By John Arnsdorf, product marketing manager at XMPie, A Xerox Company
Even though QR Codes have been around since the mid 90’s, their adoption rate has only recently taken off. This is due in part to a larger population of people toting smartphones with higher resolution cameras, larger screens, faster Internet connections, and lower data rates. Between July and December 2010, QR Code scanning increased an astonishing 1,200% across North America, according to a report from mobile payments and marketing company Mobio Identity Systems Inc. Additionally, a separate study found that 57% of Facebook and Twitter users said they have scanned a mobile barcode at least once in the past year, while as many as 40% had done so 5 or more times in the past year. Considering the Facebook population surpassed a staggering 900 million active members earlier this year, that is a lot of people scanning a lot of QR Codes. Now that QR Codes have gone mainstream, the challenge is to utilize them in new and creative ways that engage customers and allow them to interact with brands in a whole new way.
I am frequently asked by customers, “How can I use QR Codes in my marketing campaigns?” The real question is, “How can you more effectively use QR Codes in your marketing campaigns?” It is not enough to simply slap a 2D barcode onto something; you need to thoughtfully incorporate QR Codes into each touch point; use one to link to online content, use it as a vehicle to interact with customers, or create experience around your brand. Personally, I don’t like answering a question with a question; however, so I’ve written 5 tips to get you thinking about how you might integrate a QR Code into your next campaign.
- Make a QR Code part of the call-to-action. I’m more likely to make the effort to scan a code if I know it might lead me to a personalized coupon, contest, game or something that is out of the ordinary and unique. I might even scan a code to reveal a surprise, but it better be good. It’s always a good idea to offer a strong motivator to entice your target audience into scanning your QR Code.
- Use QR Codes in your signage and displays. I’m a foodie. Consequently, I frequent a lot of wine and cheese shops, and other specialty stores, to learn about and buy the products they sell. Even though I like learning about the products I choose to spend my money on, I don’t like stores that litter the shelves with information about each product. Displays should have just enough information to draw me in and use QR Codes linking to supplemental information, such as varietal information, tasting notes and food pairings.
- Use QR Codes to save your customers time. If you are inviting your loyal customers to an event, use the code to add the event to their calendar with all the relevant details. If you are prospecting to new customers and want them to visit your brick-and-mortar, use the code to give them a map with door-to-door directions. QR Codes can contain up to 4,296 alphanumeric characters, so use them!
- Make it easy for your customers to give you money. Like many of you, I get countless donation letters from every not-for-profit under the sun. The vast majority of them expect me to fill out a form, write a check, and worst of all, find an envelope and stamp. I’m sorry, but that takes too much of the precious little time I do have, and chances are I don’t have a stamp. I think I am still using the same book of forever stamps I bought years ago. Give me a QR Code I can scan that links to a personalized site with all my information filled out and a place to enter my donation and pay with PayPal, and you’ll get my financial support.
- Give your customers something they can keep. Sometimes, after a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is spend the next 1-2 hours cooking dinner. So, I turn to my restaurant drawer, which is stuffed to the brim with to-go menus that are typically hand-folded photocopies of photocopies. These notoriously poor reproductions of the normal menu are my take-away impression of the restaurant. What a lost opportunity to ‘wow’ me. Restaurateurs, if you are listening, use a QR Code outside your establishment, which links to a PDF of your menu that I can download and keep on my phone. Now I can have your menu instantly accessible anytime I feel like going out for a bite to eat.
However you choose to use a QR Code in your next campaign, make sure you leverage what you already know about your customers and give them a personalized experience. And if you don’t know anything about me, use the QR Code to get me to a page where I can tell you a little about myself. If I think there is something in it for me, I’m liable to give up a little information.
By Larry Zusman, worldwide marketing manager, XMPie, A Xerox Company
The Cleveland House of Blues is a very cool venue for a presentation. That goes without saying. But when you add a room full of attendees at a ‘Lunch ‘N Learn’ that are hungry for the keys to success in cross-media marketing, you have just the right harmony for a successful event.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with some of our prospects and customers in the Cleveland Ohio area. It was an eclectic bunch to say the least. There were commercial printers, digital printers, creatives, in-plant managers and marketing professionals — pretty much the entire spectrum of the industry.
