In my last article, I questioned why some people hate QR codes. The fact is, it’s due to not understanding them and the power they wield. Because they can be self-generated through a myriad of sites, people don’t use them correctly or they are not generated correctly and when they don’t work, people blame the technology and not themselves. It’s time to wake up to the proper use of QR codes and how they can be successfully integrated into your marketing.
The biggest problem with using QR codes is understanding their ability to function. Like plucking an 18k image off the internet and wondering why they are pixelated and blurry when printed at a magazine page size, QR codes have certain limitations for scanning, too. Here’s why QR codes won’t work for your marketing campaign:
- You made the code too small and the scanner can’t read it.
- You put it on a billboard too far away to scan.
- You put it on a moving object and people can’t scan it while it’s in motion.
- It’s too large on a T-shirt and the folds of fabric make it impossible to scan.
- The lighting where your ad or billboard is placed is too low for the scanner to work.
- You used a site that doesn’t generate a QR code that will be strong enough to be read by the different scanner apps available to mobile users.
- You downloaded a bad scanner app (and didn’t try other scanner apps) when you tested your QR code.
- You didn’t list what the QR code would do for those who scanned it (call to action fail).
Like any technology, you have to start with the proper usage. If not, it won’t work and you have damaged your brand and wasted your money on your marketing material.
Why do people scan QR codes? It’s for some kind of additional information or reward. It’s something that doesn’t fit on the printed page. A QR code is a call to action and to encourage action on the part of the consumer, you need to encourage scanning. A blank code isn’t enough to pique the curiosity of consumers and that’s one of the biggest complaints people have about codes. Are they just going to a web site? Are they unwittingly signing up for SMS messages? Will their phone ring from some salesperson? Are they going to find a coupon or offer worth the time to scan the code or find information they need?
Information based usage
McDonald’s, for instance, puts QR codes on drink cups so customers can see the nutritional value of their food items.
The Cleveland Museum of Art (as well as many other museums) places QR codes next to exhibits to direct visitors to online or audio tours via their phones, or to provide more in-depth information.
Brancott Estate’s “World’s Most Curious Bottle” uses a QR to give customers information about the product, including food-pairing suggestions and promotions.
New York’s Central Park “World Park” campaign, in order to reach out to a younger audience for Arbor Day, turned the park into an interactive board game using QR codes positioned around the park that linked to a wide range of information.
The Association Media & Publishing conference aimed to be a paperless event last year and used QR codes in a wide variety of places, saving attendees from carrying round large volumes of literature and handouts. Organizers used the codes to give information about the speakers and events, link to local restaurants, receive feedback and display the conference schedule. Other uses also included QR codes on name badges, which acted as a virtual business card.
Frankfurt, Germany, recently placed smart posters with QR codes in train carriages, which provided commuters with travel information, transport connections, special events and points of interest, as well as special offers for travel card holders.
Google’s Favorite Places campaign identified 100,000 businesses in the U.S. as “Favorite places on Google.” Those businesses received a window decal with a unique QR code, which passersby could scan to find information about that business, read reviews, star the business as their favorite and more.
Macy’s has started using QR codes on clothing signage that take customers to fashion tips from designers on how to wear the clothes consumers are buying, which is a great sales tool as it will upset other items.
Living Headstones has created on online memorial for loved ones. A QR code links from the headstone to a website with a memorial page that can contain biographical information, videos and friends and family can leave their own regards and memories. Okay, it’s a little creepy, but it is information based.
In part 2 of this article on QR uses, we’ll cover service usage for QR codes. How can QR codes help consumers make life easier while promoting your product? Check back.
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