Over the past several years, a lot has been written on the subject of QR codes, and how people view them as either a help or hindrance to a brand’s advertising/promotional efforts and or strategies. Besides the obvious, which is that the technology enables brands to transport consumers from the printed/physical world to the digital world, there are some, such as myself, who see the technology as a means by which a brand can elevate its ability to communicate, interact and engage with a potential and or existing customer. On the other hand, there are those who believe that QR codes are merely a distraction when used in advertising and promotions, because the technology doesn’t always work as intended and or it’s an inconvenience for the customer to have to download and make use of a code reader app.
Right or wrong, good or bad, help or hindrance, the point of this article is not to debate the subject of QR code technology and its use in advertising and promotion, but to simply present an example of how (IMHO) one brand is correctly making use of the technology.
Founded in 2011, UNTUCKit manufactures a unique collection of men’s and women’s shirts that are designed to look good when untucked. In the past year or so, I’ve seen the company’s advertisements in the local New York newspapers, but when I saw the company’s most recent ad, I noticed something different. In this ad, a QR code was prominently displayed and, being curious, I scanned it.
When the code scan resolved, I found myself on a mobile-optimized web site, and the landing page was perfect, because it immediately explained what makes the company’s shirts so different and desirable. Also on the landing page was information about the company’s brand ambassador, shipping policy and the new retail store in New York.
From the landing page, I selected “Men’s” from the main navigation menu. On this page, the entire Men’s shirt collection was presented, and done so in a very easy to read and browse format. Next, I wanted to see how the checkout function operated, so I placed an item into the shopping cart, and started the checkout process. While it was not a one-step/one-click checkout, it was easy enough to add shipping and billing information.
After this, I wanted to explore other parts of the site, and I was drawn to the “Referral Program” tab, which is located in the bottom navigation section. Once selected, the company’s referral program is explained: refer someone to the company and they will receive a 10% discount off their purchase, which then gets you $20 off your next purchase. How different! Sure companies have loyalty and reward programs for customers, but programs like that do very little, if anything at all, to trigger and generate referral business which, in my mind, is marketing’s ultimate goal.
From there, I wanted to read through the company’s shipping and return policy which, it turns out, is simple and straightforward. Shipping is free, as are returns and exchanges. Yes, many online retailers offer this service and or convenience, but surprisingly there are still a number who don’t.
Next, I was interested in reading about the company’s brand ambassador, which turns out to be NHL star Brad Richards. It’s interesting that the company has a brand ambassador, because many companies, clothing or otherwise, do not make use of this tactic. Especially when a company is new and in start-up mode, I believe, an ambassador can help 1) make an aspirational connection between consumer and brand (i.e., if Brad Richards looks good in an UNTUCKit shirt so should I), and 2) establish credibility for the brand and product (e.g., if someone like Brad Richards buys and wears an UNTUCKit shirt it must be of good quality, materials, craftsmanship, etc.).
At this point, I was way past the QR code scan and fully immersed in the company’s website and brand/customer experience. In other words, I was right where the brand wanted me to be. Granted, my motive for scanning the code was different than others reading the paper and seeing UNTUCKit’s ad, but what’s most important here is that my experience was not interrupted or derailed in any major way. And this leads me to a point which most do not write or talk about when it comes to QR codes…integration.
To move a consumer from the print/physical world to the digital world takes an integrated approach and mindset. The same with being able to move a consumer from landing page to deeper pages, and from prospect to customer. With so many channels, mediums, messages, tactics, strategies and other nuances to stop and consider, marketers often lose sight of the fact that integrating all of this is the key to success. What good would it be if the QR code scanned to a non-mobile optimized website? Very little. What good would it be if a 1-800 phone number linked to a service representative that had no clue about a certain promotion that was being offered? Very little. What good would it do if an email was sent to a prospect, but the email did not specify what step to take next or where to go for more information? Very little.
Integration works hand in hand with the customer experience, and if the integration of channels, mediums, messages, tactics, etc., is not seamless and frictionless, from first point of contact to the last, then, why bother marketing at all? If you decide to make use of a QR code in your advertising, on your packaging, etc., please take a page or two from UNTUCKit’s marketing playbook, because it works.