Do you know anyone who has recently scanned a quick response (QR) code or used a check-in service such as Foursquare?

I’m guessing your answer is yes. Although the majority of consumers aren’t even aware that these technologies exist, there are other consumers, known as early adopters, who are actively using them to engage with brands and retailers. The Adobe 2013 Mobile Consumer Survey found, “As could be expected, consumers who are the earliest adopters of emerging technologies are also the most valuable customers.” Why? Because they spend more and they tell their friends.

Seth Godin, named the “ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age” in Business Week, remarks in his TED Talk that “people have more choices and less time today” in this “century of idea diffusion.” So how do organizations grab their attention? Godin says that it’s imperative that marketers don’t aim for the mass middle anymore. The strategy should be to market to the innovators and the early adopters. Godin’s word of advice for organizations? “The riskiest thing you can do right now is to be safe”—you need to “be at the fringes.”

The Adobe survey echoed Godin’s sentiments in its findings that organizations “that want to convert consumers with the highest potential value should implement plans to test and adopt emerging mobile technologies.” In today’s blog post, I will look at some successful examples of organizations that are interacting with early adopters through the use of two emerging technologies: QR codes and check-in services.

Emerging Tech 1 | QR Codes

QR codes have been around for several years, so why are they just now gaining momentum and being considered an “emerging tech”? With smartphones now literally everywhere and in the hands of everyone, QR codes are a way that organizations can successfully connect their online and offline worlds, drive customer loyalty, and offer services such as product research, coupons, and deals.

The Adobe survey found that “the practice of scanning Quick Response (QR) codes continues to gain momentum, with 37% of young and 32% of middle segments reporting that they have scanned QR codes in the past three months.” This fact presents organizations with several opportunities to drive engagement with digital experiences via QR codes.

For example, the Peapod virtual grocery store chain has created a unique advertising campaign that is super convenient and hyper local. Peapod utilizes QR codes to drive downloads of their PeapodMobile app and to communicate their message: “Shop Anywhere, Anytime with Peapod.” Billboards on the sides of traveling trucks “allow users to scan a QR code to download the PeapodMobile app to their smartphones and then scan other QR codes to shop for items.” This is quick, clever, and convenient, making it a win-win for customers.

Best Buy provides another great example of QR code use. This weekend I went into this large retailer to look at tablets. In front of every item in the store now are fast-fact tags with QR codes on them. Consumers can simply scan the QR code with their smartphones and pull up even more detailed information about the product they are looking at. This is a perfect way to bridge the consumer’s online and offline experiences, facilitating product research and driving brand loyalty.

Emerging Tech 2 | Check-In Services

In last week’s post, we discovered that 71 percent of people are accessing social media such as Twitter and Facebook via mobile. What else are they doing besides tweeting and reading social statuses? Well, some are checking in.

The Adobe survey reported that “almost a third of respondents have checked in via a location service on their mobile device, and 30% of those people said they received an incentive to check in. Marketers should consider providing more incentives to drive check-ins if their business has a physical location.” What are some of the advantages of check-in services? In a Mobile Commerce Daily article, Kathy Leake, president and cofounder of LocalResponse points out, “The communication is one-to-one, direct and highly contextual … If you are checking in at Macy’s and Macy’s talks back to you with an offer that is highly relevant.”

What types of strategies are leading retailers such as Walmart, Target, Costco, Best Buy, and Walgreens using to engage early adopters through the use of this emerging technology? Upon checking in, consumers can receive alerts for daily in-store sales via mobile banner ads. According to the Mobile Commerce Daily article, other strategies include a shopper checking into a store on Foursquare, and the check-in is then publicly broadcast over Twitter. Marketers can then “respond back with a thank you message in the user’s Twitter feed and include a link to a mobile landing page where the user might find a coupon, a video or some other relevant content.”

Think About Early Adopters and Emerging Tech for Mobile Marketing

In closing, it’s important that marketers and organizations keep early adopters’ use of emerging tech in their minds as they plan for more effective mobile engagement in the future. As Seth Godin mentioned in his TED Talk, marketers need to “be at the fringes.”