Do you know what a QR code or Microsoft Tag is? As a small business owner, you may not have heard about them yet, but you will very soon because they are popping up everywhere these days. Major brands like Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble and Macy’s have embraced them in their marketing campaigns.
QR or Quick Response codes are two-dimensional bar codes, similar to ones you would find on a price tag at the clothing store. Using a scanner or reader available on any smartphone, your potential customers can scan the code and see where it takes them. Major brands use QR codes to take customers to discounts, freebies and special promotions. A Microsoft Tag works just like a QR code, but can only be scanned with a Microsoft Tag Reader.
So how can your business use QR codes and Microsoft Tags to boost its bottom line? To find out, BizBytes enlisted the help of Matthias Galica, founder and CEO of ShareSquare, a platform that allows anyone to create and share QR codes.
“QR codes first appeared in Japan back in the early ’90s,” said Galica. “The goal was to be able to scan a product and pull up all the information about it, such as price. That technology has been used in stores when you need to look up the price of something at the cash register for years. But now it’s moved beyond just something that looks up the price of a product to a useful marketing tool for business.”
Rose Harris, a Realtor at ONE Sotheby’s International Realty in Miami, has been using QR codes to educate clients about the properties she sells. “We use them to drive traffic to our single listing websites,” said Harris. “Our clients love them because they can simply scan the code and find out everything they need to know about a property without having to go to a computer to search for it. It’s right there in the palm of their hand.”
To start adding QR codes and Microsoft Tags to your company’s marketing mix, follow these simple steps:
Determine whether you’ll use a QR code or a Microsoft Tag to market to customers. Because Microsoft Tags can only be read with a proprietary Microsoft Tag Reader, you may want to use a QR code so that your promotion can be accessed by a larger pool of potential customers. Once you’ve decided whether a QR code or tag is right for you, it is time to focus on creating the promotion that will be linked to it.
“The goal with QR codes is to get people at the point of interest, which is when they see the code,” said Galica. “And turn that into a point of action where you get them to do something and then hopefully, turn that into a point of purchase.”
Determine your customer call to action. What do you want your customers to do when they scan the QR code or tag? Do you want them to sign-up for something? Do you want them to like your company’s Facebook page and then receive a 20 percent discount on your products because they did it? Determining your customer call to action is crucial to the success of your campaign.
“There are so many uses for QR codes in marketing,” Galica said. “What you’re basically doing is taking a real-world experience such as seeing a QR code on a flyer and connecting it to a worthwhile online experience that hopefully will translate into increased sales or awareness for your company.”
Determine what kind of promotion customers will receive when they scan the code or tag. What are you going to offer the person who scans your QR code or tag? Are you offering a 30 percent discount on your products exclusively to those who scan the code or tag?
“You never want your customer to feel like they went to the trouble of scanning your QR code and they got nothing in return,” said Galica.
Determine where your customers will see the code or tag. Where are you going to place the QR code or tag? Will customers see it in your storefront, on your brochures, on a billboard or in your direct mailers?
“Marketers and business owners have gotten quite novel in their use of QR codes,” Galica said. “The only limit to their use is really your own imagination.”
Determine how you will deliver the code or tag to current and potential customers.
“Don’t wait for your customers to find the QR code,” Galica said. “Tell them about it. Send an announcement via email, tweet it or put it on your Facebook page.”
Create a custom QR code or Microsoft Tag for your promotion. Now that you know what your promotion is about and how it will be delivered to your customer base, it is time to actually create the QR code or tag that you’ll be using. You have several options for creating free QR codes that are available online including BeQRious, ShareSquare and Bitly.
“It’s important when using QR codes to make sure the person who scans it has a good experience,” said Galica. “The code should lead them to something that’s going to make their lives better, calls them to action or rewards them.”