Of late, there has been a marked increase in QR codes conforming with the basic guidelines of how to make QR codes work. As a result, close to 50% of QR codes we’ve come across in the last 2-3 months work – as in they can be scanned successfully from a variety of smartphones. For a quick recap, QR codes enable smartphone users to visit websites and landing pages, download mobile apps, add contact info directly from business cards to their phonebooks, and do lots more – all this without the hassles of typing long URLs on their smartphone’s touchscreen keyboards.
Now that scannability of QR codes seems to have reached a tipping point, let’s turn our attention to what happens next – that is, to people who’ve found enough reason to scan the codes in the first place. As marketers will agree, the CTA (Call To Action) is really the crux of the QR code based campaign. Let’s illustrate a few best practices of CTAs using the following examples from the recent past.
3M. By scanning the QR code in the ad, readers can “Like” the Facebook page of 3M’s recent “Car Care” offering with a single tap. We love this example since it represents a very simple and cost-effective way by which a company can stay in touch with potential customers who might be interested in its new product or service but are not yet ready to buy – or “nurture a lead”, as we’d say in B2B marketing. This is the type of smart responses for which we advocate the use of our QR360 SmartResponse codes. To understand the power of staying in touch, let’s take this counterexample from a new packaged tour operator that advertised heavily in newspapers a couple of months ago. In an opaque industry that is replete with horror stories of hidden costs, this startup stood out with its promise of an “all inclusive price, no conditions apply”. Its message was very appealing and we decided to contact this company when it was time for us to book a holiday package. However, when we’ve reached that point now, we’re not able to recall the name of the firm! If only this tour operator had used QR360 in the 3M-like fashion, it would’ve stayed on our radar via our Facebook newsfeed, the way 3M Care Care does.
APOLLO TYRES. Scanning the QR code takes the reader to a dedicated microsite on the advertised theme “You First”, rather than landing the reader on its home page and potentially losing him or her amidst the clutter of other things featured there. One tip: Using LBS technology, it’s possible to auto-fetch the City and State fields in the “LOCATE A DEALER” screen instead of asking the user to enter them manually.
AXIS BANK. Most ads for mobile apps on multiple operating systems provide one QR code for each OS version. While this sounds logical, this approach suffers from a fatal flaw, as we can see from this Pune Mirror ad that displays three QR codes, one each for the iOS, Android and Windows Phone versions of the “Car Unblocked” app. To fit them all within the space that’s normally meant for one code, the advertiser has had to resize them to below the recommended size (1″ x 1″). As a result, these QR codes fail to scan and the ad has gone waste. In contrast, the Axis Bank ad promotes its multi-OS mobile banking app – available on iPhone and Android – with a single QR code. Scanning this code takes the user to a landing page that auto-senses the smartphone’s operating system and automatically directs the user to the app store from where the appropriate version of the app can be downloaded with a single tap. This is a smart way of architecting a QR code based solution for downloading apps developed for multiple platforms. If you lack the technical skills to develop an auto-sensing landing page of the type used in this ad, you could contact external specialists – like us! – who will do this for you.
We’ll continue our coverage of QR code best practices in Part-2 of this post, which will be published by 6 January 2013. Watch this space!