QR Codes – your destination should not be a dead end

June 26, 2012

According to the most recent statistics, 3 bazillion QR codes are scanned every minute. (Okay, maybe I’m off by a half bazillion but you get the idea) And truth be told… most of the destinations suck.

Come on ad agencies, big brands and web gurus — stop creating QR code campaigns that drive the user into a dead end.

What do I mean by a dead end?  A destination where I get stuck.  I watch your video, look at your desktop site (come on people!) or view your print ad (seriously?) but have no where to go from there.

How do you avoid creating a dead end? Remember that marketing is a series of “next steps” so give me one to take.  Try one of these on for size:

  • Invite me to sign up for your e-newsletter
  • Give me a chance to win something worthwhile
  • Ask my opinion (let me vote, rate or comment)
  • Give me the chance to share your destination with my social networks
  • Let me request a sample
  • Offer me a coupon to download or email to myself
  • Make it possible for me to call your store/office
  • Let me do some product research
  • Entice me to buy something

If you can get me to actually scan your QR code, I must have some interest in what you have to say.  Don’t create a stunted, one-way conversation.  Give me a chance to continue the dialogue.

If we don’t start getting a whole lot smarter about the QR code campaigns we create — we’re going to train people that scanning one leads to a frustrating, unsatisfying experience.  Which means that pretty soon, they’re just going to be more noise.

Stop creating dead ends.  Instead, create a real conversation.


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Beverage start up counts on QR codes

June 23, 2011

Will we start to see QR codes on pkg goods?

Starts ups are tough…especially consumer goods start ups.  In the crowded energy drink space, you have to be pretty innovative to push beyond getting someone’s attention and converting that to a purchase.

So HYDRIVE Energy, the maker of upstart HYDRIVE Enhanced Water Energy Drinks, decided to try something different.  On two of their products  – decaf and extra strength, they’ve added a QR code.

When scanned, the QR codes take consumers to a mobile site offering a constantly changing array of wacky fitness trivia, contests, free prizes and product information.

They worked with a group of digital marketing students at Harvard Business School to create a QR code strategy for the brand. One of the things that makes this campaign unique is that when you scan the code, you’re delivered to the site which delivers fresh and varied content each time.

By offering different content with each scan, they’ve replicated the “under-the-cap” promotional experience often used in traditional soft drink marketing but in a digital way.   According to HYDRIVE’s director of marketing, their goal is to create a more interactive and intimate relationship with our product.

The HYDRIVE QR site features four sections; a changing daily trivia fact or a free prize; a monthly sweepstakes; a link to product information; and a link to Facebook. The social media component is an important strategic initiative for HYDRIVE as they continue to build it out.

You can check it out by finding the nearest location to buy a HYDRIVE Energy here or just click here to go right to the site.

What do you think — good use of QR codes?

Note:  The folks at HYDRIVE sent me a couple bottles so I could try the QR codes.
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Creating smart QR Codes

June 14, 2011

Screen shot 2011 06 14 at 11 04 38 AM
…An example of QR codes & my column

QR codes seem to be the media’s most recent marketing darling.  You’ll find lots of articles talking about how to use them, including a couple I’ve written (read here and here).  And in March, I shared Central Park’s incredible QR campaign to inspire you to give this technology a try.

Along with the various online places where you can find my marketing thoughts, I am a weekly columnist for Iowa’s business journal, the Business Record.  A few months ago, we started adding a QR code feature to my columns — to share extra resources and to demonstrate how QR codes can work.  (the screen capture is of one of my columns that has migrated from their print product to their website)

When we decided to add this feature, I decided I wanted a QR code creator that was a bit more robust than some of the free sites I’d been using.  We weren’t ready for custom shapes (check out these designs) — but I did want to know how many scans each code had and if there was a pattern to when the scans were occurring.

After reviewing many options, I am down to two choices.  The “must haves” for me were:

  • Could create a high resolution QR code (need it for the print publication and for some of our client’s work)
  • Reporting/tracking capabilities
  • Good customer support if we had questions

The first contender is QReate & Track by InterlinkONE.  They do offer a free membership/option but I opted for the $19/month version so I could get the reporting.  That reporting includes:

  • Number of scans
  • Scans by day, time and month, year etc.

