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Develop Your Campaign Strategies using QR Codes and MS Tags

We discussed some of the basics regarding QR Codes and MS Tags, so let’s think about our QR code campaign strategy.

To create a winning QR code campaign, it is essential to(i) identify with your target audience; (ii) have clear purposes; (iii) and above all else provide incentives to convey a favorable user experience.  First let’s keep in mind the bigger picture and keep it simple for starters… Communication – There’s no boundary to how, or even how much, you can share with QR codes or MS Tags.  A video, squeeze page, or landing page is easily shared and common. You could go further and share an entire eBook and even multiple pieces of content that share a common link, or pay with PayPal.

QR code “Like” button JJ Duling International, Inc. Facebook page.

Your Social Network is build through communication and sharing, and one of the favorite places for doing this is Facebook.  You can use Likify to create a QR code that links your mobile device to a fully functioning LIKE button for your Facebook page.

This really makes the process of assimilation your other communities with your Facebook page much easier since it is all accomplished in one click.  The “thumbs-up Like” signature clearly suggests the purpose of the code.

Every website should have a call to action, a response you want users to complete.  After building a social network, the next logical step is to rally them to take action.   Do you want users to complete a contact form, signup for a newsletter, opt in for a free eBook, or volunteering their time?  Whatever are you trying to accomplish, the call to action is key.  Below you can combine your Like code and direct them to an opt-in /Like page to build your list.

The QR code above takes visitors to a Facebook page welcome tab where the calls to action are Liking the page and a List Registration opt-in below.

The QR code above takes visitors to a Facebook page welcome tab where the calls to action are Liking the page and a List Registration opt-in below.

Here are some ideas and considerations to help you get started building your strategy.

Prepare and map your QR or MS Tag strategy.

Identify with Your Target Audience:

  • Will consumers have to change their behavior to accommodate QR codes, or is it part of their journey?
  • Does your audience need instructions about the use of QR or MS Tag codes?
  • Does your audience need to use a specific type of code reader?
  • Where will the codes be scanned…i.e. indoors, dark (restaurant) or light room or outside, is there an internet connection?
  • Will this alienate consumers who are not digital-savvy / do not have smart-phones?
  • You can also get an easy to memorize short URL from bitly or other traffic tracking URL shortening tools
  •  Does the content you are linking to ADD VALUE to the customer?

Have Clear Objectives—Here are some possibilities:

  • Cultivate your social network
  • Grow your email list
  • Increase Likes for your Facebook page
  • Increase your blog subscribers
  • Grow you subscription site
  • Improving customer communications

Provide Incentives—Here are some options:

  • Download a free eBook or MP3
  • Offer a discount for paying with QR Code
  • Contest- enter to win different prizes
  • Provide a discount coupon for a service, meal, or subscriber
  • Talk to a live agent
  • Provide a virtual tour
  • Use a Video to demonstrate a product or service
  • Provide Special access to a certain area…i.e. Training

You should always provide an incentive, if you are attempting to improve your email list or your Facebook LIKES.  The one thing your strategy needs is for you to understand that the person scanning the code expects something more.

You can, but don’t send them to your website. You can, but don’t just send them to your Facebook page. Send them to the next step in something grand.  Send the user to insightful informational content about the product in question or the company itself.

Have a code on your menu? Send them to a list of exclusive recipes. Have a code on your business card? Send them to a video that explains the benefits you get from signing up for the company e-newsletter, and then have a link there to let them opt in to receive it. Have Tags implemented on caps or table toppers? Send the user to informative content about the product in question or the company itself.

If businesses fail to deliver value with their QR code campaigns, consumers in general will become bored with them and more reluctant to scan them in the future. This will make it increasingly necessary to provide clear incentives and deliver on them.

Produce quality codes and make sure they work

While there are a variety of 2D code formats, we have mentioned the two most commonly used worldwide; QR codes and Microsoft (MS) tags. Both of these technologies are free, your selection of which to use will largely depend upon your audience and other market factors.

The QR code technology is free to use. This gives QR codes the benefit of being in the majority with regard to use around the world, and that familiarity is currently working to their advantage.

