QR Barcodes: Bridging the Gap Between Print and Online Marketing

Posted: January 6, 2011 by Kevin Homer

One of the most controversial topics in marketing today is regarding the importance of print marketing vs. online marketing and how to integrate them into an effective marketing campaign. If we send out a digital newsletter instead of a printed newsletter, it might cost less, but we are also losing a lot of our audience. If we place an ad in a magazine, it’s great for name recognition, but how do we include a logical call to action and measure the return on our investment?

With quick-response (QR) barcodes, individuals can use their smartphones (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.) to scan the image and within seconds be automatically connected to a website or an email message, trigger an SMS text message, prepare a phone call, pull up a map location, or add an event to their calendar. By including a QR barcode with printed materials, it makes tracking a call to action that much simpler and more reasonable.

Here are just a few simple ways that QR barcodes can greatly increase the value of your print collateral:

  1. Direct mail – A lot of us like to set up a vanity landing page for a specific mailing to track its success. However, when URLs are too long, people will either just go to the homepage or do nothing at all.  With the QR barcode, URLs can be as long as we choose and still have the same success, making ROI calculation easier.

  2. Newsletters – Many companies recognize the value of sending out printed newsletters but are struggling to cover the costs while their budgets are restricted. How about a compromise? Send out a newsletter that only include half the article, and then the QR barcode can connect to the full article online. Best of both worlds!
  3. Handouts – How about a link to display samples of your work, a map to your facility, a phone number to call for reservations, or add your seminar to their calendar?
  4. Posters and window decals – People are reading your sign; now have them scan the barcode to request a text message for a special promotion!

There are so many ways that QR barcodes can bring additional value to your marketing tactics. Last year, ownership of smartphones quadrupled in 2010 (from 8% to 32% of mobile phones), and that number is expected to continue grow by another 26% in 2011. That’s a lot of people that could be affected by these barcodes, which will affectively bridge the gap between print marketing and digital marketing, and increase the value of both.

Scott Hemmons

Posted: January 7, 2011 at 3:49 PM

Great post Kevin! QR Codes became mainstream in 2010 and you list some great ideas for implementing them. Also, I'd like to add that when using a QR Code, it's important that the site you're sending them to is optimized for mobile devises.

shafeequ kk

Posted: January 9, 2011 at 10:46 PM

I’d like to add that when using a QR Code, it’s important that the site you’re sending them to is optimized for mobile devises.the power of the web and what can be achieved for just a few hours of online marketing consulting.


Posted: January 11, 2011 at 3:16 PM

Thanks for the comment Scott! You are absolutely right and read my mind for the next blog post... the importance of a mobile optimized website.


Posted: January 11, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Thanks for your comment. While a lot of companies might not have the budget or see the importance in a true mobile website, there are tricks that can optimize a website for mobile use. It will be interesting to see how companies start adapting their websites to QR barcodes and other mobile trends in 2011.


Posted: June 22, 2011 at 9:38 AM

Never knew about these - very cool. Just loaded a scanner app to my Droid phone. Might be good to include a link to scanner app download.


Posted: June 22, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Never knew about these - cool! Just downloaded scan app.

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