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QR codes – “quick response” codes were first used in the auto industry in Japan in the 1990s. An updated version of QR codes has taken off here in the U.S. in recent years. QR codes are square patterned boxes, which smart phone users can scan, taking them directly to a hyperlink. The concept offers another tool for marketers to add to their digital strategy to offer an interactive experience to their customers.

Common uses of QR codes include access to exclusive content, like videos or special coupons, as well as additional information, social media site interaction, sweepstake entries or links to on-line purchasing.

Here are some guidelines to help make your organization’s use of QR codes successful:

Offer content that will captivate your audience

Having QR codes that link to your home page, offers customers little incentive to use the code. Instead try to use your QR codes to give your customers additional value. QR codes should be used to link to exclusive content, sweepstakes or other non-generic info, which are relevant to your target audience. Macy’s Backstage Pass campaign offers a new take on mobile marketing using QR codes to give customers access to video interviews with various Macy’s fashion designers.

Don’t assume your customers know the what and how of QR codes

While many of your customers likely have smart phones, they may not have downloaded a QR code app and may not know how to use QR codes. Education is key. What was great about Macy’s Backstage Pass campaign was the additional commercials which ran concurrently introducing their customers to QR code technology.

Macy’s Backstage Pass from Matt MacDonald on Vimeo.

They can be made to further stand out  

While many QR codes are black and white boxes, they can also be further customized with logos, colors and designs.

They can be put on anything

QR codes can be put on large variety of materials such as print ads, video, product packaging etc.

They align with your sustainability initiatives

QR codes can enable a user to gain access to written materials through their smart phone saving printing costs.

Make sure the URL is optimized for mobile use

The URL your QR code links to should be optimized for mobile use, if not the QR code is merely a gimmick.

Make sure your QR code delivers

The QR code should deliver what it promises taking customers directly to that information not to your home page. It also needs to be scannable. Think carefully about where your customers may be when they use the QR code, it is crucial their smart phone has Internet access. Subway billboards and in flight magazines are examples of advertising media far from cell-service range preventing QR codes being scanned.

Has your business utilized QR codes yet? Or have you adopted use of this technology? Please share your experiences with QR codes in the comment section below.

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