So we have been exploring the world of QR Codes and how they work and why to use them. Next we want to uncover NFC (Near Field Communications) and talk about the differences between it and QR Codes while exploring uses and important information.
What is Near Field Communications?
Simply put an NFC tag (be it a sticker, card, or other device with NFC capabilities) is like an RFID chip - like those placed in animals for identification and medical records. The main difference is the distance from the chip that a NFC device needs to be in order to read it. The NFC tag does not have any power source and actually uses power from an NFC device (like a cell phone) to pull power through the air to activate the chip and transmit its information to the device that is powering the chip. I'll save you the technical details on how that wireless power stuff works. Needless to say the NFC chips only work from about 4 inches away from the device.
Additionally, NFC tags can have difference storage capabilities. Similar to a hard drive, their cost can vary based on the amount of storage they offer. But don't be confused by the hard drive analogy, these little chips can only hold between 96 bytes and 32 kilobytes. (Remember those names, bytes and kilobytes... they are 1,000 to 1,000,000 times smaller than a megabytes and gigabyte respectively.)
What are NFC Tags Used For?
Since NFC tags can only hold small amounts of data, the simplest thing to use them for is to link to web-sites or interactive content that is housed on the web. A URL only takes a tiny amount of data which is great for these little wonders. Still there are some fun things that can be done with NFC tags that are outside the narrow box of URLs. TrendBlog.net outlines a few personal ways to use NFC tags like controlling your home, managing your laptops wifi and setting reminders on your phone. (See the article here: http://trendblog.net/creative-and-useful-ways-to-use-nfc-tags-with-your-smartphone/)
On the flip side we have all likely heard of Apple Pay and other methods of using your phones NFC technology to pay for things at retail shops and restaurants. This uses NFC on a different and more powerful level, but a great use for the technology.
In the business world you may want to use an NFC tag to point customers to your web-site, an instructional video, or a product page on an e-commerce site.
Analytics and NFC
Everyone in business is interested in "what this means for the bottom line"... So, the question is can NFC tags be tracked to show the effectiveness? The answer is a resounding yes! Just like QR Codes that can be tracked and analyzed for use. NFC chips have a full suite of analytics capabilities. How many times was the chip scanned, when was it scanned, etc. But in addition, by adding a few lines of code to the campaigns, you can track from NFC tag, to web-site, to sale and you can see the complete cycle of the customer.
QR Codes vs NFC Tags
What's the difference you ask? QR Codes require a camera and an app on your device. The camera scans the code, the app decodes it and then provides the content. NFC tags merely need to be in range of a device and the actions automatically are enacted. The web-address that the tag wants you to go to is automatically sent to the device and you are prompted to complete the request and load the page or to perform the action the code is signalling the device to perform. No special apps or camera required; however, you do have to possess an NFC capable device to use the technology. But since nearly 600 Million devices are estimated to ship this year, chances are you're going to have the option to get a device with NFC technology built in. Apple and Android both offer NFC technologies on almost all (if not all) new devices.
So What Do I Do Now?
So, what's the action step here? Try it out! If you have an NFC capable device and see an icon, like the one at the top of this article, place your phone near it and play with the features. Try paying for something with your phone. And from a marketing perspective try adding in an additional layer of integration for your prospects by placing an NFC tag on your marketing materials. It's very simple to add an NFC sticker to existing materials or add in a spot for an NFC tag to be added on new ones. Need help? Give us a call and we can help. We have dozens of NFC items that can help your campaign from stickers to business cards and even lanyards and key fobs.