marketing.

Unfortunately, that’s a much harder transition than just putting a QR code on marketing piece.

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5 thoughts on “What Do QR Codes Have in Common With Tear-Out Forms?

  1. Diane Dragoff

    Heidi: You’ve made a great point. Its not the carrier of the QR code that’s important, its the connection to the campaign. Dashboard sts are going to tell you what works, and the campaign can be tweaked as needed.

  2. Scott Levine

    Hi Heidi,
    I agree. It’s not the QR code, it’s the content that you’re driven to. Sure the QR code still has the wow factor, but once you get past that, it’s all about what’s on the other end of the connection.

    We did a QR code survey campaign for a restaurant in a regional airport. They were interested in learning about what customers thought about their service, food quality and other key points. The idea was to provide a Win Win solution for both the restaurateur and the customer. The restaurateur gained valuable feedback and the customer was able to vent…. and get a brownie sundae for completing the survey.

    We could have done the survey a number of different ways, but since everyone in the airport is already on their phone, the QR code was a great way to get them to the survey.

  3. Ryan McManus

    Great Site Tyler! I don’t know about first, but you’re not the only Social-focused QR Code service (getsharesquare.com).

    QR codes are being used in a few great ways, but even worse in some areas. If marketers keep pushing QR codes without purpose, it will kill the channel before it gets a chance to become widely accepted. GroupMe used it on their website so you could quickly get to their new Android App. Other uses like television commercials are just missing the point.

    QR Codes need to save the user time. If it is faster to type in a URL, they will choose the path of least resistance. Embedded contact info on business cards, however, saves time for the user.

    Great article Heidi. If 2010 wasn’t the year of the QR Code, I am sure 2011 will be (as long as we marketers use it for good!).

    Ryan (@rynmcmns)

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