Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tracking Marketing Effectiveness Using QR Codes

If you've been reading Author Marketing 101 for a while, I'm sure you already know what ROI stands for (Return on Investment) and you probably already know that it's the "Holy Grail" of marketing. And for good reason—people who spend money on marketing want to know that what they're doing is having an impact.

QR codes—combined with URL tagging—make a great tool for tracking your marketing materials and gauging their efficacy. What is URL tagging, I hear you ask? It's really nothing more than adding unique identifiers to your destination pages. So, let's say your home page is:

You could easily create a QR code linked to that webpage and slap that QR code on both your business card and your book slick. But when someone clicks through to it from their phone, you'll never know if that action was taken because they were looking at your business card or your book slick. With URL tagging, however, you can know.

(Nota bene: the ins and outs of URL tagging and tracking that are beyond the scope of this post. But if you're interested in learning more, this article <> a very good starting point.)

So, if you want to track clicks from the two pieces separately, instead of just creating one QR code, you would create two different ones. And each would link to a tagged URL:

You would then apply the appropriate QR code to the appropriate piece, and track the tagged URLs in Google Analytics. By doing so, you gain valuable information about which marketing pieces are actually driving action. And that kind of knowledge is marketing gold.

Taking it to the next level with A/B Testing

With the techniques described above, you can even do your own version of A/B Testing.
The basic concept of A/B testing is using two slightly different versions of a piece on the same audience to see which gets a better response.

Creating tagged URLs is free (via Google Analytics URL Builder) as is generating QR codes. Thus, you can make as many custom QR codes as your heart desires. Use them to track the same piece at different events. Use them to track a chapbook of sample stories with the same content, but with different covers. Over time, you will begin to see useful patterns, and you will begin to learn what pieces are worth spending your money on—and which aren't.

Check in on Friday for "How Do I Get My Hands on a QR Code?"

M.K. Hobson is the author of the Nebula-nominated THE NATIVE STAR and THE HIDDEN GODDESS, both of which are available through the usual venues.
She attended the University of Oregon, where she ran Catalyst Films (the campus film society), helped launch The Student Insurgent (a radical progressive ‘zine that’s still being published) 

Currently, she is one of the co-hosts of Podcastle

Learn more at:

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