QR codes (aka 2D Barcodes) aren’t new, and yet they remain shrouded in uncertainty. Most marketers understand the theory behind QR code technology, but many are unsure of how exactly it works, or when to use it – and why. This uncertainty raises questions around whether or not a QR campaign is really worth its risk.
With no definitive answer to the use/don’t use question, and with fail blog style sites like WTF QR CODES.com (http://wtfqrcodes.com/) immortalizing a QR campaign Hall of Shame, it’s no wonder marketers often shy away from QR technology.
To try and clear the waters, I’ve done a quick scan (pun intended) of available data and combined them with experience gained from relevant campaigns we’ve managed. What follows is a Never/Maybe/Always guide, a tool you can look to (or click here to download) when deciding whether QR code integration is a do or don’t for your next campaign.
When it’s “2Dumb” to use a 2D/QR code
- Your market has low smartphone adoption rates
- Most scanning software is for mobile phones, so if your market doesn’t use them, they won’t be scanning.
- Your QR code will be in areas with questionable data service or lighting conditions
- Scans rely on clear images; motion and lighting can affect scan quality.
- Internet access is required. No coverage means no scan.
- You haven’t optimized your landing pages for mobile
- If your assets are hard to read on the viewing device being used, then they won’t be read.
When it’s “Questionable & Risky” to use a 2D/QR code
- Your QR code resolves on a URL
- A scan can be as much work – or more – than typing in a URL, especially if your audience needs to download software.
- Your offer isn’t AWESOME
- Scanning takes effort. If your page appears low-value, you’re actually doing more harm than good.
When it’s “Quite Right” to use a 2D/QR code
- You’re 100% sure your audience has QR code scanners
- QR codes are widely used in certain markets and can help engage with that audience.
- Your process, and by extension your service, is improved
- If the code you provide helps you reference information or streamline an administrative task that improves your service with no additional action from the recipient, code away.
For more resources to help get you started on your journey to successful QR code use, I recommend checking out Hubspot’s QRchive (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/Default.aspx?Tag=qr%20codes). It houses some excellent tools to help you evaluate the specifics of your campaign.
Deciphering the code for QR success comes down to one obvious question: “Is this experience as good as or better than what I already provide for my prospect?” If the answer is “no,” or even “maybe,” you should make sure you’ve considered and fully understand the risk of an under performing campaign. After all, no one wants to see their work end up on WTF QR CODES, complete with the soul-crushing #fail hash tag.
If, after weighing the risk and reward, you still think QR codes could help in managing your campaigns, then check out my next post, where I will outline how our team utilized QR codes to help drive booth traffic for a client’s tradeshow.