QR Codes

Marketers are always looking for new ways to leverage print, gather customer information, create more targeted, meaningful promotions and reduce costs.  Tri-Lakes Printing is on the leading edge of today’s technology.  We can manage data bases of customer information, produce relevant customized printed pieces, integrate the internet with print and provide reporting mechanisms to show ROI.  QR Codes are one of the tools that allows us to do this.  Adding a QR Code to your printed piece extends the value of that piece.  If you have very little space to get your message across, adding a QR Code can help to add valuable information in a limited space such as a video, coupon or link to a web site.   

What is a QR Code?  QR is short for Quick Response and they are intended to be read at high speeds by mobile devices. The QR code is a call to action that can be added to any printed piece and has the ability to make print more interactive.   20% of the US population has a smartphone.  The number of times the internet is accessed by a phone has doubled in the past year.

Advantages are:

  • They allow marketers to connect.  Eliminating the need to type in a long URL addresses into their smartphone browser, a QR code enables consumers to quickly and easily scan and connect to the information they want to see.
  • They can be personalized.  Individual codes can be generated from a database of names and linked to a PURL, giving the consumer an even more personal experience. 
  • They are viral.  QR codes facilitate and encourage people to pass along a marketing message that can be easily forwarded to others via their smartphone or computer.
  • They convert.  QR codes turn passive readers into active participants through the use of online surveys, PURLs, coupons, making purchases via m-commerce sites, or geolocation information to direct consumers to the point of the event or sale.
  • They can be tracked.  Marketers can access and see daily (and hourly) how many people have scanned the QR code and where it was scanned.  This is particularly interesting because printed material is often passed along from person to person.  Marketers will be able to track how far reaching their printed promotion has had an impact.

This information was gathered from Joseph Marin, Senior Analyst, Digital Technologies with the Printing Industries of America and The Digital Print Council.

As mentioned above, marketers are looking for innovative ways to engage the consumer.  A QR code is a very powerful tool because it extends the value of the printed page.  Consider an 8.5 x 11 ad in a publication.  The marketer has very limited space available to convey their message.  But, add a QR code that links to a URL with videos of a product, a coupon, or more detailed information, and that printed ad suddenly has much more value without incurring any additional print-related costs. 

QR codes are more than just simply adding a barcode to a printed material.  Considerations have to be made with regard to size, design, and mobile requirements.  Here are a few important key points to keep in mind when integrating QR codes with prints:

QR Code Checklist:

  • Link to content that matters. QR codes are all about engagement and added value, so it's important to link to information that the consumer will find engaging (a product video) or valuable (a coupon).  Linking to your home page is an example that probably will not add value.
  • Link to a mobile site.  Many QR codes that have been deployed in a campaign link to a website that is meant to be viewed on a computer display.  Since most QR codes are scanned on mobile devices, make sure that the website has been optimized for mobile viewing.
  • Track usage.  Use different codes based on the product being printed within the campaign even if the intention is to link to the same website.  This allows marketers to track usage by media placement.
  • Provide instructions on how to use them.  Although there is tremendous growth in the use of QR codes, don't assume that everyone knows what they are.  Adding a short tagline in proximity of the QR code on how to use it is recommended.

Make sure they work.  QR codes must have a minimum size requirement and minimum amount of white space around them to be read properly.  Test the codes to be sure that they can be read by different reader applications and phones after they are integrated with the final printed piece.  In short, test, test and test the QR code.
Size matters.  Remember, the more characters that must be embedded in the QR code, the more complicated the AR code image will be.  Shorten the URL and simplify to create a more compact QR code image that is easier for smartphones to read.

When you look at the market segment of individuals who own smartphones, they represent very high value prospects for marketers.  They are technically savvy consumers who want to interact with QR codes.  As the smartphone market continues to grow, the use of QR codes will also continue to grow.

This information was gathered from Joseph Marin, Senior Analyst, Digital Technologies with the Printing Industries of America and The Digital Print Council.

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