Learning Mobile Marketing

I was right about QR Codes

I noticed many ads this holiday season that had QR codes included.  I wondered, was I wrong?  Do consumers know how to use QR codes?

The answer came when a co-worker forwarded me an article entitled “Why QR Codes aren’t catching on” by Amy Gahran on CNN Tech.  I found that Amy echoed some of my concerns from last Spring in my blog posts “QR Codes in Bathroom Stalls” and “What are QR Codes Anyways”.  My posts were mostly on gut instinct, but Ms. Gahran has research to back her information.

Essentially, QR codes are more complicated to the general public than most techies know.  One day, the technology could be more advanced to make it worth the consumers’ time.  Until then, I guess you’ll just have to show us the information because our “secret decoder” apps are too complicated.


QR Codes in Bathroom Stalls

Bathroom SignI was out to dinner the other night with some friends and when I went to use the ladies room, I was shocked to find an United Healthcare ad with QR codes right inside the stall.  Now, I am an old fashioned gal who doesn’t think you should even talk on the phone in the bathroom.  I can’t imagine whipping out my phone and taking a picture of the ad while in the stall.

The issue with QR codes in the bathroom is most mobile phone cameras will make some sort of noise, usually a camera shutter noise, to let you know the picture was taken.  If I was in the stall next to someone taking a picture, I would think that was a little creepy.  I wonder if the restaurant has heard anything about cameras in the bathroom.

I have seen the United Healthcare posters elsewhere that worked.  But I think the lesson here is be aware of where your QR coded ads are being place.  The two places where a QR ad should never go are in the bathroom and on a billboard. (Although you would think if someone was that curious, they would pull over and take the picture.  But, unfortunately, not everyone is that bright.)

I am still looking for some excellent examples of QR codes in marketing.  So far, I am coming across the usual sort of stuff like, adding the code to a coupon with more product information, adding it to a catalog to directly link to the check out page, etc.

What are QR Codes Anyways?

Learning Mobile Marketing QR CodeOne of the buzz phrases in mobile marketing presently is QR codes.  I have found myself wondering, what exactly are QR codes other than some interesting black and white design?  How do they work and why would a company use them?

QR Code stands for Quick Response, which is a specific barcode that can be read by barcode readers and camera phones.  QR codes where invented in Japan and are still very common there. The first use of QR code was to track parts for vehicle manufacturing.  The reason QR codes are becoming so popular is that they can store much more data including URL links, geo coordinates, and text.  Anyone with a mobile phone camera can scan QR code.  An app will need to be downloaded so that the QR code is readable on the mobile device.  Another thing, the code does not have to be black and white.

Once the QR code has its picture taken by a mobile phone, it can be transformed into many things which makes it all the more fun.  It is like having a secret code that you have to open to find out where it will take you.  Here are some examples of what the code may contain:

  • Product details
  • Special offer details
  • Event details
  • Competition details
  • Twitter and Facebook IDs
  • Link to a YouTube video
  • Add a contact to the user’s device
  • Add an appointment to a user’s device
  • Send directions to a mobile device’s GPS
  • Open a connection to a wireless network
  • Free MP3 downloads
  • Open a URL
  • Coupons

QR codes are very easy and very inexpensive to design.  Some websites offer the service for free, such as Kaywa, QRStuff.com, QR Code Generator, and delivr.  A lot of these sites look very similar.  Some sites have more advanced programs that you will pay for in order to track the created QR codes.  Most QR code generators also offer free QR code readers.  Some QR readers only work with specific phone types.

I think that QR codes are just in the beginning phase of being implemented into marketing programs.  Part of the reason is not a lot of end users understand what the code is or how to use it.  Some may think it is a special barcode for the manufacturer that has nothing to do with the end-user.  Extreme examples of those with big imaginations could include an interesting new-wave design, or a design with a subliminal message that will control the user’s mind.  The truth is, not all end-users understand what QR codes, or how to use them.  You may have to educate your audience and possibly offer a link to a QR reader app.

There are so many different ways to use QR codes and the integration into any marketing plan appears simple.   Stay tuned for examples of how other companies are using QR codes in their marketing plans.


Mobile Optimized: What are QR Codes, How do I use them

QReate & Track: QR Code Examples and Ideas

Search Engine Land: What Is a QR Code and Why Do You Need One?

