Should We Put a QR Code on That?

Are QR codes hype, or do they help?

Familiar questions? Indeed. I’m sure they’re being tossed around in a conference room near you.

Marketers in every industry are debating the use of these little black and white barcodes in advertising of all types. Short for “Quick Response,” QR codes are appearing in print, outdoor, TV and more. Smartphone users can scan the codes to do any number of things — call a number, visit a website, download an app, get a coupon…the list goes on.

QR codes offer the opportunity for smartphone-wielding consumers to engage further with a brand’s offering or message.

But do those consumers know that?

It seems that, to some extent, they do. eMarketer recently reported on research conducted by MGH, which found that nearly two-thirds of smartphone users have seen a QR code. And nearly one-third of smartphone users have used one.

Another stat worth noting: 70 percent of all respondents said they would be interested in scanning a QR code, either again or for the first time.

That’s where we, the marketers, have a job to do.

There are plenty of reasons to give QR codes a try — and let’s be honest, chief among them is that there’s very little risk involved. A number of sites can generate a code for free, and you can put it on just about anything you please.

But, more important than using a QR code is making sure you’re using it in a compelling way. Consider a few DOs:

  • Give ‘em the good stuff. If a consumer cares enough about your brand to take the extra time to scan a code, don’t disappoint. Make the content targeted, relevant and of course, mobile-friendly. Nothing says womp, womp, woooommp like a QR code that sends a user to a cluttered, made-for-desktop homepage. If you’re sending them somewhere on your site, think tailored landing page.
  • Consider where your audience is when they see that code. Sitting at a bus stop? It’s likely that user has time to watch a video. Shopping in-store? Provide QR codes that direct to product reviews (that’s what Best Buy has been up to).
  • Think about ways QR codes can enhance the user’s experience not only with your ad, but with your product. Museums can incorporate QR codes into exhibits to deliver additional content, like MP3s or artist interviews. Festivals can use them to provide a full event guide in the palm of your hand.
  • Test, test, test. Before you send your freshly minted code out into the world, make sure it works within multiple scanning apps, across multiple phones.
  • Stay on your toes. What’s here today might be gone tomorrow, depending on who you ask (OK, the headline on that article is a tad dramatic and QR isn’t going to disappear overnight, but we always have to look at what’s ahead, right?).

Have examples of good QR code use to share? Do you purposefully use them? Avoid them? Let’s hear it.

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    2 thoughts on “Should We Put a QR Code on That?

    1. I think it’s a great tool to push mainstream.

      From a consumer standpoint, a QR code is like giving me a live URL instead of just the text that I have to copy and paste into my browser. If I see an ad or a product I am mildly interested in I probably won’t make the effort to dig deeper and visit the site or seek out more information. But if I had a QR code that led me directly to the content I wanted I would absolutely seek more information.

      It’s a way to reach out to that middle of the fence target. Brand ambassadors will definitely seek out more info but the segment who wouldn’t mind more won’t go get it themselves unless you spoon feed it to them.

      That being said, it’s still all about content. Like you said, don’t give me poor quality or useless information or I won’t scan the QR next time.

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