Mobile marketing is the newest trend to reach customers using the Internet and it is one of the first that actually generates printing. By adding a Quick Response or QR code to a printed piece, smartphone users can scan the code and instantly be sent to an Internet link. The new technology is quickly catching on and should soon be a standard practice in any marketing program.
Mobile marketing and QR codes have been around in Asia and Europe for a number of years. Any mobile phone with a Web browser and a camera can be turned into a vehicle to link to new information. The smartphone user needs a special application that scans and reads QR codes. Most of the smartphone manufacturers are now including a QR code reader as a preinstalled application.
Mobile marketing allows organizations to communicate with and engage their audience in an interactive manner through mobile devices. Smartphones are quickly becoming the “third screen” in the communication world, joining television and computer screens as a major source of information.
Studies report there are more than 45 million smartphone users in the U.S. today. That is about 20% of the mobile phone user population. By the end of 2011, that number is expected to grow, with smartphone users making up 50% of the mobile phone user population. For many of those users, the phone screen will be their primary interface with the Internet.
Marketing professionals are integrating print material with information on the Internet. For example, you could add a QR code to a brochure. When the QR code is scanned, the user would be sent to additional information residing on the Internet. The Internet information could be text, video, or audio. For instance, a product brochure might send readers to a website that includes a YouTube video on how the product works. Some QR codes send you to sites where you can actually order products, make donations, or ask for a specific download of information.
Interactive Print Opportunity
Anyone with a website is a candidate for QR codes and mobile marketing. Most businesses with websites are trying to get more eyes on their sites, and promote their websites in a variety of ways. Adding QR codes to printed material is an inexpensive way to point viewers to a website. More importantly, it will help the printed material have a greater impact on the reader.
Printers should suggest that their customers discard older marketing material and reprint new material with QR codes. Also recommend that customers review their websites to make sure they have printed collateral to push viewers toward specific pages.
Printers should already be using QR codes on their own printed information in order to direct customers toward their websites. Basic QR codes are easy to create with online QR code generators. If you want to offer more sophisticated marketing support for QR codes, there are a number of printing vendors offering QR code support and marrying the technology with personal URLs (PURLS). Mindfire, EasyPurl, Printable, and interlinkOne offer printers support for creating and tracking QR codes.
You should already be seeing QR codes. A number of magazines are including them in their advertisements so readers can get additional information quickly. USA Today has used QR codes in ads for the NFL and its website for logoed items. During the final episode of Lost, HBO promoted the new season of True Blood with the first QR code on TV. HBO hoped that viewers using DVRs would freeze the frame and scan the QR code from the screen. The code sends the viewer to a trailer for True Blood’s upcoming season. Many museums are using QR codes to send visitors to their websites for more information about exhibits and displays. Airlines are using QR codes as boarding passes. Target department stores are using QR codes to promote coupons for sales.