Connecting with customers with QR code campaigns that stand out

By: Jack Winston

Marketers are embracing QR codes as a technique to connect offline customers to online marketing campaigns.   By scanning a 2D barcode with your smartphone using an app like Quickmark or Scanlinfe, your phone’s browser is redirected to a web page url encoded in the QR code.  While QR codes have been around for almost 20 years, the availability of free QR code reader apps over the last few years created the field of QR code marketing.  The holiday shopping season of 2010 marked the first surge in QR code scanning frequency.  Since then, mobile marketing pundits have both hyped and panned the potential for QR codes.

It is clear that their usage is still in the early phases of adoption – both by marketers and consumers. A report by Nellymoser showed a 439% increase in usage of QR codes in magazines in 2011, illustrating an increased interest from promotional marketers.  A report from Scanlife shows a 300% increase in the volume of scans of QR Codes, showing in increase in interest from consumers.  A report from Forrester showed that, even though consumer interest is rising, adoption of QR code scanning is still only in the range of 15% of all smartphone users.  The Forrester report made the observation that a lack of compelling experience or content behind the QR code link was a key barrier to greater adoption.  In other words, most QR code campaigns are lame.

The majority of QR codes you see on products and in print advertising simply point toward a brand’s web page.  Marketers are starting to see the potential for finding more creative ways to use QR codes to engage their customers or improve their buying experience.  Examples of campaigns that are not lame include:

JC Penny offered online holiday shoppers the option to record a personalized YouTube greeting for which a custom QR code was automatically generated and printed on the gift card.

HGTV ran a campaign that printed QR codes on promotional materials distributed through Valpak that linked to a well designed landing page that offered entry into a sweepstakes, social sharing functionality, and previews of upcoming TV shows.

WJ King, a UK microbrewery, printed QR codes on taps and bottles that linked to a YouTube video of their brewmaster describing that particular beer style.

Sweepstakes marketers are starting to adopt QR codes as a technique for promoting their campaigns by driving smartphone users to their online sweepstakes pages.  In past entries, we have discussed how Bozuko offers an alternative to simple sweepstakes and how QR codes can be used to location-gate a Bozuko campaign.  In addition to on-location marketing, a QR-linked Bozuko campaign can be deployed via direct mail, in print media, or directly on products.

The brand awareness and return of a like-gated, mobile ,instant-win promotion with minimal hurdles to play can drive unprecedented levels of campaign participation.

The user experience of interacting with QR-gated Bozuko promotion is simple.  1. Customers see a QR code in an ad, or on a product. 2. They scan the code and are redirected to a mobile optimized entry screen. 3. They accept the terms and enter with an information gate including an email address and/or Facebook Like.  4.  They play a quick, fun game for a chance to win something interesting.   To see how straightforward it is, try out our demo game by scanning the QR code here.

We see a huge potential for bringing mobile, instant win games to consumers wherever they are interacting with your brand.  Check out how our new Bozuko Enterprise offering lets brands and businesses run unique, facebook-integrated, mobile marketing campaigns.

Try to keep up with Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.

New Data: More than 45% of your customers’ Facebook friends live within shopping distance of your business.

By: Jack Winston

Bozuko is a tool that lets marketers and business owners quickly launch location-aware, facebook-integrated promotions. One of the benefits of a facebook-integrated promotion is the word-of-mouth advertising a business gets when a customer publishes Likes, check-ins, comments, or similar posts to their wall for all their friends to see. As we have spoken to location-based businesses of all kinds, we frequently have been asked how valuable facebook word-of-mouth advertising actually is.

The answer to this is partly subjective, but partly quantitative. A location-based business mostly only cares about getting exposed to the portion of their customers’ facebook friends that live close enough to the business to be potential customers themselves. (Let’s ignore destination venues like Las Vegas or Disneyworld and national chains like McDonalds). We decided to dig into the subject of geographic distribution of Facebook friends.

First, we did a survey of any research already done on the subject. Facebook tracks a huge range of demographics of their users based on the information provided in your account profile. While most Facebook users do not fill out their exact address in the contact information tab of their profile, many do fill out their “Current City” in the Basic information tab. An interesting paper from the Facebook Data Team looked at the number of connections between people in a given geographic region, weighting a greater frequency of connections with brighter colors, yielding this outline of the globe.

