You may be familiar with Quick Response (QR) codes already. Made of black-and-white squares that can be “read” by a special scanner, they’re found on food packages, posters and even tattoos. They have a wide variety of uses, such as redirecting people to websites, pulling up exclusive digital content and granting people special freebies.
However, QR codes are also quite controversial. If you Google “how common are QR codes in the U.S.,” you’ll run across several articles asking whether QR codes are dead or not. There are compelling arguments to be made for both sides, so you still may want to factor QR codes into your marketing for a number of reasons:
- In 2015, 68% of Americans own smartphones. At last census count in 2013, there were 242,470,820 American adults. Any way you slice it, that’s a substantial number of people with the ability to read QR codes.
- It’s not the tool — it’s how the tool is used in successful ways. Marketing done well is marketing done well. Blaming QR codes for marketing failures is like blaming fishing nets for the poor catch or golf clubs for a missed hole-in-one.
- They’re the rage in countries like China, Korea and Japan. If a huge chunk of your target market is in East Asia, you can still make a killing with the help of QR codes.
Want to try QR codes out for yourself? To make the most of them, keep these essential pointers in mind.
- Research QR Code Use in Your Target Market
If you want QR codes to work for you, they have to work on the largest possible number of people within your target market. You have to know details like:
- How many have QR apps pre-installed into their smartphones
- How often they scan QR codes
- What QR code campaigns they respond to the most
- What is the general profile of the people who scan QR codes (age, gender, social status, etc.)
Of course, you can save yourself the trouble of doing all this and just look at the stats floating around on the internet. But keep in mind that those numbers are based on the general population, not the market you’re targeting specifically, so they may not be particularly useful to your campaign. It’s better to crunch your numbers from scratch, based on your target market, to make your research worthwhile.
- Always Keep User Experience in Mind
When you craft anything geared toward people, it always helps to ask “How can this be as easy to use as possible?” For example, if the URL you want people to visit is short and memorable, you can simply ask them to type that URL into their browser. But if it’s made of gibberish and hundreds of characters, QR codes are advisable, since their 177-pixel squares can accommodate up to 1,852 characters.
Also, make sure people understand what they’re supposed to use the QR codes for. Marketers often just slap those codes on their products without any context, leaving people confused as to why they should dash to the nearest scanner. Spell out, as clearly as you can, the benefits of scanning your QR code, such as: “To enter into the raffle draw/unlock a special prize/what-have-you, scan this code.”
- Use QR Generators
You don’t have to craft QR codes from scratch. Plenty of generators online can do that for you. For example, Kaywa has an easy-to-use generator for text content. You also have other free online QR code generators, which are different in terms of how easy they are to use, what types of content they can generate codes for, whether they have additional features, etc.
- Get Creative
The great thing about QR codes is you can use them however you want. You can go the traditional route and stick them onto posters and products. Or you can encourage people to use them for shopping, giving gifts and even taking pictures of cute mascots. If you think a particular marketing strategy will help drum up attention for all the right reasons, then by all means use it.
- Track Your QR Code’s Performance
Luckily, it’s possible to keep tabs on how well your QR code campaign is doing. You can use the Google Analytics URL Builder to build a URL and generate a code. Or you can invest in a tool like Esponce, which is specifically designed for tracking the various ways QR codes are used. No matter which you choose, it should give you an accurate picture of your returns from investing in QR codes.
Whether QR codes are dying or not, they’re still worth a shot. After all, even marketing strategies that are considered “in fashion” hit or miss depending on their execution. If you can convince customers that QR codes are a viable alternative to everything else, you should be off to a good start.