The Death of QR Codes & The Rise of New Technology

The Death of QR Codes and The Rise of New Technology

By | digital marketing | No Comments

As technology continues to progress at a faster rate than ever, certain technologies tend to be forgotten and left by the wayside. One of those being the invention of the QR code.

A QR code (short for Quick Response code) is essentially a more complex version of a barcode. It’s the black and white square image that is found on virtually everything, including food and drink items, posters, ads in magazines, flyers, etc. When the image is scanned, it is interpreted with the help of a smartphone app. This way, the image can be uniquely programmed to redirect a customer to a predetermined application or website.

Initially, the QR code was expected to be a major success for customers and marketers alike, since it was one of the first technologies to easily connect the real and digital world around us. But because it requires an additional application and is not always reliable (opening to inactive websites or not being scannable due to lighting conditions), it has grown to become more of a nuisance. Because of these downsides, new and improved technologies have emerged as a result. Here are two alternatives that may be giving QR codes a run for their money.

NFC tags

Near field communication (NFC) tags are one of the new tools that could potentially replace QR codes. Unlike QR codes, NFC tags do not require an extra application. The NFC chip technology already comes built into the majority of modern smartphones, which is a huge advantage. If a smartphone has NFC enabled, all someone has to do is touch or tap their smartphone against the NFC tag for the desired action to take place. This makes it a lot more convenient to use than QR technology.

Advantages of NFC

NFC tags are a lot more secure, flexible, and easier to configure than QR codes. Because of it’s more sophisticated encryption technology, we see NFC being used most often for mobile payments. Google Wallet and Apple Pay use NFC for transactions at stores because it’s reliable and safe. It’s also a lot easier to make changes and edit existing NFC tags versus changing and editing QR codes. To make changes to QR codes, one needs to create an entirely different code. In contrast, NFC tags can be edited easily, all one needs to do is go in and overwrite the old information. This makes NFC a lot more flexible since it can store different types of information and can be altered instantly.

 

Paying with NFC mobile payments in cafe

Obstacles for NFC

Since NFC tags are newer than QR codes, it may still take a little while for people to understand exactly what it does and how it works. It will take some time before the NFC symbol is as recognizable as the QR image but, because of the mobile payment feature, it’s definitely gaining more attention.

 

ApplePayNFC-AP-logos

Image via qualstarcu.com

 

Another major hurdle for NFC is the fact that iPhones only support NFC’s mobile payment function. As of right now, iPhones, unlike the majority of Android smartphones, only support NFC because of its Apple Pay feature and does not support general NFC tagging functions. According to Statistica, in 2015,  43.5% of Americans who used a smartphone used an  iPhone. Because so many people own iPhones, it has stifled the wider adoption of NFC tags at the moment. This is likely to be a non-issue in the future once the other NFC features are supported by newer smartphones.

SnapTag

Another potential competitor to QR codes are SnapTags. One of the most common complaints about QR codes is that they are ugly. And although it may seem arbitrary, design and aesthetic are playing a bigger role in technology than ever. Consumers are attracted to colors and interesting designs, which is where QR codes fall short. The black and white square often looks out of place and tends to clash with the design of the rest of the packaging or advertisement it’s on. SnapTag helps with this issue.

 

How to create a SnapTag

Image via inspiredm.com

 

Advantages of SnapTags

SnapTag is similar to QR codes in that they are scannable images that access additional information marketers want consumers to know about. But unlike QR codes, they are more aesthetically pleasing and don’t require an extra application. SnapTags allow marketers to use any image they want (usually a company logo) and then surrounds it with a “Code Ring”. This Code Ring can be moved to thousands of different positions, creating thousands of individual codes, allowing marketers to store all the information they want on each unique code. By using SnapTags, one can seamlessly integrate a scannable code within the design of the overall product it’s being placed on, making SnapTags more subtle and less distracting than QR codes.

creating a SnapTag

Image via spyderlynk.com

 

Another positive aspect of SnapTags is that one doesn’t need to install an application. Although there is an application one can download in order to scan and save SnapTags (which allows customers to access content later), it’s not required. Consumers do not need to download an extra app if they don’t want to. One can just snap a photo of the code ring image and send it as a text message to gain access to the information on the code.

