QR Codes, short for Quick Response, became a huge trend around 2 years ago, but their prominence as a method to connect the offline and the online worlds has diminished recently. Questions have been raised as to whether QR Codes should be considered for implementation at all by marketing teams, but that depends largely on the product, the target audience and the efficacy of the QR scan solution.
The biggest drawback that QR Codes have faced is the fact that neither Apple nor Android has released a smart phone with a built-in QR reader. Considering that they comprise more than 85% of all smart mobile phones in the market, almost every person who scans a QR code needs a specialized app for the purpose. This necessity has hampered the initial surge of QR code usage.
In contrast, many digital marketing analysts believe that QR codes are ideal for certain purposes and not surprisingly, some companies and organizations have used QR codes very effectively. A few major retail stores used QR codes placed next to products to allow shoppers to scan them and view promotional videos related to the product, giving them additional information that could not be conveyed via print media or in the store. The London Underground Tube stations placed QR codes which connect mobile users to a real time monitoring of train and bus schedules. This allowed London commuters to stay on top of their travel schedules and so there were reduced delays and missed transits.
QR codes have also been the source of a number of digital marketing gimmicks that have worked to an extent, a good example being a German toy retail giant who used Lego Bricks to create a QR code in their store. Users who scanned it were provided special offers on Lego products. They had a large increase in web traffic with almost half of the leads being generated from the QR code source.
There are a few important factors to consider when planning use of QR codes from a marketing point of view. Unless it is a planned gimmick, QR codes shouldn’t be used just for the sake of it. They should be of use to the customer, easing and even improving their experience with your brand. Since only mobile devices have the ability to scan QR codes on the go, the landing page must not only be relevant and informative, it should be a mobile site with suitable modifications to enable better readability on smaller screens. Mobile development has reached a point where the process is almost instantaneous, thus there should be no hindrance to the actions after the scan is completed.
The landing page needs to have a clear Call-To-Action, which is relevant to the placement of the QR code. The user shouldn't have to navigate through mobile sites when the code was meant to help in say, instantly purchasing a product.
The placement of the QR code is also important to its success. The larger the code, the easier it would be to scan. Placing it on a moving object like a bus or an escalator where it would be impossible to scan it head-on as it should be, is an absurd idea. It should attract notice, and at the same time be reachable and on a flat and clear surface so that it can be scanned with no trouble.
Since the number of smart phones is constantly on the rise and online marketing is quickly overtaking offline as the primary medium of business, QR Codes in some form will probably never fade away entirely. However, there are new technologies emerging every minute and as a tech-savvy society, we are not always forgiving of those that do not immediately meet our needs and functionality. If you decide to use QR Codes, make sure you take the time to do it right. Otherwise, you risk following in the doomed technological footsteps of many other businesses before you.
By Drew Himel