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Quick Response (QR) codes link the physical world of print with the virtual world of almost endless, instant information. In simplest terms, QR codes are an enticing invitation – a hook – and a new way to enhance involvement with your brand. The act of a consumer scanning a QR code is a positive indication of interest and an active request for engagement. By scanning a QR code with the camera of their smartphone, consumers – wherever they may be – actively interact with your brand.

To be effective, your QR code strategy should be carefully planned at each step. It takes more than simply printing a code and waiting for response. The digital content that the QR code links to should augment the printed content and the consumer engagement should be tracked across all media channels.

How Marketers Are Using QR Codes

Marketers and publishers are successfully using QR codes to engage their targets and readers. They’re also receiving trackable, measurable results. Here are just a few examples.

Visitors entering the Allergy and Gluten Free Show 2011 in London were given the opportunity to download a mobile app to their mobile phones and then browse a floor plan of the show and enjoy a unique interactive experience at each of the exhibitors’ stands. Every exhibitor was given QR codes to display at their booth. When scanned by the visitors’ smartphone, the code took them to a mobile-friendly webpage giving details of the exhibitor’s products and services and a link to their own websites. Over the three days, more than 15% of visitors scanned codes, driving substantial traffic to exhibitor’s websites and giving visitors a new way to interact and capture data at the show.

Another QR code success story was a “big box” retailer’s placement of QR codes in newspaper full-pagers and circulars featuring branded merchandise. The retailer was able to leverage the brand’s connection with consumers while simply and clearly describing the value of the process.

A national department store chain recently introduced QR code technology to its customers via a “backstage pass” and focused not only on delivering fun and informative video content via their mobile phones, but also on educating consumers on this new way of engaging with the brand. Wherever a QR code for the promotion appears, whether in-store, print or online, customers also have the chance to instantly win daily shopping sprees worth up to $500.

In a recent marketing campaign, a document archiving firm featured personalized QR codes on the front page of its newsletter that led recipients to an online form to update their personal information for the firm’s records. An impressive 14.2% of recipients scanned the newsletter’s QR code and 9% responded to the request to provide information. The results were more than 10 times the average response rate of comparable direct mail campaigns and about three times the average response rate of outbound calling campaigns.