QR codes have been gaining in popularity in Europe & the US over the past years. Commonly used throughout Eastern Asia – including Japan and China – their uptake in the Western world has been a little slower. However, with everyone starting to jump on the band wagon, we look at a few examples of where businesses got it right, and wrong.
The Big Mistakes
Seems obvious right… Yea, some of the worst throughout QR codes are ones that go to flash sites (I’ve seen this with plenty of alcohol brands who look to look great but they’ve just lost the iPhone/iPad audience).
2. Sending people to a site you can barely use on a mobile
Kind of the same as above but a bad mobile experience is as bad (or potentially worst) than just a blank screen.
3. Ugly, ugly QR codes
These things can be designed people, stop chucking ugly black QR codes on your beautifully designed packaging!
4. Putting a QR code on your website
Duh. They’re already online – just link like a normal person. Unless it’s a link to a mobile app – then that’s good, and clever – well done.
5. Putting a QR code in a place with no mobile reception
In the subway, no-one can hear you scan a QR code. And you can’t connect to the internet. Don’t bother!
A really good use of QR codes is in real estate – you drive past a house and want more details. Your normal option is to write it down and check it out later, or try and search for the property on your smartphone. Much easier to just scan and be taken directly to the property.
So you’ve invested that marketing budget in your event – you’re going to want to make the most of it. Get some QR codes out there – link to your whitepapers, get people to enter your competition, link to your social profiles (it saves the hassle of people typing it in). Don’t take it too far though (otherwise you’ll be I the Ugly category!)
For Mobile Apps
While putting a link to another page on your site is stupid, linking to your mobile apps is clever… very clever. Only link to things that work on a mobile – even better if they are made for mobile. Check out Monitor.Us for a great example of this! Mobile Monitoring app.
This, in my opinion, is not the way to use a QR code. Scan to read obituary… I’m just really not sure this is good!
You know, this is not the time I think about getting my phone out… Picture this – you go into the toilet, get on with business, notice the QR code and grab your phone out – 2 seconds later (while you’re playing with the camera) someone else comes in to relieve themselves – now you look like you’ve been using the camera for something quite wrong. Cue embarrassment. And just think how bad it would be if you got the camera out while the place was busy…
Seems our friends at the Guardian in the UK have started this for us already! Check out www.wtfqrcodes.com for some great examples of how (and when) to NOT use QR codes.
Personally the worst I’ve seen is on packaging that clearly cost a lot to design then someone has just slapped a lazy QR code on the back… Marketers – think before you jump on the band wagon!
Things to remember when using QR codes
- Plan – All the way through from QR code to what you want the user to do. Don’t land people on the home page if you want them to do something specific
- Design – Don’t just do a crappy black and white (unless it fits brand) – design it and test
- Optimize – Make sure your site is mobile optimized
- Track – Add tracking code so you can tell how many people actually used it
- Test – Test on different platforms, carriers. Is the code big enough to be recognized from where it will be situated?