English articles, QR, Top Tasks

QR and mobile marketing: don’t make them download apps

A special case in the use of QR codes in out-of-house marketing is the promotion of apps. Apps are being found mainly online, through websites and on the very smartphones and tablets that they are meant for.

This example is not good practice. A Brussels shopping mall hopes for more revisit if shoppers download their app. The app has a customer loyalty feature. On the big posters in their halls, they put three QR codes, one for iPhone, one for Android and one for Windows Phone users. (Thanks, Patrick @librarianbe for the tweet and picture)

Be careful in using QR codes in out-of-house marketing to make people download apps. An app often doesn’t add to usefulness or to fulfilling the top task efficiently. And then, the QR code is only an extra threshold.

One code leading to a mobile site landing page featuring the three (or more) choices would have sufficed. And made a better impression on the posters.

Top task

Part of the good practice discussion is the opportunity of trying to lure shoppers into downloading a shopping mall app. Very probably a well made mobile web page would do the trick better, as that doesn’t throw any threshold of installing and taking phone memory capacity.

Loyalty programmes for shoppers are always a hard task. In this case the mall wants the customer to come back to any member shop.

However, the customer’s top task is not downloading the app. It’s being rewarded for loyalty to the shop. Paper or plastic loyalty cards are rapidly getting out of fashion, as shopkeepers digitally keep the loyalty information and print the current score on the receipt, often asking only the customer’s name. That’s easy: the customer doesn’t even have to think about carrying the plastic stuff.

So why a shopping mall app? If the reason is: “we want to do something special for mobile and make the customers use their smartphones, and QR codes can do the trick”, fair enough. But then the QR codes could have been used on another level.

Better practice would probably be to have QR codes in every shop. Scanning the codes could add fidelity points, after a simple mobile web based initial registration, e.g. with the telephone number.

An app often doesn’t add to usefulness or to fulfilling the top task efficiently. And then, the QR code is only an extra threshold. I guess this marketing campaign was not successful.

Free whitepaper “Mobile Marketing and QR: it’s all in the promise”



About Toon Lowette

Customer is not king on the internet, he is dictator. Online services are successful if they allow the customer to do what he came for efficiently and without confusion. Toon Lowette is online publishing consultant in the Customer Carewords network of Gerry McGovern. Task management is the central issue. We teach websites to manage the task, not the content, not the technology. We teach websites to become relentlessly customer centric.


One thought on “QR and mobile marketing: don’t make them download apps

  1. Man! It is like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pictures to drive the message home a bit, besides that, this is good blog post. A wonderful read. Ill definitely be back.

    Posted by Rickey Shekey | 25 June 2012, 20:47

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