I’m a member of a fabulous organization called MENG, (Marketing Executives Networking Group, basically a brain trust on steroids for senior marketers.)

A prospective client asked a question about validating the utility and effectiveness of QR codes (you know those funny looking square scanner things).

QR code link to the Brand Action Team website

Here’s a summary of MENG’s take on the subject.

They’re new.  There’s not a lot of data on case histories published yet.  Agencies are enamored of them.  Consumers are just discovering them.

The key to effectiveness is the motivating relevance of what the marketer tells the viewer they’ll see by clicking through.  So offers/discounts, relevant content, contests/sweepstakes, order online immediately or a value added service are all great. Videos, links to websites or Facebook pages are not as compelling. you have to clearly communicate to the consumer what they’re going to get if they click through.  Don’t try and “trick” or tease consumers.  To paraphrase Sarah Palin, that’s like teaching a pig to sing…it doesn’t work and it pisses off the pig.

Some Key points:

-Make sure the landing page from the code is accessible on mobile platforms…iPhone, Android, tablet.

-While still  in its relative infancy (right now, penetration is about 30% of smartphones, expected to go to 50% by end of 2011) more use of QR codes will generate more downloads of readers.  In Japan, it is a mature tool and people expect marketers to communicate via QR codes for “the rest of the story.”

-It’s relatively inexpensive (there are paid as well as free QR code generators), so it’s not much of a risk, or as my bubbe used to say, “It couldn’t hoit” to test, learn, optimize.

Here are some QR basic metrics from MENG’s own Heidi Cohen’s blog.

  1. Impressions. This is the number of times the QR code is viewed in its original context or surface. This is usually the same as the number of impressions the ad, in which the QR code appears, gets.
  2. Snaps. This is the number of people who snap a shot of the QR code and are linked to the landing page or other content. Make sure the landing page is mobile friendly because users capture this information on a smartphone. Since U.S. smartphone penetration is roughly 30% and additional action is needed, snaps will be low relative to the impressions.
  3. Snap-through rate. Calculate the percentage of people who take this next action by dividing the number of snaps by the number of impressions. Expect this to be a very small percentage.
  4. Actions. This is the number of people who ultimately buy or take the next step. This should be in line with marketing goals.
  5. Conversion rate. Calculate the percentage of people who convert from those who snap-through on your QR code or actions divided by snaps.