Obstacles for SnapTags

As with NFC, SnapTags are not as widely known or used as QR codes. But because they have a better design, are more subtle, easier to scan, and have a multitude of tracking features that are useful to marketers they are a potential competitor to QR codes.

QR vs. NFC vs. SnapTag… why use them at all?

QR codes are still around and are probably going to be around for at least a little while longer. However, new technologies like NFC and SnapTag are constantly improving on the things where QR codes fall short. NFC and SnapTag are only a small sample of technologies that bridge the gap between the physical and virtual world. These tools offer great potential for marketers because it enables them to engage with consumers in a more unique way.

If you are looking for new, creative ways to engage with your customers, feel free to reach out to us anytime! We would love to help you out with any future marketing campaigns, just say “Hello” and we’d be happy to answer any other questions you may have.

Conversion Rate Optimization

What is Conversion Rate Optimization and Why are we Still Confused?

By | Conversion Rate Optimization | No Comments

CRO Explained…. a little

There are so many questions about Conversion Rate Optimization, aka. “CRO” these days. I have frequent conversations with marketers from coast to coast on this subject and I’ve come to realize that we have a clear case of misinformation. Who is to blame for this ‘fake news’, you ask? The blame is on all of us actually.

I want to point out that while the internet has an enormous amount of information on crafting CRO strategies, a lot of it is less than optimal. My goal in writing this is to facilitate a paradigm shift in the way many marketers view the strategy behind CRO. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy conversing with marketers on the subject (and sounding smart whilst setting the record straight) however I’d like to get to a point where many of these aforementioned conversations pertain to customer theory learning and application as opposed to treatment wins/losses. Let me explain…

CRO is more about customer learning and less about winning a specific treatment over another. If you google something like ‘CRO’ or ‘A/B testing’ you will find several articles about these topics, some successful and some not so much.

So what constitutes a failed CRO strategy?

First of all, many marketers do not understand the full level of commitment required to engage and maintain a successful CRO strategy. An easy way to fail is to do what I like to call the ‘winning treatment only’ strategy. This involves creating test variations with the primary goal being to produce a ‘winner’. The main problem surrounding this strategy is that these types of tests are designed around the goal of getting a winning treatment, as opposed to proving or disproving a specific customer theory. This strategy will most-likely provide short-term gains however many companies who use this method fail to see long-term benefits and as a result, acquire a sour taste for CRO.

How does this happen so often?

Decision makers have been exposed to case study after case study of button color and copy changes with big up arrows and large percentages (often relative with no context which makes me chuckle). Marketers are often pressured through terms like ‘ROI’ or ‘Overall Conversions’ to direct CRO departments/agencies down this path and while many agencies attempt to push back, fools still gotta eat.

So what constitutes a successful CRO strategy?

Commitment is the key. Essentially, we need to transform the thought of CRO from a short term boost in conversions or revenue to a long term investment for the future. This investment can permeate through your entire business, not just internet sales. I mean, in what case would you not share valuable customer insights across the business. Creation of a customer theory document that can be shared across departments is a vital component.

The successful CRO strategy seeks to prove/disprove customer theories in order to learn what drives customers to complete various activities in-line with the goals of the business. Testing is just one method to uncover these insights. To put it another way, the CRO strategy is focused on validating hypotheses (win or lose) to learn, and less concerned with what the experience will look like in the future from what we learn now.

For example, if a test concept proves a hypothesis correct/not correct, we will then take that learning into account when we either design the next treatment or redesign the experience going forward. We will not necessarily always just implement a winning treatment. That conversation will be like, ok now we know xyz about these customers, now let’s either advance the learning into a new hypothesis (next in sequence) or design the best experience around that (and other) understanding(s) and the needs of the business. This process could take a couple of winning treatments and a couple of losing treatments to truly understand and design the best experience.

