QR Code Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
1. Start with well-defined goals. Think about why you're asking someone to scan your code in the first place. What do you want them to do? Are you simply trying to increase traffic to your home page? Educate consumers about a product or service? Your business goals should determine how, when, why, and if you even use QR codes.
2. Decide if a QR code is right for your target audience. Given the young-male-skewing QR code user demographic, a QR code may not make sense for your business. For instance, if you're a real estate agent selling homes in a retiree community, plastering a big QR code on a home-for-sale sign is probably not worth the effort. However, if you're marketing a loft condo in tech-savvy San Francisco, using a QR code on the home-for-sale sign may be a good strategy.
3. Make scanning a QR code worth the effort. In order to get to the URL in a QR code, a customer must take out his or her smartphone and take a picture of the code with a QR reader smartphone app. While there are many free apps available, the customer may need to download one in order to get to the link you're promoting. That's an extra step that many potential customers aren't likely to take -- unless you give them an incentive, such as a discount coupon they can download and use right away in your store.
4. Consider printing a short URL near the QR code. Many potential customers won't have a clue what your QR code is or does, so you'll probably need to add a brief explanation as a caption to the QR code. And if space allows, you should consider adding a shortened version of the URL in the QR code, for those who don't understand QR codes or don't have a QR scanning app installed. (Services such as bit.ly let you abbreviate long URLs for free.)
5. Your QR code should link to a mobile-optimized website, rather than a standard desktop site. Sending customers to a site that doesn't display well on a smartphone isn't going to show your brand in a positive light.
6. Test the QR code using a variety of devices and QR reader apps before publishing or posting it. Each time, make sure the code takes you to the desired Web page without a hitch.
7. Use analytics to determine how your QR code marketing efforts are working. A number of free and paid Web services offer analytics to help you track how your code is performing. You can use Google Analytics to see how much traffic QR codes are driving to your site, for instance. QR code services such as QReateBUZZ, TAGO, and BeQRious offer more detailed analytics.
8. Consider cell phone signal strength when deciding where to post QR codes. To access the URL in your QR code, customer smartphones need a wireless signal. And so, a QR code within an ad on a subway platform might be ineffective if cell tower signals are weak underground.
9. Use QR codes where people are likely to have time on their hands. Does the freeway in your city typically bottleneck around the same place every weekday? If so, a QR code on a billboard at that chokepoint might be worth the investment. A QR code on a bus stop ad might also help you get attention. Some vintners are adding QR codes to their wine bottles to deliver more information about the wine to upscale restaurant patrons enjoying a leisurely meal.
10. Add your logo to your QR codes. If you or someone on your team is proficient with image editing software like Photoshop, you can implant your company logo within your QR codes, just as companies such as Adidas and Subway often do. Just be sure to test the codes to ensure they work properly.
Will Your Customers Appreciate It?
Consumers who scan QR codes are still a minority, and some experts say QR code scanning will probably never be a mainstream consumer activity. And though generating QR codes is quick and often free, that doesn't mean you should do it. Ultimately, like any marketing effort, you should be sure a QR code is something your target customers will use and appreciate.
James A. Martin writes about SEO and social media and is an SEO/social media/blogging consultant. His most recent article for Small Business Computing was "Top 10 Small Business Tips for Effective Landing Pages." Follow him on Twitter.
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