QR codes, or “Quick Response” codes, have grown in popularity by leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. These cryptic cubes can be seen dotting everything from business cards and billboards to cereal boxes and even tattoos, and most smart phones today come with the ability to read QR codes pre-installed.
Is your hotel using QR codes as part of its marketing strategy to take advantage of this growing trend? In this article we take a brief look at how QR codes work and offer some tips to help you get the most out of them for your business.
What are QR codes and what can they do?
QR codes are a unique type of barcode designed to be scanned using the cameras on mobile phones. Rather than typing a URL into the phone, a user can simply scan a QR code, and the phone will automatically perform an action such as opening a web page or playing a video. While many phones today come with this technology pre-loaded, applications for reading QR codes can also be downloaded for free.
QR codes can launch just about any activity a mobile phone user might want to do. Businesses most often use QR codes to connect customers to the business website or an exclusive offer page, but that’s just the beginning. QR codes can do much more:
- Launch websites
- Stream videos or MP3s
- Download files
- Deliver coupons
- Open a registration form
- Open a Google map
It’s important to keep in mind that whatever web source you choose to pair with a QR code should also be mobile-friendly. If your website is poorly optimized for mobile web, sending your customers to it on their smart phones makes for a sub-par user experience. It’s also recommended to list a URL beneath the QR code, just in case the user’s application malfunctions.
Okay, so … what do I do with these things?
For starters, put them everywhere. QR codes can be very big or very small, and even function at great distances if large enough, so the possibilities are virtually endless. QR codes are ideal for outdoor posters and print ads, especially when associated with a specific offer, i.e. restaurant discounts, coupons or exclusive guest perks.
Here are some more places you can incorporate QR codes:
- The back of a business card
- Brochures and marketing materials
- The sides of company vehicles
- Product packaging and tags
- Social Media profiles
- Convention and event nametags
- Restaurant menus
- Outdoor posters and print ads
Remember, the objective is engagement through value. A user scanning your QR code is likely doing so for a specific reason, and it’s probably not to get “more information” about your hotel in general. Select a specific goal for every QR code you publish. Pair a magazine or web advertisement with a QR code that opens a customized offer page just for readers of that publication. Link to your restaurant menus on printed dining coupons. Provide QR codes to all of your active Social Media profile for easy friending (Facebook, Google and Bing can provide these for you!)
Most importantly, engage the user with effective call to action. A customer is much more likely to scan your QR code if he or she has an idea what it will do. So, preface the QR code with a compelling reason to scan. Here are just a few ideas:
- “Scan to Receive a 5% Discount”
- “Scan to See the Happy Hour Specials”
- “Scan to Like Us on Facebook”
- “Scan to Write a Review on TripAdvisor”
Expand Your Brand with Creative QR Codes
Okay, so you’ve got the codes, but the look is leaving you less than inspired? Not a problem. These days QR codes do not always have to be stark black squares against a white background. In fact, they possess a remarkable amount of creative flexibility. Innovative QR code enthusiasts have taken to creating highly customized and branded QR codes which capture the eye and encourage that all important scan. Some even go as far as to call it QR Code Art.
Creating a custom design for your QR codes is a great way to give your marketing efforts more personality and eye appeal, but keep in the mind that usability is always paramount. Your custom design should be created by a professional and tested thoroughly on a number of different smart phones and applications. Ultimately, what good is a really fancy QR code that no one can use?
So as you can see, QR codes are all about putting the right link in the right place, and if you can give it a cool like while you’re at it, that’s all the better. We hope this brief primer into the world of QR codes has helped you understand what they are, where to put them and how to use them to expand your branding and see real results.