Expert's Opinion

Yes, We (s)Can!

By Laura Marriott, NeoMedia Technologies, Inc. | July 7, 2011

Laura Marriott explains how to get closer to your target audience with mobile barcodes.

What do you get if you cross a mobile phone camera with a marketing campaign? An unstoppable direct response mechanism of course!

Mobile devices are an essential part of everyday life. Ofcom tells us that mobile device penetration stands at 92% in the UK and according to analysts Frost & Sullivan mobile device penetration in the US will exceed 100% this year. With words like Nomophobia, the fear of being out of mobile phone contact, and FOMO, fear of missing out, creeping into common parlance, combined with the rise of smartphones and mobile tablets, it is increasingly evident that people are relying on their mobile phones to do more than simply make phone calls. People are using their phones to plan their social lives, read and share news stories and of course, shop for goods and services. Furthermore, there is an increasing expectation amongst consumers that with mobile devices they should have the world at their fingertips. So, why shouldn’t brands maximize this opportunity and help consumers access whatever they want whenever they want it?

One effective way for brands to instantaneously communicate with consumers is by introducing mobile barcodes into their marketing campaigns as a direct response mechanism. Direct response marketing is the part of any marketing campaign that is designed to solicit specific and quantifiable response from consumers, taking the idea of a call to action to the next level. The major advantage of using mobile barcodes as a direct response mechanism is that communication can be established directly between the brand and the consumer, facilitating a dialogue that is advantageous for both parties.

Mobile barcodes have garnered much media attention recently as they have been popping up everywhere, from billboard ads for new TV channels to soft drink cans and e-tickets—the uses of mobile barcodes are almost limitless! There are numerous ways in which mobile barcodes can serve the needs of brands, and by including them in marketing collateral, advertisements, product packaging, editorial content or even projecting them onto buildings, consumers are enticed to engage and interact with a brand in a way that suits them. Essentially, mobile barcodes are a marketer’s dream; they are a great direct response mechanism, enabling a much closer and targeted relationship between a brand and the target audience.

Mobile barcodes facilitate this dialogue between the brand and the consumer by immediately relaying the response rates and user data back to the brand in real-time. This is in contrast to other forms of direct marketing where the customer is contacted, by email or regular mail, telephone call or SMS, and response rates are reported back to the brand after the fact. When brands include a call to action in their ads, usually a phone number, a search term, URL or SMS shortcode, the resulting response rates can be much lower than with mobile barcode scans. The search term, shortcode or URL can easily be recalled or entered incorrectly, for example, or put off until another time, reducing the immediacy of the interaction and negating the chance of the consumer acting on impulse. Moreover, by including a mobile barcode that is scanned then and there, valuable intelligence on location and time of day is fed back to the brand, together with demographics and other opt-in information, providing them with useful contextual guidance that they can use to further tailor the interaction.

For brands, therefore, it is beneficial to use mobile barcodes. Given that the response rates for mobile barcodes can be broken out by channel, demographics and location, brands can allocate their marketing budget to the most profitable areas. This in-depth analysis not only enables brands to predict ROI, but to also get a clear picture of the target consumer, which in turn facilitates the building of a close relationship. Furthermore, since all the communication is between the brand and the consumer, this cuts out the middle man and makes it a cost effective way of communicating with consumers.

Adoption rates of mobile barcodes have increased dramatically over the last year. At NeoMedia, for example, we have recently recorded an 1800 percent increase in usage across our NeoReader platform.This dramatic increase indicates that mobile barcodes are starting to be recognised as an effective and efficient way for brands to engage with their target audience. But it is still early days and more can be done to educate brands and consumers. However, as we see more of the big names such as Bloomingdales, Calvin Klein and Nine West incorporate the codes into marketing collateral, this education will continue apace. Mobile barcodes are clearly a direct response mechanism that is here to stay!

About the Author
Laura Marriott has been chief executive officer (“CEO”) and board chairperson (acting) since October 2010. Prior to this she served as NeoMedia’s chief marketing officer and has been an active member of the NeoMedia board of directors since January 2009. Before joining NeoMedia, Marriott ran her own mobile consultancy helping companies engage the mobile channel in their day to day business. Marriott has also served as president of the Mobile Marketing Association (“MMA”) from 2005 - 2009 and, earlier, as director of marketing for Intrado, Inc. During her tenure at the MMA, the organization’s membership experienced substantial growth, established global headquarters and regional chapters throughout the world, and developed guidelines for the industry. Named one of the industry’s Mobile Women to Watch 2010 by Mobile Marketer, Top 50 US Executives by Mobile Entertainment and Top 10 Women in Wireless by FierceMarkets, Marriott is highly regarded for her global voice and expertise on mobile marketing. Marriott is published in industry publications and quoted in broadcast, print, and radio worldwide.

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