Recently, quick response (QR) codes have been highly discussed concepts in the direct marketing world. For no bigger reason, these technologies have brought print media up to speed in some ways. Now, when materials include these two-dimensional codes, readers are able to engage with products, services and brands on multiple platforms. This occurrence has made direct mail marketing more adaptable to evolving consumer trends and has kept it at the top spot for response rates. In the eyes of many marketers, it would be foolish to ditch print altogether, especially with new technologies actually complementing the capabilities leveraged by printed content.
However, QR codes come with their flaws, so creative teams who do want to utilize these systems for greater professional success need to keep abreast of the best practices associated with the codes and become aware of the most common ways to misuse the technology.
To start, it’s important for marketers to understand the three ways in which two-dimensional codes can be created. These methods include direct encoding, indirect encoding and managed-direct encoding. The details are broken down below.
Direct Encoding Method (DEM) - This process requires users to directly encode or hard-wire content like a URL, contact information, text messages or phone numbers into the barcode image. Therefore, when a QR code is printed it is unable to be edited.
Indirect Encoding Method (IEM) - In this instance, no information has been encoded. Instead, the image contains an alphanumeric string which can only be read by a specific reader on a mobile device. The QR codes lead users to information that is stored on an external service, and the encoding method uses an identifier to determine the appropriate content to display.
Managed-Direct Encoding Method (MDEM) - This method is a hybrid of the above two options. It takes the benefits of each and leverages the specific technologies for greater success, which is why many professional choose MDEM over the other two options. In this instance, certain data points are hard-wired into the code, but upon connection, the external service determines the appropriate content to display. In addition, this content can be edited.
After marketers understand the options that are available to them in the world of QR, they can better pick the solution that fits their unique needs and understand how to avoid certain flaws in the respective designs. Mainly, there are three situations to look out for when using QR for marketing purposes.
1.) Content entry errors - When a creative team goes to program and incorporate QR codes in their latest promotional materials, errors can occur during the hard-wiring process. This can be detrimental to the success of a project, as the QR code won’t lead users to any supplementary content and can distract readers from the main call to action the marketing message is attempting to convey. The potential for coding error makes it essential for creative teams to continuously check the two-dimensional code and make sure it is providing the right responses when activated.
2.) Printing deadlines - If a company is outsourcing its marketing materials, the organization may find there to be strict deadlines on the delivery of QR codes. Typically, creative agencies require marketers to provide them with 2D codes several months in advance. This makes the conceptualization and creation of such codes a timely assignment and, in some cases, can cause errors as workers rush to complete the coding.
3.) Printing - QR codes that are poorly printed won’t work, even when they are scanned by top-notch programs. Creative teams need to use the leading digital printing services on the market to make sure their codes come out right the first time. In some instances, it may make sense to outsource this aspect of the project to commercial printers that understand how to create QR codes and incorporate the data onto hard copy materials.
Understanding how QR works, the flaws the technology has and the best practices associated with the effort can help marketers improve their promotional materials.Social tagging: Print Campaigns