Supporting QR code campaigns with SMS

Textlocal founder Alastair Shortland talks to Fourth Source.

Mobile marketing is rapidly transforming the way businesses communicate. Smartphones are everywhere, and across the globe people are becoming more dependent on using their phones while they’re out and about for things like payments and location-based services. It’s vital that businesses harness the growing influence of mobile marketing, and connect to customers quickly, directly and instantly.

QR codes are another way businesses can connect to customers through their smartphones. You have probably seen these barcodes that look like mazes – perhaps on bus-stop posters, or on magazine ads, or in shop windows.

When you scan or read a QR code with your iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled Smartphone, you can link to digital content on the web; activate a number of phone functions including email, Instant Messaging and SMS; and connect the mobile device to a web browser. Mobile technology has become so sophisticated, that not only do consumers want to browse and purchase on the go, they want to do it fast. QR codes allow this to happen.

The ability of QR codes to connect people with each other and to multimedia digital content is very useful for businesses and consumers alike. However, we at Textlocal feel that businesses are missing out on a huge opportunity to form relationships long term through QR Codes.

Most businesses only use them to drive people to a website, a specific URL, which doesn’t capture any data. Then there is the issue where marketing agencies think “oh, I’ll add a QR code to some marketing material”… and then all it does is take the user to their normal desktop website which may not even optimised for mobile.  Most QR codes that you see in the wild have no discernible call to action at all….they offer no reason for the end user to scan the code, other than novelty value.

Therefore, we believe the potential for QR codes has not yet been fully explored.

If you connect a QR code to an SMS text message, then a conversation can be automatically opened, and an exchange of data becomes possible. This is MUCH more powerful and effective, and means that when a user scans a QR Code, they can also send an automatic text message, giving businesses the opportunity to capture their mobile numbers for future marketing. This speeds up ‘opt-in’ mobile marketing, something that can also be done long hand via texting a word into a short code. QR codes linking with SMS can even go a stage further. After the QR Code has been scanned, and the SMS message has been automatically opened on the phone, businesses can also request that users enter an email address in the SMS message, and automatically reply with digital marketing collateral, for example, say a PDF brochure direct to the palms of their hands. We believe that QR Codes, working in harmony with SMS, opens up a whole world of opportunity for data capture that is being under-utilised.

There is so much more that can be done, and much of it is directly relevant to brands and retailers. Once you have used a QR code to excite your customer and make the sale, you can then use them to enhance the experience for them. Businesses can use QR codes on brochures, direct mail pieces, press ads, and so on. It is a slimline way of delivering rich, engaging content to customers in a way that encourages them to interact.

In this current economic climate, marketing budgets are being slashed. Local businesses and SME’s face competition from large high street chains and multinational organisations, and are without the resources to execute large marketing plans. The larger organisations are competing with each other to shout the loudest in an extremely busy market. Everytime businesses communicate with their customers, they come under scrutiny as to how it impacts not only society, but also the environment. QR Codes via SMS dramatically reduce the need to print mass amount of marketing materials, allowing companies to brag about their efforts on decreasing the global CO2 footprint.

All users require is a QR Code reader which is a FREE app to download onto their Smartphone, which is usually free. We have expanded our extensive portfolio of services with a QR code facility that allows the 75,000 businesses we work with to set up their own QR codes at the touch of a button. There is huge potential for businesses to send information directly into the palm of people’s hands, in response to QR Codes, and the likelihood of the message being read is a whopping 97.5% according to Ofcom. QR Codes are generally free of charge, and you don’t necessarily need to be a ‘techie’ to make them work.

Our services, which marry SMS with QR Codes, deliver to ALL brands the power to communicate with customers through highly cost-effective, rapid, and convenient mobile marketing methods.