QR codes were originally the must-have gimmick for marketers, and were thought of as an easy and fun way to allow people to interact with adverts, even though they didn’t actually offer consumers anything other than a website link!

In recent months QR codes are becoming more advanced offering consumers better interactivity and ways to utilise their beloved smartphones. Recent studies show that 19% of all UK residents have scanned a QR code, with 3.3 million people doing it in the past 3 months alone!

qr-code

So if you’re considering using a QR code to promote products, services or even your brand, here are top 5 tips that you should consider before you do…

1. Make sure it actually has a purpose!

This does seem to be less of an issue in recent months, but often QR codes are still used on marketing material without any discernable purpose. So before using a QR code, think about what it actually adds to the user experience. For example; are you allowing your potential customers to access product information or maybe a discount voucher? Is it something that people will go out of their way to stop and scan? Think about it, what would make them actually scan it?

An estate agent on Ecclesall Road (in Sheffield for those of you reading this not from the area!) that put QR codes on the property ads in its window, which is a great idea as it allows house hunters to quickly pick up property details on the go, assuming the estate agent adhered to the next rule…

2. Don’t link to a desktop site!

The golden rule of QR codes is that you MUST NOT link users to a desktop site. Why? Because QR codes are a mobile experience and so the content you want consumers to view must be mobile optimised (read our recent blog about creating a mobile website). Nobody likes waiting around for a website to load especially if you’re on the move and you need to wait to read through a website that’s not even navigable on your phone!

3. Size DOES matter!

Really, the minimum size a QR code should be is one inch square. Any smaller and you’re going to make it really difficult for your customers to scan it, thus defeating the entire point of the QR code.

QRstuff.com states the relationship between scan distance and minimum QR code size is roughly 10:1.

“So a 2.5cm (one inch) QR code printed in a magazine will have a effective scan distance of about 250mm (10 inches), and a QR code on a billboard 20m (65ft) from the where a passer-by would be scanning it would probably need to be about 2m (6.5ft) across”

4. Think about where you’re going to place your code!

People might think this is obvious but there are still many examples of QR codes being put in places that people either don’t notice them or can’t quite reach to actually scan them.

For example, if your code is on a billboard or on your shop signage, don’t tuck it away in the top corner as people probably won’t be able to reach it, but equally people are unlikely to stoop down to scan a QR code that’s stuck in the bottom corner of your shop window. Head height is ideal (unless on printed or screen material of course!).

In reality people won’t bother scanning your QR code unless it’s put right in front of them or in a place where they don’t feel stupid or awkward being seen scanning it.

5. Tell your potential customers what they get from scanning it!

Scanning a QR code can be seen as a chore, so consumers are highly unlikely to pull out their smartphone unless they know they’re going to get something out of doing it. It’s really important that you inform them what the QR code links to and, depending on who you’re targeting, possibly instructions on how to download a QR code reader.

Instructions for scanning the code can be a simple call-to-action; “Scan to get 2-for-1,” or “Scan to get 30% voucher.”

You need to entice your potential customer, make sure the content you are offering them is worth the effort!

That’s it really!

Follow these steps and you’ll soon be running successful QR code campaigns that will enchant your customers and show them you’re up to date with the latest tech!

Need some inspiration? We’ve found a few examples of QR code campaigns that have really worked.

Heinz

Last year Heinz ran a QR code campaign and placed codes on their ketchup bottles in selected restaurants to help promote its new environmentally friendly packaging.

heinz

The codes linked through to a mobile website where users could win prizes by answering green knowledge trivia questions.

Heinz reported that more than 1 million consumers scanned the codes.

Emart

This is an excellent (actually award winning!) example of creativity using QR codes and that really engaged the consumer.

Emart is South Korea’s largest retailer. Their campaign involved creating a shadow QR code that only became visible when the sun was at the correct angle in the sky between midday and 1pm.

As a result of this mesmerising effort, Emart sold more than 12,000 coupons, membership increased by 58% on the previous month and sales increased 25% during lunchtime hours.

This is possible the best example of QR code use since its creation! However, it’s important to bear in mind that it sunny in South Korea much more often than it is here in the UK.

Watch the video below to see how it all worked!