XMPie has always been ahead of its time by promoting the use of QR codes to bridge print and digital touchpoints, but this hasn’t been matched by the marketing industry’s adoption of or the public’s use of QR codes.
The QR Code, which is readable by QR code readers and camera phones, is one of many options that marketers can use to connect their offline and online channels to offer a holistic customer experience. Other methods include NFC and Augmented Reality. QR codes can be added to any product including business cards, brochures, packaging, billboards, websites, and much more.
First designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan, QR Codes, which can encode text, URL or other data, were a way to streamline the production process. They were ahead of their time since all the consumer needed to do was scan the code with a phone to instantly reach the marketer’s desired destination.
Or at least, that was how QR codes were supposed to work. But this required a world where everyone always had mobile phones with them, where all mobiles had a camera, where an app existed to interpret the code and where the public understood what to do, and trusted the digital route along which they would be taken.
Unfortunately for the past ten years or so, the humble QR Code has been implemented poorly, confined under the control of uneducated marketers, to directing consumers to generic or inadequate webpages. They were even placed in seemingly bizarre places like on lorries, airplane banners, or next to railway tracks; places where the process of scanning them was dangerous or impossible.
Rather than harnessing its potential as a critical connector in a holistic customer experience, the QR Code had become little more than a checkbox on the marketers’ list of ‘innovation strategies’; a useless gimmick with little real-world benefit.
In recent years, marketers have started to appreciate what is possible when using QR Codes and perceptions are changing for consumers too as they are experiencing more and more applications that provide value within the customer journey.
Through the XMPie platform, marketers can create personalized QR codes for each and every recipient, on-the-fly and on-demand directly from the same data that is used to personalize the content for the recipient. Each QR Code can therefore contain a fully unique URL directing a consumer to a fully personalized landing page of website. Thus, allowing the customer to move immediate and seamlessly from print to digital in an omnichannel environment. Critically with QR codes, the consumer can act instantly when motivated by a communication piece to engage with a brand and move to the next step on their customer journey. Furthermore, the conversion is trackable and marketers can measure their ROMI and improve their campaigns for the future.
Our customers are using QR codes with personalization across many different industries for a variety of campaigns because it’s a strong marketing touch point that incentivizes the recipient to take the next step in the campaign journey. For example, Rethink CCM, an XMPie customer, used QR codes to trigger recipients to register for a retail loyalty program. Retain.me, an XMPie customer, sent out customized delivery notes along with the product received from a high-end retailer. Each delivery note included bespoke-to-the-recipient marketing content and personalized QR codes to encourage customers to share a product review online.
It’s taken a while in the West (QR codes are much more prevalent in developing nations like China and India) but the public, particularly the Xennial and Millennial generations, are realizing now that marketers are at last using QR codes appropriately with personalized incentives. Marketers today better understand how QR codes fit within the customer journey, boosting the print component and driving a response through the other channels to continue the one-to-one conversation. Recipients appreciate that there will be a benefit to them if they scan the QR code and they will receive a better customer experience.
QR Best Practice:
- Emphasize the value and give recipients a good reason to scan. Recipients don’t just want to be sent to a generic web page; they want incentives, coupons, discounts, cheaper deals and benefits.
- Deliver a consistent brand experience. For example, if your beautifully designed personalized print piece includes a QR code, make sure it’s not linked to an outdated online experience. The recipient is using his or her mobile to scan so make sure the landing page design is responsive and mobile friendly.
- Add personalization. Individualized campaigns will help deliver engaging and effective communications. The use of variable data, personalized images, personalized video and QR codes can all help drive strategic engagement.
What can you do with QR codes?
- Scan personalized coupons
- Purchase – in-app or in website purchases can be triggered
- Login to websites
- Link to sites or social accounts
- Access Wi-Fi networks with no need for passwords
- Unlock extra content
- Tweet a customized content
- Download apps
- Track attendance
- And much more…
The future of QR codes is nowhere near certain, especially taking into account the growing public awareness of NFC and AR. But now that consumers and marketers are better acquainted with its advantages, there may be an opportunity to build a new momentum and increase the prevalence of QR Codes within omnichannel campaigns to provide value for consumers.