Posts Tagged ‘Smartphones’

Mobile Marketing Trends: QR Codes Exciting for Marketers, but Confusing for Users

December 9th, 2011 1 comment

The QR codes have been highly popular among users as well as marketers in Japan for past few years, where almost all mobile devices are sold with a QR code reader software. Now QR code usage is growing exponentially worldwide: according to ComScore in June 2011, 14 million mobile users in the U.S., representing 6.2% of the total mobile audience, scanned a QR code on their mobile device. What comes to Europe, in EU5 region (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK) 4.6% of mobile users and 9.8% of the smartphone owners scanned a QR code during the same time period.

It seems like QR code is an exciting, effective new marketing tool … or is it?

What is a QR code?

Developed in Japan, a QR “Quick Response” code is a specific two-dimensional code that is readable by Smartphones. The numeric codes are a great way to enhance marketing and content, however QR codes require that users have a QR code reader installed in their Smartphone and they link to a mobile website.

QR code can be read by scanning the code with a Smartphone, which allows the user to access the encrypted content. Users will be then directed to the mobile site in the internet, where they are able to discover additional information or buy the product online.

How to use QR codes in marketing?

There are many ways to use QR codes in your communication campaigns to enhance the user experience and connect with the users:

  • Implement QR code in your offline promotions: QR codes are a great way to connect offline with online through for example print ads, TV, magazines, posters, and direct mail, but do not forget usability, for example billboards on highways and underground are not likely to work.
  • Implement QR code in your online promotions: implement QR codes to your website, online promotions, microsites, social media, etc. to enhance the content.
  • Engage with audience with location-based QR codes: let users interact with you via QR codes on windows, maps and other physical signs. This could be for example used as part of a mobile game or competition linking to reality allowing users to search and discover next steps or locations via QR codes.
  • Surprise with QR codes in unusual locations:use QR codes in unexpected locations such as buildings, museums, windows, etc. to provoke users…they have even been used in tombstones. In South Korea one of the supermarket chains created a digital supermarket in a tube station, where users could use their Smartphones to scan the QR codes and put the products in their shopping cart. These were then delivered home when they returned from work.
  • Use QR to provide contact information: Add QR code with contact and route information into business cards, flyers, event handouts, event invitations, etc. (but remember to add text contact details as well, since not all prospects have a smarphone or QR reader).
  • Give special QR discounts: implement an offer specifically targeted for the QR code readers to give users feeling of exclusivity and to push them to buy the product/service.
  • Enhance product and in-store information with QR codes: give additional value for the users by implementing a QR code with additional product information and reviews in product packages and promotional offers. You can also add product usage information such as recipes, manuals, show-and-tell videos, post-purchase information, etc. and product origin information, for example where, when and how the product was made/cultivated, if the pesticides were used, etc. A pioneer in this field is the Japanese food wholesaler Aeon, which has been providing information via QR codes since 2004.

Who uses QR codes?

What comes to the QR usage demographics, according to ComScore study, 60.5% of the users who scanned a QR code in the U.S in June 2011 were male and 53.4% were between 18-34. The usage of QR codes sounds even more interesting when you take in account the income: more than 1 out of every 3 QR user in the US has a household income of at least 100,000$.

How and where mobile users interact with QR codes?

In the US most of the users (49.4%) scanned QR code from a printed magazine or newspaper, product packaging (35.3%) was the second popular QR source, followed by website (27.4%) and poster/flyer/kiosk (23.5%). Interestingly, 13.4% had scanned the QR in business card/brochure, 12.8% had scanned it in the store front, and only 11.7% on TV.

But where do mobile users scan QR codes? According to ComScore, in the US 58% of the mobile users who scanned a QR code did so at home, 39.4% scanned the code in retail store, and 24.5% in grocery store. Almost 20% of the users scanned the QR code at work, 12.6% outside or in public transport, and 7.6% did so in restaurant.

In Europe 57.4% of the mobile users scanned a QR code at home, 22.6% scanned it at work, and 20% scanned the code outside or on public transport. 18% of the users scanned a QR code in retail store, 17.2% scanned it in supermarket and only 5.7% in restaurant.

Increasing global QR code usage

In Q1 2011 worldwide QR code usage grew by 61.9% over Q4/2010. The US (181%), the UK (167%), Netherlands (146%), Spain (94%) and Canada (94%) were the top growing countries.

Top countries QR code usage Q3 2011:

  1. Japan
  2. US (51%)
  3. UK (8%)
  4. Netherlands (4%)
  5. Colombia (4%)
  6. Canada
  7. Italy
  8. Germany
  9. Spain
  10. Brazil
  11. Mexico
  12. Saudi Arabia

What comes to the mobile OS, in Q2 2011 Android phones lead iPhones with more than 8%, but in Q3 iPhones are responsible for 30% of scans while Androids are responsible for 23%.

