The rise of smartphones has given way to the rise of plenty of interesting marketing strategies - QR codes among them. Simply put, they're a way to bring people in the physical world (as opposed to people sitting in front of their computers) to your digital content without them even having to go type your URL, find you on Twitter/Facebook, or search for your offerings.
Essentially, QR codes extend the hyperlink beyond the web, and into print, whether that be newspapers, magazines, business cards, clothing, signage, or other creative uses.
The growth of acceptance and usage of these codes means good things for businesses, whether they're online businesses, brick and mortar or both. WebProNews spoke with Mike Wehrs, a Microsoft vet, former chief of the Mobile Marketing Association, and current CEO of ScanBuy, which operates the scanner app ScanLife, about where this industry is, and where it's headed.
"I think we're really just scratching the surface of what mobile bar codes can enable," he says, discussing the "zero click factor" and the different ways businesses are using the technology. Examples include things like making a phone dial a specific number, or a restaurant presenting a menu.
Last year, he ways, there was an increase of 1,600% in the number of scans that went through ScanBuy's system, and that only includes the open QR code formats (not proprietary ones, such as Microsoft Tag). These days, more people are recognizing that if they see the codes, they can take out their readers and get some kind of experience on their smartphones, he says.
Interestingly, it's not the kids that are doing the most scanning, according to a recent study from the firm, but the 35-44 year-old demographic.
"Mobile bar codes are the easiest entry point for someone who's got a camera phone to move from the real world into a digital and interactive experience," says Wehrs. "They don't have to type a URL. They don't have to understand how to do a text message with a short code and things in the payload. Those things are still pervasive in certain demographics…."
"It does raise the stakes for the publisher or the person that's doing the creative behind it, to make sure they're creating compelling content, because the end user is in charge as to whether they're going to engage with that or not," he says.
The best part about QR codes is that you can send them to any piece of content. That means you can send them to your best content or the landing page that makes sense for the instance. You can promote your site, your Facebook page, your YouTube channel, your Twitter account, specific product pages - anything you can link to.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is finding the right places to display the codes themselves.