Using QR Codes to Make Money with Mobile Marketing

Quick Response Codes, or QR Codes for short, are those funny looking little black and white squibs that you see on subway signs, magazine advertisements and lots of other places these days.

QR Codes are a variation of the bar code – also known as the Universal Product Code (UPC) – which has been used since the 1970s at retail checkout areas. Bar codes also are commonly used for inventory purposes.

QR Codes were first used in 1994, when engineers at a Japanese factory owned by a subsidiary of Toyota wanted to create a three-dimensional version of the bar code that could hold exponentially more information and that could be decoded at faster speeds. The first QR Code was used to control the inventory of automobile parts as they moved through the manufacturing process.

How QR Codes Work

Unlike UPCs – which are mechanically scanned by a narrow beam of light – QR Codes are scanned as a two-dimensional image by a semiconductor image sensor. This image is then digitally analyzed by the processor the scanning device.

The processor detects the three distinctive squares at the corners of the image, and – with the help of a fourth smaller square in the fourth corner – automatically converts the image into a standard size, orientation and angle of viewing. The tiny dots are then converted into binary code, which is matched against an error-detecting code.

The binary code can represent anything, such as text or an image, but in most cases it is a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), or an Internet address.

Uses and Benefits

Anybody with a mobile phone or tablet can scan a QR Code. Scanning apps are free and can be downloaded instantly on iTunes, Google Apps, the Android store and elsewhere.

Other apps let users generate and print their own QR Codes for others to scan and be diverted a device to a URL, eliminating the need to the user to copy down and type in a web address.

QR Codes are used widely in advertising. But they also can be used by online marketers to promote offers and to send traffic to web pages. Other uses for QR Codes include:

  • Visiting a Google+ or Facebook profile
  • Showing your branding on textiles such as t-shirts or bags and other articles like mugs
  • Checking in on recommendation services like foursquare
  • Using QR codes in blogs
  • Playing a YouTube video
  • Easily installing an app from the App Store or Android Market
  • Sending a predefined short message (premium services)
  • Sending a Tweet with your content

Mobile Marketing Uses

QR Codes are most frequently used for mobile marketing. They are supported by Google’s mobile Android operating system; in iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod; on BlackBerry devices, on the Windows Phone, and even on the Nintendo 3DS.

Once scanned, QR Codes can use a URL to lead users to website where they can view useful content. This can include expanded product information, locations and store hours of the places where the product can be purchased, and even links to buy the product right away.

QR Codes also can be used for mobile tagging. This is when you capture the reading device’s phone number and automatically send an email or text message either right away or at some predetermined future time. Mobile tagging also can launch a sequence of email swipes designed to build excitement and encourage brand loyalty.

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4 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Email Marketing

There are a lot of critics who say email marketing isn’t as effective as it once was because more people are using mobile devices and texting to communicate with each other.

Young people today text and tweet rather than read emails, so a lot of younger customers don’t even have email accounts, only smart phones and social media.

While there’s no question that social media, texting, and other communications platforms are more popular than email, the principles of email marketing can be applied to practically any format.

So, even if email isn’t as popular as it once was, these same strategies can help you connect with customers via Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and even mobile marketing.

Here are some universal email marketing tips that will help you build your subscription list with plenty of loyal, enthusiastic customers:

1. There’s More to Life than Opt-In Forms

While the opt-in form is one of the best ways to capture contact information, it’s not the only way. If you already own your own business, you probably already have a loyal customer base. Why not give them an incentive to give you their email address by offering special offers, discounts, or rewards?

You also can invite your social media contacts to join your list and invite them to recommend you to their social media contacts as well.

Another option is to promote your list in forums and chat rooms, or post articles or blogs related to your niche subject and include a link back to your opt-in form in the “About the Author” box. If you offer your customers something they find valuable to be a part of your subscription list, then you can grow your list very quickly.

2. Keep On Testing

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is when you send out two versions of the same email with one slight variation to see which one converts better. For example, you could send the same email with two different headlines.

Or, you could change the Call to Action slightly and record which one gives you with the best responses. From that point on, you can incorporate the successful version in future emails and achieve better results.

3. Marketing Only to People Who Want Your Products

It doesn’t do you any good to market to people who aren’t interested in your products. One way to weed out those who aren’t interested is to use a double opt-in to make certain that only people who really want to be on your list are added.

A double opt-in is when you send a second email to somebody who signs up for your list to confirm their subscription. It eliminates people who don’t really want to be on your list (and it also helps avoid spam complaints later).

You can also send another email at some point in the future – such as in six or nine months – asking your list members to confirm that they want to continue to receive emails from you.

4. You Can’t Afford to Ignore Social Media

Cross promoting your website on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram increases your chances of connecting with your customers.

You can invite people on your subscription list to “Like” your Facebook Fan Page, follow you on Twitter, and add you to their Google+ Circles, for example.

This gives you the opportunity to exponentially increase your potential points of contact with your prospective customers.

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How to Make Sure Your Website Looks Great on Tablets and Phones

Most businesses put a lot of time, effort, and money into making sure their website looks great, is easy to navigate, and includes all the essential information any visitor would ever need to connect with the products, information, or services they want.

But, unfortunately, a majority of web users today aren’t using laptops or desktop computers to access the internet: They are using their mobile devices. And the kind of big, clunky websites that are designed to be viewed on a PC or laptop usually can’t be viewed and/or navigated very easily on a smart phone or tablet.

Your Customers May Already Be Clicking Off

So, if your website isn’t mobile-optimized, you could be turning away more customers than you are attracting. Mobile customers are very impatient and are less likely to stick with a website if it takes more than three seconds to load.

And if your shopping cart isn’t optimized for mobile devices, about three out of 10 customers will abandon your website in mid-purchase. Can you afford to let that many paying customers walk out your door?

Yet, mobile customers are generally more attractive than desktop web surfers because they tend to be more impulsive in their buying and spend more money per purchase than customers do on websites aimed at desktop users.

Try this experiment to see how mobile-friendly your website is: Pull out your smart phone or tablet right now and go to your web page. Does it load in less than three seconds? Is your eye instantly drawn to the primary selling points or message? Is your content easy to read and the site itself simple to navigate?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may need to optimize your mobile site and capture the customers and sales you have been losing.

Technical Features

Mobile devices like smart phones and tablets are less powerful and use a different kind of operating system than PCs and laptops. To make your website load faster and offer more versatility, you may need to make sure your website includes these technical attributes:

• It uses a preferred markup language, such as WAP/WML rather than HTML.
• It can be navigated using a touch screen keyboard.
• Screen dimensions and rotation support are enabled.
• Browser capabilities include scaling, Flash, and AJAX support.
• It uses the appropriate network data speed: 3G, 4G, or 5G.
• It is optimized for mobile operating systems, such as Apple iOS, Android, or Windows Phone Mobile.

Appearance Features

One thing that all mobile devices have in common is that their screens are smaller than those of laptops or PCs, especially on smart phones, the most widely used type of mobile device among mobile-based web users. This means you have a much smaller canvas on which to work your magic.

Rather than multiple photos, images, or videos, limit your mobile site to one single one that will grab the site visitor’s attention from the moment they click on your page.

Similarly, keep your text content to the bare minimum. If you include too much text, most readers won’t be able to read it anyway.

Stay away from small buttons that are difficult to click on using mobile devices. If you must include buttons, make sure they are very large.

Be aware that the latest model tablets and even some smart phones have very high-end graphics pages, so the colors and images you include on your mobile-optimized web page are going to look different than they do on a laptop or PC. Avoid garish colors or blurry images.

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