Service Providers

QR Codes: Effective marketing tool or just another gimmick?

Recently, I’ve seen a noticeable increase in the adoption of QR code marketing. QR codes are appearing on just about anything now, from yard signs to business cards. Whenever I have the opportunity, I scan QR codes just to see how marketers are using them. Oftentimes I am presented with a general link to a website page with little to no reward for the user scanning the barcode. I’ve even scanned a QR code on a website only to be presented with a link to the home page of the very same site. So, are QR codes just the latest marketing gimmick, or is there a real benefit to marketers and the audience they are trying to reach?

Quick response (QR) codes, two-dimensional barcodes, are relatively new in the United States. The technology was developed in Japan and has been used there for over a decade already. Unlike a one-dimensional barcode that can hold up to 20 numerical digits, QR codes can hold thousands of alphanumerical characters. Seems like a potentially powerful tool for a marketer’s toolbox.

QR code scanning has increased by 1,400 percent since the third quarter of 2010. Seventy-eight percent of users are scanning for coupons, giveaways, discounts and product information.

There are many sites that can be used to create free QR codes. Some sites offer an upgraded package that will include tracking data for the codes.

The key to using QR codes successfully is to understand the consumer’s expectation of instant results upon scanning the code. They don’t want to link to a website, especially a site which is not mobile enabled and then have to click around to obtain the right information. A dealership could effectively use a QR code as a link from a hangtag to a video of the vehicle. Consumers who scan the QR code would then have that link saved on their phones for viewing after they’ve left your dealership. They may also share the video with friends on Facebook and Twitter, increasing awareness of your dealership and the vehicles you carry.

QR codes can also be used as links to contests, coupons or giveaways. They can also provide direct access to vehicle product information. Facebook fans can be increased by adding a QR code link from an event poster to the dealership’s Facebook page.

When you begin to use QR codes on your dealership’s marketing material, educate your staff on their uses. QR codes are still relatively new to many consumers, so it is also helpful to add instructions for use near the QR code.
Once you’ve set-up your QR code, test it before putting it into use to ensure it works properly when scanned. Place QR codes on advertising where they are easily seen. If used on banners or displays, QR codes should be placed at eye or arm level. Avoid using QR codes to link to sites that are not mobile enabled or to locations that offer no value to your customers.

QR codes, if used effectively, can become a valuable addition to your dealership’s marketing tool box.

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