The subject of the day was “25 Ways in 25 Minutes to Make Money with Cross-Media Services.” The purpose of the event was to educate attendees on the critical success factors in starting and maintaining a value-added-based business consisting of variable data digital print and cross-media marketing services. On the corporate marketing and in-plant side, the approach was to provide insight into what they can now do in the guise of fully-integrated cross-media campaigns. The topics spanned a wide variety of strategies and technologies that can add more revenue and profit to enterprises and the providers who service them. Subjects included integrated cross-media marketing, mobile marketing, PURLS and RURLS, social media, QR codes, tracking/analytics, and email marketing with image personalization.
What got everyone’s attention was when I showed them the latest technology from XMPie in video personalization. They were excited about the opportunity to use Adobe After Effects with the XMPie solution and create cinematic-quality movies. One customer wanted to know how difficult it was to create the videos if you knew After Effects at a basic level. When they found out it as simple as connecting the variable data to the content using a simple XMPie software plug-in, they were ready to jump right in!
With the interest level of the attendees, it is clear that cross-media marketing, and the services associated with it, will continue to be a hot topic in the coming year. For providers who are looking for growth in 2012 with these offerings, it is the perfect time to evaluate the right solution for your business, implement it across your organization, and assemble the best team to deliver it.
I leave you with my one regret on this event. I really should have worn my John Belushi Blues Brother’s black suit with the super thin tie. But thinking twice on this, it never would have fit anyway.
By Robin Nelson, programmer at Trialogue Direct
If you’re anything like me, you never considered planning a wedding until you got engaged. And for those of us involved in any aspect of wedding planning, it can be quite stressful and even make some bride-to-be’s just a tad bit crazy.
Fortunately for me (and my husband and anyone else involved), I was quite the unconventional bride and focused on aspects that typically aren’t the norm. I didn’t fuss about the flowers, the dress, centerpieces or location; my concerns were the printed pieces and creating a “campaign” to market my wedding. Perhaps I’ve been in the print industry far too long and have developed some strange appreciation for paper and printing—or maybe I’m more of a nerd for technology than I care to admit—but either way, I had a very specific plan I wanted to execute.
Because weddings are such personal events, more often than not, the bride and groom have a very unique understanding of each of their guests. This in itself allows for such a relevant and almost effortless recipient data collection not typically available by any other means. Having taken full advantage of this aspect and the resources available to me, I was able to utilize XMPie solutions to truly personalize each piece in my wedding campaign.
Being able to embrace and leverage technological tools like XMPie technology not only allowed me to create a cross-media wedding campaign, which honored much traditional etiquette with a modern flare, but also truly made a world of a difference to me. From gathering more information about each of my guests, to the simplest tasks of organization, the advantages in technology can be quite extraordinary to any bride—and greatly appreciated by her guests.
Among my first tasks was to spread the news after getting engaged, and what better way to do so than the traditional methods coupled with the use of technology? Although I’m no designer, I very much wanted to create a website and handle the creative for such a personal project, even if it forced me into unchartered waters to handle certain aspects. Nonetheless, I was able to incorporate what I do for others on a daily basis for myself.
With the use of variable data printing, there was no confusion on head count (thanks to the guests who updated their RURL, especially in regards to children). This allowed me to stay within budget and easily manage my guest list, which goes hand-in-hand with creating a seating chart. Not to mention, this also allowed me to subtly inform each guest how I anticipated any “plus ones.” And of course, the added benefit for anyone who’s heavily reliant on their phone, such as me, is having so much personal contact details on friends and family being consolidated to a single data source with relevant information—truly quite the gold mine.
Another added benefit was a minor savings in postage, and quite possibly a very underrated convenience for guests to RSVP. With the preferred RSVP methods received from the RURL results, and assuming the logical approach depending on the answer given, submitting a RSVP and meal preference couldn’t be made any easier. Having the XMPie Marketing Console iPhone app had also proven itself handy. It allowed me to provide final head counts and meal preferences to my caterer and vendors alike by merely updating my reports on-the-fly.
Of course, after the wedding, there’s still the daunting task of properly thanking each guest with the gratitude they deserve. Fortunately, I had anticipated this aspect to be among the most challenging and quite possibly the most demanding, so I created a listing of QR codes assigned to each guest, which I would snap to update my SQL table with the item(s) received as I opened each gift. Although this process may sound a bit overboard, it truly helped expedite the entire ‘thank you’ process on a highly-personalized level. And although the thank you notes were NOT hand written, they more than possessed your traditional, personal touch.
