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The QR Qualified Traffic Quandary

QR Codes

As we discussed on our blog a few weeks ago, there are a several surefire ways to screw up a QR code campaign. However, even when they are carried out to perfection, do these next-gen barcodes actually drive traffic to an advertiser’s site?

A demographic analysis just released by comScore gives an in-depth look at who is actually taking part in QR coded ads and who is being left behind. The study analyzed nearly 14.5 million people who scanned at least one QR code in June 2011, making it one of the largest QR studies thus far. While more than 14 million people scanning QR codes sounds like a giant audience, in reality it only represents a little more than 6 percent of the total mobile population.

So, who are these tech-savvy, scan-happy consumers? Turns out that they are primarily young, affluent males who scan codes in printed magazines or newspapers from the convenience of their own home. Overall there were twice as many men as women who had scanned a QR code during June and more than 75% of scanners were age 25 or older. These findings seem to suggest that QR codes might not be the ideal way to reach most retailers’ target market of teen shoppers. For whatever reason, these avid mobile users have not caught on to the scanning trend as quickly as their 20- and 30-something counterparts.

Perhaps the most telling survey insight, though, is where users are taking the time to interact with QR codes. Nearly 40 percent, or about six million people, who said they had recently scanned a QR code had done so in a retail store, which means there is ample opportunity to get shoppers to participate in in-store promotions.  A whopping 58 percent of scans, though, took place in the scanner’s home while only 12.6 percent occurred outside or on public transit. Lesson learned: incorporate QR codes into current print ads so viewers can interact with them when they sit down to read a magazine or newspaper in their free time.

QR code graph

Traffic Signals

Once you have established who you will be able to reach with a QR code and where it is best to do so, the next hurdle is figuring out whether or not traffic coming to your site is qualified. Qualified traffic refers to visitors who are intent on engaging with your site, whether to sign up for a newsletter, enter a contest or make a purchase.

Driving qualified traffic relies both on the location of a QR code and the ad copy that surrounds it. Getting a million people to scan your ad is great, but if none of them actually take part in the contest or promotion being offered it is a huge opportunity being lost. The best QR code campaigns run thus far are ones that offer a distinct incentive for users to participate and lay out easy-to-understand ground rules. These rules are what set a scanner’s expectations before and during their interaction with the brand. By clearly explaining what users will get when they scan your code, you proactively weed out people who aren’t interested in what you’re offering.

Numbers in Action

One recent example of a highly successful campaign came from Verizon. Visitors entering San Francisco Verizon store locations could scan codes on posters, which would take them to a contest entry form. Scanners were then encouraged to share the contest with their friends on Facebook and were told that if any of their friends made a Verizon purchase the original scanner would get a free smartphone. Verizon reported that during the week-long campaign the QR code posters generated $35,000 in revenue and reach 25,000 Facebook fans from an initial $1,000 investment.

Because posters for the promotion were located in physical Verizon stores, the traffic resulting from them was already highly qualified. People walking into a Verizon store are likely to be interested in making a cellphone purchase at some point in the near future, meaning they would be attracted to the potential of winning a free phone. This example illustrates that while in-home ads found in magazines and newspapers may gain more scans, codes placed strategically to capture the most qualified scanners can produce significant returns.

QR code graph

Another more widely discussed QR campaign was launched in South Korea. Grocery store Tesco/Homeplus wanted to increase their market share without taking on the financial burden of opening new locations. Instead, they set up a virtual store display in subway stops where commuters could scan QR codes of various items and have their order shipped to their home at the end of the workday.

The simplicity of this promotion along with the seamless e-commerce integration of mobile shopping carts lead to a huge payback for Tesco. Online sales during the promotion leaped 130 percent, making them the leading online market in South Korea. This online success even translated into an increase in offline sales, moving them to second place in overall grocery sales in their market.

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Comments on this post

  1. Thanks so very much for this article. I really need this info! I have a question about the Verizon Contest, didn’t see bibliography/footnotes :) I am confused about it being a contest or just a guarantee referral program,,,if they buy one you get one free,,,what is the contest part?? Please help me understand, I want to take advantage of this same idea for my business, Thanks so much!

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