ImageAccording to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, more than half of cell phone users in the US have a smartphone. So it is not surprising that so many businesses have taken advantage of marketing tactics that make good use of smartphones. QR (quick response) codes are increasingly used to market small businesses of all types. Therefore, business owners looking for a fresh way to appeal to smartphone users should consider some of the top ways to use QR codes in a marketing campaign.

Allow the Code to Offer New Information

Before QR codes, the only way for business owners to encourage customers to go to their website or print out their coupons was to provide a link. While links are easy to follow for customers already online, they are less likely to be used by those not at a computer. Putting web addresses on vehicles, billboards, or catalogs is not nearly as effective as using a code that can be scanned rather than written down or typed into a smartphone browser.

For this reason, one of the simplest ways to market with QR codes is to have them go to the mobile website so customers can get more information about products and services. Business owners can also distribute information by using the code to direct customers to social media pages like Facebook and Twitter, not just the company website. Other informative sites to send customers to may include online catalogs, company blogs, and web pages with the address and hours of operation.

Offer Freebies and Special Deals

Of course, most customers are attracted to free products and services, or at least money-saving deals. For this reason, many enterprising business owners use QR codes to allow people to save money. Therefore, sites that offer coupons that can be either printed or used online are quite popular when it comes to QR codes.

Even offering just the possibility of a free or inexpensive item can appeal to customers. For example, many businesses get customers involved by using QR codes to allow them to play games. If they win, they get a coupon or free product or service. This way, the business is able to control the number of people who get the deal, rather than giving it to every customer who uses the code. At the same time, even customers who do not win the offer get to play a fun, free game on their phone, making this tactic beneficial to all.

Alternatively, business owners can limit the amount of people who get the deal by only offering it to the first 100 people who use the QR code to visit a website. The added benefit here is the sense of urgency this offer can create, since people are more likely to quickly flock to a site if they know the rewards may run out soon.  The key is to make sure customers know the deal is only available to a certain amount of people, though other details, such as what exactly the offer is, do not need to be revealed.

Generate Interest with the Element of Surprise

In fact, one of the best things about QR codes is that no one knows what they will get when they scan them. This means some people may scan them simply because they are curious about the content behind the code. To take advantage of this sense of curiosity, small business owners are encouraged to avoid spelling out exactly what customers will find when they use the QR code.

Telling customers that they will get a coupon when they scan the code will only appeal to those looking to save money on their purchase, while announcing that the code will take customers to a website will only attract those who need to find out more about the company. But keeping them in suspense can attract all types of customers, and it can be done by simply suggesting a range of possibilities offered by the code, rather than specifying that a coupon or particular website will be presented.

QR Codes Should Be Only Part of the Marketing Campaign

It should be clear that QR codes offer various ways to market products and various. Though it is an effective, modern way to reach an audience, it is just one option. There are still many customers who do not use smartphones, which means QR codes should be just one of many elements of any marketing campaign.