Exciting for marketers, confusing for users

While the marketing usage of QR codes is increasing globally, the users still need to learn how to use them. According to a new research by Archrival, QR code is an ineffective marketing tool when targeting young people and it lacks attractiveness. When Archrival interviewed more than 500 university students in the US, they found that these have very little interest in QR codes. Mostly QR codes are ignored, even if 81% of the students has a Smartphone and 80% has seen a QR code in some occasion.

Why the lack of interest? According to the study, only 21% of the students had managed to scan a QR code. There were difficulties because some students believed that they only needed a camera to scan the code and were not aware that they would need to upload an app. Many of them got bored during the process because it took a long time and others directly did not want to download a scanning app.

These are important obstacles marketers need to take in account while using QR codes in a strategy directed for young consumers. Let’s remember that what comes to the trends especially in technology, the trends do not spread from old to young consumers, but it is the youth who start the trends that then spread to mainstream.

Even if the QR codes have a lot of potential, the fact people do not know they need to use specific applications to read the codes or how to get the apps to view the content is without a doubt one of the big challenges marketers are facing. However, if the QR code reader would be automatically integrated in mobiles like in Japan, the mobile users would be more likely to adapt the new tool.

Anyhow, QR codes are a great way to link offline to online and enhance the user experience. It might be worth experimenting with the QR codes now when the audience is smaller so by the time QR codes become mainstream you have the experience and knowhow to beat the competition. That is if the users actually learn how to scan them.

M-Commerce vs. T-Commerce: Smartphones Used for Search, iPads Used for Purchase

April 18th, 2011 No comments

E-commerce, M-commerce, now T-commerce…just like Smartphones, the amount of “tablets” such as iPads is increasing across the globe. In 2010 Apple sold 14,8 million iPads and the Analyst IDC estimates the number of tablets, not just iPads, to reach 44 million in 2011. Meanwhile, according to Forrester, many retailers report that over 50% of their mobile traffic is now coming from the tablets.

What is very interesting is that a study by e-commerce platform provider Shopatron, supporting more than 800 brand stores in 35 industries, claims that the conversion rate from tablets is much higher than conversion rate from mobiles or even PCs. According to the study, the average conversion rates for non mobile optimized pages (iPhone, Android, iPod…) was an average of 0.37%, yet the average conversion rate from iPad was a whopping 2.04%. For some of the e-commerce stores the iPad conversion rate was double than the conversion rate from personal computers.

Are tablets better for e-Commerce than Smartphones?

Smartphones used for investigation

Consumers are using mobiles to investigate before buying a product, but not for actual transactions. Currently 6-8% of the retailers’ traffic comes through mobile, but only 1% of the final purchases are done by mobile.

This is mainly because, unless the web is mobile optimized, transactions through mobile are not very user friendly, especially if the user has to fill up long forms. Instead, Smartphone is ideal for users to investigate products and do a pre-purchase at any time in any place. Consumers access mainly the product price, availability and client reviews. During the weekend consumers dedicate 30% more time on investigation than other days per week

This reflects in the number of searches. According to the Google Mobile, in Q1 2010 mobile search queries from Smartphones on Google grew 62% over the previous quarter. Concerning the m-commerce, Google mobile searches on shopping-related keywords grew 2500% in the past three years.

To enhance users mobile shopping experience, here are some tips on how to mobile optimize your site.

Tablets used for purchases

Let’s face it: tablets are bigger and with a bigger screen the shopping experience is closer to the familiar PC e-commerce experience. The buying process is also much simpler. It can actually turn out to be much richer and exciting with a touch screen giving the user a bigger possibility to interact with the brand and the store.

And of course, another reason is that there are far too many non mobile optimized sites. A webpage that is unpleasant to browse in a mobile looks slightly more appealing in a bigger tablet screen. Still not optimal, but better.

Tablet users want more precise and up-to-date information than mobile users with all the details of the product, purchase process and delivery. To give users what they want, make sure that the page is “tablet optimized” and the shopping experience as simple and pleasant as possible. Make sure the “shopping basket”, product price and image (and discount if applicable) are always clearly visible. Also test the page in different tablets and check that the content is easy to navigate. Include user reviews and comments and optimize the user journey by making payment and delivery fast and effective.

Tablet, Smartphone or PC?

Why not all three? Whether you call it E, M or T, online commerce is increasing fast and retailers should compensate the decline in physical store sales by investing more in online reputation and sales.

Tablets are coming and offer very nice figures. PC still drives most of the traffic and sales. Smartphones maybe are less likely to be used for transactions than tablets, yet mobiles are considerably increasing the traffic to the actual POS. Besides of search and product investigation, users rely on them to find locations and deals near by, check opening hours, and compare prices online. The potential they have to drive sales offline and online is enormous.

