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QR Codes: The Next Step in Retailer Loyalty Programs April 26, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in marketing strategies, Marketing-changing technology, mobile, Mobile Marketing.
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As part of our on-going information series about Mobile Marketing, we are working to make our readers familiar with the different types of Mobile Marketing tools available for promoting your products and services.  One that has yet to gain much attention is QR (quick-response) codes.  While not yet part of the mainstream here in the U.S., in Europe and Asia these codes are an everyday technology for consumers and retailers, and our research tells us it won’t be long before that’s also the case here.

Think of QR codes as the barcodes currently read by the cashier at your local grocery store.  Those codes contain product information such as pricing, sku, inventory info, etc.; scanning the info enables them to move you quickly thru checkout, and if you are part of the grocery store loyalty/discount program, then it also uploads a history of your purchases to your account.  This allows the grocery chain to provide you with special offers related to the types of purchases you make, it helps them see how often you visit their store, and it helps them with inventory/purchasing management.

QR codes are the same thing – but these are scannable by cell phones – and any company can put whatever information inside the code that they would like.  Read the article below for a more detailed overview of QR codes and their potential use for retailers.

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QR codes: Building a mobile loyalty program beyond key tags

By Jeff Weidauer for RetailCustomerExperience.com

The Nielsen Company recently predicted that smart phones will overtake “feature phones” (those without a keyboard and internet access) by next year. Most business people are already carrying an iPhone, Blackberry, or one of the many Windows Mobile smart phones; the rest of the population isn’t far behind. In fact, while smart phones started as a business tool, two-thirds of new buyers are personal users.

Mobile coupons have already begun to make inroads into what was once the domain of the venerable paper version; there are more sites to find and download mobile coupons now than one can reasonably visit. While these coupons don’t require a smart phone, viewing and scanning them is certainly easier on the increased screen real estate the smart phone platform offers.

If you’re a retailer, the logical question is, “What’s next?” The answer: QR codes.

Also known as 2D barcodes, or matrix codes, QR (for quick response) codes are in use throughout Europe and Asia, and thanks to the growth of smart phones, they are beginning to make their way to the United States. QR codes are essentially a way to link online content to a mobile device.

Using a scanner — numerous versions are available for mobile phones — the shopper scans the code and is redirected to a website, or a video, or some other content that the creator of the code has developed. Today, you’re most likely to come across them in the United States in a magazine ad, inviting you to scan the code and be taken to a link with more information.

Retailers should be working to implement this technology as soon as possible; while QR codes are not in the mainstream today, they will be very soon. Recent research predicts that two-thirds of retailers are planning a digital mobile initiative launch before the end of this year, and many of these will include a QR code capability. Manufacturers are already planning to incorporate this technology into advertising and packaging.

Of course, there is a great deal more to the technology, but the premise is as tantalizing as it is simple: shoppers scan a barcode on the shelf edge using their mobile devices, possibly with a branded scanner that you, the retailer, provide. This scanner could, and should, be part of a complete mobile application that connects your brand to the shopper and assists her throughout the path to purchase.

Once she scans the code on the shelf, the shopper is taken to a website or some other mobile-enabled content and provided with information the retailer controls. At the same time, a retailer can collect information on the shopper, such as where and when she scanned the code, how many codes she scanned, and what actions she may have taken afterward. Interface this with a retailer’s loyalty database, and the possibilities for connecting in a meaningful manner with the best shoppers become clear.

Nearly every retailer today has some type of loyalty program. Most involve issuing a card or key tag to shoppers, and most entice shoppers to use their cards by offering temporary price reductions that are only available to card holders. From here, data are gathered and analyzed, with the intent of providing insights that allow the retailer to market more effectively to shoppers based on their purchase behavior.

Consider the possibilities if that same program is tied to shoppers via their mobile device rather than a key tag. And instead of just getting the results of shopper behavior after the fact, consider the benefits of getting in on the pre-shop planning: list-making, coupons, etc. Then follow the shopper to the store and connect with her there via QR codes at the shelf edge — codes that are unique to that store and offer benefits that are relevant to that local shopper. Then follow up with the shopper with a post-shop program that could include surveys, savings analyses to show her how much she saved, and offers for her next trip to make sure it’s to your store.

Once a retailer starts thinking beyond the key tag and becomes a part of the process rather than just looking at results after the fact, opportunities abound. With this approach a retailer is not just throwing out offers, it’s having a dialogue with its shoppers; building and maintaining a relationship that benefits both the retailer and the shopper for the long term.

The technology is available today — right now. And right now is a good time to start preparing for when the smart phone becomes the mobile device of choice. Engage shoppers today with a QR code at the shelf, and start building an overall mobile loyalty strategy that goes far beyond the key tag.

