The Seven Deadly Sins of QR Codes – Part 1

Believe it or not, QR Codes have been around since 1994.  First utilized in the auto industry to track assembly line IDs, they were never originally intended for the applied uses of today.  Nearly 20 years later, QR codes have achieved mainstream success in the US.  These days, QR codes are a popular, if often misunderstood way to drive marketing traffic.

In my travels as an advocate for this technology I have heard many opinions from many clients about QR codes.  Some people have tried QR codes and have abandoned them due to limited success or lack of understanding.  Truth be told, QR codes can be a great way to drive traffic if they are utilized properly.  In this 2 part article, I will share with you the Seven Deadly Sins of QR Codes, or rather a guide of what NOT to do when trying to leverage this technology.

QR Codes Deadly Sin #1 – Drive people to your website

Many QR code users make the mistake of driving people to their home page. This is a practice that does very little for the users. Most home pages offer very generic information and are of no use to the mobile user. Using QR Codes in this manner is also of no use to you. Mobile users can’t usually see your home page well on a tiny screen and it’s usually tough to navigate. Making things difficult will not earn you points and the user will quickly opt out. You also have no way to track the visit, with the exception of an IP address and that is of little use to you for follow-up marketing.

QR Codes Deadly Sin #2 – Drive People to Generic Content

Very similar to driving people to your home page, driving someone to any generic page, even a mobile optimized one, offers you nothing. Although a mobile optimized page of generic content may be easy to read, it offers little to the user. Oh, and remember the tracking thing? The same applies here. Content needs to be rewarding for the user to stay and navigate. How you achieve that really depends on your business. Are you B-to-B? B-to-C? Non-Profit? What your organization does plays a factor in what you should drive people to, but it should never be a page designed to “just get the word out”.

QR Codes Deadly Sin #3 – Not Indicating Proper Use

QR Codes

This is a personal favorite. Reading a trade magazine one day, I saw 5 ads with a QR code just dumped on the page. There were no instructions on what to do. While there are plenty of people that know QR codes and what they do, it doesn’t have to be an exclusive club. Let people know what to do when they see one of these. The curious will look up “QR Code Reader” on their smart phone if you tell them to. Some may still just pass it by, because there is no such thing as 100% effective marketing. There is only maximizing the potential of a particular technology.

I think that’s enough reading for one morning. Go get some work done:-) Next week we will uncover the 4 remaining sins in The Seven Deadly Sins of QR Codes – Part Two.

If you still don’t feel like working and would like to learn about the history of QR Codes, you can always go to one of my favorite places, Wikipedia, to learn more.

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