In case you didn’t notice, there is a whole crop of young, willing and able real estate buyers that seem to have their head buried in their smartphones. Gen-Y prefers texting over talking and their phone IS their world. Here’s a way to get their attention and business —fast!
QR Codes to the Rescue
Think of QR (Quick Response) codes as a two dimensional bar code that can contain just about any kind of information and be read instantly from any number of free smartphone apps. The opportunities for real estate marketing are nearly endless since one of the main uses of QR codes is to embed URLS that when scanned will take the phone user to wherever the URL was pointing (i.e. your Website, listing detail information, etc.) They effectively turn anything (including paper) they are printed on into an active and trackable hyperlink.
QR codes were invented in Japan by a subsidiary of the Toyota Motor Corporation to help identify car parts. Once people recognized their flexibility of encoding links to the Web, they took off big time in Japan and other Asian countries. In fact, you will find QR codes plastered on billboards, signs, storefronts and just about any place you look in all the major Japanese cities.
Here is where you can find free QR Code Reader apps for your smartphone (by smartphone type):
- iPhone QR reader app search
- BlackBerry QR reader app search
- Droid QR reader app search
- BlackBerry App World
- Android Market
There really are only two issues to consider when incorporating QR codes into your marketing: a) how to create them, and b) where to place them for maximum exposure and impact.
Where to Use QR Codes For Maximum Impact
In addition to placing a page-specific QR code on every page of your Website there are many innovative ways you can incorporate them into your marketing. Here are just some ideas that came out of a recent brainstorming exercise for QR code use:
- Put them on your sign riders pointing to your Website with the details for that listing (NOTE: make sure the QR code on the sign rider is at least 10” x 10” so it can be scanned from the comfort of a prospect’s car)
- Print ad with a QR pointing to a YouTube video of you walking thru your latest listing;
- Put a QR code decal on your car that points to your Website, or better yet, an irresistible offer on your Website (again, make sure it is at least 10” x 10” so it can be scanned easily by other drivers.);
- If it is winter, develop a QR code on the sign rider and link it to photos or a video of the house when the landscaping is in full bloom in spring;
- Sponsor a local team and put the QR code pointing to your Website on their uniforms;
- Give away t-shirts with QR code that points to your site;
- If send out calendars each year, put a QR code pointing to your Website on every page;
- QR code open house scavenger hunt. Put a QR code in ad or web ad of open house where the QR code on each house maps you to the next house. Have to read them all to get to the prize at the final house —great for brokers open tour;
- Put a QR code pointing to your Website on the back of your business card.
QR Code Best Practices
Now before you go hog-wild with QR codes and start plastering them on every available surface (digital or otherwise), here are some best practices that will help you get the most out of these cute little smudges:
- Tell them what it is – since QR codes are still very leading-edge in this country it is a good idea to provide additional info that explains to the less-techy consumers just what they are.
- Point to something worthwhile – make sure that whatever your QR code points to provides real value to the consumer. Ideally, the landing page has a specific call to action and lead capture mechanism.
- Make sure your QR codes are readable – make them big enough for the context they will be used. This means about 175 pixels x 175 pixels for Web pages and email, 10” x 10” for outdoor use (sign riders and car decals) and huge for billboards.
- Track your QR code traffic – you can easily track your Website traffic that is generated by people scanning QR codes. If you are using a Web analytics program like Google Analytics it is easy to track QR code traffic by adding just a bit of text after the URL you are pointing to before generating the code. For example:
Where the highlighted part was added before generating the code. Your analytics package will show any traffic specifically coming from people scanning the QR codes in your print ads. There is nothing magic or special about the text that comes after “/?source=”, you can make it anything you want —just make sure there are no spaces and that it effectively describes where the code was embedded.
At this point you might be thinking: “Is this QR code thing really necessary for my business?” and the answer of course is no, it’s not. However, if you want to be a leader in your marketplace and really catch the attention and business of the up and coming Gen-Y buyers, then yes it is.
Implementing QR codes is not about being a geek, it’s about staying up with your customers and serving them in the way they expect. After all, that is what business is all about, isn’t it.