QR Codes, In or Out?

Advertising, Mobile, Product, Promotion
There is no question that QR (quick response) codes are much more visible now in every part of our lives. Thanks to Toyota, we can now attach virtually any kind of data to physical products with the help of QR codes.

But the question still remains on how effective they are used and how much value they add to users (User Experience is the new King now and content is just part of it)! QR Codes, the most common of the mobile barcode formats, have not fulfilled their promise and connected with large audiences, according to a new eMarketer report, “QR Codes: Marketers Keep Hitting ‘Go,’ but Consumer Adoption Still Slow.

One reason of not fulfilling the promise is simple: Users expectation (discount codes, offers) does not match with brand’s offerings (more information about the products) with QR codes.
The other problem is simply the design issues: Ugly QR codes that do not clearly explain the benefits, QR code leading to a complicated desktop site, QR code on the underground (where we cannot get signal), QR code eight feet up on an out-of-home installation and the best, a QR code on the side of a bus where you cannot (better not) scan anything while driving.

So, before actually answering on how we can increase the adoption and find solutions to the above problems (which are easy fixes), first elaborate if we really need the QR codes in the first place? The underlying idea is to connect a physical object with digital content (either a coupon, information, mobile site, you name it). What other options do we have?

Barcodes are cheap like QR codes and everyone knows what they are, but they cannot store much data. However, still some companies like Amazon makes good use of it. Augmented Reality: hot technology with many dimensional data presentation capabilities, however, very few apps are ready to use it and very few people know what they are. Displays or simply the sales representatives are the most visible ones of course but the most costly at the same time as well. Tags and NFC are also great individual custom made solutions if you design properly. When you look at the Interactivity Gap chart, QR codes have many advantages over many other medium, but the value provided by brands today will determine its longevity in the market place. Once creative ideas pop up and the awareness increases, Augmented Reality is ready to take over the buzz…

Best practices:

1. Have a remarkable value proposition.
Whether the proposed value is create a buzz at certain locations (e.g. Guinness), increase awareness of your product (and ingredients, e.g. Taco Bell), or offer something special, make sure that it is something users want.

2. Make sure you have a simple but effective design to explain the benefit and show your brand.
Every QR code is an opportunity to add value to your brand and everyone likes to know what’s in it for them immediately. You don’t have to use the regular QR codes, there are more alternatives now like Snaptag – see below…

3. Explain how to see the content of the QR code.
Chances are they might not know what a QR code is, tell them what they need and how to do it. Don’t do the one on the left!!

4. Show the QR code on a visible and easy place to scan.
Don’t put it on a moving object please. No kidding, there are many QR codes on buses, please don’t do that. Make sure users will have a signal at the place. Put the code at the eye level for best performance.

5. Make sure the QR code will work.
Use a short URL. The shorter the URL the simpler the QR, the simpler the QR the quicker it will scan (the scan will activate). Use dark colors as the contrast helps scan quicker. Test on as many devices.

6. Track all the activity and optimize the QR code campaign based on results.
Use Google Analytics or another tracking service. Track your conversions and attribute conversions to your QR code. Don’t forget, you are only successful at what you measure.

Bonus: See how Snap Tag works (create cool QR codes)

Happy coding now…

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