Jeff Weidauer is vice president of marketing for Vestcom International Inc., a provider of technological retail solutions based in Little Rock, Ark. (Photo by CoCreatr.)
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Should you be interested in learning more about mobile marketing and how it can help grow your business, please review the mobile section of our website, additional mobile marketing articles within this blog, or contact us directly via the website or email at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com for a FREE initial consultation.

The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting and training firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. She is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years experience in providing Marketing, Operations, HR, and Strategic planning services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

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FREE Info About Mobile Marketing April 11, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in mobile, Mobile Marketing, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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If you would like to learn more about Mobile Marketing and how it can help your business increase revenue, please TEXT the word STRATEGIC to 244326

This will opt you in to Strategic’s Mobile Club, and notify us to schedule you for a FREE demonstration.  Members of our Mobile Club will be eligible for future special offers, and will receive tips on using Mobile Marketing to benefit your business as well as other useful info to help grow your business. 

If you prefer not to join the Mobile Club but would still like to receive the FREE demonstration, you can contact us directly at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com.

Mobile Marketing – What’s All the Hype About? April 10, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in mobile, mobile coupons, Mobile Marketing, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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You’re hearing it a lot lately – on Facebook, Twitter, national business publications, and even in daily news media – Mobile Marketing is becoming THE way to advertise; it’s often touted as the best direct marketing method available today.  So now you’re wondering – “What exactly is mobile marketing?  Are they right? Should my business be using it?  Is it really as effective as they say it is?  Will my customers want to receive mobile messages?  Can I afford mobile marketing?  Where do I begin?”

So let’s answer those questions!

First, what exactly is mobile marketing? 

According to the Mobile Marketing Association, “Mobile Marketing is a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.”

And that communication and engagement is being implemented by marketers from the smallest ‘mom & pop shop’ to the largest multi-national corporations.  As the traditional marketing channels suffer various levels of decline, mobile marketing is experiencing triple-digit growth annually.

According to Jeff Hayzlett, Chief Marketing Officer / Vice-President, Eastman Kodak Company, mobile phones are “the most direct and personal of all media channels these days… They enable us to remain connected 24/7. No need to log onto the Internet or roam around town looking for a hot spot. Mobile devices are always hot. A marketer’s dream is to engage in meaningful two-way conversations with people who are truly interested in their brand, and mobile gives you that direct line of communication — constantly.

There are various types of mobile marketing, including:

  • SMS (short message service)
    • Also known as ‘texting’
  • MMS (multi-media message service)
    • Messages that contain multi-media objects such as images, video and audio
  • Mobile Web Applications 
    • Browser-based web services such as the World Wide Web using a mobile device
    • Utilizes WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) – an open, global specification that empowers mobile users with wireless devices to easily access and interact with information and services instantly
  • Bluetooth (short-range wireless technology; up to approx. 33 ft)
    • Also known as proximity marketing
    • The localized wireless distribution of advertising content associated with a particular place.  In other words, if you have a cell phone in the proximity of a marketing broadcast, you would be able to receive a message or advertisement
  • Location-Based Marketing
    • Delivers multi-media directly to the user of a mobile device dependent upon their location via GPS technology
  • QR Codes (quick-response barcodes)
    • Two-dimensional barcode
  • Voice
    • IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
      • a technology that automates interactions with telephone callers
    • Voice broadcasting calls numbers from a computer managed list and plays a pre-recorded message to the call recipient or answering machine
    • Pay-per-Call
    • ADC (Abbreviated Dialing Codes) dial the code to access voice content
  • Mobile Banner Ads
  • Mobile Website
    • A Mobile-optimized version of an Internet website providing an easy way for consumers to learn about your company ‘on-the-go’.

Next, Are they right, should your business be using Mobile Marketing?  Is it really as effective as they say it is?

According to the Director of Research at Nielsen Mobile, “People look at every text message they get”, and 97% of them do so within 15 minutes.  Can you think of any other advertising medium where you are almost guaranteed that every person targeted will see your message?

Kodak’s Hayzlett says, “Mobile marketing is quickly growing beyond the experimental and is showing tangible results. Two examples are Barack Obama’s unprecedented mobilization of supporters during his presidential campaign, and the incredibly successful American Idol reality show, where over 20 million mobile users text their votes each week.”  

An additional recent example of mobile’s results is the spectacular fundraising efforts for Haiti which were driven by mobile donations.  Almost $5 million dollars was raised in less than 48 hours via text message contributions, and to-date, more than $30 million has been raised via mobile.

