Tag Archives: .PDF

Ripon Printers Uses A QR Code In A B2B Fail

Businesses who offer products and services to other businesses often lag behind in the use of new techniques to reach their customers. So I was intrigued when I saw a QR code on the back cover of the recent Chief Marketer magazine. Like the mobile nerd that I am I read only the headline, “Print and Digital Go Together Like Sugar and Spice, ” and then skipped right to the QR code (the ad was for a company called Ripon Printers). The code itself was unremarkable but there was some copy next to it that I found somewhat helpful, “Scan the mobile barcode with your Smartphone camera to download our white paper.” It was clear to me what would happen as a result of scanning the code. But what, exactly, would be downloaded? Based on previous attempts to download a document of some sort I figured it would be a .pdf, which was the first sign of potential trouble.

image: Ripon-magazine-ad-barcode

I happened to be sitting in a coffee shop so I popped out my phone and used the iNigma app to scan the code. I was taken to a web page that loaded very quickly (kudos to Ripon for that!). This being a B2B scenario the white paper was a lead generation tactic and on the web page was a form to complete in order to receive the download. Here’s the whole page:

image: Ripon-mobile-web-form

At this point I didn’t even know what the paper was about but to a degree that was my fault – I hadn’t read the whole ad, just the headline. On my phone this site was three screens long and there was no way I was going to tap out all that info using my phone’s tiny keypad just to receive a white paper.

At this point I declared this effort a modest FAIL — hardly a heinous one.

But I pressed on to see what would happen. I took the time to enter all of the required information — not a fun task with my big thumbs and the little keypad. The result was a bit confusing. The screen flashed momentarily after I tapped the Submit button but I was left on the page looking at my completed form. Did it work? It took me a while to notice the little icon in the phone’s status bar that indicated a download of some sort. I dragged the notification bar down to find that the white paper had arrived. Here we go, I thought. And this is the unfortunate result:

image: Ripon-whitepaper-on-mobile-phone

This is page 2 of the .pdf and there was no way I was going to pinch-zoom and side-scroll in order to read this thing. It was a nicely designed document but completely unreadable using a mobile phone.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

There are two approaches to saving this lead-gen campaign when it comes to engaging people on their mobile phones (tablets, too, I suppose but does anyone scan 2D codes using their iPad??):

1) Shorten the form, reformat the .pdf   I understand that the sales team wants as much data on a prospect as possible but re-purposing your regular web form is the kiss of death for mobile. The form should simply ask for an email address and perhaps a name. Then, the downloaded .pdf should be one that was designed for reading on a mobile device with a single column, minimal graphics and large fonts. Lastly, make the web form give an indication that the download had started.

2) Change the channel to email   Mobile is a great way to capture impulse. In this case the web form could say something like, “Thanks for your interest in Ripon’s mobile expertise. We know you’re busy so just enter your email address and our white paper will be waiting for you in your email inbox.” There’s nothing urgent about reading the white paper. The key is to make it really easy to express that initial interest.

In either approach Ripon would at least have an email address they can use to follow-up and they would distribute many more copies of their white paper.

MIT Enterprise Forum NFC Fail

Last week I attended the MIT Enterprise Forum on Near Field Communications (NFC). This is the Northwest chapter of the Forum and was held at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle. On the way into the museum I noticed an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper taped to the cement pillar to the left of the many entrance doors.

The paper had a QR code on it but didn’t tell you what would happen if you scanned it. I didn’t scan it. (In-part because I’ve been trying out a Windows Phone and I had yet to download a scanner.) I continued inside to the conference.

After the conference ended I had more time to stop, get a scanner, and scan the code. What a surprise! The QR code was pointed directly at a .pdf file hosted on the Amazon cloud servers (https://s3.amazonaws.com/mitef-nfc/pdf/MITEF-NFC-whitepaper.pdf) .

The .PDF was a 28 page whitepaper on Near Field Communications!

Was I supposed to read this on my phone? I tried zooming in to the point where the type was legible but then I was forced to pan across the page twice in order to read a single line. Panning on a smartphone is both a side-t0-side and up-and-down affair so as I was panning the line of text was also floating up and down as my finger wasn’t dragging it perfectly sideways. Kind of makes you seasick.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

I understand what the organizers were trying to do here, distribute the NFC whitepaper to attendees. But was it their intention the people have the whitepaper in their hand to refer to during the conference? There were printed versions available to attendees for that purpose. To their credit, the mechanics worked fine. The scan resulted in a download.  Saving this campaign, however, would have required a different approach:

First, it’s never a good idea to tie a QR code directly to an asset url such as a document or video, which this one is. QR codes should point to urls than can be redirected at the conclusion of a campaign. In addition, if the url of the actual doc/video ever changes – particularly if it’s hosted somewhere like YouTube – the QR code will no longer work. Not good if something is in print or worse, tattooed.

Second, a mobile phone is no place for a 28 page document. On the Android phone (on which I also tested this campaign) there’s no easy way to get the document off the device. You can’t attach it to an email and side-loading is a hassle.  Instead, the QR might have either initiated  a new email where the user could then email the link to themselves or it might have landed the user on a page where they could input their email address in order to receive links to the whitepaper as well as video or pictures of the actual conference. The idea is to use the ‘in-the-moment’ impulse of mobile to secure a future contact or interaction, not necessarily to be the delivery agent of the content.