Caribou Coffee: Starting a Mobile Campaign Example – FAIL

Caribou Coffee  Twins Win Promo Email

Caribou Coffee did not use the cell phone information collected.  I was so excited.  I thought they might text me the coupons when the Twins win, and instead they only sent an email.  Then I have to print out the email in order to redeem the coupon.  Perhaps, I could show the cashier the email on my phone, maybe he or she will allow that to be proof. Or maybe, Caribou Coffee needs the paper trail and it hasn’t occurred to them that allowing people to use their cell phones to show coupon codes could make Caribou Coffee look even greener by not using paper coupons.

I did receive an offer from the number I had to text to in order to opt in – unfortunately, it had nothing to do with Caribou Coffee.  I deleted it immediately, because I was so irritated. 
So, now that Caribou Coffee has my cell phone number, what do they intend to do with it?  Is there a phase 2 of this promotion?  I guess only time will tell, after all it’s just the beginning of the baseball season.

Continue reading this entry »

Mobile App Ethics: Who’s in Charge

A story broke last week that a group of senators are asking that Apple, Google, and RIM, to remove mobile apps that show where DUI/DWI checkpoints are.  The first thing I thought is how does a person, not in law enforcement, build an app that shows where DUI/DWI checkpoints are?  What would the end purpose of this app be?  Who determines if an app is ethical/morale?  The answers to those questions, all depend on who you talk to. Continue reading this entry »

Components of EMWC Mobile Marketing Plan

Now that we know the purpose of the plan, we have put together the components of the mobile marketing plan.  We have decided that EMWC needs a texting service that can alert donors and volunteers of upcoming events and service needs.  EMWC also needs a mobile-friendly website that offers quick information and an opportunity for people to donate money to the cause.

According to Tag.Microsoft.com, Americans spend 2.7 hours per day socializing on their mobile devices.  That is twice the amount of time the average person spends eating and a third of the time the average person spends sleeping. 

 Text messaging would reach the target market for EMWC faster than email (unless their audience also has email on their phones).  The text messaging portion of the mobile marketing plan will use text messaging to send information regarding volunteer opportunities and upcoming event reminders. Our Century College Advertising and Promotion Team had originally thought of using Constant Contact as a texting service since EMWC already had an account with them, but it appears by their website that they are no longer offering the Live Feedback service.  Other services we have looked into offer a monthly fee between $19.99 and $50.00 depending on how many messages an organization would be sending a month.

The second part of our mobile marketing plan is to develop a mobile website for EMWC.  Since the mobile site will be viewed primarily on mobile phones, the site has to be easy to load and have only the important information because the screen is so much smaller.  This site would have a simplistic look and the information would include the following content:

  •  About Us: Brief company history, stats on past, present, and future number of families the organization hopes to help, upcoming events.
  • Volunteer Now: Page that shows current volunteer opportunities and a way for potential volunteers to submit information.
  • Donate Now: Payment page that allows potential donors to donate via the mobile website.

Along the bottom of the mobile website will be information on how to contact EMWC. We believe that this website will make it easier for millenials to find view the EMWC website and shows that EMWC is moving toward a more technically advanced form of communication.

Purpose of EMWC Mobile Marketing Campaign

The purpose of the EMWC mobile marketing campaign is to reach more volunteers and donors in the age range of 18 – 40 years old.  In order to end the cycle of homelessness, EMWC must cycle in new support from the surrounding community.  EMWC is not well known in its own community.  The volunteer base is aging as well as those that are donating to the organization currently.  This campaign needs to draw the interest of 18 – 40 year olds that are employed and want to help end the homeless epidemic through volunteerism or monetary support to EMWC.

 The 18 – 40 year old demographic is part of the Millenial and Generation X segments of the population.  The Pew Research Center has done extensive studies on different aged demographics and their usage of technology. Two of the most recent reports that we will be using data from are Millenials, a Portrait of Generation Next and How Mobile Devices are Changing Community Information Environments.  These reports show that Millenials and Generation X are becoming more attached to their mobile devices than ever before.  Here are some of the statistics found:

  •  84% of American adults own a cell phone.
  • 2/3 of cell phone users take advantage of mobile phone features, such as texting, emailing, web browsing, and apps.
  • 21% of those ages 30 – 49 get news alerts about their local community sent by text or email to mobile devices, versus 17% of those ages 18 – 29.
  • 63% of college graduates who own cell phones or tablets get local news and information on their mobile devices.
  • 21% of this Millenials say that helping people who are in need is one of the most important things in their life.

