Wednesday, August 10, 2011

QR codes vs. Text Messaging

A lot has been written about QR codes lately.  They had some serious support from Google for a while as well and deservedly have a place in the big mobile picture.

Less seems to be written and said about using text messaging to access the mobile internet with some attention being paid to text message campaigns. 

Text messaging, though, is still a much more viable medium for connecting with end users.   Today only 35% of mobile phones have the ability to support QR codes and many of those require a conscious effort to download an app that will give your smartphone the ability to support QR codes.  Text messaging is supported on virtually every mobile phone sold in the US today and people are already comfortable with the technology.  Just look around on buses and in shopping malls to see people of every age with their eyes buried into their phone sending or receiving a text message.  Text messaging can do virtually everything that QR codes can but the opposite can't be said.  Text message is a true two-way communication that can engage an interested person and build a dialogue that stimulates a relationship much the same way a conversation with your friend does.  From an advertising and marketing standpoint text messaging can deliver key information back to text message campaign provider that helps them tailor an on going dialogue.  This is something that a QR code can never do on its own.  A text message campaign communication can alert an opt-in user to a specific program or value that can be had within a specific window of time where a QR code is only a passive mechanism for providing information at a point of interest.  But only if the end user's mobile device is equipped for capturing the QR code. 

With that being said there are a few places that QR codes can be effective.  I have found that QR codes are effective on business cards as a way to get contact information in to the contacts registry on a properly equipped smartphone.  As a business there is definitely an advantage to having your contact information on someones mobile smart phone as this gives instant access to your business website, or you directly should the end user feel the need to contact you.  Text messaging could also do this but not as elegantly or efficiently.  Its more likely also that feature phones (mobile phones that don't support internet access) that the integration features for using text messages to and contacts to the mobile phone contact list would not be present so for this group of people text messaging wouldn't be a practical or usable application of the technology.  QR codes can also be more useful in crowded places such as buses or very public places if the messaging would be sent is of a confidential nature. 

In the end, good businesses developing successful marketing campaigns will probably find a place for both.  They can improve their success by evaluating each communication and measuring it against the strengths and weaknesses of each technology to provide the most compelling and engaging experience for their opt-in sms database.

Exposure Elements is a digital marketing service provider in Northern California providing mobile marketing campaigns and services to businesses and the real estate community.  They are backed by the TxT2Look mobile platform and experience to provide comprehensive support throughout the mobile campaign developement process.  Contact them at 408-440-2278 or click here to send them an email.