QR codes are a powerful and inexpensive way to get your message out. This article is from Printing News.
Teleporting print into the metaverse
August 2, 2022
The QR code is an interesting advent. While seemingly, it’s just a two-dimensional barcode, with that extra dimension comes the ability to house more – and different types of – information.
Released in 1994, the QR code was initially invented for Japan’s auto industry to assist with tracking vehicles and scanning components quickly (hence its name, “Quick Response” code). After adoption by the Japanese auto industry, other Japanese companies in the food, pharmaceutical and contact lens industries began using QR codes to improve tracking, processing and logistics. It took another 15 years before they were adopted in the U.S. for consumer use, following the release of the first QR code scanner app for smartphones.
It was 2010 and QR codes were still platform-dependent at the time, meaning you couldn’t just point your phone’s camera to scan it like we do today.
In its infancy, the need for different readers, scanners and requisite apps led to slow adoption. Early adopters of this new tech had some hits – and misses — that led to poor applications.
We saw unscannable QR codes on skyscraper billboards, scannable ones that went nowhere, and general confusion over how to create and use them to generate revenue. Adoption waned and the QR code was all but abandoned as a mainstream marketing tool.
Today, QR codes are an everyday (some would say necessary) part of our day-to-day life.
Once the OEMs began embedding QR code readers into mobile devices and smartphones, the need for dedicated apps became obsolete. By simply pointing your phone camera at it, you could scan, click and voilà – you are transported to your online destination.
Such universalization opened the door for companies like Snapchat, which introduced QR codes as a way to add friends on the app in 2015, and later made filters and lenses unlockable – via QR code.
With the explosion of social media, use of, and exposure to, QR codes spread quickly.
When COVID hit – along with touchless restaurant menus, check-in links, information about protocols, etc. – they became a lifeline.
Adapting to Digital: Turning Print into a High-Value Touchpoint
The recent widespread adoption of the QR code paints an important picture for the print industry. It spotlights the benefit (and power) that printers wield when they embrace and adapt digital solutions that feature print as a high-value touchpoint throughout the prospect to customer journey.
By making it easier for people to engage with print via a simple, interactive element, QR codes bridge the physical with the digital, teleporting them to their destination in an easy and fun way.
Print is transformed from a commodity to a high-value communications tool capable of linking to videos, landing pages, special offers, podcasts etc. And where there is greater value, there is greater willingness to pay more.
Online shopping is growing so fast that the global online shopping market size hit nearly four trillion in 2020. Three hundred million U.S. online shoppers are predicted in 2023. This presents a huge opportunity for printers, particularly those who offer packaging, labels, personalization and embellishment solutions. Not only are people more likely to purchase items they’ve touched, they will pay more for them.
As humans, we like and need to touch things. It affects emotions and is proven to provide the strongest sensory recall. Simply put, when you see it, you want to touch it. And when you touch it, you’re more likely to buy it.
When you incorporate physical, interactive print into the buying journey, not only are you driving prospects to their online destination, you’re creating a subconscious memory of that experience (and brand) – simply by adding the power of touch. Triggering interactivity, like an augmented reality (AR) experience, increases conversion volume – and profit margins – further positioning interactive print into a necessary communication channel.
Software company Zakeke understands the power of an AR experience. Their platform allows users to design items – like a printed mug or soda can – and offers the ability to scan a QR code to trigger an AR 3D visualization of the product – all in the comfort of their own space.
By empowering the end user to design and see the product, you’re also ensuring that they’ll be happy with the end result. For printers, less touchpoints means less chance of error, waste, frustration – and attrition. Empowered customers empower printers to grow and/or create opportunities within the explosive $50 billion packaging market.
Digital and Publishers: Selling High-Value Print as Part of a Package
It’s no secret that printed media is in decline. In the last five years, the U.S. consumer magazine industry declined by over 20%. People, and content, are moving online – and that’s scary for the print industry. Digging in their heals in resistance, many have come to see digital marketing as the enemy – and have been slow to embrace multi-channel strategies. They’re playing monopoly and rolling dangerous doubles.
Joomag is a digital publishing platform that turns digital media into interactive PDFs with videos, polls, surveys, feedback forms and other interactive and engaging elements, all wrapped into a digital magazine. What’s more, is that they also have extremely in-depth analytics to measure performance, from demographics to activity per page and beyond.
In a recent session of “The Crown Pub,” a weekly, online print industry meetup, Jay Majumder, Joomag’s CEO, fielded questions around why the print industry would want to adapt technology that, in essence, reduces print volumes.
Majumder emphasized how print publishers are leveraging Joomag’s “in-depth analytics about your consumers, your audience, their behavior, the content they’re reading (and for how long) and more, to create personalized, segmented copies within their audiences… [and] because of the personalization that they’re doing, they can go to advertisers, or their clients can go to advertisers, and actually charge more.”
Printers are at the top of the food chain when it comes to sensory marketing – the perfect complement to digital content platforms like Joomag.
Digital newsletters and communications can get a high-profile makeover when regular, monthly issues are supplemented with quarterly, semi or even annual special editions that keep the reader engaged, the brand top of mind, and the experience memorable. Detailed analytics that measure engagement and activity ensure the right content is delivered to the right people, while targeted ads based on digital behavior makes advertisers and sponsors happy – and inspires more brands to embrace print.
We Aren’t Done. The Metaverse Is Coming.
Big brands like Nike (get ready for Nikeland), Coca-Cola and Louis Vuitton already see the potential of The Metaverse, a complex experience of virtual and augmented realities where users can connect, play and exchange transactions. They have quickly begun strategizing ways to attract and engage customers on this behemoth of next-generation commerce.
Without doubt, technology and e-commerce are dominating forces in consumerism; the notion of print complementing digital marketing and communication strategies represents an important pivot. By providing valuable ways to complement digital technology, printers create a hyperloop between digital and physical experiences – maximizing growth, profitability and relevance.
The QR code was a technology ahead of its time – its full potential hadn’t been harnessed until recently. But if you’re still shaking your head saying, “No, I’ve already made it this far without having to adapt to digital,” then stop playing games and go directly to jail, do not pass go and DO NOT collect the massive profits you’re missing out on.
Joanne Gore, President of Joanne Gore Communications (JGC), is a B2B marketer who’s passionate about print, and has spent more than 25 years helping software, hardware, print and manufacturing companies around the world stretch their marketing dollars with programs that generate awareness, engagement and growth. Follow Joanne on LinkedIn (or: email: email@example.com)