We have all seen them, and if you haven’t; start looking they are on the attack! I am talking about QR Codes or Quick Response Codes. Despite being created in 1994 QR Codes were not popular in the US because our phones lacked the capability to read them. It wasn’t until the influx of smart phones in recent years that they have become more and more popular. I have ready many articles from people in the advertising industry that don’t think the QR Code is valuable or they just plain dislike them. I am actually a fan of the QR Code, they area wonderful tool. I am writing this piece because I love them and I hate seeing them abused. I will give you some examples of the uses I have seen and why they don’t work, then discuss some ways to use them that do work.
I was recently in a local restaurant downtown with my husband, after a wonderful meal with a glass of wine, great service and just an overall exceptional evening, we get our check. My husband pays the bill and we get our receipt back, I notice a QR Code printed on the receipt so of course I scan it with my phone. It takes me to their website. Great, what am I supposed to do on your website? I am sitting in your restaurant, what on earth could your website offer me that I can’t get while sitting in your place of business? Am Ito look at the menu I just ordered off of, or maybe read about the wine I just drank?
Unfortunately this is a case of a good marketing idea gone badly. The business owner was probably so excited to have a QR Code that they wanted somewhere to put it but didn’t think about the whole experience. Instead of taking me to your website, maybe have me go to a page on your website where I can leave a review? I just had a great experience,why wouldn’t you want me to tell people about it? Or maybe send me a text with that QR Code that allows me to come back within 30 days and get a free glass of wine with dinner. That would allow for another great experience!
Another misuse of this wonderful tool is when the consumer scans it, the end destination is a non-mobile website. What good is your large and clunky website on my smaller screen? I can’t view it;click on the buttons properly or really read it. Using a QR Code to send someone to your non mobile website just tells the consumer that you don’t really care about the end experience, you just wanted them to see you website.
At the beginning of the article I said that the QR Code is a great tool in your toolbox of marketing. It is just that, a tool that should be well thought out when you use it and make sure that you consider the destination of the QR Code more than the placement. The placement of the QR on the restaurant receipt was brilliant, the destination was dull. When our clients ask us for a QR or we suggest one to incorporate in the marketing, we talk in length about the destination and where we will place the QR Code. Is it going in print, where, who reads it,what should they experience when they scan it? Most of all what is going to make them scan it? After that discussion we design the code to fit the medium. You should be cautious about the padding (or white space) and the color. After the campaign has launched we track it. If you can’t track it, then how do you know it is working?
This leads me to my last and final point. The free QR Code Generator, there are quite a few out there and business owners love to use them. There are some fundamental problems with the free generators. First, they are not track able. You should be able to track your code and how it is performing. This will help you determine the placement of the code. Second, they are usually only good for a certain number of scans. What I mean is you generate a code for free, but it can only be scanned 300 times, so after the 300 scans the code is worthless. Third and most important, they are not dynamic. All the codes we generate through a software program allow our clients to be dynamic with the destination. For example, when you scan the code on the restaurant receipt this week it gives me the text for a free glass of wine, when I come back in to enjoy my offer, the same code takes me to their website to leave a review. Same code- no need to reprint- different destinations. This makes the code and the experience for the consumer dynamic.
The QR Code isn’t going anywhere; in fact they are becoming more and more prevalent. This is great for all business owners and consumers alike, just use them don’t abuse them. Remember they are a tool in your tool box of marketing and the entire process, experience and placement should be thought out to give customers a dynamic experience. It will keep them scanning for more!
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