Jonathan Redmond

Making use of QR Codes with SEO and digital marketing? 

From the realm of the smart phone, QR Codes (quick response code) are now starting to breakthrough into the real world, but what impact is this going to have on the ever changing world of SEO and digital marketing. Like any new tool it’s important to be aware of both the benefits and pitfalls to your company’s digital platforms when making use of these 2D barcodes. Due to QR Codes showing up everywhere from magazines to bus shelters at an alarming rate, now rather than later is the time for businesses to look into getting the most out these tiny black and white boxes.

QRCode (1)

QR Code

The reason why QR Codes are much more useful than the normal barcodes we are so used to seeing is that they can store much more information, including url links, geo coordinates, and text. But the other even more important key feature of QR Codes is that unlike barcodes, instead of needing a specialized hand-held scanner to scan them, almost all smart phones can scan them thereby literally putting your message into the hands of your target audience.

QR Codes are a huge help when marketing to the increasing amount of smart phone users as it gets them to your website without much effort on their part as with one scan, consumers can get access to your landing page or to any other pages with very little time and effort.

Last year, smartphone consumers increased their scanning of QR Codes by 1600%, typically to get discounts, get more information or make a purchase with 70% of QR Code consumers between ages of 25 and 55.

 graph

                                             Tesco conquerors South Korea

One of the best uses of QR Codes was made by Tesco in the South Korean market place. Being a late entry into the grocery market the country, Tesco faced the large problem of a supermarket not having enough brick and mortar stores and seeing as the mission of Tesco South Korea was to become number one without increasing the number of stores then took a very high tech yet novel approach. Tesco implemented the following idea “Let the store come to people” which took its already successful online shopping model and then brought it to the next level. By making use of traditional billboard style advertising on the subways listing the various products they sold, Tesco setup a virtual store which had consumers using their smart-phones to purchase the products they wanted.

Customers just scan the QR code on the billboards with their phones, the product automatically lands on their online checkout account and when the online purchase is done, it gets delivered to the consumer’s door. The result of this campaign was no need for a network of physical stores, conversions of customers waiting on trains to customers shopping online, an increase of online sales of 130% and Tesco becoming the number one online and number two offline supermarket. “QR-code-based shopping allows the customer to shop at more locations, many of which are more convenient than making a trip to the grocery store.” 

tesco

                                                           Pitfalls to avoid

With more and more consumers shopping from handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets, just putting your companies QR Codes on everything under the sun is not going to be enough to turn a site visit into a conversion. Websites now more than ever need to be optimised for mobile viewing and not just the landing page. MI5’s recent recruitment campaign dedicated entire outdoor spaces to QR codes. This looked great until users went through the process of using the code and then found themselves on an unnavigable web page not optimised for mobile at all.

Another bad usage of QR codes was made by soft drink manufacturer VK. The QR campaign in question took users of the code to the promotions Facebook page but seeing as most smartphone users tend to use native social media app on their devices, taking them to webpage when they then have to enter log in details defeats the whole purpose of using QR Codes. Even worse, by logging into the social media site that way, it took the consumer straight into their Facebook feed and bypassing VK’s promotion page altogether!

 Tips to help ensure a successful digital campaign using QR Codes

Mock up the experience before it goes live. Try it yourself, get other people to test it and test it on different phones. Use short URLs so that QR codes are as simple and machine readable as possible, bearing in mind the image may well be blotchy through newspaper and magazine reproduction. Make sure tracking is included in your URL, so you can demonstrate clearly how much response your QR usage has gained. Remember what we are really trying to do is to make sure that users have an easy way to respond to our advertising.

The cost of digital marketing, can you afford not to pay it?

It’s now gotten to the stage that if your business hasn’t got a digital presence online you are in big trouble or going to be soon. With more and more consumers browsing and shopping not just from their computers but also using their smart phones and tablets, not having an online presence or any e-business facilities could be a disaster for your company. Businesses are now facing a future where as every digital marketer knows the value of content couldn’t be greater but what does this all cost?
Time as the old saying goes is money and are the only 2 currencies that businesses can trade with when looking into growing there business. If you don’t have time, then you must have money. If you don’t have money, then you must invest your time.

Time-is-Money

 

Nothing matters, especially for small-business owners more than finding the budget to implement new marketing strategies and improve their business. Although there are many roadblocks business owner’s face, money seems to be the biggest concern of all of them. Some key factors that need to make sure they are present if you want social media to work for you:

1 A Solid Social Media Marketing Strategy
A business is tied to an objective and so should its social media efforts. What are you looking to gain from an online presence needs to be carefully considered? Is it product promotion, sales or increasing brand awareness? Who is your target market? What is your competition doing? These are all question that must be answered before anything else is done. You need to clearly define your goals and the overall objective that you and your business are trying to achieve through social media.

