Monday, July 09, 2012

How To Track Offline Marketing with QR Codes

by Nate Schubert

There is not a business in existence today that wouldn't benefit from utilizing barcode technology in conjunction with web analytics to track offline marketing campaigns. Whether a local plumbing business wants to track the value of a certain advertising location or a film company wants to gauge the level of interest in an up-and-coming summer blockbuster, each of these can leverage 2D barcodes like QR Codes to gain valuable insight into the behavior of potential customers.

There's no question that this is an attractive concept for business owners of every make and model, but theory and practice are two entirely different things. It may seem like QR codes have been introduced into the mainstream of American society, but there are countless opportunities being missed or squandered by companies across the nation. In other words,  it's easy to miss the boat on tracking offline marketing efforts when you don't understand the technology being used. That said, there are three distinct components to any effective tracking of an offline marketing campaign.

Do You Own a Website?

This point may be pretty clear to many, but without a website, it's going to be very difficult to track visitors' behavior once they get to your website. Although encouraged, this does not mean your website has to have 1,000 pages and rank at the top of search engine results pages for any given search term, or that it has to be all things to all people. There is no shame in having a simple website that focuses on your products or services. QR Codes can be used to link prospective customers directly to these products or services, as well as pages that provide information about promotions, coupons or special events.


Is Your Website Enabled for Analytics?

Without good web analytics tools like Google Analytics, it's going to be very difficult to track visitors to your website. There is virtually no limit to the level of depth you can achieve with Google Analytics, but again, this doesn't mean you have to use it to the extreme. For examples, many small businesses are content to gather surface information like unique visits, bounce rate and the behavior of those who use certain search terms to get to your website. In the case of offline marketing, web analytics is essential for gathering statistics on the behavior of those who scan your QR Code. Business owners who do not have web analytics actively tracking user behavior are limited to instinct and guesswork, which is not the most stable method of achieving success.

Are You Tagging Your Offline Links?

The final step in monitoring your offline marketing efforts is to tag the web links in your QR Codes with information that will allow you to identify the particular campaign the link is coming from. This can be a little bit of a challenge to grasp at first, but a little patience and some testing should make any business owner an out-and-out professional in no time. First and foremost, Google's special URL Builder Tool is a must. This free tool will allow you to create one-off links that can be encoded into barcodes using a QR Barcode Image Generator. There are several parameters to define, three of which are required. These help to determine the following:

  • Campaign Source is required and is used to identify referrals that originate from the web, social media, a physical event, newsletter or other promotion.
  • Campaign Medium is required and is used to identify QR Codes scanned from a medium such as a brochure, billboard, poster, food product, etc.
  • Campaign Term is not required, and may be used to identify the focus of the advertisement or QR Code, i.e. a particular item or service.
  • Campaign Content is not required, but may be very useful in categorizing different versions of a particular medium like a brochure, etc.
  • Campaign Name is required and can be used to further segregate an advertisement, theme or locale.
For instance, IDAutomation has recently made finding the right product on our website much easier with the addition of our Barcode Software Selector tool. If we were to mail out a brochure to promote this time-saving tool, we may include a QR Code in order to track the behavior of individual recipients, with this URL created with the Google URL Builder Tool.

http://www.idautomation.com/customer/product-selector.html?utm_source=direct-mail&utm_medium=brochure&utm_term=product-selector&utm_content=qr-top&utm_campaign=john-smith

This web address would be encoded into a QR Code using a product such as the QR Code Image Generator as follows:


When John Smith scans this QR Code in his brochure, his behavior on the website landing page can be monitored and tracked with astounding precision. As a business owner, it may benefit you to know when your QR Code was scanned, how long the visitor remained on your website, whether they visited other pages, whether they completed a purchase and much more. This type of offline marketing can be extremely effective when tracked properly, and can open up the kind of insight that allows business owners to make the most profitable decisions possible.

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