Copyright © 2012 by Monica Paul
QR Codes in B2B marketing campaigns may become a very useful tool to reach targeted prospects…
During the last months, advertising campaigns using QR Codes have become a topic of interest for both, companies and agencies; we can see ads including these codes at the entrance of the stores, in magazines, and in spectacular ads as the campaign launched by the international apparel brand, Calvin Klein.
In Latin America, we start to see these kind of campaigns as well, for instance, SportsWorld, the recognized gym chain in Mexico, have at the entrance of each gym an ad with the codes of their Facebook and Twitter pages in the social media networks. Home Depot, added these QR Codes to some of their products tags in a way that clients have a better shopping experience since they can easily access the products information, instructions, and even manuals to take a better decision when buying at their stores.
The very well known brand, Victoria’s Secret, launches the campaign “Sexier than Skin”, where their models appear in the magazines covered only with a QR Code. When the user scanned it, the complete designs collection was shown in brand website.
Going back to history, the origin of the QR Codes was in Japan, in the 90’s. Euge Damm and Joaco Retes invented them for the automobile industry, and then they were used for inventory control. From this, the QR Codes jumped to the marketing campaigns as a useful tool to unify the flow in campaigns and promotions using more than one media linking the digital and the traditional ones.
According to the research done by Archrival, a researching group focused in measuring campaigns and strategies focused to university students, 87% of them have a Smartphone, and 80% have seen a QR Code, however only 21% have had a successful scanning experience, and 75% have not even tried to scan one. This means that there is still a lot of evangelization work to do.
Potential users are still reluctant to use the QR Codes; the reasons are simple and complex at the same time. Technological ignorance – audience asks: What do I have to do? Do I need a software? Where do I get it? Does it have a cost? On the other hand, the same way a free solution or access to a promotion can be performed, malware download could happen.
The CIU (The Competitive Intelligence Unit) in Mexico, consulting firm with regional reach focused in consulting and market research with wide experience in technological infrastructure and communications indicates that in this country there are nearly 97 million mobile lines, and continuously increasing. On their side IDC appoints that from each 100 cellular phones, 16 are Smartphones. 70% of the executives use a Smartphone. Same happens in the rest of Latin America; therefore, these campaigns have an interesting potential for the B2B companies.
But what about using the QR Codes in the B2B marketing? How can small and medium companies obtain a real benefit from them?
QR Codes are a technological cost effective tool easy to use that may give high value to B2B campaigns due to the focus and specialization level needed to reach a specific audience with well targeted and controlled messages. Additionally, according to researches, the amount of decision making executives using Smartphones is very high. This eases the penetration and efficiency of campaigns including QR Codes in a B2B market.
Companies providing software and hardware solutions can easily benefit of these QR Codes though campaigns directly to their customers and markets or shared with their business partners, directing the prospects to private landing pages with promotions focused in specific vertical markets that are accessed only thought the QR Code.
According to MicroStrategy, leading business and social intelligence software provider, these campaigns results can be easily measured due to their vertical and privacy profile. These kinds of campaigns are an efficient and cost effective way for the B2B companies to obtain quality qualified prospects that can be added to their pipeline; this would be strongly supporting their sales key path. This becomes an important benefit for small and medium B2B companies lacking budgets to perform big advertising campaigns.
Another important issue to be considered by the B2B companies is the challenge to achieve the ‘Social Validation’ from their prospects. In a B2B environment, the buyer will try to validate the information delivered by the providers, mostly validating quality, price, customer care, technical support, and service with third parties already having the experience; and they will for sure search in the web. QR codes can be easily assigned to third parties publications of case studies, success stories, referral comments, and interesting articles regarding the topic; all this information can be accessed via a QR Code placed in a brochure or advertising piece. This way companies can ease the validation process to their prospects.
Same as these two simple examples, there are many other strategies and campaigns that can be developed using QR Codes in the B2B environment. Again, the key for success is in the high quality content presented to your market, the media mix, and the creativity to catch your target audience.