A QR code (quick response code) is a two-dimensional barcode that can be displayed in printed form (print ads, signage, billboards, tradeshow booths, etc.) and used to drive consumers/prospects to a website, allow them to receive text messages or see short text messages on their phones. Quite simply, it’s a completely different way of interacting with your target audience and getting them to do something you want (i.e., learn more about your products/services).
The QR code can be read by a QR reader app on a smart phone like an iPhone or Android using the phone’s built-in camera. The smart phones don’t come with a QR reader by default so your target audience will have to download an app.
The good news is that these apps are free and pretty easy to install and use.
Here’s what you need to know about using QR codes in your marketing efforts:
1) The QR code has to be large enough for a smart phone camera to be able to read it. For example, the camera on an iPhone seems not to focus as well as the camera on an Android phone. The larger you can make the QR code, the better. A minimum size of 1” x 1” seems to work best.
2) This is a relatively new technology without defined standards as they apply to formatting, implementation and scanning. Japan has been using QR codes since 1994 and they are becoming more mainstream in the United States.
3) QR codes can be put on just about anything from print ads and billboards to tattoos and apparel. See QR codes in the wild.
4) Make sure your content is optimized for smart phones. If you’re sending your consumer/prospect to a website/landing page, make sure that it looks good in a smart phone web browser. You have a lot less space than you would in a typical web browser so stay away from a lot of copy and images.
It’s also important to note that iPhones can’t display Flash animations. If your page uses Flash, it’s likely that the user is going to see a big box of nothing. If you want your audience to view a video, make sure it’s optimized for the web.
5) QR codes can be customized. If you want to be different or have more of a branded look, QR codes can be tweaked to include your company logo or other imagery. Remember, these customizations need to be very simple. If not, the QR code could become unreadable. If you do decide to customize your QR code, make sure you test it with a variety of smart phones and apps.
6) There is a possibility of user error when scanning a QR code:
7) Use of QR codes puts a lot in the hands of the consumers. They need to have a smart phone with a built-in camera, an Internet data plan and the ability to download/install apps. In addition, most consumers aren’t going to know what a QR code is or how to read it without a little education.
A simple way to educate consumers is to include some instructional text that tells them what to do.
It’s important to remember that just because you can use QR codes doesn’t necessarily mean you should. You should consider your audience, the medium you’re using and your call-to-action (what you want them to do).
If done correctly, QR codes can be a wonderful way to interact with and engage your consumers and prospects.