And so, unlike many happily ever afters, XMPie most certainly has contributed its fair share to this one.
By Larry Zusman, worldwide marketing manager, XMPie, A Xerox Company
Although I spent most of my time the past few days in the XMPie booth at the DMA Annual Conference and Exhibition demonstrating our new Video Personalization solution as another component of integrated cross-media marketing, I also got the chance to walk around and network with many attending marketing professionals. Here are my observations.
It seems quite clear that print, email, Web, mobile, and even voice technologies are becoming so advanced, that they are becoming somewhat inconsequential. What I mean is that with untold numbers of companies involved in what could be defined as the “Cross-Media Marketing Landscape,” the real differentiators must come from more than just the technology.
As I walked around the show, it appeared at first glance that everyone is doing exactly the same thing. But, of course, that is not the case, as those that have flourished must be offering some type of unique selling proposition to their customers. The trick to finding what is inside their hat, so to speak, is to look for that magical formula for success. I believe that with most firms, in addition to them having the perfect solution to create relevance in their cross-media marketing, their unique value lies within the data strategy, gathering, and intelligence behind these communications. Those thriving are more than just cross-media marketing companies that can use variable data, images, graphics, and video. Rather, these are firms that have perfected the capture and analysis of data to understand the who, what, where, and most important, why of purchase behavior – past, present and future.
Through using this intelligence to drive integrated cross-media marketing campaigns with relevant print, email, Web, mobile, and now video content, these messages can break through the usual marketing clutter and evoke response and action. In short, it is the data that drives the decision. For those involved in cross-media marketing, it illuminates the need to develop campaigns that capture critical customer information, use it to generate highly-individualized communications, and track and analyze the results for optimal ROI.
Another important observation is that technologies must be viewed on a continuum of marketing tools. Clearly they are evolving at a never before anticipated pace, and as such, the value of the technology is much more important than the details. For example, lots of companies are using QR codes for their campaigns – they are an excellent tool for linking print to personal mobile sites (PURLs) – but it’s more important to view this “category” as technologies that bridge offline and online communications. By looking at it this way, you can leverage the concept with a wide selection of technology choices. For example, with the rise in mobile, voice systems and geo-location systems can also be used to bridge various modes of communications and can be factored into the cross-media mix.
DMA2011 had many themes, but perhaps the one that rang out the loudest, and was the main focus of Xerox CMO Christa Carone’s keynote speech on Sunday, is this: the world of direct marketing as we know it is morphing into something very different, in which all forms of media will become more convergent, direct, relevant, and in fact, intimate. What is most important for us all to remember is that as technology advances, and ways to communicate are introduced that we have not even dreamed about, the same marketing strategy will always remain – the more customers we can reach with content that grabs their attention, gets understood, and generates a positive response, the more we will sell, grow and profit.
By Christine Winter, PR/marketing programs manager, XMPie, A Xerox Company
I can’t believe I’ll be packing my bags tonight and heading to Chicago in the morning to attend the largest graphic communications exhibition and conference of the year. It seems like just yesterday (so cliché, I know) that I was shipping everything back to the office from GRAPH EXPO 2010 – the first tradeshow I had ever attended. But, it’s true; here we are again, and I must say I feel a little more prepared and a little less nervous this time around.
Just barely entering my second year at XMPie, I’ll be at the front desk in the XMPie section of Xerox booth #400 – ready to welcome you (with a big smile on my face if I’ve had enough coffee) and point you in the direction of live product demonstrations on all the latest versions of our state-of-the-art software solutions for variable data printing (VDP), integrated cross-media communications, and personalized Web-to-print. And if you’re interested in attending a presentation by one of our XMPie experts, partners or customers in the “Advantage Theater,” I’ll sign you right up and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a great prize at the close of the “show.”
Or, if you’re more interested in learning about the vision of XMPie and real customer success stories, I’ll show you to the QR code-driven Individualized Communications Management (ICM) wall where you can watch a slideshow and browse and obtain XMPie case studies in a wide variety of markets.
Plus, if you haven’t done so already, we’ll even have a self-serve kiosk inside the XMPie booth where you are invited to create your very own personalized Chicago 1:1 Dining Guide – brought to you by The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau and GRAPH EXPO 2011, and powered by XMPie. Based on your cuisine preferences, your guide will include some superb restaurant recommendations and fun facts about The Windy City! It’s fun, easy, FREE, and will only take you a few seconds.
