QR Codes are seeing huge growth in 2011 and are a great compliment to a mobile campaign when used properly. The most common question I get is “when should I use a QR code and when should I use SMS Text Messaging?”
First, it’s important to check the stats. According to Nielson and eMarketer, smartphone market penetration should reach 45% by the 3rd Q 2011. Of that, 28% are using the mobile web. In 2010, there were 6.1 trillion text messages sent. The cell phone market has a 96% market penetration and 97% of mobile phones can text. The important take away for small businesses is that the higher up you go on the Mobile Pyramid (see previous blog) the more consumers you take out of the mobile engagement. For example, if you have a core base of 1,000 customers and are using QR Codes, 450 have a smart phone, and 126 are using the mobile web. Right of the bat more than 1/2 of your clientale cannot participate and if 50% of your customers who could participate scan the QR Code you’ve reached 62 of 1,000 customers. On the other hand if you sent a text message offer to 1,000 customers, 970 could participate, which is way SMS Text Messaging is the core of the Mobile Pyramid and needs to take a lead role in your mobile marketing strategy.
When to use QR Codes? QR Codes just by their appearance say to the consumer “get more information NOW”. If your customer is mobile savvy, a heavy mobile web consumer, you can provide more compelling information right now, and ideally you can complete the transaction through the mobile phone – then QR Codes are a great choice. Examples include: making reservations, buying a product from your smart phone, ordering tickets, i.e. Mobile Commerce, which is at the top of the Mobile Pyramid.
The down side to QR Codes is an overall poor consumer experience: the QR code didn’t scan, the consumer had the wrong QR code software, the QR Code didn’t deliver relevant information, the link from the QR Code was not compatible with a smart phone or the was not mobile ready.
To ensure a good consumer experience the content you are connecting to needs to be mobile-ready: mobile web, apps, etc. If you are trying to complete a transaction it needs to be secure.
When to use SMS Text Messaging? SMS Text Messaging is ideal for building a relationship with your customers, and SMS does everything a QR Code does and more. When someone responses to a text offer you also get their phone #. Plus, you can send the person the link to the content, just like a QR Code. If you’re looking to deliver mobile coupons, offers or reminders then you should use SMS. If you want to build up a database of phone numbers and send offers in the future – SMS Text. If you can take advantage of behavioral marketing – SMS Text. If you want to do fun things that engage consumers such as voting and contests – SMS Text. And, if you want higher response rates – SMS Text.
Bottomline, mobile, whether it’s QR Codes, SMS Text, Apps or Mobile Web, is a proven way to get more response and high engagement out of your traditional advertising and point of purchase signage. Plus the fact that we are even having this conversation is proof that mobile deserves a place at the “marketing mix” table. Deciding between a QR Code or SMS Text for your mobile strategy is a more relevant conversation than deciding on which radio station to use.