Catalog Critique: Making the Most of QR Codes

Feb 16, 2012 4:56 AM  By

Almost every marketer introduced a QR code, or at least toyed with the idea, in 2011. But have these two-dimensional Quick Response codes really moved the needle in terms of customer engage­ment?

They are certainly easy and inexpensive to cre­ate, but merchants—in their rush to adopt the newest tactic—may be missing opportunities to acquire new customers, create loyalty and offer something of value with their QR code campaigns.

Here’s a look at some recent campaigns designed to bridge the print and mobile channels, and what we sug­gest merchants could do to improve that brand engage­ment in the future.

Jump to:
Sipalda Designs | Metalcraft | Brookstone | Franklin Covey | HoneyBaked Ham | dELia’s | Stahmanns | NFPA

Lauren Ackerman is a solution specialist with J. Schmid and Associates and Lois Brayfield is president of J. Schmid and Associates.

Silpada Designs – Inspirational Brand Building

On the back of its catalog, Silpada, a seller of sterling silver jewelry, provided a link offering an exclusive peek at behind-the-scenes footage of its recent model photo shoot. The video is fun and highly relevant to its customers, and also offers interesting ideas on how to layer Silpada jewelry in trendy ways. Best of all, the video reflects the energy of the brand and creates desire. The call to action —“With Silpada You Can Live Your Life in Style”— supports the brand and encourages customers to “try on” new styles.

THE OPPORTUNITY
The video is extremely engaging—so why not include a “click to call now” button or a special promotional offer associated with the video content? And because the Silpada brand has a strong social component, a social call-to-action that asks viewers to share their advice on mixing and matching various (Silpada) jewelry pieces could be another option.

Jump to:
Sipalda Designs | Metalcraft | Brookstone | Franklin Covey | HoneyBaked Ham | dELia’s | Stahmanns | NFPA

Lauren Ackerman is a solution specialist with J. Schmid and Associates and Lois Brayfield is president of J. Schmid and Associates.

Metalcraft – Educational

This business-to-business marketer of I.D. plates and labels provides a good call-to-action with mul­tiple QR codes. Its catalog includes an editorial sidebar called “Scan and Learn” that offers videos showing how to use Metalcraft products, and even specific case studies. It doesn’t assume its custom­ers know how to use QR codes, and provides brief information on how to download and use scanner apps.

The viewer is taken to YouTube, where the content is educational and relevant, and even offers new ideas for Metalcraft customers. Plus, at the end of every video is the phone number and web address where customers can learn more.

THE OPPORTUNITY
While there are many good reasons to take scanners to YouTube, marketers should be cautious—especially in situations where competing brands may be placing their content and possibly taking your scanner to a new location. Avoid this by creating and hosting your own YouTube channel. Also, while the video offers a verbal call-to-action at the end, a clickable button or offer should increase response.

Jump to:
Sipalda Designs | Metalcraft | Brookstone | Franklin Covey | HoneyBaked Ham | dELia’s | Stahmanns | NFPA

Lauren Ackerman is a solution specialist with J. Schmid and Associates and Lois Brayfield is president of J. Schmid and Associates.

Brookstone – Code Crazy

It makes perfect sense for Brookstone to use QR codes, as it supports the company’s unique brand and “hands on” approach to merchandising. Its catalog includes product videos about its more technical products. And while this is a great idea, readers are taken to a YouTube vendor video—which could possibly take them to a related video or even a competitor.

On the back of its holiday catalog is not just one, but five QR codes. This seems a little like overkill—especially when three of them are purely channel links (shop their website, call the 800-number, and “like” them on Facebook). And, including five side-by-side codes potentially minimizes the impact that one or two strong codes might present.

With that said, two of the codes are really quite good. One of them offers the ability to “Send a Gift Card from your Phone,” while the other offers help in finding a store location. The latter serves up not only a map, but also a navigator button and a free-shipping offer. We found the free-shipping offer a bit incongruous, however. Why not offer an in-store coupon since the users are looking for a store?

THE OPPORTUNITY
QR codes provide a wonderful way for this brand to show off its products—so many of which perform interesting feats that the printed page just can’t replicate. So why not provide QR codes for those unique products that can better be shown in a video, thus re-creating the in-store, hands-on experience? Each video could be its own mini-infomercial, followed by a “buy it now” button.

Jump to:
Sipalda Designs | Metalcraft | Brookstone | Franklin Covey | HoneyBaked Ham | dELia’s | Stahmanns | NFPA

Lauren Ackerman is a solution specialist with J. Schmid and Associates and Lois Brayfield is president of J. Schmid and Associates.

Franklin Covey – Extend your Product Line

Franklin Covey placed a QR code on its back cover, next to a few iPad accessories. The call to action is quite good: “See our full selection of iPad accessories.” The link loads quickly and takes the reader to a fully enabled mobile website, which fits well on a mobile screen and allows for easy thumb navigation.

The link does not take you directly to iPad accessories, but to the company’s mobile home page, which includes an easy-to-use navigation path of its key product catego­ries. However, the word “iPad” does not show up at all, forcing the reader into a product search. The search box is placed on top, and by typing in the word “iPad” you are immediately taken to several applicable accessories.

