I was recently asked to do a few talks on internet marketing and social media; one of the topics was QR codes. My experience with QR codes is more in seeing how they’re incorrectly applied and this is how I presented the topic. A few examples I presented can be seen here.
Before I presented the QR code failures I asked the audience how many were planning on using QR codes in their marketing materials; about 60% said yes. When asked how they were going to use them, very few had an answer. This is one of the inherit issues with QR codes – they are too easy to make without thinking of a strategy. Web services that create QR codes don’t ask important questions like “do you have a mobile/responsive site?”. There are warnings in place for online photo printing services if your images are too low a resolution, why not for other online services to guide users to an appropriate solution?
After showing the QR failures I asked the audience again how they planned on using QR codes. Most said on business cards, brochures, etc which would throw to their non-mobile sites. No one knew that QR codes could send:
- Basic text
- Browser bookmarks
- Contact information (vCard)
- Calendar events
- Email addresses
- Phone numbers
- SMS text, or
- Geo locations and maps
For a business card maybe the best solution is to have a QR code so when scanned a vCard can be downloaded into the users mobile contact list. Another marketing piece could have a QR code next to the address to open the location on the mobile mapping app, or an event piece might download an .ics file to save a date with details in a calender.
The main thing to remember is that QR scanning is geared towards mobile devices. If you’re not directing people to mobile user experience of any value then it’s best not to use a QR code at all.