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 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 Judy Berlin, director of Worldwide Marketing, XMPie, A Xerox Company
The Internet and mobile communications through smartphones, and ever-more-popular Apple iPads and tablet computers, are altering the landscape of the commerce world. Add social media to the mix and one can see a dramatic empowerment of the individual to influence brands in both positive and negative ways. We also know that customers today are more inclined to use the Web to research and evaluate products and services through mobile and online networks, and this increased role of e-media in the buying process is taking place across all industries.
Does all this mean that print is no longer relevant?
As the director of Worldwide Marketing at XMPie, A Xerox Company, I often receive promotional mail pieces from a variety of sources. The other day, Arie, our IT manager, handed me a mail piece he had received from a most surprising source. Google – the icon of advertising in the online world – sent me a printed coupon with an offer of 200 shekels off a Google Adwords campaign for our company website. Now, if you think about it, despite the fact that Google has a relatively easy-to-implement means of getting their message to us online, they chose to also send a traditional mail piece with a pretty good offer. This is because Google cleverly understands the value of print.
Research shows that print is still a vital component, and when included in an integrated, one-to-one cross-media marketing campaign, it is a force multiplier that generates much better results. In fact, according to Infotrends, marketers today understand this and will, on average, utilize at least three different media types for their campaigns – including print. The winning combination consists of a print component, email, and personalized landing pages, and actually proves to be the most profitable.
Mastering the technologies around online components of a marketing campaign is definitely important, but the value of print as a driving media channel should not be ignored. As mobile and social communications become ever more prevalent and accepted in modern marketing tactics, marketers and their service providers that can reach customers with the right personalized message, using the preferred media channels, including print, will win.
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.