QR Codes: Business Asset or Shiny Object?
You’ve probably seen plenty of QR codes by now, even if you didn’t know what you were looking at. “QR” stands for “quick response.” The basic idea: it’s a two-dimensional bar code that can easily be scanned by “smart” phones. They are an easy way to grab people’s attention. When a shopper scans a QR code, their phone displays a web page. The theory: QR codes create a means of instant interaction with ads and printed media for people who might have been too impatient to type a URL into their handheld device. (Sad but true: attention spans are dwindling to microsecond durations these days).
In theory, putting QR codes all over your direct mail pieces, fliers, store window, and other marketing materials will drive more people to your web site and help your e-mail marketing efforts.
The million-dollar question: does this really work for small businesses? And can QR codes be implemented profitably with the time and money available to a local mom-and-pop operation? While I can’t answer that question universally for every business, I can give you some simple questions that will give you pretty clear idea whether or not QR technology is worth considering for your business.
- Do you regular advertise with print media of any kind?
- Do you regularly track and monitor the stats on your web page?
- If yes to #1, have your web pages gotten enough traffic in the last 30 days to give you an accurate reading of the current conversion rates? (You should have an average of at least 5-10 unique visitors per day from a single traffic source).
- If yes to #2, are you getting an acceptable conversion rate from at least one traffic source?
If the above questions made no sense to you, you’re probably not ready for QR codes. But even so, stick with me. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you run a coffee shop. Let’s say you got 5 visitors to your web site who all saw your sign out front, 6 visitors from your Facebook page, 3 visitors from Twitter, 8 visitors who clicked on the link in your monthly newsletter, etc. These are all different traffic sources. (If your web site doesn’t tell you where the visitors came from, you made need to have your web developer install a new statistical software tool).
Suffice to say, the first step is to stay on top of your stats. That’s not your web designer’s job, by the way. As the business owner, it’s yours. Don’t even think about implementing QR codes or any new technology until you are comfortable with stats.
Stats aside, QR codes do offer a lot of promise for marketing. The real payoff: it’s possible to measure real-time ad impressions from print media (something that has been impossible until now). However, that advantage is only as valuable as your ability to track your site’s real-time performance.