Some industry statistics may help to clarify the effectiveness of Mobile Marketing for you:

  • According to industry estimates, by 2013 the U.S. will top 100% per capita penetration of mobile phone use
  • SMS is typically read within an average of 15 minutes after receipt, and responded to within 60 minutes
  • While 65% of e-mail is spam, less than 10% of SMS (texting) is spam
  • A survey of 2,400 moms reveals that the single most important tech gadget in their lives is the cell phone
  • A Nielsen study indicates more than half of mobile data subscribers (51%) who saw a mobile ad responded to it by sending a text-message, clicking on it, or calling a specific number.
  • In analyzing the mobile audience, Nielsen found that teens were the most likely to recall seeing some type of mobile ad (46%) compared to 29% of users overall.  Asian-Americans and African-Americans were among other demographic groups with high recall rates, at 42% and 40%, respectively.
  • 88% of all mobile subscribers have a text enabled phone. 51% have received SMS marketing messages, and 25% have opted in to marketing messaging from a brand.
  • 14% said they are already open to mobile advertising so long as it is relevant to their interests

Will my customers want to receive mobile messages?

A new survey published by Compete.com indicates smartphone owners are very receptive to mobile coupons.  The survey, which looked at the time of day most smartphone owners use their devices, as well as what mobile advertising concepts they’re most interested in, found that usage during commutes to work and while watching TV were the highest by far.

To find out their receptiveness, the survey asked smartphone owners how interested they were in receiving various types of mobile advertising.  The results were quite interesting, indicating consumers were most interested in receiving grocery coupons (36%), scanable barcodes (29%), offers to save and pursue at leisure (26%), movie theater offers (26%) and promotion/coupon ads (21%) via SMS (text) when passing by a retailer.*

Can I afford mobile marketing?

Absolutely!  Mobile marketing is an extremely cost-effective medium to use with an exceptional return-on-investment.  While some firms have achieved an ROI as high as 54% or 62%, typical results range between 7 – 15%; still quite high as compared with more traditional media such as Direct Mail which typically attains a 2 – 3% ROI.

And now, Mobile Marketing is very accessible for even the smallest of firms.  Small business owners can implement their own unlimited mobile advertising campaigns – within minutes – for as little as $25 per month, through a service now being offered by Strategic Growth Concepts – and, no contracts required!

Where do I begin?

If you would like to learn more about Mobile, please TEXT the word STRATEGIC to 244326.  This will opt you in to Strategic’s Mobile Club, and notify us to schedule you for a FREE demonstration.  Members of our Mobile Club will be eligible for future special offers, and will receive tips on using Mobile Marketing to benefit your business.  If you prefer not to join the Mobile Club but would still like to receive the FREE demonstration, you can contact us directly at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com.

Sources: Babycenter.com, March 2008; Experian via Mobile Marketing Watch, Nielsen: Improved Recall, Comfort With Mobile Ads Study; Luth Research June 2009; *Smartphone Owners Want Mobile Coupons, Mobile Marketing Watch

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Should you be interested in learning more about mobile marketing and how it can help grow your business, please review the mobile section of our website, additional mobile marketing articles within this blog, or contact us directly via the website or email at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com for a FREE initial consultation.

The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting and training firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. She is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years experience in providing Marketing, Operations, HR, and Strategic planning services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

Strategic Growth Concepts Makes Text Messaging Available to Small Businesses April 4, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Mobile Marketing, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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Mobile Marketing achieves exceptional ROI and generates substantial incremental revenue

Small business owners can now implement their own unlimited mobile advertising campaigns – within minutes – for as little as $25 per month, through a service now being offered by Strategic Growth Concepts.

As part of our continuing effort to provide our clients with the latest technologies available to enable their marketing efforts, Strategic Growth Concepts has become a Certified Mobile Solutions Provider with a national text marketing solution.

Now, businesses such as:

  • retail stores
  • restaurants/cafes/fast food retailers
  • health clubs
  • salons
  • physicians
  • dentists
  • veterinarians
  • consumer service businesses
  • nightclubs
  • realtors
  • banks
  • consumer media (radio/TV/newspaper)
  • B2B firms
  • and many more

can utilize mobile marketing campaigns to communicate with consumers about:

  • appointment reminders
  • cancellation notices
  • reservations
  • take-out orders
  • scheduling appointments
  • daily specials
  • inventory close-outs
  • special order arrivals
  • expected arrival times
  • event notices
  • information requests
  • contest entries
  • surveys
  • new product announcements
  • changes in operating hours
  • and much, much more!

We’re very happy to make this service available to small businesses so they can now take control of their marketing and get large results with a small monthly investment and very little time.   And, no contracts required!

Until April 15th, Strategic is offering a 50% discount to businesses that sign up to utilize our text messaging services.  To obtain a FREE mobile marketing demonstration and learn how your firm can receive a 50% discount on getting started, please read our complete news release.

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Should you be interested in learning more about mobile marketing and how it can help grow your business, please review the mobile section of our website, additional mobile marketing articles within this blog, or contact us directly via the website or email at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com for a FREE initial consultation.

The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting and training firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. She is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years experience in providing Marketing, Operations, HR, and Strategic planning services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.