The State of QR Codes in 2012
Welcome to our weekly installment of Marketing Monday, where we address ways businesses can take advantage of online marketing.
QR codes (or Quick Response codes) are two-dimensional barcodes capable of holding a good deal more information than a regular barcode. They can be used in marketing campaigns to direct smartphone users to a website. QR codes have been around for a while, and while they are popular in Japan, they haven’t really taken off in the U.S. The reason is easy to deduce: no one has used them in a way that sufficiently rewards the smartphone-user for their effort.
Scanning a QR code is a multi-step process that requires a specific app which your target audience may or may not already have. The reason for having a QR code needs to be solid, and it needs to provide a unique value to the customer. For example, you could have a QR code in the window of your store which leads to a landing page offering an exclusive deal to the customer, such as a meaningful coupon. They can be used to check-in at a location and receive a special offer. The point is, the customer needs to feel that all the time they put into scanning the QR code is worth it. If you’re offering a deal that can be easily found on your website or Facebook, the QR code is worthless.
There is a popular Tumblr blog dedicated to posting absurd and pointless QR codes, called WTF QR codes. The first lesson of this blog is that people do not want more meaningless white noise on the web. There are so many products, services, and different ways to connect with businesses that people can get overwhelmed and just completely ignore your QR code. The second lesson is that the QR code will be mocked and ignored if there is no evident reason and purpose for it. A lot of QR codes don’t even point to mobile versions of websites, which is absolutely necessary, given that they are meant to be scanned on a smartphone.
I think that the reason QR codes have never really taken off is that people just jumped on the bandwagon without really thinking about what value they were offering to their customers. But if you’re ready to think outside the box and provide a unique value for your customer, QR codes can a fun and meaningful part of your web marketing campaign.