But what I’m excited about most of all is a brand new solution we’ll be introducing and demonstrating – XMPie uVideo™! It’s the first-ever cinematic-quality video personalization solution that is fully-integrated within a complete 1:1 multi-channel platform, PersonalEffect®, and leverages Adobe® After Effects®. We’re talking personalized video with personalized text…personalized images…even personalized video inside personalized video! Don’t miss this opportunity to see it live for the first time in our booth (or if you can’t make it to the show, get a sneak peak here).
See you in Chicago!
By Larry Zusman, worldwide marketing manager, XMPie, A Xerox Company
We’ve talked about QR codes a couple different times on this blog already, but I’m sure this is just the beginning. The fact is they are everywhere! At PODi AppForum 2011, they “popped up” all over the place – in the general session with Tissot watches, showcase applications, and many PODi Best Practice Case Studies. In almost all cases, the codes accessed mobile sites that not only provided personalized content, but also further identified customer interests through survey questions.
XMPie, together with PODi, used QR codes to implement an exciting QR Code Challenge Contest for an Apple iPad – a new way to engage and interact with attendees. Contestants used their smart phones to access websites with the answers to some difficult questions from the latest Caslon research studies on 1:1 cross-media marketing.
Most interesting was the metrics on participation – over 30% of eligible attendees (sponsors were not allowed to play) participated in the contest, and close to 74% completed all the questions. Plus, approximately 20% accessed the XMPie online video describing how XMPie offers the unique advantage of data consistency in QR code campaigns. How do we know? The XMPie system allowed us to track every event and action for each person that participated, since they were entered into a database upon registration.
What’s next? Surely we will see QR codes on a wide variety of media, including direct mail, magazines, newspapers and catalogs. For service providers that know how to create and use them for campaigns, they offer new sources of revenue and profit. And for advertisers who need to get their message out and learn more about the psychographics of their target audience, these codes can unlock the key to finding out what customers think, feel, and more important, want to buy. Soon, mobile phones will do more, and most likely so will these amazing 2D barcodes that contain secret links to content created just for you.
How are you using QR codes? Have they helped improve your campaign response rates? Did you participate in the QR Code Challenge Contest at PODi AppForum 2011? What did you think? We want to know!
By Christine Winter, PR/marketing programs manager
You’ve probably heard the mantra “we live in a world where we are bombarded daily with irrelevant and generic data, messages and information.” And by now, you’ve probably heard that embedding personalized images and URLs (PURLs) into your targeted marketing campaigns can help you cut through the clutter and generate a higher response.
While all of that remains true, marketers – and the service providers that support them – must continue to adapt to the ever-changing marketing culture across print and new media. In today’s mobile society, that means the integration of such digital technology as quick response (QR) codes within traditional direct mail pieces. And this trend is gaining major momentum.
So, what is this technology? What marketing goals do they meet? Why should you include them in your marketing? Here’s what we think.
To be literal, QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that have significantly greater storage than that of a traditional barcode. They were originally used for tracking parts by vehicle manufacturers, but are now quickly gaining popularity with the mobile phone industry. When incorporated into one-to-one marketing communications, smartphone users can scan and decode them with a QR code reader to be automatically linked to websites, pictures, videos, product reviews, social media sites, etc. For print providers, they offer a unique way to use the print component to drive a response through other media and continue the conversation.
So, okay, you’ve heard all this. But what you might not have known is that XMPie makes generating QR codes within one-to-one marketing communication pieces a breeze. We have customers using them already to direct recipients of their direct mail pieces to PURLs – what we like to call response URLs™ (RURLs) – videos, and even dynamic maps. And they are seeing results, which they attest to the fact that scanning a code to get to a website is much easier than typing the address in a mobile browser, for example.
The XMPie Advantage
When creating personalized QR codes, XMPie and its Automatic Dynamic Object Replacement (ADOR) technology has a unique edge over other technology providers. This is because with XMPie software, you never have to worry about the information in the QR code (i.e. Jane Doe’s contact information) matching the information in the personalized communication piece on which it was included (i.e. Jane Doe’s business card). Consistency between the QR code and its context is automatic because XMPie encodes and images a QR code in the same step, leaving no room for mistakes in selecting the code image for a given individual.
This differs from non-XMPie solutions in that many times the creation of a QR code image and the coding of the image are done by separate tools. The room for errors in selecting the wrong image is wide open, and the process coordination investments in order to minimize these types of errors are very high. Hence, with XMPie, a match is effortless – it’s just built in – and creating QR codes is really simple and reliable.
