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In a previous article, How Real Estate Agents Can Benefit from Mobile Marketing, I touched on a cutting-edge marketing tool called QR codes. Short for Quick Response, QR codes are a type of matrix barcode that can be used to store large amounts of data. The technology was first developed for the automotive industry, but has found its way into mainstream society.
Much of the popularity of QR codes can be attributed to the rise of smartphones. With the right app, smartphone owners can read the data contained in a QR code. In the article I wrote, I suggested that real estate agents use these codes on their For Sale signs to provide potential homebuyers with additional details about the homes they are looking at. However, other industries can use the codes in a number of ways:
Business Uses of QR Codes
* Retailers can add the code to magazine advertisements that, once scanned, will take readers directly to a web page where they can buy the product.
* Cafes can provide a way for customers to check-in with Foursquare and other social networks whenever they visit the shop.
* Insurance agents can place a QR code on the back of their business card that will take the person to an insurance quote web page.
* Tech-forward businesses can allow customers to pay for their purchases by scanning a QR code.
* Funeral homes can use QR codes to create dynamic memorials for people who have passed on.
While QR codes can be used in an infinite number of ways, the real question is whether or not your company needs to start using them. The answer? Absolutely!
Seamless Integration is the Future with QR Codes
The Internet has become deeply integrated into the fabric of society. However, there is still a certain amount of disconnect between the two. A woman who sees a sweater in a magazine that she likes will have to stop what she is doing to find an access point to the Internet. Once on the Internet, she will have to search for the closest place that sells the sweater or find a website with the lowest price and go through the checkout process to buy it. That disconnect, though, is slowly dissolving thanks in part to QR codes and smartphones.
Using the right apps, a person can set up their smartphone with their banking information, location, and product search preferences. Now when that same woman finds a sweater she likes in a magazine, she can scan the accompanying QR code and have it shipped to her home with just a few clicks. If you think this type of integration is still far off into the future, consider this.
Tesco is quickly rising to become the #1 grocery store in Korea because of their smart use of QR codes. Realizing that Koreans are too busy working to go grocery shopping, the company set up a virtual grocery store in a subway. Using their smartphones, people can scan the products they want, pay for them online, and have the groceries waiting for them by the time they get home. While there are still a few kinks being worked out, the service has quickly become very popular in the country.
Getting Started with QR Codes
* Decide what you want the QR code to do – Think of how you can improve the customer service experience with QR codes. For example, you can place a code on electronic merchandise that will take customers to a tech support channel.
* Determine the best place to display the code – The QR code can be placed on any surface that can be scanned. However, where you place it should be tied to what you want the code to do. If you want it be a check-in point for customers, for example, then placing the code in a store window or at the check-out stand are good places.
* Market the code – Since these codes are still fairly new, you will need to draw attention to them. Be sure to provide an incentive to your customers to use them. Give a coupon, for instance, to people who check-in to Foursquare using the QR code.
* Track your results – Like any other marketing you do, track your results to see how well the campaign is working for you. If things aren’t going well, keep experimenting until you find a strategy that produces results.
QR codes are the future. Give your company an advantage over the competition by integrating this simple technology into your business.