What is a QR code and how to use one ? It’s not as easy as it seems to answer this one.

To put it simply a QR code is a thingy that you can scan with your camera phone and read the encoded information such as launch a webpage, read a vCard …

Marketing companies are using these QR codes to print them on different supports (a banner, a cup, a magazine…) and when you scan them the link stored inside redirects you to the intended website.

So let’s say that you want to promote your new fancy product, and you prepare a marketing campaign to bring customers to your website to buy the products (http://example.com/products). You buy adds in magazines, you print posters, T-shirts, coffee mugs and so on. On each print out you add the QR code linking to http://example.com/products

When the campaign will end you’ll need to know if you’ll buy more of these adds, and which ones ? You obviously want to buy the ones that generated traffic to your site.

But if you can know a lot of information about the readers of your page you have no information whatsoever about the marketing campaign. Was the T-shirts such a good idea ? Should I buy more posters or more coffee mugs ?

That’s where Google Analytics URL Builder comes into play. (Update thanks to Patreek Agarwal, this tool is deprecated and replaced by the Campaign URL Builder)

With this simple tool you can add tags to your links that are readable by Google analytics. You create one link per campaign medium and you follow the results through Google Analytics marketing reports.

For instance for the mugs we will use this URL : http://example.com/products?utm_source=example&utm_medium=mug&utm_campaign=products.

As you can see the QR code is quite complex and difficult to read (at least it will be difficult to scan). It is strongly suggested to use a URL shortener before generating the QR code.

In our example the URL can be shortened as http://goo.gl/LtNXu and the QR code is then clearer and simpler. Not need to say why the QR code can then be easily scanned (nothing more embarrassing than someone trying to scan your QR code … and the scan fails just in front of you and a bunch of curious people. Trust me on that … seriously)

Now you can use these customized URL addresses as different campaigns in Google Analytics. I will certainly write a second post to cover just this aspect.



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