Scanning for a Sign

Recently, Gizmodo, the popular gadget blog, took 2D Barcodes to task; although apart from the salacious headline, it turned out to be a decent breakdown of the technology and its history. The author of the article, Andrew Tarantola, seems to think these mysterious-looking codes are a missed opportunity for many marketers to connect with their customers.

Let’s think outside the box and consider how your company could use these codes effectively. With little more than a Platform as a Service account and a bit of code, you stand on the brink of having access to a flood of useful data that can make or break profits.

Ever since the Cue Cat scanner of the 1990s advertisers have searched for the perfect method to pull interested eyeballs to a destination with little effort or chance of mistake.  Like many humans, I constantly make typing mistakes, and the longer the URL the more likely I’ll simply give up. The 2D Barcode, also known as a QR Code (Quick Response), provides speedy access to relevant information while guaranteeing useful tracking data. You see, verifiable contact with a customer is gold to marketers. And without marketing, you have fewer customers.

Quick response – quick return

Imagine you’re a sports drink manufacturer. You travel the land with your bottle-shaped mini car and set up a booth at foot races, festivals, and major sporting events. You give out free samples and wristbands, chat with spectators for a few hours, then pack up for home. Did you get anyone’s name? Did they give you their email address or phone number? Were you able to convince them to fill out a form while they tried your next big flavor?

Instead, what if you displayed a poster with a QR code and a message:

The QR application on the mobile device sees the code contains a URL, but there’s more. The code also contains an identifier for this particular event. Perhaps even this location. These codes can be printed by the hundreds and each can be unique. It could be as simple as: //

The ID in the URL belongs to this one event, this one venue. Scanning it can set off a whole range of events, most of which are determined by the vendor and the SaaS application they wrote. The app functions as a web site and executes a series of database events once fed the ID above:

  • Stores the visit along with date and time
  • Offers a message and chance to enter a contest
  • Stores email address and sends an email of thanks
  • Sends a coupon email for more sports drink

All of this happens with minimal effort on the customer’s part.  Previously, a company relied on the customer going home, getting online, and entering the URL precisely. Once there, the customer experience is dictated by the web site and the ability to find a contest link. Using these codes grabs the record of the visit immediately. And thanks to clever code on the website, the location can be verified by asking for the user’s location. Imagine knowing not only where and when a potential customer visited, but having a second chance in the same visit to offer the customer a unique experience!

Behind the scenes, even more happens. The SaaS platform should provide workflow capabilities that kick off emails to the visitor, thanking them along with links to a static coupon for a future purchase. Perhaps the coupon is dynamic and based on this contact. When the customer uses the coupon, the contact is again verified.

This real world example gets even crazier if you take it a step further. With opt-in styles of data- gathering, a company gains access to all kinds of valuable data. They get reliable stats on customer habits and likes and business critical data such as which venues produce the most customer contact.

Keeping in touch with your customers is hard enough. How could your business use technology like 2D barcodes to make it easier?
Jeff Morgan Lead Product Marketing Manager AT&T About Jeff