Quick Response (QR) codes (define) are showing up on products you buy, on your screen in emails and websites, in your magazines, on store shelf labels and promotions and even on business cards you receive. Are you feeling behind in your QR code strategy? A recent (8/12/2011) Internet Retailer article on QR code usage suggests the implementation is still in the early stages. The article refers to a recent survey indicating that only 17% of students have scanned a QR code. Does that mean you have time or you are already behind? The answer is up to you.
Update 8/19/2011: Another Internet Retailer article stating "6.2% of all mobile phone users have scanned a QR code". According to the measurements by comScore Inc noted in this article 36.1% of those who scanned a QR code earn $100,000 or more a year and 18.6% earn $75,000 to $100,000 per year. So the average QR code scanner is likely to be a customer you want.
There is no time like the present to plan and implement a QR code strategy for your business or service. QR codes are typically scanned using a smartphone app. There are numerous free apps available for any smartphone and some service providers are pre-installing such an app on any new smartphone. The QR code can contain a phone number or physical address or other information, but the most frequent use is to point to a website address (URL). The buyer scans your QR code and the app then takes them to the website page. The website landing page may a product listing in an online store, it might offer some form of special deal or discount, it might contain product usage instructions, or there could be a wide range of other implementations.
Elements of a QR code Strategy
Choosing a QR Code Generator - Many small businesses may choose to use existing online and free QR code generators. Others may choose private or in-house generation. Whichever you choose investigate the URLs used in your QR codes. If they use a third party URL shortener you will be reliant on that third party for all your QR code links. And, that third party, in many cases, will be recording all the traffic generated by your QR codes.
Should You Use 'Vanity' QR Codes? - It didn't take long for people to start embedding images and logos in the QR codes. These vanity QR codes are intentionally degrading the engineered error checking in the coding technology. They may look great, but do they work well in every case? You'll need to find out.
Test Your QR Codes - As smartphone camera resolution increases the minimum size of a QR code may decrease. The size of your QR codes depends on the length of your URL. The longer the URL the larger the QR code. Test with various smartphones and other devices your customers will be using to make sure the final form size is quickly scanned by every possible consumer device.
Engineer Your QR Code URL - If you create a product information URL and subsequently change the landing page URL your QR code would instantly become obsolete. This can be resolved through URL redirects. The point is that you should begin your QR code projects with a methodology for managing the QR codes, URLs and landing pages and make it part of your website management practices.
Consider Your Audience - Presuming your audience knows what to do with your QR code could limit your marketing campaign. Be prepared to educate them with information on what to do with the QR code, where to download a app, and how to scan the code. Most sellers are happy that the buyer has scanned the QR code and visited the link. They may be missing one VERY IMPORTANT point. Once your buyer has visited your landing page their scanning device (the app or browser, etc.) should remember the page they visited. Be prepared to interact with the device to ensure it remembers the page so they can find it again after they leave the store, turn the page, loose your business card or basically no longer have the product or the QR code in sight. As always include your actual URL with your QR code so that people without apps or smartphones can also connect with you.
Inspect What You Expect - It should be obvious that there may be a lot of insights derived from your QR code activity. Make sure that you can monitor and report on QR code activity. As with any marketing effort, document your goals by QR code and be prepared to learn from the traffic patterns.
Retiring Your QR Code - There will be many QR codes created for a limited purpose or timeframe. As appropriate make sure to redirect those URLs from retired QR codes to something useful. It may be difficult to truly sunset some QR codes.
- Choose your QR code generator carefully
- Use 'vanity' QR codes with caution
- Test your QR codes with many devices
- Be prepared to manage your QR codes over their lifetime
- Educate and manage your customer's experience
- Measure and review your QR code traffic
- Proactively retire your old QR codes
I hope the thought process will help you make the best of your next QR code project.