Posts Tagged ‘QR Codes’

Getting Your “Mobile Mojo” On

March 26, 2012 1 comment

written by Allison King

Jumping in a swimming pool with your iPhone in your pocket is one way to lose your mobile mojo – which is just what Kelly Flowers, principle of GrowthVine and DMAW’s March Lunch & Learn speaker, did on her recent vacation. She realized it right away, she said, and went on a mad dash to find rice. Alas, the rice method didn’t work to revive her iPhone. Another expensive lesson learned.

This lesson is a good illustration of how attached most of us are to our smartphones or iPads – and being connected on the Internet. So if you think about it, this is one reason why marketers should take a serious look at mobile as part of their marketing strategy. As Flowers pointed out, the statistics on mobile usage are constantly changing – and they are staggering.

Just released monthly mobile usage data from comScore reveals that:

  • Over 100 million U.S. mobile subscribers (101.3 million to be exact) are using smartphones.
  • In January 2012, 74.6 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device

Data from Cisco provides predictions for mobile for 2016:

  • Global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016.
  • The average smartphone will generate 2.6 GB of traffic per month in 2016, a 17-fold increase over the 2011 average of 150 MB per month.

The statistics make it obvious that the world is going mobile. But how can mobile marketing fit into your overall content marketing strategy?  Here are 5 types of mobile marketing that Flowers discussed:

1. SMS (text messaging) campaigns. Flowers says SMS is best used for getting people to join a list, take a survey, ask questions for a Q&A, text to donate, or in an interactive texting campaign. Here are gave great examples of how SMS campaigns are used to help ,

California Teachers Association used SMS (texting) to build support for Wisconsin teachers.

Human Rights Campaign used text messaging as part of a multi-part campaign, linking users to a mobile friendly page, giving them a call to action and a form to sign a petition, and asking for donations.

American Public Transportation Association launched a mobile text campaign to get a show of support for increased public transit funding by texting “transit” to 86677,

Text4baby, a free service founded by multiple partners in the private and public sectors, is an example of an interactive text campaign. The campaign promotes healthy pregnancies and babies by getting women to text “baby” (or “bebe”) to 511411 to sign up for free text messages timed to their due date or babies’ birth date.

2. Mobile Apps. Flowers suggests that apps are perfect for task-driven activities. Great examples are the Medscape and Epocrates Rx apps, which are used by health care professionals to get up-to-date info on drugs and dosages.

Tip for associations: Partner with a private corporation to create a joint app, rather than go it alone, says Flowers. As an association, you’ve got the most valuable asset – a captive audience. An example of this: American College of Cardiology partnered with Skyscape last year to launch an app that was downloaded more than 4,000 times in its first two weeks.

3. QR Codes. You’ve likely seen QR codes on posters, in print ads, even on billboards. They are those square bar code looking things that you scan with your smartphone to be taken to a website for some campaign. Unfortunately, advertisers seem to put them in odd places where they are practically useless. For example, Flowers saw a QR code on a billboard in a bus stop. But the code was down near the bottom of the poster, plus it had color in it, which made it even more difficult to scan. So after trying and trying, she gave up. How many other people do you think would even try to capture that code as hard as she did?

The point is, just like with any other marketing campaign, you need to understand your audience and where they will be when they try to scan your QR code. Plus, QR codes that are in color are more difficult for some smartphones to scan, says Flowers. And the minimum size of your QR code to be scannable depends on how far from the code the user will be scanning and how dense is the QR code itself.

4. NFC (Near Field Communications). Imagine no more credit cards in your wallet, or pass cards to get through subway gates, or standing in line to rent a car. NFC is a technology that enables smartphones to establish a connection with other devices by touching it or being with a certain proximity. Some phones, such as Blackberry, in the U.S. today are NFC-enabled, but it isn’t widespread yet. This video, which Flowers showed during her presentation, gives you quick look and different things one consumer can do with an NFC-enabled phone.

5. Mobile website. The problem with the mobile web, says Flowers, is everyone has different devices, screen sizes, resolutions, etc. Some organizations are using “responsive web design,” which allows the website to dynamically adjust to fit the size of the device it is being viewed on. That is, the website doesn’t just get tinier when you view it on a smartphone. Instead, the information that you see adjusts, so it is still readable, but you’re viewing only the most important basics, such as the navigation.