2 Ongoing operation
Sadly, far too many business-owners think that social media is a one-time thing and take a “if you build it they will come” attitude. This is the wrong attitude as you need the customer to want to visit your website and ideally turn that visit into a sale and having stale and old content won’t do either of those things. The truth is that social media is changing every single day and consumers are looking for constantly updated content. Just as important, Google’s web crawlers or Googlebots are constantly seeking new content and not updating a website will affect its PageRank score.

3 Using the appropriate tools

social

Below is a listing of the more popular social media platforms and each of these social media sites will require a unique strategy tailored for each platform and why getting the correct marketing strategy is so important.

Facebook
Twitter
Google+
LinkedIn
YouTube
Pinterest
Tumblr

 

4 Additional Costs

euro
There could be many additional costs to your social media marketing campaigns. You could need a web designer who will make sure your website and other social media profiles have a fresh and consistent brand look. You could need some technical help, investing in new hardware or a programmer for some sort of integration. However, the biggest chunk of your budget will go to the previous tasks we talked about above. If you happen to have an additional budget for advertising, then starting some ad campaigns will be very beneficial for your business, especially if you’re just starting out.

5 Can You Afford This? Can you afford not to?

cash
For small-business owners, this might seem like lots of time and money to spend just on social media marketing, but the cost depends on many factors. If you start on the right foot with social media, then all of your efforts will be rewarded. However, if you don’t have an effective strategy in place, and you’re just stumbling here and there, then social media will never work for your business as it is the case with many businesses out there and you might as well pour that money down the drain. Below are some case studies your business might find helpful and give you some ideas.

BEST BUY (Twelp Force): Best Buy employee communities grew to 2,200 employees within 3 months and responded to over 13,000 customers on social networks answering public questions, concerns, and opinions.

BLENDTEC: CEO Tom Dickson ran viral commercials on YouTube to sell blenders direct-to-consumers and increased company sales +700%.

CISCO: Launched a new router and achieved goals using only social media. It saved the company $100,000′s
Marketing to Mom Coalition and mommy bloggers for excellence in terms of delivering sharable information.

 

Digital marketing and you

It’s seems like everyone and their dog is using social media these days and digital marketing is taking off at warp speed. Before taking the plunge into the digital world of the internet, a business needs to consider some important facts first.

Plan Before It Happens
plan

Before you start a blog, open up comments, invite customer engagement or reviews, make a plan for the kinds of engagement you expect and most importantly how you will handle any negative reactions when it happens, and it will happen. The old saying of “you can’t please all the people all the time” is worth bearing in mind.
Some things to focus on during the planning stages are…
1. Will you allow comments on your blog posts/articles or not?
2. Will you filter or approve comments before they go live?
3. Are you only going to allow positive comments?

As a business, your company’s brand is one of your most important assets so it is vital to create guidelines for online engagement with customers up-front and communicate those standards to every the employees dealing with the business’s online presence. This will help your team avoid panic when negativity rears its ugly head and will allow them to deal with problems in a professional and positive manner. Not all of these guidelines should be hidden from the customer either, and that way users aren’t surprised when profanity or threats gets their posts deleted.

It’s not personal so don’t make it personal
angry

This tip is short, simple, to the point but very important. Never get personal with a customer. Even if the customer is 100% wrong it’s best to let them vent and then try and sort out their issue when possible (see below). Getting into a slagging match on the internet will over ever result in your company coming across in a poor light. Correct any misconceptions or incorrect statements that are made but always be polite as driving away potential customers is the last thing a business wants.

Build Bridges and Solve Problems

Always respond respectfully to legitimate criticisms and try and solve the problem there and then if possible as offering to help will make a huge difference in the perception of your company. United Airlines refusal to deal with a customer’s broken guitar turned into a PR nightmare for them. Dave Carroll the guitars owner, not only made a hit song about the incident which he posted on You Tube that not only got 13 million views but also appeared on various American evening shows, news programmes, Time magazine and wrote a book on the subject. 4 days of the video being posted United Airlines’ stock price fell by 10% which was around $180 million dollars!

Stop digging if you’re in a hole
hole

Everyone make mistakes at some point in life and business but when it comes to the internet, the worst thing you can do is pretend that you haven’t. With the likes of google, Wikipedia and legions of internet experts, any company found making false claims can end up really paying for it due to how fast digital word of mouth spreads along people being able to take a screenshot of the webpage.
When Apple banished Google Maps from the iPhone, consumers were concerned. Apple’s own maps app turned out to be riddled with errors, and didn’t even include public transportation mapping. CEO Tim Cook had to issue a public apology, conceding that the maps “fell short” before suggesting users download competitors’ products from the Apps store. Cook specifically called out Bing, MapQuest, or going to Nokia and Google’s website.The product manager who oversaw the maps team was fired months later.

Simply owning up to the mistake, apologizing and making an effort to fix it is so much simpler in the long run.

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