Digital

What are QR codes? QR code marketing for restaurants; a case study

A few handy tips for email newsletters you might not have considered from Marketing Consultant Sophie Fraser

Author

Sophie Fraser

QR codes are all the buzz in agency land at the moment – but its amazing how few people on the street really know what they are or how they work. We recently trialled a QR code on a construction hoarding board tease campaign for one of our restaurants – inviting passers by to a week of preview dinners. Thought we would share some of our key learnings.

QR stands for ‘Quick Response’ barcode – which was a barcoding system originally designed for the automotive industry in the 1990s but has had a resurgence since the emergence web capable smart phones. The two dimensional barcode can contain complex information such as a website link or URL, email address information or a phone number and with a specialist barcode scanner you can easily instruct your phone to perform any of these actions.

QR codes are all the buzz in agency land at the moment – but its amazing how few people on the street really know what they are or how they work. We recently trialled a QR code on a construction hoarding board tease campaign for one of our restaurants – inviting passers by to a week of preview dinners. Thought we would share some of our key learnings.

QR codes are an interesting development and Ignite have been keeping a close eye on them and increasingly integrating them into our campaigns. Key is ensuring the context is appropriate – I do find myself chuckling when I see QR codes on ads deep in the subterranean train network where an internet signal is but a distant memory.

We decided to trial QR codes on a campaign as the restaurant was in central London and we suspected there would be a higher concentration of Smartphone / QR code awareness in the area (media agencies etc).

We ran a local tease campaign whilst the restaurant site was being built / refurbished. Comprised of a hoarding board design that invited passers by to a series of preview dinner evenings prior to launch – and supplied both a URL to a purpose built landing page and also a QR code in the design which directed the phone to a mobile version of the site. Not only wise from a usability standpoint but we could measure the relative performance of each.

We were fascinated to see how many people signed up using the QR code as we know that you need a special app to be downloaded onto your phone to be able to process and read.

QR code campaign results:

Over a six week period of construction we saw around 257 email signups for preview dinners. 40 of which were via the purpose built QR code mobile page. So around 16% penetration for QR. Unfortunately for the QR performance we didn’t have complete coverage for the full six week period for reasons which we will outline below

QR code tips:

K.I.S.S

If you are going to incorporate QR code into a design make sure you keep is simple and prioritise usability and legibility of the QR code (ie Black & white). It turned out our initial design whilst performing perfectly in various printed tests the office environment in the real world on a large format vinyl sign encountered readability issues due to the reflectiveness of the surface and the colours we chose.

Our designer went all out and researched the most leading edge designs including incorporating shapes and colours into the QR code itself which were quite cool an inspiring and whilst not going quite as far as altering the shape we designed our QR code in the sensible dark gold and white of the brand colours. Turns out the glare of the site and the vinyl made this QR code difficult for any but the most recent smart phones (iphone 4) to read it. After investigation we discovered that earlier iphones and smart phone often dont have auto-focus on their camera and can struggle. The contrast presumably was too low in the real world and after a short period we replaced the QR section of the vinyl with a simplified B&W version which performed well. Hence the caveat above on final QR stats.

QR code readers still lack penetration

Just observing the sign in action it became quite clear for many smart phone users there was a certain level of awareness of QR codes but no knowledge on how to use them /what was required. Whilst onsite installing the sign I witnessed several curious locals going up and trying the QR code for themselves. Most had trouble. This is where we first identified the issue above – but it also flushed out a pair of people who had a smart phone and were trying various photographing techniques with no awareness that a specialist app was required. I also encountered a fellow who had a ‘barcode’ reader for supermarket items and was trying to scan it using that. Right idea – wrong app. This is still very much an emerging technology.

Call to action / landing page

We had good feedback that from a marketing standpoint we made sure the call to action / reason for clicking the QR code was enticing and relevant (sign up for preview dinners) rather than a simple website / ‘for more info’ link. We also made sure that the site itself was optimised for mobiles. Even though the safari on most iPhones can handle a wide array of traditional sites easily many other smart phones cannot. We ensure we had a simple one column version of the sign up form dedicated for mobiles.

Combine your QR code with measurable link

One final tip – you should of course make sure you have full measurability over your efforts. One nifty technique we developed to add another layer of measurability over and above google analytics was to generate our QR code using the shortened link info function of the www.bit.ly site. Allows you to track your mobile site link in real time.

QR Code Tracking example

Conclusion

Overall… despite the early challenges with colouration and design and obvious shortfalls in user awareness we felt this was a valid technique and intend to carry on using them in campaigns where appropriate in the future.

Like what you've seen? Get in touch.

Find out more about working alongside us!