By taking advantage of different channels and devices retailer can stay ahead of the competition, create strong online reputation and increase the number of leads. Therefore it is not wise to concentrate only on one channel, but to invest in e-commerce, t-commerce, m-commerce as well as mobile search.

Mobile SEO: Best practice – Mobile Optimize with a Separate Mobile SEO Strategy

January 7th, 2011 2 comments

According to the Google Mobile presentation I participated in December, in Q1 2010 mobile search queries from high end phones on Google grew 62% over the previous quarter. Concerning the e-commerce, Google mobile searches on shopping-related keywords have grown 2500% in the past three years. It is clear that instead of only focusing on desktop SEO, there are real possibilities in mobile SEO that should be taken advantage of. Companies are still strugling with the “normal” SEO and do not have time/resources/expertise to mobile optimize. It means that including mobile optimization into the strategy can improve considerably the campaign results with a lower cost, since there are less competitors bidding for the mobile search keywords. For now.

Mobile optimization in a nutshell:

  1. Separate Campaigns
  2. Optimize Your Keyword List
  3. Create Compelling Ad Text
  4. Bid and Budget for Mobile
  5. Track Your Performance
  6. Optimize Mobile Website
  7. Test, test & test

Very interesting point that came up during the presentation was the difference between website SEO and mobile SEO. Even if the mobile SEO is still taking its baby steps, after trial and re-trial Google’s conclusion was that different strategy and separate campaigns are the best way to guarantee stronger results.

Why to use a different strategy:

  • Location based targeting: Desktop is primarily used in one location, while mobile is used in multiple locations.
  • More refined targeting and creation of personal experience: Desktop SEO is for the masses, but in mobile SEO there are different networks and devices that can be separated.
  • More correct ad format to provide the best user experience: Desktop is usually used in times of leisure, while mobiles are mostly used in times of need (except games, social networks etc.)
  • Best method to interact with users: With desktop only website based internet can be used, while with mobiles there are both website based internet and apps available.

Why to target mobile separately:

Separate campaigns mean you can isolate performance on mobile and then optimize keywords, ad text, bids & budgets without affecting your desktop campaign.

  • More control: Set bids and budgets just for mobile, run separate reports to track results and optimize more easily.
  • Relevant messaging: Include messaging with a strong mobile call-to-action and use relevant ad formats.
  • Better targeting: With Google AdWords you can target different carriers and devices.


  • Location extensions – ads are relevant to the user’s location
  • Click to call – users click the number to connect to your business
  • Mobile site links – mention you have a mobile site.
  • Click to download – users click to download pdf, free app, information…

If you are also using Yahoo!, one feature the company has is its new mobile oneSearchTM service. For example, searching for ‘Cinema’ shows a list of cinemas close to user’s location providing him their address and phone numbers. When user clicks the ‘Call’ link next to a number, a call dialogue box opens on the phone.

Bid & Budget:

Ads appear on high end mobile devices as the default, but the competition in mobile search is stronger for fewer ad slots (5 on mobile vs. 11 on desktop). However, for now the price is still lower than with desktop, because of the smaller volume of bidders.

Competitive bidding:

  • Ads appear above the search listings
  • A maximum of two slots
  • High visibility and higher CTR.

Non competitive:

  • Ads appear below search listings.
  • A maximum of three ad slots.
  • Users have to scroll to see ads, lower visibility and CTR.

Get spidered and indexed by mobile search engines:

Mobile optimization does not work, unless you are spidered and recognized. Main issues that may cause your site not  appearing in the search results are:

Spiders may not be able to find your site

The spider must crawl your site before it can be included in the search index. If you just created the site, search engines may not yet be aware of it. If that’s the case, submit your site to major mobile search engines for quick spidering.

Spiders may not be able to access your site

Some mobile sites refuse access to anything but mobile phones, making it impossible for spiders to access the site, and therefore making the site unsearchable. For example with Google, the crawler for mobile sites is “Googlebot-Mobile”. If you would like your site crawled, allow any User-agent including “Googlebot-Mobile” to access your site. Please note: Google may change its User-agent information at any time without notice. That is why it is good idea to verify first that it really handles Googlebot in here.

Search engines cannot recognize your mobile URLs

Once spider crawls your URLs, it checks whether the URL is viewable on a mobile device. Pages that are not viewable are not included to the mobile site index.  Make sure that your URLs’ DTD declaration is in an appropriate mobile format such as XHTML Mobile or Compact HTML.  Mobile search engines  have more trouble digesting invalid code, so to be safe use 100% valid XHTML 1.0 code. It will assure that mobile search engines will not have any trouble with your site. For more information, see the Mobile Webmaster Guidelines.

It is also a good idea to ensure that each of your pages has at least one incoming link.