Due to increasing use of mobile devices and the fact that mobile devices are becoming the main source in which people get their updates and news, EMWC needs to use this channel to communicate with potential volunteers and donors.  The purpose of the mobile campaign will be to attract and inform donors and volunteers of opportunities and needs for EMWC.  The challenge will be formulating a campaign that lies within the non-profit’s budget, while receiving an optimum number of new supporters.

Social Media Mobile Applications Issues

Cell phones chatting“…businesses must invest in a mobile and social strategy that focuses in on the most valuable and relevant way to communicate with their customers, without having to immediately change their tactics with every new development.”

 Excerpt from TNW Blog Article Why Brands Ignore Mobile Social Media at Their Peril By Steve Jarrett

There are a few technological issues with social media mobile applications.  This article highlights three: keeping up with the rapid advancement of technology, incomplete applications for end-users and social media mobile apps may not have the ability to integrate marketing messages.

Keeping up with rapid advancement of technology

As wonderful as the advancement of technology is, it does offer some complications to marketers.  Marketers have accepted that social media and mobile media need to be part of their integrated communication plans.  As new technology is developed, many marketing applications need to be updated. 

  A complete solution to this problem has yet to be invented.  Marketers should watch technology trends and keep their eyes and ears open to hear what the consumers needs are.  It does seem like a lot of work, but in order to find the solution, marketers need to look at what social media offers now and what people are asking for.

Incomplete applications for end-users

So many new mobile phones are coming with apps/functions to make Facebook, Twitter, and other social media more accessible anywhere.  On February 15, 2011, Facebook posted an article called A Better Mobile Experience on its blog talking of the latest mobile phones coming out with new Facebook features.  The article sounded so promising, but in reading the comments at the end of the blog, you find there are still many issues that need to be solved.  There were thousands of comments and half were comments about what needed to be changed.

 Just taking a small sampling of the comments (46) the majority of the comments were that the mobile Facebook applications do not allow users to see pictures (28%).  Other issues that were cited in the comments were you can’t share posts; some can’t see notifications or can’t order their notifications by the date and time; can’t access chat; can’t access games; and can’t see groups. 

Lack of marketing integration in social media mobile applications

As a marketer, the other issue is that many mobile applications of social media limit the marketers’ ability to reach its target audience.  Mobile applications of social media do not show advertising.  According to a blog article by RICG, a New York marketing agency, there are over 200 million users of the Facebook mobile app.  The agency points out those mobile users are more involved in Facebook and more likely to look at their friends pages, creating tons of impressions.  Impressions, that until apps are more marketing friendly, will go without seeing any brand messaging. 

Marketers should not be discouraged.  There are many marketing agencies pushing to get in on social media mobile applications.  As technology develops, where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

 As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Mobile Marketing Campaign How To: Introduction

Image retrieved for Google Images

As part of my advertising class at Century College, we have been divided into teams to create advertising/promotion campaigns for different non-profit organizations.  I decided to be on the team for East Metro Women’s Council or EMWC.

EMWC is a place where homeless families go to get their lives back on track.  The program prevents and ends homelessness for families with children through housing, resources and opportunity.  Parents can attend classes to manage a budget, get job training or even college degrees, and counseling to move past the road blocks of homelessness.  Children get a stable environment where they are fed and clothed, there’s a roof over their heads, and they get to go to school.  The family stays in the housing until they are self-sufficient, they are not kicked out after 30 or 60 days.

Our team decided that mobile marketing should be part of the campaign, so I thought I would blog about how we work out a mobile campaign for this program.  My plan is to show our mobile campaign from start to finish in five steps/articles.  Please stay tuned for the first step: Determining What the Campaign Needs to Accomplish.

Too good not to share

Hi!  I was blown away when I read this article.  A partnership between LG Electronics and YouTube is creating the ability to create and watch 3D videos on your smartphone.  Wow!  I could possibly have 3D on my phone, before I have it in my living room and without the glasses!

Mobile Marketing Watch:  LG, YouTube Unveil 3D Video Experience on Mobile Devices at Mobile World Congress