QR codes are a great marketing tool, however it is probably one of the most misused marketing tools out there. For those of you who don't know what a QR code (below) is, it is a bar code usually in the shape of a square that is now used as a link to websites or other useful information. Originally QR codes started off as a way for automobile manufactures to track cars during production. Now QR codes are being used everywhere as a marketing tool; many times in the wrong way.
How Companies Misuse QR Codes
-When Your QR Code Does Not Lead to a Mobile Friendly Website
The whole purpose of QR codes is so people who are out and about on the street can get to your website without having to remember a web address for when they get home. If your QR code does not lead to a mobile friendly website, then this defeats the purpose of having a QR code.
-Including QR Codes In Your Email
If someone is on their phone checking their email, it is impossible for them to scan the QR code. If the user is on their computer, there is no need for a QR code, a link will do just fine. After all a QR code is basically another way of saying “link”.
-QR Codes On Billboards
This is impractical, and dangerous. QR codes are pointless if it is impossible or dangerous for the user to scan the code. A tiny QR code on a billboard that is on a three story building is not of much help. Likewise a QR code on the side of the freeway is also dangerous. Mobile phone use and driving are not a good combination, don't create an advertisement that encourages this behavior.
-QR Codes In Areas Where Cell Service Is Not Possible
Placing QR codes in subway platforms, airplanes, or any other area out of cell reception once again defeats the purpose of using QR codes.
QR codes have a purpose. However when companies misuse them committing the QR code crimes above it is no wonder they don't see a return on their inconveniently placed bar codes. Avoid the mistakes above and follow a few simple rules in order to ensure your QR codes are useful as well as physically possible to scan.
Make sure the link your QR code is paired with is a mobile friendly website
As mentioned earlier a link to a non-mobile site will only frustrate users
Use QR codes where it is practical to scan them
Think before you spend money on a big billboard, bus bench, or any location you want to put a QR code.
Make sure your QR code is in an area with WiFi or 3G
No WiFi = no scanning
When you create your QR code make sure it is big enough to scan
A QR code the size of a dime located on a bus bench is going to be pretty difficult to scan.
Indicate which types of phones/operating systems the QR code is compatible with
Users will quickly get frustrated if they are trying to scan one of your codes and it's not working because you did not indicate which operating systems it was compatible with.
QR codes have potential, but only if used in the correct way. Don't let your company spend money on ads featuring misused QR codes; they are bound to fail.