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July 25 2011

QR Technology Approaching Ubiquity in U.S.

In June we discussed Making Room in Your Ecosystem for QR Codes. At that time the good folks at ScanLife had released a report analyzing QR code implementation and interaction rates throughout 2010.  In a nutshell, the findings illustrated how QR technology in the U.S. is on the rise but still not quite to the state of omnipresence.

As we round the corner on the second half of 2011, let’s go to ScanLife’s latest report for a radically different snapshot of QR code adoption.


In mid-2010 ScanLife was only recording 10 QR code scans per minute.  As of this report, they are currently logging one scan per second. As you can see from the graph above, QR code adoption started slow but has grown exponentially since July 2010.  As U.S. handset companies begin to incorporate QR technology into their base models, expect the ‘per second scan rate’ to only increase.

Another golden nugget gleaned from the report is the increased usage among mainstream Americans, detailed in the image above.  As expected the 25 – 34 year old age group leads the charge, followed closely by 35 – 44 year olds.  The first-time homebuyer bracket (25 -34 years of age) has traditionally preferred to interact on mobile devices, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see that the 35 – 44 year old age group is:

1.) so close to the younger age group in number of scans, and

2.) scanning at a higher percentage/rate than the younger age group.  At the current rate this will result in a surplus of tech-savvy homebuyers spread across more age groups than ever before.


The report also contains some interesting stats regarding mobile OS market share, scan rates per city and country, and an interesting comparison between 1D and 2D barcode scanning.  Click here for ScanLife’s Q2 2011 Trend Report.


-  Austin Smith, Goomzee Community Manager


June 13 2011

Exhibit A

We recently stumbled across a QR code success story that is a perfect example of effective, consumer-oriented marketing.

Based out of Birmingham, Alabama, a broker named Charita Cadenhead was struggling with a way to entice open house attendees to sign the log-in sheet.  So, she created and began distributing double-sided sign-in cards.  Each card had places for contact info on the front and instructions for downloading a “QR reader app” on the back.

After filling out the card and returning it to Charita, each attendee received a “One Day Sale” QR code coupon to scan.  And for the first time in Charita’s career, everyone who attended her open house signed in without hesitation!

This is a great example of QR code usage in real estate on several fronts:

1. Solves a Problem – Having troubles getting attendees to log their contact info at open houses, Charita let technology step in.  By implementing her campaign with a fantastic call to action, she was able to overcome the ‘privacy issues’ hurdle and connect with her market’s tech savvy homebuyers.  Like any good carpenter, Charita let the tool do the work for her to solve a problem.

2. Call-To-Action – Too often, QR codes will just lead to contact info or property info that was already available on the media it was just scanned from.  In this case, Charita used a coupon giveaway to create value; a special, otherwise inaccessible offer available only to those who took the time to sign the cards.

3. Clear Instructions – Unfortunately, a limitation we are currently facing in QR code adoption is the lack of inherently supportive mobile handsets.  Many phones in Asia have been hard-coded to read and scan QR codes.  In America, the handsets are not quite to that point yet; QR interaction still requires the download of a “QR reader app”.  Aware of this issue, Charita printed clear, easy-to-follow instructions on the back of each sign-in card.

4. Mobile Optimized Landing Page – Charita also paid attention to the post-scan consumer experience by creating a “special Postlets page”.  The QR code did not lead to her existing agent website or property search, but to a mobile-ready site that was created specifically for her open house marketing campaign.

Taking the time to construct your QR campaign correctly will open the door to interaction with homebuyers through the mobile medium they prefer.  And as you can see, proper implementation of QR code technology can also help overcome some of the adoption hurdles we currently face here in the U.S.

June 03 2011

Making Room in Your Ecosystem for QR Codes

Just like your business cards, flyers, IDX website, and ‘For Sale’ signs, Quick Response (QR) codes are a key piece of the complete real estate marketing ecosystem.    Since the demand for mobile-optimized information has reached a new peak, (driven by a generation of tech-savvy first-time homebuyers) the effective marketer will make sure to utilize QR alongside traditional media and other mobile marketing tools.

While some may view America’s adoption of QR codes as a hurdle, it is, in fact, an opportunity.  According to a 2010 trend report from ScanLife, 40% of all U.S. smartphone users have downloaded an app to scan 2D barcodes.  While we’re not quite at Japan’s level of adoption yet (where barcode software is hard-coded into 65% of mobile phones), ScanLife also reports a 1600% increase in U.S. barcode scanning throughout 2010.

Unfortunately for the U.S., some early QR practitioners have not fully honed their marketing for the mobile channel.  Since a bad experience inhibits consumer adoption, here are a few tips for your QR code campaign:

1.  Optimize for Mobile

  • First and foremost, the destination behind a QR code must be mobile-ready.  Since QR technology is mobile-focused, consumers are going to expect that whatever website or landing page they are being directed to will appear pre-formatted for their handheld device.  If it doesn’t, the effectiveness of the mobile interaction is nullified.  To ensure effectiveness, make your landing page easy to interact with across all mobile devices.

2.  Reward

  • Just like any other marketing medium, the consumer needs to be rewarded for their troubles.  Mobile users who scan QR codes are expecting a payoff, and it needs to be more than they are left with had they not scanned the code.  Successful marketers have been providing rewards in the form of coupons, special offers, or even just additional information.  As long as the QR code is a gateway to a new experience, consumers will always want to see what they are missing.

3.  Use in A Complete Marketing Ecosystem

  • In a previous post we discussed the marketing ecosystem – the concept of utilizing various and distinctly separate marketing mediums to create a network with a single message.  Part of maintaining a successful ecosystem is adopting avant-garde technology and blending it with existing tools.  In this case, adopting QR code technology and merging it with SMS (text message), mobile web, email, and phone.

Critics of QR technology in the U.S. say it will soon be replaced by augmented reality, if the slow rate of adoption doesn’t twist the knife first.  Based on the numbers we see from ScanLife in regards to adoption we know that this is simply not true – usage is on the rise, and the current climate is a great opportunity for professionals looking to stand above their competitors by correctly implementing a technology that consumers demand. Unfortunately for augmented reality, results are limited by the aggregator and not driven by a personalized marketing plan.  In advertising terms, augmented reality is “inch-deep, mile-wide marketing”, a powerful tool in its own right but one that does not compete with QR’s ability to literally pull users into your marketing.

If we have learned anything from the thoroughly-critiqued adoption of technologies such as Twitter and SMS, then we know that the negative feedback typically comes from those who are using the medium incorrectly.  By implementing the proven methods discussed above, however, Quick Response codes can be a flexible, relevant, and valuable part of your complete marketing ecosystem.

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