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QR codes: getting it right

QR codes are getting some bad press but many argue that it is not deserved. The problems in QR code campaigns originate mainly from poor implementation and a lack of joined-up thinking. If your QR codes do not work, your reputation and brand are tarnished, rather like when a web visitor discovers broken links. The key point to remember is that a QR code is something of a tease and, as such, those enticed to expend the effort of scanning it expect to be interested, delighted or rewarded in some way. With this expectation in place, it is easy to disappoint.

A common problem is that marketers are simply not testing the code with a variety of readers and devices before a campaign goes live. More haste, less speed. If the QR code is too small on an ad, for example, it may not scan. Other key pieces of advice when it comes to design are to use link shorteners to create clean codes, avoid using colours that do not provide sufficient contrast, provide a sufficient ‘quiet area’ around the code and avoid using 2D codes on highly reflective surfaces.

Don’t expect your user to do anything more than point, scan and arrive at the intended content. If it doesn’t work first time, you’ve probably lost them. Remember, almost all QR codes – including those printed on carrier bags – are scanned by smartphones, so don’t point the user to your standard desktop website – link your codes only to mobile-friendly or mobile-optimised sites.

When it comes to the ‘reward’ part of the deal, try to be creative. A digital copy of your leaflet is just plain dull. Think about offering exclusive videos or photos, free downloads (such as an eBook), ‘instant win’ competitions or money-off coupons. To be truly successful here, it is essential that you understand your target audience in order to deliver a favourable user experience.

Finally, don’t allow your creative zeal to cloud your marketing objectives. You can use your QR code campaign for a variety of business development goals, such as increasing your e-marketing database, growing the number of Likes for your Facebook page or increasing your number of blog subscribers.

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