The MS tag technology is proprietary, which provides for absolute control over the entire user experience of generating, reading and tracking the tags. MS tags are also easily tailored and customized. One can embed images or logos into the codes using a number of options like Photo Shop or Microsoft PowerPoint.  See my logo.

As you would expect the widespread application and use of the QR technology has attracted lots of developers who want to cash in on the trend. Bear in mind, when technologies are open like this, there is always the risk that generally accepted standards will not be followed. QR code generators and scanners are only as good as the developers creating them, so you have to do your homework. If your QR codes don’t work, your reputation and brand are damaged.

Here are some fundamentals that will maximize your success with QR codes and MS Tags:

  • Make sure your QR code is not too complex and contains too much information.  If your code is complex it will generate comparatively smaller pixels and many QR scanners on lower quality smart-phones may not be able to read it properly.
  • Test your QR code to see whether it is working properly using various QR Code readers and on various devices and also make sure it can be tracked in your web analytics tool…
    • If you are using coupon codes, make sure they are properly working.
    • If you are pushing the QR scanner to a specific URL, make sure the URL is properly working.
  • Use link shorteners to create clean codes.
  • Avoid using colors that do not provide sufficient contrast—a potential problem with both QR codes and customized MS tags.
  • Make your codes at least 1″ x 1″—larger is better.
  • Provide a sufficient white space around the code.
  • Steer clear of using 2D codes on highly reflective surfaces.
  • Consider where your codes will be scanned.  Is there is an Internet connection.
  • Use a quality QR code generator. My favorites are ZXing Project and BeQRious. Another that has worked well for me is Kaywa, a site created by Datamatrix.  You can use these enhanced generators to create QR codes that link to a web page, text, phone numbers, or SMS.  One with even greater capabilities, including customizing the color and format of your codes is Kerem Erkan.
  • Use a quality scanner or reader. Some excellent choices are QR Reader for iPhone, QR Scanner, Qrafter and i-nigma. Qrafter is unique in that it is both a code generator and scanner in one app. The QR code reader app that works well on my iPhone is the i-nigma.  It accommodates virtually any type of camera phone. For the android, you can also try Barcode Scanner. If you already own the popular price-checking app Red Laser, they’ve recently adapted their technology to accommodate QR code reading.

Make sure your codes are Linked to mobile-friendly or mobile-optimized sites

One of the more common mistake marketers make with QR codes  and MS Tags is having them resolve to a standard web page that is not mobile-friendly. You must take into account the video format of the site.  You cannot have a code connect to a site with Flash video, which is not supported by the iOS devices (iPhones and iPads) that account for a majority of the code readers in the world.

Mobile-optimized is better than mobile-friendly.  When building a mobile site:

  • Build your site around the desired user experience. Remember to put all the most important information that you want mobile users to see on the top of the page like site search and navigation. It can be time consuming to browse through a mobile site, not to mention tedious to read through. Make your mobile site design convenient for your consumers.
  • Smaller images and solid colors load more quickly. The phrase “less is more” holds true to mobile design. Avoid using unnecessary graphics.
  • Keep download time in mind.  Avoid background images… they can reduce readability in certain lighting conditions. Combine smaller images, like icons, into one file and use CSS to position them on the page. This reduces the number of http requests your device has to make. Lastly, reduce size of images and minify JavaScript.
  • Design for fingers. Click targets should be a minimum of 30-40px in size and use whitespace in between elements to ease click-ability. Size your links and buttons to be touch-friendly.
  • It is easiest if your site is coded using either XML or XHTML, with your character encoding set at UTF-8.
  • Use succinct copy—sentences rather than paragraphs.
  • You have to consider that different mobile devices have different screen sizes. Design and build with a “fluid” layout in mind.
  • Test, test and test again—on iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms. Your site must use CSS for the layout to ensure maximum compatibility. Avoid using tables.
  • Forms can be difficult to use on a mobile device. Since text is time consuming to enter, you may want to offer your user the convenience of radio buttons and lists, which they can choose from depending on what they need. Also, reduce the number of screens a user passes through to complete a form. Form labels should be top aligned rather than left aligned to save space.
  • Forms should require the minimum amount of data input and should remember the data for the next time a user visits the site.

