June 4, 2012
****image from http://www.wtfqrcodes***
CAPTION: Code resolves to: “That’s a nice telephone pole you’ve got in your car.”
QR codes are fancy. Marketeers like using these codes to appear modern and up-to-date and of course there is more to it than that. If you look around QR Codes are everywhere. You can see them in newspapers, magazines, advertisements, business cards, and even on bananas.
First let’s have a look at the facts: QR stands for “quick response”. The QR Code is a 2-dimensional barcode which can contain up to 2 900 characters max. It is readable by smart phones with a camera and a free app installed. There are no costs to create or read a QR Code. This makes the code quite popular. Mainly, it is used as a bridge between the offline and the online world.
QR Codes are common and widely used, but they don’t get attention unless they do something unique. For example give an impressive user experience or are used in a “creative” way. But remember: a QR code by itself is not a campaign.
WHAT USERS EXPECT TO GET WHEN SCANNING QR CODES?
Where do we find QR codes in our daily life? Mainly there are three areas where QR codes are used today. The first one is called “Mobile marketing”. An integrated QR code links to information and services. This combines media, simple coupons and entry cards.
The second area covers the “Mobile communication”. Via the QR code, telephone numbers, automatic news or digital business cards can be transferred. It appears as a direct contact to people or a company. QR codes can also start pre-defined SMS or emails.
Last but not least, the third area: “Mobile product marketing”. QR codes contain helpful news such as additional product information or a link to an online shop. Consumers can have direct access to product information or can be linked to product info on web pages.
Again, we focus on mobile user experiences and strategy. Mobile Barcodes are an important part of that puzzle that gets people to where they need to be where they can continue to interact with your brand.
WHERE QR CODES SHOULDN’T BE
QR Codes can be useful but as in real life but there is always a negative side of the story. There are cases of good and bad ways to use QR Codes. Examples here (www.wtfqrcodes.com). Some people put QR Codes into an email. If this appears on a mobile phone it might be very hard to scan with the integrated camera. Or maybe they expect me to use two smart phones? Also, some companies put QR Codes onto websites. Why? The user is already online – the only thing he might need is a link but not a QR Code.
On my last flight I found 4 QR codes on the first 10 pages of the airline magazine. Funny, because there is no signal 10 km above sea level and the use of mobile phones are not allowed. Looks like a crude marketing campaign.
The most dangerous QR code I’ve ever seen was a small one in a subway station. No chance to scan unless you go on the rail track. Why do they print QR code on billboards of a freeway. How should I scan the code? It causes accidents. Or do they expect traffic jams all day long? That’s ridiculous.
WHAT TO REMEMBER
A study conducted by Mobio shows that the 35 to 44 age bracket continues to dominate QR scanning by a proportion of 26% and females continue to dominate QR code scanning with 68% of market penetration. So make sure you have the proper data before implementing your QR code campaign. If you plan using a QR code you should remember the following:
- Minimize the data minimize the size of the code
- Make sure the surrounding area of the code allows for optimized readability.
- Test codes with different smart phones and different QR readers to ensure that also your potential customers are able to read the code and get the result you prepared for them.
- Ask the question: “What will someone get by scanning your code?” Consumers like to know what will happen if they will scan the code. Describe the action that can be expected. That will encourage more people to scan the code.
- Periodically change the content or value being delivered via the QR code. People won’t continue scanning the same code without a new hook.
- Don’t send people to a website that isn’t optimized for mobile with a QR code!
- Know your target. How likely or relevant is the content or location for your target market.
- Place your codes in an area with reception, where people can easily scan the codes without being run over by a train or stop traffic.