Very Cool Picture from Facebook Data Team

A more technical paper from the Facebook Data team went further, digging in to the relationship between friend networks and the distance between friends that had filled out their exact address information. Using the data, they developed an approach for predicting a Facebook user’s approximate address based on the addresses of their friends.

These studies are fascinating, but do not answer the basic question that location based marketers have:

What portion of my customers’ facebook friends are potential customers of mine?

We decided to crunch some statistics of our own, based on the friend networks of a randomly selected group of Bozuko users. All data was kept anonymous and all Facebook privacy rules were enforced. Bozuko users are predominately in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, but otherwise should be representative of the broader Facebook population in urban and suburban areas.

Bozuko Demographics

We compared the “Current City” of each individual in our sample group to the “Current City” of all their friends. We calculated the distance between the Bozuko user’s city and each of their friends’ cities using the Google Maps API. Somewhat arbitrarily, we decided that 25 miles was the cutoff distance that would determine whether someone lived close enough to a Bozuko user to indicate they likely shopped in the same places. For each user in our sample, we determined what portion of each individual’s friends lived within the 25 mile radius. Then looking across the full sample, we were able to calculate the relevant summary statistics. The answer:

On average, at least 45% of your customers’ friends live within 25 miles of your customers.

We think this statistic is pretty re-assuring. Given the average facebook user has 130 friends, every time your customer makes a post related to your business, it hits 58.5 of their friends walls. That seems like a good platform for building word-of-mouth advertising for location based businesses.

That’s enough stats for today. Try to keep up with Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.

Go Pats!

Step by Step details of our calculation

  1. As discussed in the post, we determined the distance between the current city of the Bozuko user and all of their friends’ current cities, creating an array of distances for everyone in the sample. Our sample size was N=100.
  2. For each individual in the sample, we calculated the % of total friends living 25 miles or less. This measurement is our set of independent variables X1..100
  3. For the entire set of X1..100 we calculated the sample average Xaverage = 52%. The standard deviation Xstd dev = 24%.
  4. Assuming a normal distribution of our observations (which seems reasonable) and taking N=100 and our calculated standard deviation, we can calculate a 99% confidence bound of +/- 6.2%.
  5. We can say with 99% confidence that, on average, greater than 45% (52% – 6.2% = 45.8%) of any individual’s friends will be in the 25 mile radius.

If anyone would like to correct my amateur statistics, please feel free. We will post your feedback and send you a free Bozuko T-shirt.

How to create more targeted promotions with location-gated sweepstakes

By: Jack Winston

In our last blog post, we discussed the structure of the tried and trusted sweepstakes promotion.  In particular, we covered the different options for “gating” your sweepstakes promotion in order to better target a specific group of customers.

One of the challenges that all promotional marketing must deal with is how to focus incentives on a specific population.  Paying for a direct mail campaign that delivers coupons to 1) people who are never going to buy your product or 2) people that would have bought your product at full price is a classic promotional marketing problem.  Sweepstakes and contest-based promotions face similar challenges when they offer a chance to win valuable prizes to anyone who enters.  Easy-to-enter, online sweepstakes, that are open to anyone surfing through can be a great tool for building your contact list and driving attention, but marketers need to be realistic about the return of such contests.

Broad sweepstakes may have a place in the marketing mix of large brands, but they hold little utility for location-based marketers looking to engage customers on site.  Furthermore, open sweepstakes are typically not appropriate for a local business that draws customers from a specific neighborhood or region.  Location-gating your promotion can create a much more targeted sweepstakes campaign.

The “text-to-win” sweepstakes evolved, in part, as a way to tie promotions to a particular location.  On-location signage will prompt customers to text in SMS short codes for a chance to win prizes.  By promoting the codes on site, marketers can limit entrants to the on-location population.

Sweepstakes designed for GPS-enabled smart phones can location-gate a promotion by creating eligibility criteria based on being physically in the vicinity of a place of business.  Setting up this kind of eligibility criteria can be made easier by leveraging the location networks incorporated in Facebook, Foursquare, or Google Places.  If you open up your Bozuko app and go to the “Nearby” tab, you will see a list of local businesses sorted based on how far they are from your current location.  This list of businesses is sourced from Facebook’s list of claimed businesses as well as user generated places.