The principal benefit of 2D codes is encouraging action. This can be accomplished by connecting to multimedia content such as video that shows a product or service in action. Other logical actions include activating a phone call or social sharing.

Here’s a list of the most requested features for mobile-optimized sites:

  • Social sharing links.
  • Google maps integration.
  • Tap to bookmark.
  • Tap to call links.
  • Tap to email links.
  • Tap to SMS (text).
  • Links to other mobile-optimized sites like Yelp, Youtube, and Vimeo.

If you are not ready to mobilize your site, there are services available to do that.  DudaMobile is one I have not used, but have heard good reports.  If you are using WordPress, there are some Plugins that do most of the work and provide a great experience.

Measure your campaign-Analyze and examine your scan data with code management systems

The success of the QR code campaign will not only depend on the number of scans it accomplished daily, but worth more while making an user spent some time interacting with your website which helps engaging with the business.  QR codes and MS tags can presently track basic data. However, if you use a QR code management system, you can gather even richer data. These are all in the early stages of their development cycle. Most of these services are free for limited used. According to Microsoft, “MS tags have the capability to accurately determine the location of a scan and report that data in real time.” This sets up a number of code management prospects, such as delivering diverse content depending upon the location of the scan.  One could provide directions to the store or a discount coupon for those in or near the store. It also can be helpful in advertising through online portals, social media, etc. to make a successive campaign. If the number of scans drops, it will be an indication for reduced user experience.

The Consumer Experience Is Ultimately What Matters- Provide value and a positive user experience

QR Codes and MS Tags are just tools, and how you use the tool determines the value derived from it. What is most germane is that you as the marketer are the one who gives your codes value. Provide clear incentives and deliver on them.

QR codes and MS Tags can serve many specific uses for you.  The most prominent would be as a lead generation tool. You don’t have to necessarily replace your current lead generation programs; you can often just modify them. If you can use what is working for you now and make it even better, you are likely on the right track.   If you can identify tangential opportunities and make it more attractive or easier with QR codes or MS Tags, you are likely speeding down the right track. One of the fundamental rules of marketing is you have to meet your customers where they are, and customers today are ever increasingly mobile. A successful mobile marketing strategy using QR codes or MS Tags will place your business there in real time.


Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with



QR Codes and MS Tags=Successful Mobile Marketing

QR Code for Home Page

In October, we posted an article “QR Codes- a big deal? Precisely.” which was a general introduction to QR codes.  If you’re not yet familiar with QR codes, they’re similar to the barcodes used by retailers to track inventory and price products at the point of sale. The key difference between the two is the amount of data they can hold or share.   Here is the QR code to Precise Strategy Homepage:

While QR codes are still considered an innovation here in the United States, they’ve been actively used for over a decade in Japan where they were invented.  QR is a registered trademark of Denso Wave, which is a subsidiary of Toyota.  The reason for their widespread use is that Denso Wave has elected not to exercise their patent rights of QR.

There are several other software companies that have created 2D type codes that work much like QR codes.  Of course Microsoft is likely the most noteworthy.  Microsoft developed their own proprietary software to create codes known as MS tags.  However, unlike QR codes, which can be read by a number of different readers, MS tags can only be read by the Microsoft Tag Reader.  Here is the same example as a Microsoft Tag.

MS Tag for Home Page

Whether you choose to use QR codes or MS tags is a really an individual choice.  It looks as if MS tags presently allow for more possibilities for creative graphic designs, such as incorporating images and logos into the tag.  Nevertheless, those capabilities have to be weighed against the reach and ease of use of open-source QR codes.

These QR and other two-dimensional (2D) codes can be quickly integrated into your business marketing practices to carry your online content to a mobile audience in real time.  Have a look at the video below to refresh your memory regarding some uses and history.



Although we discussed this at some length in our previous article, let’s review some ways for using QR codes that are mostly in practice now.

