Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that smart devices, particularly smartphones, are poised to take over the world – sorry Pinky, maybe you should have bought an iPhone to get the job done. These powerful devices are changing everything about B2C marketing and communication. Marketers are having a field day, with mobile marketing budgets expected to soar in 2012. There’s still a lot of valid skepticism, however, for QR codes. There are kinks to work out and innovations to be made. But the benefits can certainly be worth it, especially for those really innovative companies who come up with creative campaigns to drive this interaction and increase purchase potential. For those ready and creative enough for this, I recommend keeping the following tips in mind:

1.      Offer an incentive. But make it clear what the value is. It’s not likely that I’ll pull out my QR Code app to scan something if you don’t tell me what I’m getting out of it. “Scan this to win a prize!” I’m curious, but not curious enough to be motivated to action. Try something like, “Scan here for 15% off your next purchase.”  Now that interests me.

2.      Keep it simple, interesting. Motivating users to scan the code is only half the battle. Have the scan take them to a mobile-friendly website that does two important things:

a)      Brings them immediate value, like a discount code or entry into a contest.

b)      Prompts them to do something else, like downloading an app or signing up for a rewards card, email or newsletter distribution list. They’re already there, keep the relationship going.

3.      Measure, measure, measure. Like any good campaign, set goals and determine how you want to measure the success.     Determine the number of scans, the number of purchases from the scan (if applicable), how many people signed up or downloaded something else, etc.

4.      Be where your audience is.  A lot can be said about the value of location-based marketing. So when I was at a subway station recently and saw the QR code for having your groceries delivered to your home, I was impressed. Who needs groceries delivered? People in the city, who may not drive as much or have cars. Who takes the T? Those same people. While this scenario didn’t actually apply to me, I love a good marketing campaign, so I pulled out my iPhone and tried to scan the code…that was on the other side of the tracks. It wasn’t possible to get over there; it was just a wall with ads. I got as close to the yellow line as I could…then I got closer to the edge. Before I realized it, I was leaning so far over the edge that I was nearly falling, and then as I slipped a little, I jumped back in fear, combining it with a frightened yelp! I looked around to 30 or so commuters staring at me with odd looks of judgment. I was that girl. So when thinking about location, don’t just concentrate on where your consumers are, remember that if they have to scan something, they need to be able to get close enough to do so.

Before any of this can happen, however, the mobile marketing community needs to come together and help promote this so that people are downloading the scanning apps. Maybe the iPhone 8 or something will have it built in, but right now there’s an issue of consumer adoption. ScanLife, one of the scanning apps, did a cool campaign in December, where every scan – no matter what brand – entered you into a contest for an iPad. This could have encouraged users to scan more for this purpose, but as they were doing so they would realize the value and keep on scanning even after the campaign. Unfortunately, it wasn’t heavily promoted, but the idea was there and maybe set the stage for additional campaigns. By the way, if you’re looking for a QR Code app, ScanLife is the one I recommend. Easy to use, free, fast and it keeps a database of scan history in case you want to scan now and peruse later.

For the consumers out there, I’d say mass adoption is still a few years out, but I don’t think it’s a passing fad. For the marketers out there, especially for start-ups or those with a low-budget, I say get on board. A QR code campaign is inexpensive, simple and easy to measure through analytics. Get moving marketers…literally, I’m saying you need to go mobile.

Drop a line in the comments if you’ve seen or done any really cool QR code campaigns.

A version of this post originally appeared on prSPEAK, a blog by PAN Communications.