Generating QR Codes

The world isn’t completely digital. We still meet people face-to-face, introducing ourselves and our companies to new people and opportunities. The workhorse of being remembered in these meetings is the venerable Clydesdale, the business card.

What leaves me wondering is why so few companies don’t make this humble carrier of information the powerful portal to the information-rich vehicle of their website. It’s more puzzling given the ease with which it can be done by including a QR code.

The QR code provides a direct link between the card and the web site.  Moreover, the QR code allows this useful tool to be both extended and tracked.

What goes into the QR Code? The first piece of information required is the URL of the web site and tracking code so that you can apply analytics to your cards as you would for other touch points. This allows you to separate business card generated visitors from other direct traffic.

You need not limit yourself here.  You may wish to track whose card or which department generates traffic. See my post on tradeshows and QR codes for a nicely integrated example implemented in trade shows.

There are four simple steps to creating the individualized QR codes:

  1. Build a URL string with custom parameters that you wish to track. You can do this with Google URL Builder.

Here you will create the specific QR code with URL, Campaign Source, Campaign Medium, Campaign Term, Campaign Content and Campaign Name.

Your URL needn’t be you website’s home page. Create an appropriate landing page for the purpose. Perhaps an employee biography or instant coupon may be a better starting point.

Keep in mind is that the QR code will be scanned by a mobile device. So the landing page for the QR code needs to be mobile friendly. This is yet another call to responsive design.

  1. Simplify the URL. The more information encoded in a QR code, the denser will be the dot pattern in the code. The denser the code, the more difficult it will be to scan. The more difficult it is to scan, the larger it will need to be printed. Again, Google provides a tool, but there are any number of URL shorteners available.
  2. Convert your shortened URL string to a QR code using a QR builder such as . As for incorporating your code into a business card design, QR codes needn’t be black and white and can include some decorative elements.

A readable QR code can be as small as .75 inches square with a good printing. But you will need to test your finished QR code in preflight before sending it to the printer.

  1. Download your new QR code and incorporate it tastefully into your card’s design.

That’s it.

Of course you may follow the same steps to add your QR code to brochures and direct mail pieces.

Couch Commerce

The universe of digital commerce is undergoing a huge transformation as potential customers across all age groups change the way they shop online. Of course I speak of the rise of the tablet. Digital retailers must adapt to the migration from the desk to the couch or lose out to this growing market segment.

In the first quarter of 2011, 94% of web traffic came from the desktop. By the first quarter of 2012 this had dropped to 88%. To look at it another way, mobile access grew by 348%. Hopefully, your analytics program will allow you to examine your own numbers. I would be surprised if your numbers do not reflect the overall trend, although strictly B2B sites generally lag behind.

This trend not only indicates a technology migration, it indicates a behavioral migration as well. Users are moving away from their desks for recreational web surfing. A Monetate EQ report puts numbers to this trend: of tablet shoppers 96% shop in the living room, 94% the bedroom, 75% a home office and 70% the porch.

We may infer from these locations a more leisurely, recreational shopping experience.

So how should we adapt to the tablet shopper?

Most importantly, the functionality of the site must work across all platforms: iOS, Android and Windows. Most notoriously, iOS does not support Flash. However, other drop downs and hover states don’t work across the spectrum as well. Sites need to be tested to insure consistent behavior.
Secondly, the user interface needs to be consistent with user expectations and environment. Tablet users expect to be able to use finger swiping, navigation must be slightly larger to accommodate finger tapping rather than a cursor and foreground to background contrast should be adjusted for more demanding lighting conditions. As mobile users are connected over slower connections than desktop users—either wi-fi or cell networks—page speed needs to be blazingly fast. Speed isn’t limited to image sizes and server requests, but extend to the need for content delivery networks, bandwidth requirements and database query structure.

Perhaps the most dramatic change in behavior of couch commerce is the way in which people pay. As one may imagine, customer comfortably shopping in their living room may be loath do get up to search for their credit card. In fact 67% of mobile transactions use alternate forms of payment such as. So it is critical for the digital merchant to offer these forms of payment.
There are there ways to respond to reading this trend: Smugness—You have already recognized and have implemented steps towards adaptation, Panic—you know your site is out of step with the rise in consumer behavior, or uncertainty—you really do not know what your site’s couch users are experiencing.

For the latter two groups, the Three steps are:
1. Conduct a mobile SOTS analysis
2. Run a mobile specific focus group
3. Calibrate the analytics of your site to specifically capture and report on mobile users.

It’s time to get off the couch.

Video Website usability testing

While web analytics give great insight into the behavior of website users, they focus on “what” leaving the analyst to use intuition to form a “Why”. Video usability testing answers the the” Why”

This sample video user test is an abbriviated single user test. Most usability tests are 10 to 20 minutes long and answer a more specific set of questions. This test was used in an early iteration of the Synthesis:MCM website redisgn.

David Olgivy: Sell or Else

Advertising doyen David Olgivy speaks on direct response advertising. While this taped filmed address is from the age of print and broadcast television, he lays out the case for metrics centered marketing in a way that many web practitioners still do not understand. Even of those that do, many act as if marketing on the internet created the science/art of directly interacting with our markets.

This 9 minute video definitely warrants a viewing

5 Initial Steps to Successful Search Engine Optimization

Initial Steps to Successful Search Engine Optimization

When people think of digital marketing, they first think of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This remains a key component of the digital marketing ecosystem along with social media marketing; email marketing, App development, Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing and cross-channel marketing.
At Synthesis: MCM we employ an approach known as Agile Development which is an iterative approach integrated across all marketing channels. This is a metric centered marketing paradigm, where we collect and analyze data on user behavior and refine our efforts based on what we have learned from our previous efforts to move us towards preset, quantifiable objectives.
This paper lays out the five key steps that we build on to perform effective SEO.

Continue reading “5 Initial Steps to Successful Search Engine Optimization”

Four critical times to conduct a SOTS Audit

A State of the Site (SOTS) Audit takes a snapshot view of where your website stands in five critical dimensions:

  • Search engine friendliness
  • Site integrity
  • Ccode validation
  • Page speed
  • Connectedness

Together these give you a pretty good understanding of how well your site will be experienced by visitors and viewed by search engines. (A more thorough exploration of what a SOTS Audit is can be found in the companion piece SOTS Audits: Begin at the Beginning.) This article addresses the question,