QR codes have recently gained popularity as the flashy new thing to add to marketing and advertising materials in the U.S. In reality, they aren’t new. They are already prevalent in Europe and Asia, but they are just gaining traction here.
QR code stands for Quick Response code, aptly named because customers can get more information about your product or service easily when they are on the go. The QR code looks like a square bar code. Any customer with a camera-enabled Smartphone needs to download an app in order to read QR codes that will link them to digital content.
These codes are a wonderful way to augment your campaign and get more information out to your customers. There are many, many viable uses for them. But before you start sticking them all over your advertising materials just because you can… think about the following:
- In today’s world, QR codes are best applied to materials that customers will interact with when they are using mobile devices. This is because scanning a QR code can save time…it’s easier than typing something into the phone. The key word here is mobile. For example, don’t send me a direct mail piece with a QR code that directs me to your website. I could have just as easily walked over to my computer and typed in your URL and seen your website on a big screen. Now this may change in the future as tablets take off…but for now I will just be mad at you for adding no value to my experience with your brand. An example of a better use would be for a hotel to add a QR code to a rack card at a Welcome Center with directions to the hotel.
- If you are linking to your website, make sure it is mobile friendly. You are better off just including your URL if you don’t have a mobile site. I will be really mad at you if you send me a direct mail piece with a QR code that directs me to an incoherent website.
- Use QR codes to give your customers something extra….albeit extra content, information, or a special offer. If you want to invite me to an exclusive event, give me a discount, link me to an informative YouTube video or something else, I will be happy I took the time to scan your QR code. QR codes aren’t just fun for marketers; they are flashy new toys for customers to explore as well. As a customer I’m expecting a surprise inside. So surprise and delight me.
- As mentioned, QR codes are in their early stages of use here in America. According to a recent comScore study, only 6.2% of the mobile audience scanned a QR code in June. Of these, many have a HHI over $100k. So think about your target audience first before slapping them all over your materials.