As a trade show software provider for over 120 events annually, Data Connect has seen banner usage of QR codes in 2011, but not all instances are successful. At times, a vendor may not provide a scannable code (try scanning one on a wrinkled t-shirt), a call to action, or link to a mobile-friendly website. Tim Patterson of the Tradeshowguy Blog recently posted a great podcast with Mike Vincent of Fanfare Mobile addressing the benefits of using SMS codes in lieu of sometimes-problematic QR codes.

Listen to the conversation here (the podcast was posted on November 14th).

SMS, which is short for “short message service”, refers to the text messaging aspect of mobile devices like phones, tablet computers, and certain MP3 players. In an SMS campaign, a business will ask a prospect to text a keyword to a particular number (i.e., text “trade show software” to 7477), at which point the user will receive an automatic response. That response may provide product or promotion details or ask the recipient to submit additional information before being directed to a website or landing page. 

SMS codes offer a number of benefits:

1. No applications to download: Unlike QR codes, which require users to download software, roughly 97%-99% of cell phone users are already equipped to receive SMS messages. This means that nearly every prospect you want to reach is currently within your grasp.

2. User-friendly: While QR codes need to be scanned from a certain distance at a certain angle, SMS codes only require the user to send a text message.

3. Customizable: SMS campaigns are easily tailored to suit various businesses objectives. Ask participants to submit contact information, complete a survey, or direct them to a website or custom landing page.  

Now, although SMS codes do offer some advantages over their more buzzworthy counterpart, QR codes are still a viable component of a business’ conversion efforts. If you do decide to use QR Codes, Tim recommends taking note of the following three guidelines:

1. Make sure your code is sized appropriately: If the code is too small, it won’t scan. Test the code on a proof before making your final print.

2. Make it easy to scan: Be sure that the code is within reach and printed on a flat, static surface.

3. Have a responsive website: Make sure your website is optimized for smartphones and mobile devices. Your standard website would be challenging to navigate from a small mobile device, so before running a campaign, be sure that you have a mobile-friendly site that’s easily viewed with phones and tablets. 

In the end, you may elect to use SMS and QR codes side-by-side in order to give the end-user the best opportunity to retrieve your information.

Have you used SMS technology to enhance the experience at your events? Have you also used QR codes? What was your experience with either?

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