Just Five Easy Steps
Process for Creating QR Codes in XMPie
- Open static art in InDesign
- Link to data source
- Create a new Content Object (information to be encoded into code can be a combination of static text and variable text)
- Create a graphic box on the design where the QR Code will go
- Select the new graphic box and double click the Content Object to link the two together
The bottom line? QR codes are soon-to-be-everywhere, and they make it easier for your customers to access the information you want them to respond to. And let’s not forget that with XMPie, you can actually track QR codes just like any other event or action in a campaign. So, yes, you should include them in your marketing. It’s as easy as X-M-Pie. Cheesy, I know.
Check out the previous blog post by David Baldaro for an example of a campaign XMPie executed using QR codes, and stay tuned for more on this very fascinating technology.
By David Baldaro, Sales and Channel Manager, UK, Ireland & Middle East
As the excitement for this year’s mediaPro Expo in London built, we needed a new, innovative cross-media campaign to help demonstrate XMPie’s capabilities to attendees. Last year we came up with the ground-breaking Twitter campaign that got people talking, so we had big shoes to fill!
After a lot of thought and discussion, we settled on a location-based game to attract customers to the XMPie stand. FourSquare integration was one interesting concept, but that was limited in such a small area like an exhibition hall. Using QR codes, on the other hand, was an enticing thought. QR codes are in the minds of many advertising and marketing executives, so we used them to build the mediaPro 2010 lead-generating campaign with a gaming edge.
Leading with an iPad as an incentive, 15 different QR codes, each configured with its own point value, were created and placed in different locations around the venue—on posters, vinyl banners, exhibition supplements, postcards, and even on t-shirts worn by staff members! Some QR codes were loaded with more points than others, like the one that could be found at the XMPie presentation on the second day of the expo. Obviously we wanted people to come to the presentation, so a massive 1,000 points were up for grabs there!
The first time a gamer scanned a code, we brought them into a mobile site with instructions and a form for capturing their information (name, company name, e-mail and mobile number). Once registered, the points associated with the QR code they scanned were allocated to their account. So, the more QR codes that a gamer scanned, the more points they received, and the better the chance they had of winning the coveted iPad!
More points could also be earned by answering additional questions on the mobile site. Unsurprisingly, the questions were all relevant to our needs and weighted according to the questions that we really needed answered. Each gamer could also check their standing on the live leader board on the site, or on the screen that we had in the exhibition stand. They could also see that more points were available; they just needed to find the additional QR codes.
It was great to see gamers chasing the staff with campaign t-shirts around the venue, hunting for QR codes and coming to the stand to ask about the campaign and XMPie. For us, it was an autonomous campaign—once it started it just ran. We needed to do nothing other than monitor the leader board and check that everything was working. Some gamers even made the return visit on the second day just to get the points at the XMPie presentation. People loved the gaming aspect and the way the campaign was executed.
The result was happy gamers, especially the winner, and a database of potential leads and new information for us to follow-up on. Max Cottle won the iPad at mediaPro with a total of 7,450 points!!
Cross-media campaigns do not have to conform to traditional mediums like print, e-mail, Web and mobile. Innovative campaigns involve different technologies dependant on the audience that they will be engaging. We did not need any personalized print within this campaign, so we stuck to mobile RURLs, e-mails and SMS communications. After all, this was a campaign focused on the mobile and connected audience.
QR codes are a great tool and offer a huge potential to marketers, once they understand that a QR code is not just there to bring a recipient to a mobile website. Someone scanning a QR code is initiating a response, raising a flag, and showing that they are interested. Don’t waste that opportunity by bringing them into a static mobile site. Every QR code potentially has a ‘location’ assigned to it; be it next to a printed product advertisement or a physical location on a map, this is relevant data that should not be ignored by the marketer. Use it! It can add much needed relevance and start a conversation.
In our campaign, a QR code had a location, a marketing message, and a point value. All three of these aspects came into play when someone scanned the code. We referenced the location, spoke about the marketing message and awarded the correct points. Each QR code scanned, along with each interaction, was tracked via the XMPie uProduce Marketing Console so we could see what interaction was happening in real-time. Some people believe that QR codes cannot be tracked easily. This is not the case. By using QR codes within a cross-media campaign, you can track and engage people on a whole new level. We did it, how can you?