The What-Why-When of QR Codes for B2B Demand Generation Marketers

QR Code Cupcakes

QR codes are definitely gaining a more prominent place in the B2B marketing toolkit.

Here’s a what-why-when crash course in using QR codes for B2B demand generation.

What are QR codes?

QR is the abbreviation for Quick Response, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed. A QR Code is a 2-dimensional black-and-white image that encodes thousands of alphanumeric characters of information, including text, URLs or other data. QR codes are readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera-equipped smartphones.

That means mobile users can snap a picture of one of these images with their smartphone camera and instantly decode the data embedded within. (Users simply install a free QR code reader app once to enable the decoding.)

You can imagine how much more convenient it is for any user to capture a URL or digital content residing on the web in this way instead of typing in links!

Why should I focus on them now?

It’s simple: smartphones are now the norm with business executives, who presumably form a significant part of your target audience. According to recent research from Forbes Insights:

  • 82% of business executives have a smartphone
  • More than half consider their smartphone to be their primary communication device
  • 12% consider it to be their primary computing device, ahead of laptops, desktops and tablets (this percentage increases for executives under 40).

How can you lose by providing the smartphone users in your target audience, with more, and likely more convenient, paths to response? Also, Jeff Korhan of the Social Media Examiner points out that “QR codes enhance both your search engine and social media optimization. Now you can increase traffic to those searchable objects to further optimize them by encouraging more sharing.”

When should I use QR codes?

As I noted in a previous post, mobile applications are only effective when developed to support a specific audience’s needs, to meet a clearly defined goal in your demand generation program. Here are some areas in which QR codes typically deliver high value.

1.  Integrate QR codes into signage at an industry event or conference to facilitate location-based marketing, deliver information and secure lead data quickly. Here’s an example of a conference ad produced for a client, Ciena, which included a QR code leading to a mobile-friendly landing page.

The landing page featured a synopsis of a highly relevant paper and a simplified registration form for lead capture.

Once  attendees completed the form they gained instant access to the paper, which they could read at intervals, back at the hotel, on the plane…you get the idea.

The QR code made it extraordinarily easy to give attendees high-value information on the go and efficiently capture leads.

2.  Add QR codes to DM packages. This is an excellent way to drive traffic to campaign microsites and other digital information online, compared to making recipients type in URLs.

Given the high percentage of senior executives using smartphones as their primary device, they’re likely to have their phone at hand while reading mail. Any step that is more convenient for your target audience is worth adding!

You can also alternate special offers by simply linking your QR codes to new landing pages, and you can combine then with email opt-ins to build your list.

3. Encode your vCard contact data and add the QR code to your business card, making it more convenient for your targets to contact you.

I agree with Jeff Korhan’s view that QR codes “take what social media is doing well now, bringing people together with technology, and extending it to enhance the experience.” Read Jeff’s article for more in-depth information on QR codes and how they work.

5 Responses to The What-Why-When of QR Codes for B2B Demand Generation Marketers

  1. Ben says:

    Great article, thanks.

    There are a couple of things you didn’t say which I think are important.

    You said that QR codes can encode “thousands of characters.” However, it’s important to note when planning how to use QR codes in your campaign that the more data you shove into one, the larger, more complicated and more dfficult to read they become. The typical use is for a URL, often a shortened one. Any more data than that and your confidence that people will be able to use their mobile devices to decode them falls away quickly. Especially since QR codes are meant to be printed and displayed out in the physical world that is full of scuffs and wrinkles. (NB: QR codes, like PURLs, make no sense in an email or web page where a hyperlink would do the job better.) Think of them as hyperlinks for printed material.

    The second point is that, as QR codes become more and more ubiquitous, their novelty factor falls away. People become less and less likely to scan a code out of curiosity. The more tech savvy (and isn’t that your audience if you’re targeting mobile?) will regard them rightly as a potential security threat to their device. QR codes should be used as an accessibility option that is preferable to typing URLs on a mobile device’s daemonic software keyboard. Therefore, as a “Best Practice,” (and one, sadly, the example above doesn’t follow) you should always include a plain-text, unencoded version of whatever you’re encoding along with the QR code. That this blog post even exists is proof that not everyone is on board with QR codes yet, and the software must still be downloaded on most mobile devices. You cannot yet have a QR code be the only means your audience has of accessing your message.

  2. Danyel says:

    Chiming in late here to this conversation, but I totally agree with you, Ben. I’m also curious about any specific results garnered from campaigns using QR codes – I see the Ciena example and how it made things “easy” for attendees, but how many accessed it? Any metrics?

    • Hello Danyel – Thanks for the comment!
      A recent post on Mobile Commerce Daily said QR scanning in North America increased 1,200 percent in the last six months. Considering it’s still new technology to most consumers, the big increase is not surprising.

      Using QR codes for B2B programs (as mentioned in my post) can be very powerful – as it gives our audience another choice for engaging.
      In response to your question about specific metrics – engaging an audience via QR codes is just starting to gain traction (a few percentage points, however, is a fine place to start).

      It will be interesting to start to compare year over year increase (so if 5% of an overall audience is engaging via QR code vs. direct to the site today – what does that look like in 12 months). As soon as I have that data…I’ll circle back(-:
      Warm regards, Lauren

  3. thebuyercodescam…

    […]The What-Why-When of QR Codes for B2B Demand Generation Marketers « Lauren On Demand[…]…

  4. We use QR Codes in back of our latest information law newsletter – we say at the front “if you don’t want to read – just scan and listen”:

    http://www.actnow.org.uk/content/80

    We also have produce an audio newsletter:

    http://www.actnow.org.uk/content/25

    Agree though that depends on your audience and how tech savvy they are. Not sure UK people are so may just be a novelty thing at present here.

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