Quick Response (QR) Codes were invented by a subsidiary of Toyota in 1994 in order to track vehicles during manufacture. Recently, however, marketers have started including them in advertising campaigns so as to aid the reader in getting them to the respective website (or, a page/section) with more ease.

I, on the other hand, like to use these codes to answer some questions regarding the effectiveness of more traditional advertising and marketing activities. By embedding tracking codes within QR codes, you can track and compare the traffic generated from the different titles being used in the campaign, thus allowing you to get a better understanding of which title works better at generating more traffic to the respective website. It is not an exact science, but in a day and age when customers are more likely to visit a website before picking up a phone (a marketers nightmare as this makes it more difficult to track where potential customers have heard about the product/service), QR codes are one of a very few options available that aid marketers in understanding where customers are coming from.

One of the main issues I face when convincing advertisers to use QR codes is their impact on the overall design of the creative work. I hear all sorts of reasons like “its ugly”, “it will ruin our adverts” or “it will confuse the reader”. Clients who have tried it say, “as long as it helps us know where to invest our money, we’re fine with it”.

For example, we recently used QR codes in a campaign for a property developer in Tuscany. The campaign consisted of a series on pan-regional titles and inflight magazines and the data gained was quite fascinating. This included a real eye-opener in terms the countries/cities that users were scanning from (such an eye opener that the client then decided to run a separate campaign in the USA due to the number of scans they received from this country- a market that they had never even deemed as remotely important). The data also allowed us to compare quality of traffic and conversions from those locations.

Knowing this level of information about your print campaigns is a step forward and offers the opportunity to track campaigns that was previously not possible. Yes, it might not give you specific information about the individual who scanned the code, but, if implemented and analysed properly, one cannot ignore the power of the data that QR codes provide.

QR codes needn’t only be used to drive traffic to websites. There are other creative and fun ways to use them as part of your marketing campaign. A few examples follow:

Scan to text

QR Codes could be programmed to automatically start a new text/SMS message on your phone, ready with the recipient number and the message. Your audience need only to scan and send. Charities have made the best use of it, with messages like “Scan to donate £3 to provide a blanket for the homeless”.

QR Code that sends SMS

Scan this QR Code to send a text/SMS

Scan to call

Another way of programming QR Codes is to dial a pre-programmed number without having to write it down or tap it on your screen.

Scan to Call QR code

Scan this QR code to call an embedded number

Scan to email

Similarly, QR codes can start a new email message with the recipient address automatically entered, even the subject line and the email message.

Scan to email QR code

Scan this code to send an email

 Scan to save contact

If you want your customers to save your business or individuals contact information on their phones, QR codes can be programmed with all contact details, notes and web addresses. When a customer scans the code, smartphones will recognise the virtual business card (vCard) and prompt you the option to save it. This could be great for a leaflet, outdoor advertising or even a business card.

Contact QR Code

Scan to save this code into your mobile

Save to Calendar

If your company is organising and event or a party, or if you want to remind your customers that an offer ends at a certain date and time, you can program your QR code to store a calendar invite to the user’s mobile device.

Event QR Code

Scan this code to create an event in your calendar

Scan a location

If you want your customers to navigate to your location or save your event’s location on their mobile devices, you can program your QR codes with the coordinates of that location or event. The mobile devices will then give your customers the option to navigate or store the coordinates for later use.

Location QR COde

Scan this code to view on the map or start navigating

Scan to connect

If you offer free Wi-Fi in your venue, café, restaurant etc, there is a very smart way of making your customer’s life easier as QR codes can allow you to store the wireless network details (including the password, if there is one). Not only does this avoid you having to print leaflets or posters with lengthy instructions, but it’s also a good way to demonstrate your technical abilities and/or “coolness”. It will also earn you some “green” brownie point too!

Wifi QR Code

Scan this code to connect to a WiFi (This will not actually work as you are far from my network)

As you can see, there are many reasons why you should want to use QR codes. The growing use of smartphones and tablets cannot be ignored- a phenomenon partially due to their ease of use across all generations (my 3 year old son and my 60+ year old father use mobile devices and tablets). And, as each day goes by, new technologies and innovations are introduced (like the eyeball tracking technology by Samsung) which will only further increase the use of such devices. In light of the increased number of smartphone users, the important data they provide and the customized options available (coloured to match your branding or even have your logo embedded), it is definitely wise to consider this tool in your campaigns going forward.

In additions, from what you see from the codes above, QR codes are not ugly (at least not all), they can be customized, coloured to match your branding and even have your logo embedded.

Some facts and figures

Still not convinced? Would statistics and studies convince you? A study conducted by Multichannel Merchant shows that whilst only 8% of businesses have adopted QR codes in 2011, this number had increased to 47% in 2012…

Adoption of QR Code

Source: Multichannel Merchant – 2012

A survey released by Pitney Bowes in January 2013 shows that 19% of American consumers have used a QR code. This was followed by UK (15%), Germany (14%), and France (12%). Whilst, on average, 15% of consumers across these countries report having used a QR code, the percentage rises significantly to 27% in the 18-34-year-old age bracket. (source: Strategy Blog)

QR Usage by Country

Source: Pitney Bowes

See, you have no excuse now. Join the hundreds of businesses that use QR codes and reach thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of your potential customers using smarter, cooler and more interactive marketing tools.

