QR Codes

Are marketers missing opportunities with QR codes?

In order to scan a code, you need a smartphone with a camera and a suitable app. The idea is that mobile phones can be used to scan the codes on the go. The happy snapper is then transported to a webpage, receives a Vcard, makes a phone call and possibly more. If used well, the codes are an excellent marketing device which can transport potential customers direct to selected pages. Craig Villamor and Brad Frost writing for the Guardian last month observed the faux pas of using QR codes. Chiefly they found that advertisers had placed them in a whole host of impractical places. These ranged from on moving transport, the far side of a train track and high billboards. “Some of the most surprising places we’ve seen the codes appear are on tombstones, rooftops, cupcakes, and condoms. Our most popular post shows a small plane pulling a QR code across the sky. The captions practically write themselves.”

It is obvious then that to maximise their potential, QR cards must be placed in accessible places. Not only this but they should only be present in areas with internet access. Underground stations for example have little or no phone reception, let alone 3G or 4G. Of course QR codes are not only useful for advertising; they can also engage the public with information and correspondence. Early last year The National Museum of Scotland placed codes on 70 of their items to encourage interaction and build a historic diary. Visitors could access a range of facts and tales and also leave digital memories in a shared collection.

QR coding is popular in Japan, but they are fairly new here and in the States. Marketers must get to grips with them fast and utilise their gateway of communication. Interaction is extremely important, and the quality is integral. Recent discussion has surrounded the merits of supermarket websites as opposed to their volume of traffic. M&S has done particularly well and it seems, more customers remain loyal when they are offered the opportunity to interact and be heard. These are all important lessons for the marketer. The QR enigma may not enjoy immortality but as the “next big thing” they should be embraced at lightning speed.

Uses for the QR code include, business cards, posters, websites, on labels, for WiFi connection, T-shirts, the possibilities are endless. For more information see:13 Creative Ways to Use QR Codes. In addition it is essential that QR codes are not just slapped onto merchandise and ad campaigns but that their purpose is explained. According to around a quarter of consumers had not used QR codes because they did not understand them. Around half of consumers did not have the correct device leaving the other half as a potential market. QR codes therefore must be explained, placed where they are accessible and offer a range of useful, fun and interactive services. Only then can their potential be realised.

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