Making Room in Your Ecosystem for QR Codes

Just like your business cards, flyers, IDX website, and ‘For Sale’ signs, Quick Response (QR) codes are a key piece of the complete real estate marketing ecosystem.    Since the demand for mobile-optimized information has reached a new peak, (driven by a generation of tech-savvy first-time homebuyers) the effective marketer will make sure to utilize QR alongside traditional media and other mobile marketing tools.

While some may view America’s adoption of QR codes as a hurdle, it is, in fact, an opportunity.  According to a 2010 trend report from ScanLife, 40% of all U.S. smartphone users have downloaded an app to scan 2D barcodes.  While we’re not quite at Japan’s level of adoption yet (where barcode software is hard-coded into 65% of mobile phones), ScanLife also reports a 1600% increase in U.S. barcode scanning throughout 2010.

Unfortunately for the U.S., some early QR practitioners have not fully honed their marketing for the mobile channel.  Since a bad experience inhibits consumer adoption, here are a few tips for your QR code campaign:

1.  Optimize for Mobile

  • First and foremost, the destination behind a QR code must be mobile-ready.  Since QR technology is mobile-focused, consumers are going to expect that whatever website or landing page they are being directed to will appear pre-formatted for their handheld device.  If it doesn’t, the effectiveness of the mobile interaction is nullified.  To ensure effectiveness, make your landing page easy to interact with across all mobile devices.

2.  Reward

  • Just like any other marketing medium, the consumer needs to be rewarded for their troubles.  Mobile users who scan QR codes are expecting a payoff, and it needs to be more than they are left with had they not scanned the code.  Successful marketers have been providing rewards in the form of coupons, special offers, or even just additional information.  As long as the QR code is a gateway to a new experience, consumers will always want to see what they are missing.

3.  Use in A Complete Marketing Ecosystem

  • In a previous post we discussed the marketing ecosystem – the concept of utilizing various and distinctly separate marketing mediums to create a network with a single message.  Part of maintaining a successful ecosystem is adopting avant-garde technology and blending it with existing tools.  In this case, adopting QR code technology and merging it with SMS (text message), mobile web, email, and phone.

Critics of QR technology in the U.S. say it will soon be replaced by augmented reality, if the slow rate of adoption doesn’t twist the knife first.  Based on the numbers we see from ScanLife in regards to adoption we know that this is simply not true – usage is on the rise, and the current climate is a great opportunity for professionals looking to stand above their competitors by correctly implementing a technology that consumers demand. Unfortunately for augmented reality, results are limited by the aggregator and not driven by a personalized marketing plan.  In advertising terms, augmented reality is “inch-deep, mile-wide marketing”, a powerful tool in its own right but one that does not compete with QR’s ability to literally pull users into your marketing.

If we have learned anything from the thoroughly-critiqued adoption of technologies such as Twitter and SMS, then we know that the negative feedback typically comes from those who are using the medium incorrectly.  By implementing the proven methods discussed above, however, Quick Response codes can be a flexible, relevant, and valuable part of your complete marketing ecosystem.