QR codes have sometimes gotten a bad rap from some in the online community who question their effectiveness. It’s easy to see why – they seem very “foreign” compared to standard barcodes. Mobile devices don’t come with a standard QR scanning app, which means users have to find and download one from among many options. Then there’s the problem of where the QR code takes end users. If they’re on a mobile device, sending them to a website that’s not mobile optimized is a sure way to give QR codes a bad name. But they can be used effectively, and can even get some pretty amazing results with strategic forethought and planning. Here’s how Verizon used QR codes to boost sales and brand awareness.
Verizon in San Francisco set up a week-long promotion by partnering with Hipscan, a company whose website can be used to generate unique QR codes. One of Hipscan’s innovations is that you can easily change the location to which the QR code takes users by going to the website and making some minor adjustments. Users who scan the code can end up at a custom website, a Twitter page, a particular image you want them to see or whatever other creative idea you come up with. The changeable destination is a much-needed point of flexibility in the ever-changing digital marketing arena.
Verizon’s promotion worked like this: When customers entered the store, they were presented with a QR code that they could scan and then share with their network of friends on Facebook. If one of their friends then used the QR code in the purchase of a two-year mobile phone contract, the original customer that posted the code would win a brand new smartphone.
But now for the good part – the results! The company’s sales increased by 200% at the participating locations. Remember, this was just a one-week promotion. In dollar figures, that was an extra $35,000 in revenues for a grand total of $1,000 invested in the campaign. That’s a solid ROI. As an added benefit, their brand awareness also skyrocketed, with 25,000 new Facebook profiles sporting the Verizon brand name.
Closer examination reveals some key features of this campaign that made it work. First, the QR code was not just a gateway to additional product information or a simple discount coupon. It served as an entry point into an exciting contest. Second, there was a strong tie into social media, taking advantage of the growing SoLoMo effect (social, local, mobile). And the whole thing was directly tied to making actual sales for the contest to result in winners.
Solid market research also underpinned this effort: Verizon has invested heavily in research to understand what engages their users, and this is evident in both the structure and success of the competition. An important secondary lesson is that Verizon’s use of the QR code tied directly to both their core brand values and their value proposition to customers. Efforts that achieve both these things are much more likely to be successful.
This simple example serves to illustrate what many have looked upon with a good deal of skepticism – QR codes can be used to get good business marketing results. How will your business make use of QR codes to achieve its goals?