The mobile site is extremely easy to use and includes customer ratings as a part of the product listing. This is a perfect use of a QR code, creating an easy path for custom­ers to find more products online, and thus allowing for a smaller page-count.

THE OPPORTUNITY
It’s possible that a stronger call to action might engage more readers. Since a question will often attract more attention than a statement, something like, “Can’t find what you are looking for? See our full selection of iPad accessories selected with you in mind” could work. Also, we strongly recommend that the landing page deliver on the promise immediately, rather than forcing the user into another activity.

Jump to:

Sipalda Designs | Metalcraft | Brookstone | Franklin Covey |HoneyBaked Ham | dELia’s | Stahmanns | NFPA

Lauren Ackerman is a solution specialist with J. Schmid and Associates and Lois Brayfield is president of J. Schmid and Associates.

HoneyBaked Ham – Simplicity at its best

HoneyBaked Ham gets extremely high marks for its QR code appli­cation, which is simple but very effective. By enticing readers with a “Customer Secret Offer,” it creates intrigue and urgency to engage and act, and even includes simple scan­ning instructions. The landing page uploads very quickly and leads with a great offer, and an enticing photo followed by both a “buy now” and a “call now” button.

Everything fits nicely on the mobile screen. It’s simple, clean and effective, and it mirrors the brand nicely. What makes this strategy even more effective is that the offer is changed frequently, allowing customers to take advantage of ongoing offers. HoneyBaked Ham has one of the more solid end-to-end uses of QR codes, from call to action to execution to engagement and beyond.

Jump to:
Sipalda Designs | Metalcraft | Brookstone | Franklin Covey | HoneyBaked Ham | dELia’s | Stahmanns | NFPA

Lauren Ackerman is a solution specialist with J. Schmid and Associates and Lois Brayfield is president of J. Schmid and Associates.

dELiA’s – Go MOCIAL!

Using a QR code to encourage social activity using mobile technology is a brilliant idea, as long as you give your audience an intriguing reason to do so and it suits your target audience.

dELiA’s wisely uses a QR code on the back of its catalog to encourage its young audience to follow them on Facebook. The link takes users directly to a mobile Facebook page, offering them three choices: signing up, logging in or “liking” them. It’s perfect for dELiA’s mobile-crazed “social” audience, the link loads quickly, and it’s easy to use.

THE OPPORTUNITY
The call to action is somewhat weak, offering the same as everyone else, “a link to the latest news, events and promo­tions.” Instead, why not offer something dELiA’s audience really wants? Like the latest trends on apparel and acces­sories, a gamification strategy, or anything that would tap into the energy of this young audience.

Also, by not including an offer or a “hot deal of the day,” the landing page misses an opportunity to further engage. If someone has made the effort to engage at a new level, offer them something super special while prompting a sale.

Jump to:
Sipalda Designs | Metalcraft | Brookstone | Franklin Covey | HoneyBaked Ham | dELia’s | Stahmanns | NFPA

Lauren Ackerman is a solution specialist with J. Schmid and Associates and Lois Brayfield is president of J. Schmid and Associates.

Stahmanns – Brand building at its best

This family-owned pecan grove uses the QR code combined with video content to connect the customer to the sense of history and grandeur in this generations-old ranch. This is what sets them apart from the competition and creates differentiation.

This QR code gets high marks for brand building as it delivers on the promise of “a tour” and launches a video on the customer’s website that provides a guided tour of their groves and history, supported by a written version of the company’s story. The video is interesting with high production quality and worth the effort of scanning.

THE OPPORTUNITY
Why not close the video with a specific offer for one of their most popular or seasonally specific products? By ending the video with a strong call-to-action Stahman’s has the opportunity to “close the loop” while the viewer is engaged and intrigued by the brand story.

Jump to:
Sipalda Designs | Metalcraft | Brookstone | Franklin Covey | HoneyBaked Ham | dELia’s | Stahmanns | NFPA

Lauren Ackerman is a solution specialist with J. Schmid and Associates and Lois Brayfield is president of J. Schmid and Associates.

NFPA – Leveraging Celebrity power

National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) effectively used a QR code to promote an upcoming conference. A strong call to action told the reader exactly what they would find and used highly relevant and compelling content giving simple instructions on how to download a reader app. The appeal highlighted informative video content, delivered by well-known instructors in their industry.

The link took the reader to a page offering their choice of several “celebrities” allowing the reader to self-select by personal interest. In addition to the QR code, NFPA also included a URL in the call-to-action offering the same content to non-smartphone users. Very smart!

THE OPPORTUNITY
Either at the end of each video or as a common button, why not include a “Register Now” button to encourage immediate action. And, if there is a time-sensitive offer, include it as well.

Lauren Ackerman () is a solution specialist with J. Schmid and Associates and Lois Brayfield () is president of J. Schmid and Associates.

Jump to:
Sipalda Designs | Metalcraft | Brookstone | Franklin Covey | HoneyBaked Ham | dELia’s | Stahmanns | NFPA