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Using QR codes and Google Analytics to track mobile devices

Google Analytics also has a great feature that allows for us to measure the impact of marketing and promotional efforts. This includes email campaigns, partner banner ads, Google Adwords, and social media, and we now have a great opportunity to blend out offline campaigns with our online measurement. This opportunity is specifically tailored to mobile device users, and it is called “QR codes” – or the funny looking square barcodes that are increasingly common.

To run part of your campaign using QR codes to target mobile device owners. Follow these basic steps:

  1. Figure out the URL of the landing page on your Website that you would like to send your mobile visitors to once they respond to your “ad” and use your QR code. (note that the landing page must have a Google Analytics page tag on it for tracking to work)
  2. Use the Google Analytics campaign URL generator to create a tracking-friendly URL (as with the example below): A screenshot of the Google Analytics campaign URL generator
  3. Copy and paste this new URL
  4. Use a QR code generator to transform the long and hard-to-type URL into a basic graphic that you can use in print advertisements (this QR code generator worked for me: http://qrcode.kaywa.com)
  5. Paste the Google friendly URL created in step 2 into the QR code generator, and click “Generate!”
    A screenshot of the QR code generator interface.
  6. Test the QR code by holding your mobile device up to your computer screen, and using your QR code reader on the QR code. I am using Google “Goggles”, which has a built in reader for QR bar codes. And Presto! This should bring you to the landing page you selected in step 1, and you should see the “Google Analytics friendly” URL variables (UTM), which will pass this information to Google Analytics campaign tracking engine.
    Scott of PublicInsite illustrating the testing maneuver mentioned in step 6.
  7. Next, on the QR code generator site, take a screen shot of the bar code image and crop it as desired, then save it to your computer.
  8. Finally, integrate the QR code image into your print advertisements in newspapers, flyers, bus stop ads, subway station and airport ads. ++ Also consider integrating QR codes into public screens and TVs – but be sure the audience has enough time to use their mobile device QR reader on the QR code. Once your ads go online you should see your campaign traffic jump, and the medium for these visits will be “QR”. Happy tracking to you!

There is a lot of potential to tie real time advertisements on public screens (or TV in general), to promotional campaigns. Eg. “Visit this QR code in the next 30 seconds for 50% off your mobile newspaper subscription.” + Google Analytics will help you to measure your online success using QR codes!

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