By Olivia Cahoon
Part 2 of 2
Quick response (QR) codes are printed onto applications to store URLs and information using a camera or smartphone. The use of QR codes combines physical print with the internet to create a marketing tool for industries from consumer marketing to restaurants and retail.
In part one of this series, we talked about the benefits QR codes and similar technologies offer print-based communications. In part two, we conclude by profiling a marketing and advertising company that uses QR codes to create marketing campaigns and track customer responses.
Established in 2015, Rethink CCM Ltd is a cross-channel marketing company in South Yorkshire, England. The company began with 11 employees following a management purchase and originally offered digital printing to the U.K. from a 15,000-square foot work area.
Today, Rethink has 21 employees and offers brand strategy, creative design, cross-channel marketing, data management, digital printing, public relations and copywriting, retail loyalty, social channel management, and web development. In a 30,000-square foot workspace, it now serves the U.K. and Europe.
The company operates both an HP Indigo 7800 and Xerox iGen4 digital printing press. The Indigo 7800 is a 13×19-inch digital sheetfed press that prints 160 color pages per minute (ppm). It’s compatible with more than 2,800 substrates and prints on thick substrates up to 18 pt.
The iGen4 has a maximum print width of 14x33x22.5 inches and prints 110 ppm. It features a range of finishing options including booklet making, case bound, flats, lay flats, perfect bound, stitched sets, and tape bound.
Rethink uses press-specific four-color digital inks including opaque white ink on acetate pages.
Its digital finishing devices consist of a Duplo Perfect Binder, Foliate 400A laminator, Renz binder, Standard Horizon StitchLiner, and other equipment for drilling, laminating, scoring, shrink wrapping, folding, and wire binding.
In early 2015, Rethink invested in XMPie marketing automation platforms and began using QR codes. The company uses QR codes on most of its printed marketing communications to provide recipients with easy access to unique URL page content.
“The technology itself works well and each QR code can be generated in unlimited quantities to provide complete unique access to content, making this a highly personal user touchpoint,” says Joel Dickinson, managing director, Rethink CCM Ltd.
However, Dickinson notes the challenges with QR codes are not the codes themselves but the device readers. He explains that the technology requires the user to download an application (app) to their device and that some readers are better than others. Customers with a low-quality reader may have difficulty scanning the code—leaving the QR code useless.
The company uses QR codes in its manufacturing process to track the product journey. This includes confirming job whereabouts including the use of QR codes to dispatch notifications, which triggers the automation of additional digital communications to the recipient.
Dickinson finds no restrictions for customers or industries that benefit from quick access technology. “I would argue that wherever there is content to be delivered and accessed, the introduction of a QR code will benefit the user experience. QR codes integrate nicely into retail loyalty for use on products, promotions, statements, and vouchers as well as supporting the rewards and redemptions process,” he explains.
Rethink produces complex printed and digital cross channel communications for consumer marketing using XMPie one-to-one marketing automation. XMPie’s uCreate Print technology generates QR codes and friendly URLs.
“Tthe XMPie platform and accompanying support allows Rethink to be a leader in the creation, delivery, and management of advanced printed and digital communications,” offers Dickinson.
The company also uses XMPie’s marketing automation software, Circle. Dickinson describes Circle as a highly visual tool used for managing multichannel marketing campaigns from storyboarding to campaign automation and tracking results.
“XMPie’s uImage is particularly powerful, allowing us to produce one-of-a-kind content that is uniquely targeted to each recipient, across print or digital touchpoints,” he adds. Rethink delivers personalized content using print, email, mobile, web, social, and video.
Dickinson says the company was particularly impressed with the pre-sale support received from XMPie. “It clearly demonstrated the capability of the platform itself, how it would meet our requirements, and instilled confidence in its ability to support us going forward,” he offers.
Aside from QR codes, Rethink also uses NFC technology in the form of unique identifiers like NFC enabled loyalty cards for retail environments that align customers with in-store purchase data. The company also uses augmented reality (AR) on products like catalog pages for accessing additional product content and resources.
“We have also used AR in retail catalogs to allow the user to select products from the offline printed page and place them directly into their e-commerce or shopping basket,” he says.
Dickinson believes QR codes are appearing everywhere, from billboard advertising and product packaging to wi-fi access points and public transportation. He says most modern retail POS have the capability to scan QR codes, often as part of the loyalty rewards and redemption process.
Recently, mobile device manufacturers have made strides to take advantage of the use of QR codes. As mobile devices are the main means for QR code engagement, companies like Apple have scheduled features into their devices to include instant QR code recognition features. “This will remove the needs for iPhone users to download a separate third-party app for QR code recognition. Android will no doubt follow suit by building this technology into their own OS,” says Dickinson.
He believes the introduction of built-in QR code recognition will prompt a massive surge in the acceptance and use of QR codes by consumers. “The QR code is about to get sexy,” adds Dickinson.
Rethink recently completed the MyKeys business campaign to demonstrate a cleverly constructed, eye-catching, and engaging introduction to Rethink’s cross-channel marketing service. The campaign included a mix of printed material, branded merchandize, and a digital call-to-action that connected the recipient to online channels for registering and maintaining their MyKeys page.
“Our objective with this campaign was to illustrate the value and effectiveness of combining both online and offline channels, peaking the recipient’s interest in our cross-channel approach to customer engagement, and the unique capabilities of Rethink’s advanced marketing automation platform,” says Dickinson.
The marketing campaign included a personalized packing box and sleeve, wire-bound book, company brochure, and branded keyring and pen. The packing sleeve and wire-bound book were printed on the Xerox iGen4 and the brochure was printed with the HP Indigo 7800. The branded keyring was produced in collaboration with U.K. company, Made by Oomph Ltd.
Rethink personalized the branded keyrings with full names and a unique URL to register contact details if the keyring is lost. The pack also included a QR code with the same URL. “This valuable service provided the perfect platform for capturing and maintaining prospect and customer data as well as demonstrating our advanced marketing automation capabilities and advocating brand loyalty,” says Dickinson.
Rethink created a second QR code on the front of the marketing pack for its production team to monitor when packs were dispatched to trigger automated emails to customers. The emails included unique content-based messages, reminding customers to register the personal keyrings and to thank customers for registering.
Rethink mailed the MyKeys campaign pack to over 300 U.K.-based influential marketing directors within large multinational organizations including charity, education, food and beverage, retail, and travel sectors.
Used with marketing campaigns, QR codes provide clients with a personalized form of engagement. Not only does this technology allow consumers to connect print with the web, but it can also be used to monitor distribution and send personalized emails to clients.
Click here to read part one of this exclusive online series, Interacting with Print.
Nov2017, DPS Magazine