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In the early days of electronic marketing, manufacturers or retailers would e-mail promotional messages to customers. These e-mails embedded links that users, surfing the Web from their computers, could click on to launch the site and its promotional offer. Remember those days? Of course, companies still send reams of marketing e-mails to consumers. However, the notion of an immobile shopper, sitting at a desk to receive coupons through a PC, seemingly is going the way of the rotary phone user.

Instead, consumers more frequently interact with sellers through their mobile devices. Clicking a link to visit a website may be less effective when a user checks his or her e-mail by smartphone, especially if the linked site is not optimized for mobile browsing. Thus firms face a troubling gap between their electronic promotions, depending on whether the user views them through a computer or a mobile device. The answer, according to some, is to rely more on quickresponse (QR) codes.

These codes—the matrix bar codes that appear on more and more advertisements, products, and store windows—allow customers on the go to link immediately and directly with the seller. By snapping a picture of the code, shoppers earn instant discounts and promotions that folks who left their phones at home are not qualified to receive.

Of course, virtually no one leaves their phones at home anymore. Therefore, these types of coupons effectively drive customer engagement. According to one study, shoppers are 10 times more likely to use mobile coupons than traditional ones. They also are inexpensive to set up; modern software allows sellers to select the information they want included in the code and then creates it quickly and easily. Furthermore, the coupons linked to QR codes can change over time. For example, if a clothing retailer buys a billboard on the wall of a bus stop, the embedded QR code could lead consumers to tank tops bargains in June but promote holiday sweaters in November.

For retailers and manufacturers, the ultimate goal is determining how and when each shopper likes to receive promotions. The QR codes represent a step in that direction, because as soon as a consumer snaps a picture, the company learns that he or she is a mobile buyer. Another customer who responds only to e-mail messages instead can be identified as stay-at-home shoppers. With such information, the firm can discern just what to offer and in which format to appeal best to its most likely customers.

Source:Wikus Engelbrecht, “How to Incorporate QR Codes into Your E-Mail Strategy,” iMediaConnection.com, August 28, 2012