My purpose for writing this is not only to answer some common questions that I have been asked by many marketers, but to also help promote the common communication of what CRO is. As a result of all the miscommunication and failed attempts, and regardless of your position or title, we must all promote a paradigm shift in how we approach the strategy behind CRO.

I hope this piece sheds some additional light on what constitutes an effective CRO strategy and why it is important to think of CRO not of winning or losing treatments, but as a systematic approach at continuous customer learning and validation.

Still have questions? Reach out and say “Hello” we’d be happy to answer any questions you’ve still got about building a successful CRO strategy, we’ll even help you build it!

Google goes mobile first

Google Goes Mobile-First

By | google | No Comments

Intrusive interstitial penalties, mobile-first indexing and SEO, oh my!

We’re officially one week into Google’s mobile-first indexing and intrusive interstitial penalties. How are we all feeling? A little overwhelmed, panic, maybe a bit of anxiety? First, I just need everyone to CALM DOWN. January 10th came and then it went, and most of us went on with business as usual. So what really did happen and what should companies prepare for?  

Here’s what we need to recognize, good people of the business world, these are moblie times and if you want to keep up then you’ve got get on board. In this day and age it’s all about the consumer and giving them the best experience possible. I’m going to explain a little more about what Google is talking about when they say intrusive interstitial and mobile-first indexing. Then I’m going to give you a few tips and options for moving forward. Don’t worry, we will get through this.

Mobile-First Indexing

The stat is out and it looks like 75% of searches in 2017 will be done through a mobile device. That’s huge, so huge that Google is reconfiguring the way they index and rank pages. Here was the issue- more people are searching through mobile devices, but Google’s ranking systems were looking primarily at the desktop version of a pages content. This process would cause issues if the mobile site was lacking content from the desktop version because the search algorithms weren’t evaluating the actual page being seen my mobile users. In other words, mobile users were getting jipped.

Google to the rescue! The search engine giant, obviously, wasn’t going to sit back and let this continue to happen. So, towards the end of last year they started making changes, testing new algorithms in small batches and ultimately rolling out their mobile-first index. Check out their full explanation here.

Intrusive Interstitials- Please use responsibly

Tweet us if you’ve seen this image:

Google's example of interstitials that will be affected

Image via webmasters.googleblog.com

It’s literally been in every article I’ve come across that covers the Google updates. Since I don’t want to disappoint or cause any confusion I’m going to use it too, thanks Google! The image above shows the three intrusive interstitials that have been labeled as creating poor user experience for the reader. An interstitial is a pop-up ad that requires a reader to close out the ad before they can access the information. The reasoning is sound- while the content is available for Google to index it, it’s obstructed by the interstitials, causing a poor experience for the viewer. Visitors to the site are frustrated because they are unable to seamlessly access the content they’d expected to find after clicking on the link.

With more and more individuals utilizing their mobile device to consume content, interstitials on smaller screens can be problematic. Which brings us to the penalty portion, if viewers can not easily access content on your site you will be penalized for this and your mobile search results may not rank as high.   

Now that I’ve showed you what you will be penalized for, let me also show you what is still acceptable:

Google's example of interstitials that won't be affected

Image via webmasters.googleblog.com

All of my friends who need to confirm the usage of cookies and verify ages, you’re safe. Also, as long as you’re reasonable with your pop-ups Google won’t ding you. Keep the banner ads small so that the content is still accessible and you should be just fine.

It’s not magic, it’s just best practices

I’ve said it once already and I’ll say it again, these are mobile times. How are you making the transition a seamless experience for the visitors to your site? Here are a few tips around keeping your rankings high and those penalties low.

  • First, I want to note that this only affects mobile searches. Your desktop rankings will remain the same.
  • Is your site responsive or a dynamic serving site where the content is comparable across desktop and mobile? If so, you shouldn’t have to do anything.
  • If your desktop and mobile site differs, you’ll want to start making some changes sooner rather than later.
  • Are your pages relevant to the search terms used to get readers there? Avoid clickbait at all times, it’s just bad form.
  • How are your page load times? What about those bounce rates? Slow page load = high bounce rates. High bounce rates = poor rankings. It’s all coming full circle.
  • If you’re uncertain if your site is mobile friendly or not you can always utilize Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Ultimately the main goal here is to make finding content easier for users and since the majority of users are on mobile that’s where the focus has shifted. Only time will really tell how this will affect all of us, but if you play by Google’s rules you’re as good as gold. Still concerned? Reach out with any questions, we’d be happy to help. 

