Wednesday, March 16, 2011

QR codes are cool, but pointless unless used properly

There's been a heap written over the past few months about the use of those funny little barcode looking things we know as QR codes in marketing and fundraising.

For those who are not sure what they are, QR codes are a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR barcode readers and camera phones. QR stands for quick response. In essence they speed up the response process, removing the need to "get online" or "send that letter" later. They potentially remove one of the biggest barriers to response: shortage of time.

Unfortunately as fundraisers the take-up of this technology (seems) to have been slow. I've found it difficult to locate examples of where they have been used, and if so, were they effective?

My colleague Paul De Gregorio piqued my interest on this a few weeks back over at his blog. Similarly Katya Anderson provided some insights on their potential value via a guest post from Blase Ciabaton.

Last week I attended the AdTech, digital marketing conference in Sydney. Google revealed some startling data snippets about mobile usage in Australia, most noteworthy that by the end of 2011 more than 50% of Australians will own a smartphone.

I'm often cynical about statistics like this, because whilst it's an interesting insight, it doesn't alone suggest people will change their buying/giving habits. Just because you build it, does not mean they will simply come.

That being said they do provide an exciting opportunity. And if used properly they have the potential to lift marketing and fundraising effectiveness.

We're about to test them with some of our clients in upcoming DM appeals. However instead of using the same, generic QR code sending donors to a general landing page to donate, we will be sending QR codes embedded with a personalised URL.

The upshot of this is again decreasing the amount of work a donor will have to do. If they scan the QR code they'll bounce through to their own, unique donation page. They'll simply need to fill in their credit card details and presto, a gift is made.

A couple of things to consider:

- If you're testing the impact of QR codes, don't just include income raised from the QR code mobile landing page. The key consideration is, has the advent of the QR code increased income overall from the group who received them?

- Despite the prevalence of smartphones, the usage of QR codes is reportedly quite low. Therefore, education and assurance is going to be key. I'd suggest any effort to push people to using them should include simple instructions explaining how to download the app and how to use the QR code reader. Put people at ease. Provide guidance.

Remember, these aren't going to revolutionize your fundraising, at the end of the day they are merely a response device. But well executed, and used for the right purposes, they may help you bring the online and offline world just that little bit closer.


1 comment:

Tyler said...

2011 is going to be the year of the QR Code for marketers. Next time you create a QR Code, try It is designed for businesses to generate QR Codes and mobile landing pages for their businesses social properties. Create a landing page with a Facebook "Like" button or Twitter "Follow" button. Users can also create a mobile coupon that is sharable on Facebook and Twitter!

Give it a try and let us know what you think!