QR codes: marketing objectives first, tech second

Prompted by an article from Econsultancy (I’ll post the link at the end, as I want you all to keep reading!) and some recent conversations with colleagues, I felt compelled to jot down my own thoughts regarding the QR code ‘phenomenon’.

Now, of course, I place the word ‘phenomenon’ in inverted commas, because the technology has been around for several years now.  However, what has changed is the fact that more and more consumers are equipped with powerful smartphones, which, coupled with QR codes, can place information and content directly into people’s hands.

Like any new piece of digital technology cited as the ‘next big thing’, I believe that many businesses indulge in a ‘digital gold rush’, running frantically with metaphorical bucket and spade in hand to grab their piece of land.  But what a large percentage of early adopters don’t consider is that, like any aspect of digital technology’, that technology has to align with key marketing objectives.

Digital marketing is the practice of using digital technologies to market a brand / product / service.  Just because a new piece of technology comes along that is branded as a ‘game-changer’, this doesn’t mean that we should change our games.

QR codes are a fantastic way of placing information into people’s hands through smartphones, and for such a cost-effective mechanic, I can see why for many, this is an extremely attractive proposition.  But here are the considerations I believe digital marketers MUST examine if looking at implementing QR codes into their digital strategy:

* Does the content you are linking to ADD VALUE to the customer?
* Does the content / message align with your business objectives?
* Will this alienate consumers who are not digital-savvy / do not have smartphones?
* Will consumers have to change their behaviour to accommodate QR codes, or is it part of their journey?
* Is it easier for consumers to use alternative methods to access this link?

Everyone’s business, brand and service are different.  We all have different business objectives; our target demographics vary.  In 2011, there now exists an absolute plethora of digital technologies and social applications to support our digital marketing objectives.

But as with anything, our marketing objectives remain of paramount importance.  The technology is simply a supporting actor – this needs to be considered thoroughly before assigning elements like QR codes a starring role.

(Want to read the Econsultancy article on effective marketing uses of QR codes?  Scan the QR code at the top of this blog post and you’ll get there…)


4 responses to “QR codes: marketing objectives first, tech second

  1. Totally agree. QR Codes are a marketing tool and shouldn’t be relied upon as the end all be all of your marketing strategy.

    Wear QR

  2. 100% right about adding value to the customer. I have seen lots of QR code deployments that fail to do this as they merely link to a website. QR codes for me are most pervasive when the act of scanning them allows the user to add content to their device, for example contact details or a phone number. The value add is the user does not have to remember anything or tap content into their device. A QR code can even help you make a phone call without having to enter a phone number. That for me is where their value lies. They can bridge the gap between online and ‘real world’ content beautifully.

  3. Thanks for your comments chaps. Jon, I agree with everything you say. It’s about providing that ‘value’ – mobiles have always been ‘on-the-go’ tools – and from a marketing perspective, they can be utilised in this fashion – how do they add value when consumers are out and about, on the go – that’s what we need to focus on.

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