QR codes are the square boxes with black smudges that one sees most often in the corner of magazine advertisements, and you may be thinking they are just goofy black boxes and product ads--but there is more to them. For example, at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, there was a QR code displayed in an exhibit labeled "Neanderthal Me." The link provided an attractive alteration of your own image with a bit more facial hair, a sloping forehead and really strong shoulders--like you would have in Neanderthal times. Now that's useful!
QR is an abbreviation for "Quick Response Code", and was a 1994 invention by a Toyota subsidiary, designed to track vehicles during manufacture. The QR code differs from a standard bar code because it can store more information and can be read much faster by a scanning machine. Although born of the auto industry, they are now broadly used for a variety of purposes, including: tracking and identifying products during manufacturing and shipping, managing documents or for general marketing purposes. They have been used on Chinese train tickets since 2010 and a story surfaced of a Japanese stonemason who put them on grave stones so visitors could view information about the deceased and family members could keep track of visitors.
The primary general public use of QR codes is for marketing purposes and they are used to get product or company information seamlessly to a desired audience. Reading a QR code requires a scanning app on a smartphone that is easily downloaded on an Android or an iPhone. The app scans the code and then directly transfers the user to the company's web site, a promotional video or any other internet site. The transition is seamless and there is no need to do a Google search to find a company site or to type in a URL because the scanned QR code takes the user directly there. It's a convenient way to embed a link in a message, on a sign or anywhere else potential customers might see it and be interested in more information.
Do QR codes represent a possible marketing avenue for community banks? The answer is yes, if the information can be displayed in such a way as to reach a target group and the code links the potential customer to information they are interested in. Research by Edison and Arbitron finds 21% of US smartphone owners say they have scanned a QR code and 2% do so at least 1x per day. Another survey by Nielsen finds 24% of US smartphone users have scanned a QR code in the past 30 days. Finally, a BrandSpark International study finds 83% of North American consumers are aware of QR codes and 47% have used their mobile device to scan one.
As you work on the budget process for next year, consider as well that a study by Nellymoser finds response rates are higher with QR Codes than direct mail, so check your spend.
PCBB knows that faithful readers of the Banc Investment Daily wait with breathless anticipation each day to open this very email attachment or click the link on their devices. To assist you, we have added a QR code to make it even easier to read on your device. Download a QR scanner app if you don't have one on your phone already, scan the code above and you will be taken directly to the Banc Investment Daily page. If you have never registered on the page, you will only need to do so once. We don't want you to miss one corny joke or misplaced metaphor, so we are making every effort to make the BID convenient and accessible wherever you are.