Shawn to QR codes: “I’m just not that
Print in the Mix published an article about the increased usage of 2D barcodes (also known as QR codes) in print advertising and direct mail marketing. Tom Fowler, our very own Grand Poobah (and a big believer in print-to-web technology), asked for my feedback about the article. I replied and thought I’d share my opinion and/or rant on this here blog.
After reading the article, my opinion about QR codes remains unchanged. “Meh.” Right now, I think they’re an early step to connecting print to the interwebs – and that we’ll soon see the technology evolving. But back to the article, whose title states that 2,300+ advertisers utilized mobile codes in 2011 (an increase of nearly 600%). Cool. And. So what?
Yeah, but what’s the outcome?
Truth be told, these kinda numbers don’t move me much either way, and Print in the Mix’s article doesn’t tell the complete story. I’m way more interested in understanding the impact of those QR code-included marketing efforts than just raw data showing that more companies now stick them in their ads and direct mail. Sure, more people wore “WWJD” bracelets last year, but we can’t assume that means more love was actually in the air during rush hour traffic.
The fact that more businesses are using QR codes doesn’t automatically translate into more sales or effective campaigns. It may mean that. Or it may just mean that these companies are doing what most companies do: following the herd. Choosing “Me Too” marketing without asking “Why?” and “So, how is it working for us?”
Lay some measurements on me, dude. Or dudette.
How many of these businesses sent users to a uniquely trackable page vs. the same URL that any old web visitor might type into their web browser?
What were the behavior trends of those QR code-induced visitors vs. non-QR code visitors? Without this type of info, all you really have is just more “spray and pray” marketing: do something (or a bunch of somethings) and hope one of ’em actually produces results.
“Statistics are no substitute for judgment.” ~ Henry Clay
So what’s in it for you?
Should you consider including QR codes in your businesses’ next direct mail campaign? Perhaps…but only if you use a distinct URL, track the results and objectively analyze the actual impact afterwards. More importantly, first ask yourself, “Why am I considering this?” If there’s no quantifiable advantage (customer payoff) to a simple URL, skip the 2D code.
In these days of endless marketing opinions, theories and trends, let’s all take a moment to remember what Mom used to ask. “So if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?”