Using a QR Code (quick response code) is one way that a small business ecommerce site owner can encourage customers to opt-in to its email marketing list. The popularity of these small two-dimensional barcodes is growing as more consumers buy camera-enabled smartphones.
The concept and development of QR Codes is credited to Denso Wave Inc., of Japan. The technologys roots were in the vehicle manufacturing industry where QR Codes were read by special barcode readers.
Today QR Codes are becoming a novelty in North America and businesses have found some interesting ways to use them. One use of QR codes that's growing in popularity is as a URL shorten service. This is a boost for small business marketers.
QR Codes for Email Marketing
Mobile users with a camera-enabled smartphone can scan the QR Code, which has been coded to do things such as display text, provide contact data or even open a Web page in the browser on the smartphone.
Akin to how people use bit.ly or goo.gl to shorten Web URLs when tweeting, Melanie Attia, email marketing expert and product manager for Campaigner says one trend for using QR Codes in marketing is to map your website URL or a specific Web page within your site -- such as your email opt-in form page -- to the barcode.
QR Codes can be printed and displayed anywhere a mobile phone user might scan the code: in magazines, on clothing, at the cash register, and so on. You can even use them on your own Web pages to provide access to social profiles or product details that customers can save to their smartphone.
Growing Smartphone Use Makes QR Codes a Trend Worth Following
While conducting email marketing research, Attia said she noticed some statistics that suggested smartphone usage in America is steadily on the rise. A recent Nielsen study forecast that 50-percent of mobile subscribers will be smartphone users by 2011. That works out to 142.8 million total smartphone users by 2011.
This, along with the popularity and novelty of QR codes makes for a new way to put those technologies to use and bolster new email list subscribers, according to Attia. QR codes are small, easy to print and extremely low cost. Email marketers can code these 2D barcodes with direct links to email subscription opt-in pages.
You can create QR Codes and display them any where a smartphone user might see them -- in magazine ads, on clothing, at the cash register, on business cards -- or any printed literature and marketing materials your ecommerce business uses.
The benefit is that customers can quickly opt-in to your list without having to remember your website or landing page address -- which is why the technology is popular as a URL shortener.
How to Generate a QR Code for Marketing
When you map the data to the barcode, you specify a data type or service. Specifications for data types include URL (HTTP), email address (MAILTO), telephone number (TEL), or SMS message (SMS). A good reference for anyone interested in learning more about the services you can specify in QR Codes can be found on this Google Code page, but additional reference reading is not required to use QR Codes.
The basic takeaway for Ecommerce marketers is that QR Codes is not rocket science, and you dont need to be a rocket scientist to get onboard with the technology and use it for marketing.
With simple-to-understand options and online services that will take you through instant code generation it takes only seconds to a minute to specify what text, Web address or other information to embed in the barcode.
For example, the following QR Code is linked to the subscribe page for joining the EcommerceGuide /Internet.com mailing list. It took only a few seconds to generate using the Kaywa online service.
After creating your barcode, you can grab copy and paste code to embed the QR Code on your website or blog, or you can save the image to include on printed materials. It's a quick process that provides a convenient way for customers with smartphone sto access a website or details about your company.
Tips for Using QR Codes to Boost Your Email Marketing
Melanie Attia said that using a QR Code for email marketing purposes simply provides small businesses with another low-cost method to grow its business and email marketing subscriber list.
She offered the following guidance and email marketing tips for small businesses that are investigating QR Codes as a way to boost email marketing:
1. Use the QR Code as another way to formulate the URL to your Web page on printed materials. You can also leverage it to your Facebook business page or other social media destination.
2. QR Codes are still in the novelty phase, so now is the time to incorporate them into your marketing because people will scan them with smartphones just for the novelty effect.
3. Consider QR Codes as just another way for customers to sign-up with you. Its not difficult to understand or use when you think of it as an image-based URL shortener to help customers locate your email sign-up pages faster and easier than providing a URL.
4. Put the QR code everywhere -- in advertising literature, at the cash register, on business cards, invoices and billing statements and any print distributions.
5. Use an incentive as you would with any email marketing sign-up promotion. For example, if you display a QR Code at the point-of-sale location, include a note that new subscribers will receive a discount (e.g. give the customer the incentive to subscribe to your email list). By the time the customer is ready to pay for the purchase, the opt-in will have been completed and they can obtain the reward.
More Small Business Email Marketing TipsLooking to get a better handle on your small business marketing plan? Try these tips and guides for small business ecommerce sites:
- Top 3 Email Marketing Tips
- How to Choose an Email Marketing Service
- 3 Trigger Email Marketing Tips for Ecommerce Marketers
- Your Guide to Ecommerce Marketing
- A Buyer's Guide to Remarketing Services
Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.
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