Add Wow-Factor to Your Digital Strategy Using Microsoft Tags

By Matt McFadden | Jan 26, 2011

When I first heard that Microsoft created a live, “clickable” link you can print on any surface, I have to admit – I was a bit skeptical. I mean, was this really possible? Or was it just a gimmick that would play itself out in a few short months? And how would it work – would people even know how to use it?

These new links, intended for smartphone users, are called Microsoft Tags. And to be honest, the more I learn about them, the more I realize what a dynamic tool they can be for digital marketing strategies. Using Tags, you can stay, literally, in your customer’s pocket – right beside the keys and lip balm. And that’s just one of the benefits!

How They Work
Each tag is a visual barcode (as shown) that can be scanned and read via your smartphone’s camera function and a free Tag Reader application from Microsoft, downloadable to your phone through Creating and using Tags is also free through Microsoft’s online Tag Manager. Tags can instantly connect customers with webpages, videos, music, and coupon offers as well as download contact info into their phones or dial phone numbers automatically.

Tags can be exported as various file types and are infinitely scalable, which means you can put them on virtually anything – business cards, brochures, packaging, signage, even food or temporary tattoo paper! You can also change the linked content any time you like and set expiration dates if your Tag is promoting a limited time offer. And if you’re worried about the Tag ruining your brand design, you can customize it with your own branded images (as shown).

What They Can Do For You
And now the exciting part – the benefits of Tags for your digital marketing strategy!

  1. Increase Site Traffic – Tags can increase your site traffic by allowing customers to quickly and easily view relevant portions of your website right in the moment they need it – for example, a handy selection guide Tagged on a paint company’s signage at a home improvement store or a map Tagged on a park kiosk.
  2. Collect Customer Info – Linking to a contact or order form can engage customers in the moment, before the busyness of life outweighs their desire to visit your website when they get home or back to the office. For entertainment, this means posting Tags throughout a show venue to reach fans when they’re most enthusiastic.
  3. Launch a Viral Campaign – Contact info, calendar items, coupons, and links are stored in the customer’s phone for reference and forwarding, creating potential for viral marketing campaigns. This works especially well for video links, as expertly demonstrated by Golf Digest Magazine‘s instructional golf videos.
  4. Study the Analytics – The Tags Manager can capture the number of people “clicking” on each Tag so you can more easily determine the effectiveness of marketing tools like brochures and signage and how well your customers are responding to Tag campaigns like downloadable brochures, coupons, or videos.
  5. Save Money, Go Green – Tags printed on sticker stock can be placed on existing marketing literature without the cost of reprinting, and future costs can be offset by printing smaller brochures or teasers that link to more detailed digital brochures. That’ll win you major brownie points for environmentally friendly practices too!
  6. Engage Your Customer Base – Tags can also provide the perfect tool for contests and activities that create positive brand associations and long-term customer interactions – for example, O Bee Credit Union’s “Capture the Tag” scavenger hunt, which promoted business while educating the community on financial literacy.

With so many great options to think about, I’ll leave you with just one question…
What Microsoft Tag digital marketing strategies can you dream up?

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