What can you use QR or MS Tags for…

  • Share your business URL to take users directly to your site
  • Valuable coupons and special offers
  • Recommendations for complementary products and services
  • Link to social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Namesake, Foursquare etc
  • Newspaper/Magazine Articles: Making your voice heard and allowing comments in print media is a hard task. However, at the end of each article in newspaper and magazine, you can print the QR code to make them go to the URL of the article and help them to make comments on the online article and make them more engaging.
  • Newspaper/Magazine Articles:  If your are  advertising in a newspaper or magazine, wouldn’t it be nice if you can show your newspaper audience a video advert in your mobile website? You can do this with QR Codes.
  • Installation instructions
  • Customer feedback forms
  • Send out v-cards
  • Share assets – images, videos, other media
  • Sources for replacement parts and service
  • Share your address for instant directions
    The process for hiring your professional services
  • Free mp3 downloads
  • Accept Paypal payments

I’d be here all day if I listed all the uses that come to mind. There are so many creative ways to use these it’s ridiculous other than the cut and dry ones I mentioned above. Use your creativity in making your print media audience visit your site.

Where you can use QR or MS Tags…

  • Convention and event nametags
  • Restaurant menus for coupons
  • Event ticket stubs
  • Billboard: You can direct people to a site or shop via QR Code on a billboard…make sure it is not on an expressway.
  • The back (or front and back) of your business card 
  • Newspaper/Magazine Ads
  • Various other print media
  • Your brochures and other marketing materials
  • The sides of trucks and trailers
  • T-Shirts and Promotional Souvenirs
  • Product tags and packaging
  • Point-of-sale receipts.

How you can you maximize your success with QR or MA Tags…

  • Alleviate the fears of the non-technical
  • Give reasons to come back
  • Test modifying the size, location, and color of your QR codes
  • If you are using coupon codes, make sure they are properly working
  • Study your analytics
  • Test your QR code to see whether it is working properly using various QR Code readers and on various devices and also make sure it can be tracked in your web analytics tool.
  • Provide explanations about their use and benefits
  • Encourage actions that support your marketing plan
  • Make the process fun, such as a games
  • Test and experiment with different programs and split tests…be creative.

The possibilities for QR Codes and Tags are unlimited.  I think we can certainly predict that the current social media experience will be enhanced. The subsequently generation of barcodes will hold yet more information, so much information that an Internet connection will not even be needed.  The content will be for practical purposes embedded in the code.  It’s really incredible to consider where this can go.

In the next post we will talk about ideas to help you get started building your QR code  or MS Tag strategy and look at a couple of applications.


Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with



QR Codes- a big deal? Precisely.

QR code for precisestrategy.com

What are QR codes and  how can they help your business?  Quick  Response codes (QR codes) and other two-dimensional codes are expected to  achieve widespread use this year – and for good reason. Consumers want  immediate  access to what’s relevant and QR codes are being used to make that  possible.

You may have seen these recently in various places, you may have heard people  talking about them in the realm of mobile and wondered what the heck they are.   Quick response codes (known as “QR” codes) are a very convenient way to display  a small bit of information that is easily scanned and processed typically by  mobile devices. Allowing physical items to almost become  interactive, by providing information that is easily scanned like a website  URL.

To make a simpler  analogy, most people are familiar with Universal Product codes (known as UPC  codes). Everything you buy at the grocery store (and almost any store these  days) has one of those that the cashier will scan. The computer then  immediately knows what the product is based on the code that it picked up.

Does anyone remember the days of  grocery shopping and the cashier had to punch in the prices and codes for every  single item you purchased. They had to memorize most of these in their head and  if they forgot? They had to pickup the loud phone,  make an announcement in the store asking for someone in that department to help  them out.  Think  of QR codes as UPC codes but instead they’re used in a much broader spectrum,  not just to ‘identify’ products but to convey ‘information’ of some kind.

Basic QR Code Usage

The most basic (and popular use) of QR codes is to display website information  (a website address). Lets say you’re at a trade show and you’re walking by a booth. You want to find outBooth QR
more information about the company, so you open up your phone and start  fumbling away trying to type in some long URL (that is on my display) into your  browser, and off you go. The
other option would be for them to display a QR code (on the display), you take  your phone and scan it just like cashiers scan items at the grocery store, and  your phone automatically starts loading the website, how is that for  convenience?

What  about billboards outside on the street, or bus shelters while waiting for  public transportation. You can place these little codes anywhere. People with  free scanners on their phones (iPhones, BlackBerrys, Androids, Nokia, etc.) can quickly scan the QR  code and find out more information, like opening up a website.

