QR CODES ARE EVERYWHERE!
I remember first hearing about QR codes a few years ago, when a client of mine asked me if I could incorporate one into their newsletter. At the time I didn’t really think much of them. I had and smartphone, but wasn’t using a bar code scanner and didn’t really know of anyone that was. However, the client wanted it and I was interested in seeing the results, so I had it added to the newsletter. The newsletter went out to roughly 80,000 people. After a week I went back and looked at the data and only 3 people visited the site via the QR code, which further added to my dismissal of them.
Fast-forward to about a year ago. I was at a friend’s house for a dinner party and my friend was asking us if anyone knew how much a bottle of Joseph Phelps Cabernet, that she received from her boss, was worth. After a few educated guesses, one of her friends pulled out his iPhone and scanned the bar code. It pulled up a page with a list of prices from different online retailers and links to actually purchase the bottle (the price was around $80 btw). I was amazed! I of course asked for the name of the app and downloaded it onto my iPhone. This was the turning point for me and for weeks I scanned hundreds of bar codes including many QR codes.
I was now personally using a bar code reader and started noticing QR codes all over the place. I even incorporated them into a few pieces of advertising over the past year, but the results were still fairly minimal. Nonetheless, I had now seen a glimpse of the future and knew these were going to be big. At ShopLine we even added QR code advertising to our ecommerce marketing services.
Then a couple weeks ago I saw the following viral video…
The Future of QR codes
Wow! Now this is some good use of QR codes! It really made me look at them in a whole new way. I now see a future where every advertisement, every catalog, every product that requires replacement, etc has a QR code. I see a future where you walk by a billboard of a pair of shoes and in the corner is a QR code that takes you directly to an order page with a 10% discount that you only get for scanning the code. A future where you are flipping though a furniture catalog and next to every item there is a QR code that when scanned automatically adds that item to your shopping cart. Where you pull out your empty ink cartridge and printed on the side of it is a QR code that takes you directly to a page where you can order a refill. Its the future and I don’t think it is that far away.
Examples of QR Codes
Now that I have shared with you my vision of QR codes in the future, lets discuss the here and now and the reason why I started this post with “QR CODES ARE EVERYWHERE!”. A couple days ago I decided to write this post and wanted to find a few examples of QR codes currently being used. Now maybe it was because I was looking for them or maybe it was just the universe giving me some good material for my post, but they started popping up everywhere!
First thing I noticed was my at&t bill. It now had a QR code posted right on front of the envelope. I even went back and looked at my last bill from them and it didn’t have one.
When you scan the code it takes you to the following login screen.
The next thing I noticed was an ad from Tuesday Morning.
And when scanned it take you to a mobile shopping page.
After that I came across a mailer from the US House of Representatives labeled “Annual Report to Taxpayers” and on the back was a QR code that read “Scan this QR code and connect to Congressman John Campbell”.
However, unfortunately it wouldn’t scan. I think it was because the code had a scuff mark going through it.
Then next piece of mail I picked up was the PennySaver. And would you believe it, it also had a QR code right there on the top right corner (arguable some of the most valuable space on the page).
And when scanned it pulls up a search screen that ask you to input your location.
Then underneath the PennySaver was a magazine from TigerDirect.com and on the bottom right was… guess what? A QR Code!
When you scan the code instead of taking you directly to a webpage it takes you to the following page, which is just a display of the the URL they want you to visit. So either someone doesn’t really know how to create a QR code or they wanted you to see there URL before they sent you to the page.
Then when you click on the URL it takes you to…
After going through my mail I layed down on my couch and started filpping thought my Popular Science Magazine when I saw a really cool QR code from RadioShack.
And when scanned it takes you to the following page…
Which contains a youtube video that talks about the creation of the QR code.
QR Code Usage
Well as you can see from all the QR codes above, just getting the main just one day I was bombarded with QR codes. They certainly are popping up everywhere, but how much are they really getting used? The only QR code from the list above that we can kind of get an idea of usage is the RadioShack add, because it take you to youtube video. While there is no way I can tell what the exposure this add has had, I know that the add was in Popular Science and I can see that the video was uploaded on June 29, 2011 and as of today has less than 4,000 views. If this is any indication of QR code usage it shows that they still have a way to go before they become highly used, but if their recent adaptation into marketing material is any indication, I expect that they will become much more used in the near future.
I also saw an interesting infographic from lab42 that shows some interesting facts about QR codes.
QR codes are a great bridge between offline and online and adding one to your offline marketing materials is almost effortless, especially if you already have a mobile version of your site. I would recommend adding a QR code to all of your offline marketing materials.
Note: If anyone reading this post has actually QR code usage results from a campaign they have been a part of, would you please share your findings with us in comment below.