I will admit, some of my more progressive colleagues at Dominion recognized the importance of QR codes far earlier than I. Nevertheless, I’ve become an advocate of this remarkable digital marketing tool and how it can help automotive dealers. Why do I find them so remarkable and useful for automotive marketing?
Before Quick Response or QR codes, retailers used one-dimensional UPS codes to track merchandising within stores. With the introduction of QR codes, retailers, manufacturers and especially automotive dealers are using two-dimensional bar codes to transmit data, execute trackable calls-to-action and digitally engage consumers.
QR codes are able to transmit data or “smart, actionable information” that initiates a digital call to action for the user on the smart phone. With a simple click, QR codes can open a calendar event, call a phone number, launch a web browser and so much more. QR codes can instantly add a digitally engaging element to your direct mail or advertising piece. Lately, I have noticed brilliant marketers using QR codes to initiate calendar events for upcoming dealership grand openings or web events. Best of all, QR codes are 100% tractable calls-to-action. Now what smart marketer wouldn’t love an easy call to action for mobile consumers that is 100% tractable?
What can you do with a QR code? The simple answer is anything. QR codes are only limited by your marketing imagination. Like I mentioned, they make print pieces, like print advertisements, banners or vehicle brochures, become interactive. With QR codes, your dealership can connect multiple channel touchpoints, like print + mobile + web. Keep in mind that automotive marketers have labeled printed pieces with website addresses, emails and phone numbers for more than 15 years. The QR code simplifies this by eliminating the time-consuming and error-filled task of typing long web address into the little keyboard on a smart phone. Instead, consumers simply click.
By customizing each QR code to a specific call to action, dealers can utilize unique web URLs for tracking purposes and return on investment measurements. Typing a long web URL is a thing of the past. Today, we know consumers would not take the time to type www.dominiondealersolutions.com/junepromotion/serviceflyer, even if it was to receive a truly exceptional promotion.
Are QR codes a fad? Compete.com reported in the fall of 2010 that 28% of smart phone users had previously scanned a QR code. With one in four mobile shoppers engaging in the use of QR codes, industry experts predict the adoption rate to continue to climb. Another study by ScanLife stated that both one-dimensional and two-dimensional barcodes scans increased in late 2010. It is becoming more apparent that the use of QR codes is quickly moving beyond the early adopter phase. Driving the consumer usage of QR codes is the fact that free apps are available, or in some cases pre-installed, on all smart phone devices.
How can you engage your car shoppers with QR codes? Some savvy dealers are already maximizing their usage of QR codes throughout their marketing strategy. For example, apply a QR code to a window label to provide detailed information about a used vehicle. Add a QR code to a showroom sign to encourage consumers to “like” you on Facebook or “follow” you on Twitter. Attach a QR code to a print ad for consumers to take advantage of the latest coupon in your service department. Launch a video, share customer reviews, call to schedule a test drive – and the list goes on and on.
Once you become aware of these codes, you will be more aware of them in your community. I now seem to see them everywhere. On a recent spring break trip to Washington, DC, I saw more QR codes than I had seen anywhere…on mass transit, buses, subways, even a QR code in the Smithsonian to download an app to help with the museum tour.
The QR code is hard to beat. It takes mere seconds to scan, yet saves an enormous amount of time and keystrokes for the user. I now carry a QR code of my contact information, so fellow smart phone users can simply scan the card and instantly have my contact information in their phone. I’ve been amazed at the recent proliferation of QR codes in the Sunday circular; typically with calls to action such as discount offers and sweepstakes. I even saw a picture of Danica Patrick’s NASCAR racecar with a QR code on the hood!
As I mentioned, the possibilities with QR codes are limitless. Start test driving your dealership’s use of QR codes today. I can’t wait to hear your results. Feel free to contact me with your ideas and unique applications. I promise you’ll begin to see results immediately.