Food Markets and

Whole  Foods Market uses these in their stores. You might notice a table tent with two  QR codes.

SupermarketIt  was obvious where they would take me if I scanned them, one would take me to  their twitter account, the other would take me to  their facebook page.

If  I was interested in checking out their twitter or facebook page, rather than opening up each respective app and going to the search  function and typing in their name etc. (I likely wouldn’t, too much effort) I  could pick up my phone, scan the QR code and automatically open each page!

Even Fast Food!!!

I recently picked up a bottle of ketchup at the local restaurant and sure enough I  went right to their website for calorie and other nutritional information.

You  can find a lot of examples of QR codes online, here are a few more:

Airline Boarding Pass

QRAirlineThis is an  interesting one because you use your mobile to display the QR code rather than  scan it!

The mobile boarding pass is essentially a paperless e-ticket. Here is  how it works:


  • The airline sends your  boarding document, with a link to your QR code, directly to your mobile  device via e-mail.
  • You click the link in the
    email to retrieve your QR code.
  • Anytime you need to present
    your boarding pass – at security checkpoints or at the gate – you hold up
    your QR code to a scanner, which reads the information.
  • The QR code acts as a unique
    link to all of your flight information.

If you have a seat change or upgrade, or a change in the departure gate,  your boarding pass can be refreshed electronically to display the new  information. The pass can also be used to check any bags at self-service  machines, airline counters and curbside kiosks.

The TSA now has scanners that can read these electronic passes as well:  just present your mobile device with the ticket on screen and your personal ID.

Wine Bottles

A  lot of vineyards are placing QR codes on their bottle labels. When you’re out  and try a QRWine.pngbottle you like, you want to find out more information, or browsing  in a wine shop, you may want more information. So rather than writing a long  URL out (which most people aren’t going to go type in for lack of convenience),  you can scan the bottle just like the cashier will. The only difference is your QR code scan is to give you more information on the wine/vineyard (sales  stuff), and the UPC scan is to identify the item in stock and figure out how  much of your money to take.

Just  walk around and you’ll start noticing these things.

Anyone with a QR scanner on their phone could quickly scan that QR code at the bottom
and be on their website in a second or two.

What They’re NOT For

I’ve  seen people put QR codes on their website and quite frankly that just defeats  the purpose and nobody will ever scan it. The point is to take people from the  physical world to the online world. If someone is already browsing your  website, facebook page, twitter, some online  ‘property’, they’re already there.

QR Code Generation

Creating  your own QR code could not be any easier. There are countless websites online
that allow you to easily generate a QR code image. You take the image they give  you and print it on whatever you want, place it wherever you want, it’s a  ‘label’ so to speak. Here are a couple to get you started:

QR Content

Though  typically QR codes identify URLs you can essentially represent any piece of
information you like, here are some examples:

  • Website URL
  • Send a text
  • Send an email
  • Address Book
    record (vcard)
  • Display some
    text on your screen
  • Any bit of text
    you like

What  determines the success of what you put there is how it’s read and consumed. So
that means the scanner has to know what to do with the ‘text’ it reveals after  scanning the QR code. So almost every scanner I’m aware of knows what a url is and will open it for you.
Most will allow you to ‘start’ a text message (it will not create/send one for  you). But when get into more complicated (not as popular) usage, they won’t  always work.

I  have an app on my iPhone that does not handle address  book entries, while the other one does. So even though you can represent many  things with a QR code, it’s ultimately up to the scanner to understand what to  do with the text and that is why the URL is the most popular, as it’s the most  widely used and supported by all QR code scanners.

Got  an iPhone? Try these free scanners (these are the  ones I’ve tried)

  • QR Reader for Iphone- TapMedia Ltd.
  • Bakodo
  • QR Code Scan  Reader- T3 apps

Have  you tried any yourself on your mobile? Do you have any recommended scanner apps
for iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry (any phone for  that matter)? Please post in the comments below, let us know some good apps for  other devices, or maybe you’ve found better iPhone
apps than the ones that I’ve used.

QR…is it worth knowing about?


Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with