QR codes have been gaining popularity among marketers. You’ve probably seen dozens of QR codes on your way to work. They are commonly used now on billboards at bus stops that advertise a movie or consumer product. You may also have seen QR codes when travelling and visiting tourist spots such as museums, walking tours, etc. So, should nonprofits be experimenting with QR codes as another marketing vehicle too? Absolutely.
Before we dive into how nonprofits can incorporate QR codes into their marketing and outreach and discuss fees, it’s important to define what a QR code is from a technical perspective. QR Code stands for Quick Response Code. It’s “a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background, and the encoded information can be text, URL or other data. QR codes present a valuable method of adding web based content (basically any URL) to real-world messages, objects or locations," says digital strategist Upasna Gautam on the Eventbrite blog.
“QR codes allow you to land a visitor much farther down whatever funnel of engagement you’re interested in moving them through. Rather than trusting a visitor to type in www.yoursite.com, a QR code can send them directly to the specific page you’d like them to see," said Henry Quinn at the Idealware Blog.”
A QR code can link directly to music, video, news—on or off your site—it can activate a phone call, send an SMS, open forums for conversation or social networking—anything that’s online and that’s going increase their engagement with your organization, you can put in front of a user with a phone, immediately, with one click, said Quinn.
Five Ways Nonprofits Can Use QR Codes
There are a variety of ways for nonprofits to use QR codes in their marketing and outreach. Here are few suggestions to think about experimenting with for your next multi-channel campaign.
1. Direct Mail: Sending out a direct mail appeal to your membership? Great, tag on a QR code in a visible place on the direct mail piece to encourage people to make a donation on your website. This is another great way to capture your offline donors email addresses so you can foster relationships with them online too. Note: The donation page should be a unique donation page so that you can track the response rates from the QR code.
2. Events: Whether you are organizing a rally or tabling at a fun event, chances are you are distributing print materials and some shwag. Get your QR code on these materials and drive people to a landing page on your website that gives them more information about your campaign.
3. Galas and Silent Auctions: There are plenty of opportunities to incorporate QR codes at your organization’s gala and/or silent auction. For example, if you leave donation envelopes on each chair at your gala, use a QR Code to make it easy for people to make a donation via your website during the event. You can also print up QR codes on Avery labels and place them near items at a silent auction. Then when people scan the QR codes they can can learn more about the items up for auction and place a bid.
Oxfam used QR codes in one of their stores as part of a fundraising campaign earlier this year that involved celebrities donating sentimental items and clothes. When a potential buyer scanned a QR code on a sales tag with their smartphone, videos of celebrities popped up which featured a personal story behind that item for sale. For example, “scanning a code on a dress donated by Annie Lennox revealed that she wore it to Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday party,” said Zachary Sniderman.
4. Business Cards and Brochures: Don’t lose opportunities to connect with people and drive them to specific campaign landing pages, social media channels, donation pages, etc. Also, QR codes can be a great way to electronically store your contacts as you swap business cards with people at conferences and events.
5. Advertisements and Newsletters: As nonprofit campaigners, you want to make it super easy for people to take action wherever they are any time of day. As more people adopt smartphones, nonprofits need to adapt their advocacy actions that are smartphone friendly. Put your advocacy actions (whether it’s signing a petition, calling a Member of Congress, participating in a texting campaign) into your offline ads, print newsletters, and any other printed materials you use to promote your advocacy campaigns.
How Much Do QR Codes Cost?
Creating QR codes is cheap. In fact, many QR code generators are free. CNET offers a compilation of QR Code generators with user reviews.
Has your organization experimented with QR Codes? Tell us about your experiences.
Reluctantly Supporting the QR Revolution - Idealware