QR Codes: When, Where, Why & How

QR Codes When, Where, Why & HowLast week I posted an introduction to QR codes inspired by a whitepaper from GetResponse. Today, I thought we might consider the when, where, why and how of applying QR codes.



A camera equipped smartphone which has the right reading software installed can scan these codes in an instant and then do such things as:

  • Load a webpage
  • Contact info
  • Send an SMS
  • Provide Geo location
  • Register for a contest
  • Sign up for your newsletter
  • Follow a link to a web page
  • Play a YouTube video
  • Like a fan page on Facebook
  • Add a calendar event
  • Wifi network login

It’s a pretty cool way to convey some basic information quickly and easily. Chances may be better today that someone has a smartphone in their pocket rather than a pen, so allowing them to scan GEO location info or even an address and phone number from a billboard or print advertisement is convenient.

Size, location and how the QR code is integrated into your material are key considerations. Obviously you want people to notice the code so they’ll scan it, but not make it so overpowering that it dominates or distracts from other elements.

QR codes are still a novelty, but don’t go over the top with them. Try to use them in a way which saves someone effort and time. Again, think about the fact that it’s likely easier to find a phone in a purse or pocket than a pen and paper. What relevant information can you convey via QR code which will save someone a little hassle?

If you’re going to use QR codes consider that there are probably two things which really attract a mobile phone user to scan them:

  1. Convenience – scanning a QR code is certainly easier than typing something in or writing it down.
  2. Surprise/novelty factor – It’s that Easter egg effect and you should have something fun and worthwhile in the egg to reward them.

Remember, you’re asking people to reach into pocket or purse and snap a picture of the code to initiate an action. Don’t disappoint them! Give them something for the effort! Send them to your newsletter sign-up page and then let them download a discount coupon.

It may seem a bit redundant to put a QR code into an email. These codes appear to be best suited to connect the non-digital world via smartphones. Of course, there’s also a convenience factor in being able to quickly scan info into your phone from a website or email. However or wherever you use the codes, convenience and creativity should be guiding principles.

If you are still wondering about what QR codes are and how they work, the best way to reduce any confusion would be to try creating some. Here are three free QR code generators you can use:

    A nice simple generator
  • Zxing
    Easy to use with more abilities such as Geo location and WiFi
  • Beqrious
    Another good generator which also allows you to easily create QR codes linking to social media profiles and allows you to include graphics with the code image.

I think you can get pretty creative with QR codes so long as you don’t forget the main purpose is convenience for the user. If you do take the novelty approach, make sure you always reward someone for their time and effort.

Mind Your Marketing Manners! Say Thank You!

Marketing manners matter!

Mind Your Marketing Manners: Say Thank You!Unless you were raised by wolves in the wild, at some point you’ve learned it is polite to say “Thank You”.  Not only is it proper etiquette, it’s just downright considerate and gracious.  Yet for marketers, saying thank you is about much more than just being polite.  If you’re in the business of building lasting, loyal customer relationships (and if you’re not, please question why you’re bothering to be in business at all ) it’s an essential practice that pays both monetary and good will dividends.  Without it, you’re both at greater risk of customer flight and a sitting duck for the competition.

If you don’t already have a “thank you” process in place, it’s easy to begin one.  I suggest matching the format of the initial thank-you message to the channel in which someone first did business with you, then expanding that over time.

For example, did someone purchase from you online? If so, email them a thank you with an offer to re-visit or purchase again, ideally with a coupon or free gift to entice them into action soon. Did they buy in your store or office? Postal mail them a thank-you follow-up.  Did they do business with you at a conference, fair or trade show? Email and mail them an invitation to engage with you at either your physical place of business, your online storefront, or both.  And keep the follow-ups coming.

It should be obvious that the thank-you, and other conversational greetings like acknowledging birthdays, holidays and anniversaries, becomes a legitimate reason to reach and talk to customers that is distinctly different in feel than the ever-present invitation to buy, buy, buy.  It makes you approachable, grateful and personal.  Remember, people don’t buy from brands; people buy from people. Adding thank-yous into your marketing illuminates the human side of your brand.

Over time, the greater the variety of media you use to communicate with your customers, the more engaged they will be.  Follow-up emails with a postal mailing; integrate email and social media connections with direct mail, catalogs and phone calls.

Acknowledging the action you asked for is as important, if not more so, as asking for it in the first place.  Always thank promptly, but also show gratitude when it’s not expected (like at Thanksgiving, or at any other appropriate juncture when it will surprise and delight).  When you integrate thank-you messages into your customer communication stream, you won’t be thought of as the friend who only calls when she needs something.  You’ll instead be considered, and appreciated, for taking the time to be sincere – and human!

Since I certainly couldn’t claim to provide enlightened anything without practicing what I preach, thank you for reading.  Tell me, how do you thank your customers today and what has this article inspired you to do differently in the future?

Manners matter in social media too! Check out a post on that very subject by Michael Gutelli @ SocialmarketingForum.net