If you have questions or need assistance in creating QR codes, please do not hesitate to contact me. And please don’t forget to share this article with your friends and colleagues.

Share on Social Networks

Share on Social Networks

 

We all work hard to identify marketing channels that would benefit our overall marketing strategy, but we don’t always find the right ones. Why would that be? Are they hard to find? Or expensive?

There are a few reasons to that:

  1. Marketing activities that generate the best return on investment (ROI) are not necessarily the coolest.
  2. Some old fashion marketers fear change especially when it requires some technical knowledge, or probably don’t have much faith in the latest digital innovations.
  3. Decision makers haven’t had a good experience with digital marketing/marketers and feel it’s a waste of money.

Whatever the reason is, I believe there are many opportunities for every body within digital marketing.

In which digital channel would you invest?

Brand Republic have conducted a research to identify the digital marketing budget allocation in 2013. The biggest increase according to the research will be in social media followed by online video marketing during 2013. Mobile marketing comes third, followed by search, email, online advertising and finally, Webinars.

Digital marketing predictions - 2013

Source: Brand Republic – Digital on Trial: Harness 2012’s Key Trends to Seize Opportunities in 2013

Unlike many believe, although social media is not news any more, it just started making its way on digital marketing strategies and media schedules. The question is, does it generate a decent ROI? Is it worth investing in? I’ll be touching on this topic a little bit later in this article.

Similarly, online video has been around for a while now. Only recently advertisers and marketers started enabling it with more interactive features such as social plugins and smart video adverts.

Mobile has occupied the third place in the predictions and I’m not surprised. Its only the start for this channel, for example, instant messaging apps are on the rise, and it’s a form of social media where users can chat one to one or group chats. There are already 3-billion active instant messaging accounts worldwide and its only going to increase. According to the research, experts predict, much, much more of the traffic to come from mobile devices. This is evident from the rapid increase in the numbers of Internet enabled mobile devices that reached2-billion in 2010.  The number of Internet enabled devices is estimated to be 2.7-billion by 2015 (40% of the world’s population). Just like desktop computers, its not the device it self that matters, its what you can do with it.

Where is the ROI coming from? 

As mentioned earlier, what works is not always the coolest. Decision makers  in marketing like to spend their money on cool digital marketing channels such as social media, online video and mobile. But do they actually work? Do they generate the expected return on investment?

The research shows that social media yields very low amounts of ROI. Mobile and online video generates even lower ROI. But why the largest chunks of their digital marketing budgets are invested on these channels? I believe because it’s the trend, in addition to the lack of knowledge in the benefits of other marketing channels.

Email (or email marketing) ranked fifth in the spend predictions, however, generates the highest level of ROI. Unlike Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg predicted that “email is dead”, email is still the leader digital marketing channel in terms of ROI generation.

Search marketing (including search engine optimisation and search pay per click) came as the second highest ROI generating digital channel. From experience I know it’s really hard to convince businesses that search is crucial, despite it being one of the most cost efficient channels when it comes to lead generation and conversions.

Digital Marketing - ROI Graph

Source: Brand Republic. ROI Generation by digital marketing channels

Digital marketing strategies

It is clear from the above that digital marketing activities in some cases are not thought-of thoroughly. Whilst it is important to be ahead of the game and invest in new innovations like online video and Mobile, other channels are not given the weight they deserve. Having a digital marketing strategy should at least trigger deeper research into which channel each business should invest in. I am surprised to know that a large 14% of the respondents to the survey do not even have a digital marketing strategy in place and 10% focus on increasing their database. Whilst increasing your database is important and could be considered a strategy, knowing what to do with the database is what makes the difference.

My advice to businesses of all sizes and forms; test as many marketing channels as possible and monitor your activities closely. This should show which digital marketing channels are working best for each business. It should also make the task of creating digital marketing strategies much easier and clearer for 2013 and the years ahead.

For years, every time the “Mobile” marketing topic comes up in a discussion, I hear the word “App” ad if it’s the only way of a business to be on mobile. This should really depends on the type of business and the level of investment you have. My advise was always to optimise websites for mobile devices and mobile search engines, instead of creating an App that might not be used, especially after the study that showed that 80-90% of of all downloaded apps are used once and then eventually deleted by users.

All I hear was: I doubt people use search engines on their on their mobile phones. Well, I used to try and convince them with common sense, however, now I have solid facts to supports my argument.

Google and Nielsen have conducted a thorough research to understand how mobile devices drive more conversions. The results were really interesting. Here are some:

Where do users use mobile search?

77% of mobile searches do not happen on the move, instead, they are performed either at home or at work. Only 17% occur on the go. This is very interesting, although computers are available for these users at home or in the office, they seem to feel its faster to search on their mobile devices instead of firing up the browser on their computers and search.

When do mobile searches occur

Graph of when users use mobile search - mobile SEO

Source: Google and Nielsen research

From the graph above, you can clearly see that most searches on mobile devices occur in the afternoons and evenings. This means, users are less likely to search on their way to work or during the first part of their working day.

