QR codes are everywhere these days. For those not in the know, a QR or “quick response” code is a two-dimensional barcode that can be read by mobile phones equipped with a camera and the appropriate software. I use Google Goggles for Android (it’s now available for iPhone users as well). QR codes have practical as well as commercial applications, but there has been a wave of commercial QR code use recently and I suspect there is a lot more to come.
QR codes provide a unique opportunity to link a real-world object, such as a billboard, to a digital one, such as a website (known as hard-linking). The code can be set up to point the phone’s browser to a website, add an event to its calendar, provide contact information, give access credentials for a WiFi network, or provide geo-location coordinates. I used the free QR Code Generator from the ZXing project to create this one for a hypothetical campaign:
The possible applications of QR codes are surprisingly broad, although popular uses include ads on public transportation and print ads. A recent issue of Deliver magazine featured a front page with a QR code leading to their website.
But here is where I see a weakness (or is it an opportunity?). When I “clicked” on the front cover of that magazine, I was given a link to their home page, delivermagazine.com. But why? What are they trying to accomplish? They could have taken me to a landing page thanking me, a cherished customer, for taking the time to fish out my phone and take the bait. Or maybe I saw someone reading Deliver on the train and covertly snagged the code with my phone because it looked so intriguing. This is a big miss! On top of that, Deliver has no way to distinguish the visitors who came to their site from the QR code on the cover of their own magazine. But we have a solution for that.
Tracking QR Codes
If you tried out the QR code example I gave above, you might have noticed some incongruous characters at the tail end of the URL. The string of characters I appended to the link allows our analytics tool to distinguish traffic that “clicked” on my QR code from other traffic to the thrivehive.com/solutions page. I built this link tag using our link tag builder in ThriveHive. I created a tag, modified it a little, and pasted it at the end of the normal URL for the page. Now if I want to see which of you tried it out, all I’d have to do is create a custom segment in ThriveHive to only show people who clicked on the QR code.
If you want to try tracking a QR code you’ll have to sign up for an account. This makes it easy to see what my QR code is accomplishing or not accomplishing and we can optimize accordingly. If you want to learn more, ask us about our small business marketing solution at ThriveHive.
Outside of blog entries, it’s easy to imagine the uses to which a clever marketer could use a QR code. And now there is a powerful way to prove that it actually worked