QR Codes vs. SMS: Determining Value Between New and Old

QR Code scanning is emerging, SMS is the has-been. How do you determine value for your clients?

SMS sometimes get a bad rap. We’ve all seen those annoying “Text 1212121 TODAY to reveal the name of your true love!” And American Idol and other voting shows make use of SMS for viewers’ picks. These two prominent uses may have contributed to labeling SMS promotions as voter-based, trivial or old-fashioned.

And with increasing smartphone penetration and the advent of QR codes into the public eye, SMS may seem even more outdated. Why text when you can scan, tweet, message, post, blog, email, share — all from your phone?

So the question of the day is: Are QR Codes replacing SMS? Despite the obvious evidence, we say not yet — there’s still room for SMS.

Here’s what we found from Mobile Marketer.

Nowadays consumers cannot go a day without seeing a QR code – whether it is on a magazine page, billboard or bus shelter. In past years, SMS calls to actions were seen just about anywhere.

QR codes are still somewhat novel. With greater smartphone adoption, more users are able to (and want to) scan codes. And they have ample opportunity to do so. Increasingly, instead of incorporating SMS into their mobile strategies, many marketers are simply using QR codes to encourage users to visit a site.

But there are pros and cons to both campaigns. QR codes can lead to a number of things: mobile websites, video, giveaways, surveys, etc, but they don’t take feature phones into account. There is still a large portion of mobile users (over 60 percent) that don’t have a smartphone. These users can’t scan QR codes, but they can still use SMS services. SMS is the only non-voice way to reach the 234 million U.S. mobile subscribers, and, often, it’s much easier for a consumer to receive a text message than download a QR code scanner and scan a code. So, we say that SMS will stay relevant, even with the buzz of new technologies.

“SMS will be as strong as ever, but we will also see it placed alongside other mobile options like QR codes and the mobile Web. Offering multiple channels encourages engagement and campaign creativity, ultimately driving increased customer loyalty and overall revenue from mobile marketing campaigns.” —Doug Stovall, senior vice president of sales at Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA (via Mobile Marketer)

And it’s important to remember that mobile is shifting all the time. Already, there’s buzz around the web about a new technology called Near Field Communication, or NFC. Techies are excited about NFC’s capabilities to share information between an NFC-enabled device and an object equipped with an NFC chip. When this technology grows into its own, it could allow you to buy something by swiping your phone over it, or share schedules, contact info or maps with someone in a matter of milliseconds.

Currently, there aren’t many devices that can handle NFC communications (though it is rumored that the Windows Phone 8 will have NFC capabilities). And the even greater challenge is equipping objects — whether for retail or sharing purposes — with the NFC chip.

In the short term, marketers must learn to embrace new mobile media campaigns while remembering the value of previous ones. There will never be a time when all mobile users will have the same technological capabilities, so catering to the new and old can reach the widest number of users possible.

What are your thoughts on SMS campaigns? QR code campaigns? Have you seen good examples of both in action? Tell us below in the comments.

[image via Email Marketing Blog]