Why use mobile search?

81% of users who participated in the research say that the reason they prefer using mobile search even while they have access to computers is the speed and convenience of performing a search on their mobile devices. One user said “It was easier on the mobile device as I didn’t have to get up [to] turn on the computer and wait for it to boot up.

There are many other interesting findings in the research and I highly recommend having a read through. However, the conclusion is that mobile search is very important. Even if you have a website and/or an App, you still need to have a mobile site that would rank high on mobile search engine result pages. If you don’t have one you would be loosing on a significant traffic from users who are actively looking for what you offer.

Importance of Mobile SEO

Unfortunately, mobile SEO is not one of the first things businesses think about or plan for when building a mobile website. Recently Mercedes USA have created a mobile site that when announced, their traffic have increased by 85% this year to date. However, after a quick mobile SEO Audit by Stone Temple Consulting it was evident that Mercedes USA did not consider mobile SEO while building this website. One of the main problems with that mobile site is that robots.txt file was preventing mobile robots from crawling the website. Yes, sad I know. The other problem is that they did not use switchboard tags to help search engine make a decision of which pages should appear on a desktop search and which on a mobile search.

Mercedes is not the only company that failed to create a mobile site that can be found on search engines. Many others have similar stories.

From the research Google and Nielsen have conducted, it is evident that Mobile is the future, and the future is already here. If businesses will fail to seriously get on Mobile, they will not survive for long. Just like Yahoo and Microsoft didn’t manage to move from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0.

Do you have a mobile friendly website? Is it optimised for search engines? Does Google easily differentiate between your mobile and desktop pages when serving results? If the answer of any of these questions is “No” then you have to step back and re-think your online strategy.

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Sources:

 

We all know that SEO is more than just 4 steps, however, it’s always good to start somewhere. This post will be talking about inserting your page keywords in 4 locations on your web page to help search engines and users understand what your page is all about. Please remember, optimising your webpages with keywords only will not improve your SEO, there are other element that need optimising, so please don’t stop here, but its a good start.

Before you start you need to ensure that you have selected the right keyword for your page. Often it’s not a business terminology, its what your customer would be searching for. So put your self in your customers’ place and choose a keyword they would be searching for.

Keyword Analysis - Improve your SEO

Source: Google Trends

Right, let’s start, I will demonstrate the four changes on this blog post. The keyword I have selected is “Improve your SEO”.

Change 1: Add your keywords to the page web address

When search engines visit a website for the first time, they would look for guidance to understand (index) your pages. The first element they would look at is your page web address (URL). Therefore, its important that you include your keyword to the URL and ensure that it doesn’t include unwanted characters such as commas, question marks, equal signs, per cent signs and &’s.

Its also recommended that you dont separate words within the URL using spaces, or underscores. If you add a space between words, browsers would change that into “%20” which includes an unwanted characters as mentioned previously. Underscores are not recommended because search engines would completely ignore them. So if your use improve_your_seo search engines would see it as improveyourseo without any spaces. However, if you include hyphens/dashes, search engine would know that improve-your-seo are in fact three different words “improve your seo“.

Change 2: Include your keyword in the browser title

Browser title is also called Window title. This title appears at the top of your browser not within the page content. Search engines will use this as the title of your page’s link on their result pages. The page title is also used by social media websites such as Facebook and Google+ when sharing a link.

In our example, i used “4 changes that will improve your SEO – mooply.com” to be the page title of this post, when Google display the post in search this is how it appears

Google search result - Improve your SEO

This post on Google search result page.

It is recommended that you used unique page titles for each web page, and they don’t not exceed 70 characters (including spaces) as this is what search engines would display on their result pages. Anything beyond 70 characters will be hidden.

Change 3: Include your keyword in the head tags

As you would expect when reading a book, research or a blog, you would expect seeing titles and subtitles. These would help you understand the content of a section or a paragraph.

Similarly, on webpages users expect to see titles and subtitles. Those are called head tags (<h1> <h2> … etc). Search engines as well as users scan for these to understand the content without having to read the page word by word. In my opinion, head tags are the most important elements within the page content (between <body></body> tags). Therefore it’s crucial that you use them and ensure that each page within your website has an optimised unique <h1> and a few <h2> tags.

Change 4: Use your keyword in the content

The mistake that many web masters do is focusing on the “keyword density” – which I consider a yesteryear term – and SEO copywriting, but forget anchor links (linked text), highlighting tags and multimedia optimisation. Even if the keyword is not 3% of the text, you can still optimise your web page. Use the keyword in your video caption, your image alternative text (alt tag) or title tag, link your keywords to a relevant internal or external link, use bold or italic to highlight you keywords. All that would make your keyword standout for users as well as search engines.

What you cannot do is write your content for the sake of search engines, no matter how careful you are, you can’t fool search engines. Write your content for the user and your business and search engines will reward you. But if you write for search engine only, Panda will be waiting with the relevant punishment.

I hope this helps, if it does or you have any questions, please leave a comment.

Thank you for reading and sharing.