There are a few ways to create the actual location gate.  You could choose to only make games visible to individuals in the vicinity.  Or you could require players to “check-in” on a social network in order to declare their presence at your business.  Bozuko enables a few options, including combining a location gate with “Fan-gating” – that is requiring individuals in the vicinity to “Like” the business on Facebook in order to enter.

Another approach to location gating is to leverage a QR code displayed on in-store signage or other displays.  Customers scanning the code with a QR code reader are directed to a mobile web page where they can play the game.  GPS and other geo-location technology can be used to help further tune the location requirements or even change the game depending on region.  Bozuko has begun incorporating QR code gates into our Facebook-linked, instant-win sweepstakes promotions.  To try out our demo (sorry, no real prizes), scan the QR code here with your Android or iPhone.  We have some exciting plans for mobile web that we will be talking about soon.

Try to keep up with Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.

How mobile, social, and LBS technologies are transforming sweepstakes promotions.

By: Jack Winston
The “Sweepstakes” marketing promotion has evolved over the past few decades to become a very popular tool for a range of consumer product categories, retail and service businesses, quick service food establishments, magazine publishing, and even in some B2B applications.   If you are not an active sweeper and are not aware of the popularity of this marketing promotion, do a quick Google search for “sweepstakes” and check out a few of the sweeps directories to get a feel. The internet and email began to transform the format and reach of sweepstakes marketing over the past 10 years.  Mobile phones have also influenced sweepstakes with “text to win” promotions becoming popular.  The rapid rise of “so-lo-mo” technologies (i.e. social networking platforms, location based services, and mobile web enabled smart phones) is revolutionizing sweepstakes marketing. Bozuko is a platform that lets businesses leverage so-lo-mo technologies to maximize the reach and impact of simple sweepstakes-style marketing campaigns.
While sweepstakes are heavily regulated in order to maintain legal differentiation from lotteries and gambling, they can vary significantly in structure and format. has a nice overview of the different ways to segment sweepstakes.  Sweepstakes can vary in ways including:

Award mechanism: Classic Sweepstakes v. Instant win

A classic sweepstakes chooses winners from a qualified entrant pool at random at the end of the contest period.  A restaurant asking customers to leave a business card in a bowl for a chance to win a free lunch is a classic sweepstakes award mechanism.   Instant win promotions assign awards to qualified entrants at random moments in time or via fixed pre-determined odds.  The Bozuko Approach: Bozuko enables instant win sweepstakes in familiar game formats like scratch tickets and slot machines.

Means of entry

Someone enters a sweepstakes when they indicate their acceptance of contest terms and, typically, submit their contact information to the contest organizers.  The 10 most common means of entry include 1) completing a form on a website; 2) sending an email; 3) mailing in an entry form; 4) calling in; 5) leaving info in a drop box; 6) SMS texting; 7) posting a twitter message with a particular tag (e.g. #bigprizesweeps) ; 8) facebook using a contest app like Wildfire; 9) calling in response to a radio ad; 10) leaving a comment on a blog.  The Bozuko Approach: Bozuko integrates directly with Facebook.  This allows users to enter instant win games with the contact information associated with their Facebook account.

Entry Frequency

A sweepstakes may be structured to allow people to enter at different frequencies – hourly, daily, monthly, yearly, or a set number of times.  The Bozuko Approach: Bozuko allows businesses to set the entry frequency for every campaign they launch.


Sweepstakes prizes can vary widely, including cash, free merchandise, promotional items, discounts, or coupons. The Bozuko Approach: Bozuko lets businesses give away whatever prizes they want, within the bounds of state and federal law and Facebook promotional guidelines.  When building a Bozuko campaign, marketers set the total number of each prize they want to give away, thereby setting the total cost of the marketing campaign.


Eligibility requirements for a sweepstakes are designed to limit contests to a specific audience.  Businesses can use eligibility to target their marketing promotion at engaging a specific set of buyers.  Rapidly developing so-lo-mo technologies are expanding what types of eligibility requirements are practical for sweepstakes campaigns.  There are 3 categories of eligibility requirements that can be thought of as “Gates” that help screen for the relevant target audience.