 

2017 eCommerce Predictions

By | ecommerce | No Comments

Before we finally call it quits on 2016, Digital Operative thought it would be beneficial to seek out some of the predicted trends for the coming year.  Absolunet inc. recently put out an in-depth report that touches on a few predicted trends in eCommerce for 2017 and we decided to turn it into an infographic. So without further ado… Your 2017 eCommerce Predictions:

2017 eCommerce Predictions

All stats brought to you by Absolunet inc.

Blogging for eCommerce in 2017

To Blog or Not to Blog? Blogging for Ecommerce in 2017

By | blogging | No Comments

Stay relevant my friends

Over 409 million people view the 23.8 billion blog pages out there each month. Users create roughly 65.3 million pieces of new content each month. Now that’s a lot of content. The ironic part about these numbers is the fact that business owners and marketers alike are still asking themselves- do we really need to be blogging?

In short, that answer is yes, duh! Below I’ve outlined a few of the best reasons why blogging, specifically for ecommerce, is as important now than it’s ever been as we head into 2017.  

A couple of fun facts

First things first, 99% of people won’t buy anything on their first visit to your site. Plain and simple. There’s a popular marketing adage called “the rule of 7”. It goes a little something like this- many potential consumers won’t buy from you until they’ve seen your marketing message, social post, blog, retargeting ad, email, etc., at least seven times. It’s time to get writing.

Why you need to get blogging

 

1. Reach

So you say you’re just starting out and you’ve got a small audience, okay. Do you ever want that audience to grow? Time to start blogging. You’ve got to get out in front of new audiences and one of the best ways to do that is with a blog. It’s one of those mediums that can be cross promoted through multiple marketing platforms.

2. SEO

I bet you haven’t heard this one before. By default blogging creates new pages on your site and thus increases your SEO rankings. We’ve got news for you, in 2017, SEO will still be one of the main modes of getting people to your page.

This is where we emphasize how important it is to create posts people will want to share. When your post is shared via social or ends up on another website, rankings jump. Keep in mind, more pages mean more internal links pointing directly at your homepage. While internal links are pretty cool, links from other websites are even better and help in that credibility area.

3. Tell Your Story

In 2017, personalization is the name of the game. Consumers react more emotionally when there’s a story involved. Use your blog to tell your brand’s story, from conception to fruition. Let readers develop an emotional connection to the brand, when a brand can establish trust with their consumers it is then they establish loyalty. Ecommerce efforts become a little more fruitful when you’ve got loyal customers to work with.  

Loyalty will also allow you to slip those unsuspecting calls to action into blog posts without the fear of sounding too salesy or pitchy.

4. Customization

In that same vein, custom graphics and mini-themes across all of your branded channels are definitely on the list of potential trends we’ll see across the ecommerce space in 2017. Consistent branding across all channels helps new customers identify your brand anywhere and creates familiarity.    

What’s the return?

Apart from the probable increase in conversions, you’ll see quite a few things on the return spectrum. If you’re tapping into the right audience you should see a spike in organic and referral traffic. Your credibility will grow with thoughtful, industry related blog posts, and in that same vein, blogs help to establish your brand as an industry leader. Ultimately blogs can help you lift your overall lead gen efforts and increase sales.

Yes, blogging is something you’re going to have to budget for in 2017, but yes, it will be worth it. Final word of advice, don’t get your marketing strategy in a twist if you don’t see results right away. Blogs take time to build and generating a substantial following doesn’t happen overnight, unless you’re Beyonce. Stick with it, while a post may only get a few views within its first week of going live, it could get thousands over the course of its life. Happy blogging!

If you need help with any of your blogging, branding or strategy efforts please reach out. We love helping people, brands, grandmothers. You know, the usual.

Cheers!

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