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Sephora, Walmart turn QR code scans into targeted mobile messaging

Brands such as Sephora, Walmart, Home Depot and Tiger Direct are predicting smartphone users? responsiveness to specific offers based on the QR codes they have previously scanned. 

These marketers have been testing a new offering in the Scanbuy mobile application since late June and experiencing, on average, open rates of 8 percent. By segmenting users based on the QR code, bar code and other triggers users have scanned, Scanbuy is enabling marketers to reach consumers who have previously shown an interest in a specific product with a related offer.  

?[QR codes are] still pretty much a mainstream technology,? said David Javitch, vice president of product at Scanbuy, New York. ?It doesn?t get a lot of talk at this point because people are moving on to the next thing, but the reality is that people are continuing to scan QR codes in pretty big numbers. 

?For marketers, if you think about that kind of engagement from the customer perspective, it is someone who is looking at either a product, or an ad or a store display and they are choosing to take out their phone, open an app and scan something,? he said. ?That is pretty far down the funnel of engagement. 

?We are trying to make that activity available back to marketers and allow them to reach out to those people with targeted messages.?

Tried and true
QR codes were a big focus of early mobile marketing efforts. While a lot of brands have moved onto newer technologies such as augmented reality and beacons, many also recognize that 2D bar codes continue to have relevance for a significant number of consumers. 

Scanbuy offers ScanLife, a consumer-facing app that can be used to scan QR codes or UPC bar codes on any product, print ad or in-store display to access discounts, compare prices and check out product reviews.  

The company reports that it continues to process about 8 million scans a month. 

Scanbuy?s new ScanLife mTargeting platform enables brands and advertisers to re-target and re-engage with ScanLife users who have directly expressed interest in their own brand or related product category.

For example, if someone scans a QR code or a bar code on a DVD at Best Buy, this could indicate that the person is interested in purchasing or already has purchased a DVD player. 

A related brand could reach this person with a message in the inbox on the ScanLife app that could show up anywhere from a few days to several weeks after the initial engagement.

Event-driven marketing
Marketers have been using the inbox strategy to promote new products or drive purchase consideration around specific events. 

For example, Sephora targeted beauty enthusiasts to promote a new line of lipsticks, while Walmart ran clothing offers during the back-to-school period. Tiger Direct promoted certain consumer electronics for Father?s Day. 

?A lot of it is event-driven kind of marketing where you are trying to drive traffic for a specific offer or product launch and you are doing it in a way that is very targeted because you know that the people that you are talking to have shown interest in that kind of thing in the past,? Mr. Javitch said. 

Push notifications
In some cases, the marketer could also send a push notification to let app users know they have a new offer in their inbox.  When users read the notification and open it, they are taken directly into the inbox. 

Scanbuy reports that it typically sees four to five times higher engagement rates when a push notification is used to alert user of a new offer. 

ScanLife users have control over push notifications and can indicate if they want to receive them and, if so, when they receive them. 

Users typically have between three and 10 different messages in their inbox at any given point. 

The offers are seeing a strong response rate.  

?If you compare this to typical mobile inventory, where most advertisers are pretty thrilled with 0.75 [percent] numbers, we are averaging 8 percent numbers,? Mr. Javitch said. ?The reason why is it is hyper-targeted, it is based on what we know about users and what they have told us they want. 

?Secondly, it is integrated into the app experience so it is not a banner sitting on a screen,? he said. ?It is a place they can go and engage with certain content from brands.?

Final Take
?Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York