    1. Information Gates require submission of sufficient information to screen out ineligible entrants such as minors, employees, or prior winners.  Typically, sweepstakes are designed to gather contact information to allow businesses to send promotional material via mail, phone, or email.  An increasingly common variant of this is a Facebook “Fan-gate” that requires entrants to “Like” a brand or business in order to enter.  Likes can be very valuable to businesses as a channel for followup communications.  The Bozuko approach lets customers submit their Facebook contact information based on the submission action set by the business.  Submission could include Liking or checking-in to the business on Facebook.
    2. Location Gates limit eligibility to a specific geographic region.  The classic sweepstakes would determine geographic eligibility based on the address of the entrant (e.g. open to residents of Massachusetts).  Smartphones equipped with GPS enable location-aware contests that are available to entrants only in a defined region.  The Bozuko Approach: Businesses using the Bozuko app can set a geographic radius around their business where their promotion is visible.  Emerging technologies like QR codes and NFC will let businesses further target contest availability to specific points in space.  This allows hyper-local sweepstakes that target a very specific demographic (e.g. customers currently in your store).
    3. Activity-gating can further limit eligibility to entrants who have performed a specific action.  The classic sweepstakes may require entrants to mail in UPC codes for the sponsoring product.  Radio contests may screen for eligibility by limiting to entrants who call in when a specific song is played.  There are many exciting technologies on the horizon that could automatically screen for eligibility based on what song you are listening to, what television show you are watching or even what video game you are playing.

Alternate means of entry (AMoE) is often required when running a sweepstakes.  This allows individuals to enter even though they can’t (or don’t want) to satisfy the other eligibility requirements for one reason or another.  Many times, AMoE can be done online via web page or email.  The Bozuko Engine can automatically facilitate a variety of AMoE for Bozuko games, when applicable.

Sweepstakes are a tried and tested form of promotional marketing that are becoming even more effective and flexible thanks to so-lo-mo technologies.  Bozuko makes it easy for brands and businesses to build promotional instant win games that customers can play on their smart phones.

See how Bozuko can work for your brand or business immediately by logging in and building a promotion in minutes.  Click here to give it a try.
Try to keep up with Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.

Moving beyond the era of online deals

By: Jack Winston

No matter what the critics say (including me in prior blogs), daily deals and group discounting are a huge promotional marketing phenomenon that continues to play an important role for local businesses.  Illustrating their popularity, Groupon announced their deal volume between Black Friday and Cyber-Monday jumped 500% since last year.

That said, the space is increasingly crowded.  Giants Living Social and Groupon are getting challenged by Google Offers, collaborations between Foursquare and deal aggregators, and a never-ending supply of hyper-niche and hyper-local companies targeting very specific businesses or audiences.  The remnants of BuyWithMe, formerly the number 3 in the industry, were acquired last month after being unable to continue to fund their growth-by-acquisition strategy.  It seems that there may be some limit to 1) how many deals the market can consume and 2) how many businesses can continue to see value in promotions based on deep discounts.   Bozuko’s CEO, Jake Epstein, talked to the Boston Business Journal on the topic last week.

We have blogged before about the right and wrong reasons to explore group discounting.  The glut of deals in the industry suggest that not all businesses are discounting for the right reasons.  A few months back, Inc Magazine had a nice piece on the 10 Pros and Cons of Using Groupon.  In short, promotions based on highly publicized deep discounts can be effective in creating a one-time surge of new customers.   Beyond this surge, businesses need to design promotions that help retain and upsell their customers by creating a lasting engagement.

Creating a promotion based on a contest or game can be very effective at engaging customers.  When games are linked to social networks like Facebook, businesses can leverage the added visibility of their customers’ social graph and develop lasting communication channels to their customer base.  Bozuko lets brands and businesses create promotions based on instant win games linked to Facebook that customers play on their smartphones.  By optimizing the game experience for mobile phones, Bozuko is unique in its ability to let businesses engage with customers while they are on-location. 

See how Bozuko can work for your brand or business immediately by logging in and building a promotion in minutes.  Click here to give it a try.

Try to keep up with Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.