Really, for most local businesses, that’s plenty unless you’re going to do some serious number crunching.  In terms of easy access for support, they have a forum, a blog and you can e-mail them your question.  They’re also here in the states so for me, that’s a time zone advantage.

The second contender is PushQR.com from the UK.  They too offer a free option but I went for the 6.99 GBP($11 something/month) because I needed to create more than 3 campaigns a month.  The big difference between the two is in the reporting.  With pushqr.com, I can track:

  • Realtime # of scans
  • Bounce rate
  • Pageviews
  • Unique scans
  • Time on page
  • What barcode reader was used
  • What type of mobile device was used
  • The geography of the scanner (down to the city)

Clearly a more robust reporting menu.  One of the other cool features to this site is the ability to set a goal.  For example,  my QR code could lead you to a landing page where I offered something for sale.  The goal URL could be the thank you page that you’d go to after making a purchase.  Now the reporting shows me not only how many hit the landing site and where else they went — but how many did what I wanted them to do — buy something.

As for support — they have a very simple online manual to answer the most basic of questions and I can open a ticket and submit a question/request to their team.

I haven’t quite landed on the best option for us at McLellan Marketing Group yet — but both of these providers have served our purposes for now but it’s hard to argue with PushQR’s in depth reporting and lower price.

How about you?  Are you creating QR codes?  How are you using them?  Do you have a favorite tool?


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Stellar QR codes example – WorldPark

March 13, 2011

I’ve been writing about and using QR codes quite a bit of late.  I think the potential of this technology is staggering and we’ve only begun to imagine what is possible.

Take a look at what New York City’s Central Park did last Arbor Day and begin to ask yourself… how could QR codes serve my customers, my employees and my business’ growth.  I suspect you’ll find some pretty fascinating answers.


If you’re wondering who in the world is actually scanning QR codes and using the links — check out this infographic.

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The NOW Revolution is here

February 21, 2011

The Now Revolution

CC Chapman showing us the cover

Here’s the mistake I made.

I picked up The Now Revolution by Amber Naslund and Jay Baer around midnight, thinking I would just flip through it to get a feel for the book and then read it this weekend.

So much for a good night’s sleep.

The book is built on the premise that the world has changed and we’d all better make some shifts in how we do business to be faster, smarter and more social.

I’m guessing most of the shifts won’t shock you.  What makes this book so valuable is that this isn’t so much an idea book as it is a DO book.  Amber and Jay offer up good case studies (fresh ones you haven’t seen 100 times), lots of extra resources and at the end of every chapter some tangible steps to take to make it happen.

Here’s how they outlined the shifts we need to make:

Make a new bedrock: Your company’s culture is more critical than ever, more exposed to the public than ever and can be a game changer if you build a good one.

Find talent you can trust: Building a team who gets it and shares your vision used to be a luxury.  Today, thanks to social media — it’s a necessity.

Organize your armies: Social media is something that will touch every aspect of your business.  You need to make sure everyone is on board, knows their role — even your agency, who may be leading your efforts or just participating.

Answer the new telephone: Remember the good old days when you weren’t on call 24/7? How do you possibly monitor all of the potential places people could be talking about you?  And how can you use this new expectation of instant access as a customer service bonus?

Emphasize response-ability: Who will respond?  How will they respond?  How can you make sure they respond in your brand’s voice? How do you arm your team with the resources so they can respond?  How quickly do you have to respond?  Lots of questions and this chapter has some answers.

Build a fire extinguisher: Okay, now you’re listening but what do you do get ready to respond if someone says something negative? This is crisis communication planning (on both the macro and micro level) for the 21st century.

Make a calculator: It doesn’t make sense to do something if you have no idea whether or not it’s working.  So measure.  And monitor.  The trick is — give it time to work.  This isn’t magic.  It’s marketing.

My one disappointment is that they took a very cool idea — added QR codes throughout the book to give readers even more resources and made it annoying.  Rather than using generic QR codes so that everyone could just use whatever scanner they already had on their smart phone — they opted to use a specific tag made by Microsoft which required me to add another app to my phone.

Bottom line for me — this is a very good read.  Pick up a copy today (Amazon affiliate link).

Or…. tell me which of the 7 shifts you think would be the most difficult (and why) and you could win a copy of the book!  I have 3 copies to give away.  (I’ll draw commenters names at random.)

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