Whatever you choose to do with mobile marketing, make sure your start with an organization level mobile strategy, advises Flowers.  Your first steps will be to do an internal mobile audit. Look at what would make sense for your organization, what programs could benefit from mobile marketing. Survey your members to find out what devices they use and what there attitudes are about mobile.

And remember that mobile is an engagement tool – so when planning your mobile strategy, think about how you will engage your members.

How are you engaging your members/customers with mobile?


Allison King is marketing director at TMG Custom Media and a prospective DMAW member. She has been a B2B direct marketer for nearly 20 years. Follow her on Twitter.


QR Codes: Misunderstood? Or Are We Missing the Point?

November 3, 2011 3 comments

By Allison King

Until recently, I didn’t have a smartphone, so I never paid much attention to QR codes since I wasn’t able to scan them anyway. But now I’ve finally joined the ranks of 72.5 million (and growing) smartphone owners in the U.S. and I downloaded a free QR code scanner from the App store so I could try it out.

Thing is, I find that I’m not inclined to scan a QR code just because it’s there. Apparently I’m not alone. Statistics show that most Americans ignore QR codes. During the month of June 2011, 14 million Americans scanned QR codes – that’s just 6.2 percent of the total mobile audience (comScore study).

So are QR codes just a fad that is soon to die? Or can they be an effective part of a marketing strategy? I went to DMAW‘s October luncheon to find out what John Lil, consultant with Quad/Graphics, had to say.

In his presentation, “QR Codes: Unlocking the Power of Print.” Lil showed examples of QR codes being used as a strategy to collect e-mail addresses, to send users to streaming videos of product demos, to get users to enter a contest, get coupons, or join a loyalty program. QR codes can be printed in a book to send readers to a video clip, an interactive map, or a discussion forum.

Apparently there are about as many uses of QR codes as your imagination can come up with.

“Most are static QR codes,” says Lil. “Everyone who scans it has the same experience. In marketing, that’s not where we want to end up.”

Lil explained how you can take it to a whole new level with personalized QR codes. This has to be a direct marketer’s dream. Whether it’s a page in a magazine or a direct mail piece, your QR code can be personalized with information your database knows about the recipient. And unlike just having a URL on your printed piece, you can track if the individual scanned your QR code, when, where, and with what device. And with the personalization, you can create a personalized offer for the recipient.

“It’s a technique to get your printed page more interactive,” says Lil, “and the outcome of that is really up to you.”

The challenge, says Lil, is making QR code campaigns effective. In one study, only one third of U.S. consumers who have scanned a QR code say that it was worth the time spent.

To help ensure your campaign is effective, and your QR code is worth scanning, here are some tips gleaned from the presentation:

  1. Have a mobile strategy in place first. Your organization should have in place a mobile strategy for content, and for giving customers what they want and need. Your website, and any page you send a user to with your QR code, has to be mobile friendly.
  2. Know your audience. Where will they be when they scan your QR code? Do they need instructions on what the QR code is and how to scan it?  Nearly 30 percent of consumers don’t know what a QR code is.
  3. Give them something of value. The small percentage of people willing to scan a QR code may be a reflection of not seeing the value of doing so up front. Promise something useful and relevant – not just another advertisement. Don’t use a QR code if you’re just sending someone to your website’s home page.
  4.  Integrate QR codes with other media. Your QR code can send people a streaming video or connect them to your Facebook page.
  5.  Make sure your QR code works. Use a shortened URL so your QR code is less dense, which will increase the chances of it being readable, especially on older smartphones. Also the bigger the QR code, the better. Don’t go below the size of a postage stamp. And test, test, test.
  6. Brand your QR code. I’ll admit they are pretty ugly. But since about 70% of the code has to be readable, that gives you about 30% to add some personality to the code. They can actually be creative and attention-grabbing.

There are arguments on either side as to whether QR codes are failing. But I think that QR codes are just another tool that marketers can use to deliver value to their audience. We have to use them effectively, which means we have to adapt to an increasingly mobile world.


Allison King is marketing director at TMG Custom Media and a prospective DMAW member. She has been a B2B direct marketer for nearly 20 years. Follow her on Twitter

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