QR Codes provide the missing link between one’s offline experience, being out in the world with real life experience, and the online information systems.
A business places an ad in a magazine, a flyer into the daily newspaper or puts information into the numerous slots at a Chamber of Commerce’s visitors center. A QR code featured on the printed piece connects that business’ carefully crafted message with an action to be taken through a smartphone.
Say, for example, the business’ call-to-action might be to offer a discount on a particular item or quick order for a replacement item. A restaurant could offer meal specials and online reservations. Maybe the business wants to direct consumers to a video from the ad or flyer where it can more fully explain its call-to-action.
That’s why QR stands for “Quick Reponse.” Using the QR codes can move consumers quickly from impression to action. .
Roughly 30 percent of all mobile phones in the United States are currently smartphones. Estimates suggest 50 percent of all mobile phones will be smartphones by the end of 2011. So, by the end of the year every other mobile phone will be a smartphone, capable of reading QR codes (with a downloaded and free app). QR codes are nothing new. They’ve been in use in Europe and Asia since 2006. They are spreading like wildfire now across the U.S.
Paul Johansen, owner & inventor of the DryLanai rain protection system for outdoor rooms, stopped into our office about two months ago. He picked up one of our business cards, which actually have two QR codes on the back. Unfamiliar with the codes and curious, he asked about the unusual patterns on the back of the card. I told him about our website’s free QR code creation page and we kicked around some ideas for how he could use the codes in his business. (DryLanai was recently featured in the Naples Daily News’ Business Monday section )
Last week, we again discussed his advertising campaign in the upcoming month and how a QR code could help enhance the print adverting campaign. The easiest way would be to just put the URL of the website: www.drylanai.com in a QR code and have people enter there. But then we took a look at the website through the eyes of our smartphones, he on his iPhone and I on my Android HTC Evo.
Apart from the fact that the flash video on the homepage wouldn’t run on an iPhone, we were able to see the page well enough but, of course, we had to move around and double tap to increase its size to the read and reach level. Although a common phenomenon, we didn’t want Paul’s potential customer to have to search for the most important information. We took a step back and discussed alternatives: Although we have not yet mobilized the website, which is not a trival task, doing so now would take us past his August 12 deadline for the ad art.
Instead, we decided to have the QR code actually go to a landing page that’s optimized for smartphones with just a few buttons - big buttons, easy to touch, easy access on a smartphone - taking visitors to a video which explains the system or to easily call or to write an e-mail from the site. Those are three very important calls-to-action on the special landing page. We also thought about mobile devices other than smartphones: iPads & other tablets which are actually able to see the full website and reconfigured the website to provide easy access for those devices.
We have added the two screen shots from an iPhone to show the difference between connecting your QR code to a standard website and to an optimized mobile site.
When planning to use QR codes, think about this
- You are beaming the person to a space on the Internet and in order to keep them focused on your message you need to lower barriers of access, be it visually optimizing the page to a small screen or creating page buttons that are easy to use. (Make them bigger so people controlling the device by touch of a finger don’t hit two of them at the same time.).
- Search engines find your mobile sites quickly and you better be ready for them. Have a title and a meta-description and well formatted text to feed the search engine index.
- A word of caution: I have seen coupon companies offering mobile landing pages for cheap or low cost advertising and I am sure the businesses were happy. However, any search optimization will be geared for some one else’s domain if the URL page or mobile site does not start with your business’ domain name.