Should I Use QR Codes for My Marketing Campaign?


I hate QR codes and rail against them whenever they come up, because no one scans QR codes. And yet we want to augment physical experiences with digital information.

Apparently my flat “no” isn’t nuanced enough for some, so here are a few thoughts I’ve developed over years of begging people not to create them:

  1. If you must use them, point them to a URL you can control, like and redirect that link to whatever landing page or 3rd-party site you use for the content. Then when the contract expires and you no longer want to pay for it (true story), you can redirect it to a sensible location. I would do this even if you are redirecting to a landing page you own. It gives you flexibility.
  2. Use short URLs instead. is just as likely to get typed in as a QR code is to get scanned…at least in the U.S., which leads me to:
  3. Asia-Pacific. There is a very different set of expectations here. Smartphone use is extremely high, and popular apps like WeChat include QR code scanners. At a recent C-level event in Hong Kong, nearly everyone used their phones to either scan QR codes or to connect to Bluetooth iBeacons for more info (partially due to this functionality being a part of the popular WeChat platform).

So now my advice is “run away” except for maybe in AP, where I am only able to share 2nd-hand experience. I’d look into the bluetooth beacons first though.

Don’t Forget to Humanize Your Brand

As we become more sophisticated digital marketers, it is easy to get enamored with all the cool things we can do to push our content to new eyeballs. Even saying it that way sounds crass. Here are some examples of cool things we can do, none of which are wrong to do per se:

  • Put insights and research content in front of readers of top publishing sites like and, based on complex algorithms to target the right content and the right people (via content marketing tools like Outbrain)
  • Profile people who visit our websites—with both demographic and psychographic data—and target ads to similar groups of users who may not have heard of us yet
  • Send emails or show ads to people who were shopping our ecommerce sites, reminding them of the products they were looking at and didn’t purchase (retargeting)
  • Automate the timing of our social media posts based on when the largest number of our followers are online and likely to see our posts (via tools like SocialFlow)

I am concerned that we may focus so much energy on these really cool tactics that we might begin to sound robotic, forget to respond to (all) customer inquiries/brand mentions, and lose our human-centered approach when it comes to digital marketing, especially social media.

This article from Moz, 4 Ways to Build Trust and Humanize Your Brand, offers 4 ways to humanize our brand, and some great reminders of why we need to.


Photo credit: File:Nao robot, Jaume University.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Likes are Cheap…in Growth Markets

I ran a social media experiment last week with a Facebook post targeted to business leaders in high-growth markets, such as India, China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. I budgeted just $20 for this campaign and the results are fascinating.

I targeted a list of countries, a slightly older audience than normal (30-65+), and some interests that should focus on business leaders (as well as you can with Facebook targeting):

Facebook interest targeting

The results have been quite different from posts that I’ve targeted to the U.S. Reach is strong, but reasonable. However, the percentage of likes to reach (engagement) is about 4x a normal boosted post. This might be related to ‘click farms’ in some Asian countries that Copyblogger complained about when they decided to kill off their Facebook page.

Growth Market Reach and Likes

The other interesting result is that link click-throughs are not nearly as high as likes (~60 link clicks), and there are NO comments. Zero. The post doesn’t really ask a question though, so I am not too worried about that.

Finally, I found this graph fascinating. It comes from Facebook analytics, and I am unsure if it is a percentage breakdown of impressions or of likes. Either way, Algeria being at the top is pretty interesting, and probably not where I want to be spending money compared to India.

Growth Market Country Activity

I am currently setting up a similar promoted post on LinkedIn, and one immediate glaring difference is that it’s minimum CPC is $4.00! Their social interactions are free (likes/comments/follows), but click-through costs are through the roof.

Your advice in targeting high growth markets while not wasting money is always welcome!


Photo credit:

Digital Marketing in China

I am doing my best to learn about digital and content marketing in China. This is a huge, high-growth market, with a very different digital ecosystem than we have in the U.S. or in Europe. This post will just be the beginnings of what I am learning, and I am wide open to advice on how to learn more about this topic.

The Great Firewall of China changes the game in terms of platforms and tools. Baidu is Google, Weibo is Twitter/Facebook, YouKu is YouTube, and WeChat is texting/SnapChat/ecommerce/banking/etc. Baidu is particularly interesting as paid search techniques are not only welcomed, they actually influence your organic rankings positively, too. Sounds almost like bribery to my narrow, Western mind.

Language will be an issue. Culture must be respected. Any perception of an American company marketing to Chinese (vs. a Chinese arm of a global company) will not be well-received. Partnering with Chinese colleagues is a must.

At last year’s Content Marketing Institute, Pam Didner explained how the social media platforms in China may be different, but human behaviors and desires are the same.

I think I’ve got to launch into this venture with my eyes wide open, and with a great cultural sensitivity. Any resources you would recommend, or warnings you could share with me?

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Saved Replies in Facebook Messages

This is a pretty interesting feature that Facebook is testing for customer service, though I am not sure about the negative impact it may have on humanizing your brand: saved replies in messages, enabling brands to quickly respond to common requests with personalized, yet canned messages. Would you use this?

Don't worry about Chaar's privacy, pretty sure he isn't a real person. ;)
Don’t worry about Chaar’s privacy, pretty sure he isn’t a real person. 😉

Spotted in Facebook Messages and Tech Crunch.