Using QR Codes - The Complete Guide!
QR codes are part of the new wave of interactive marketing technology. This article is designed
to help marketers develop a basic understanding of the fundamentals involved in a QR codes
Although many marketing gurus disagree on the efficacy and efficiency of QR (quick response)
codes, consumer data from Europe and Japan prove otherwise. QR codes quick to implement
and cost virtually nothing, especially to the seasoned marketer. In fact, all they demand are a
few design changes and a dedicated mobile webpage or site. And they have the potential to
deliver some great returns.
While QR codes may not have caught on like wild fire in North America, it's only a matter of
time. In this article, we'll help you understand and adapt your marketing campaign to the
vagaries and many benefits of QR codes.
Defining Your objectives
The idea behind a QR code is to deliver additional value with a product or an advertisement.
That makes it necessary to be highly relevant with the information that you decide to link to. So
the first step in QR code marketing is to define the purpose behind your campaign. Some
methods to use QR technology include,
Drive visitors to your mobile site or towards your social marketing pages.
Increase brand awareness and add value by giving users information or tips via
Deliver discounts or coupons or implement brand loyalty and reward point programs.
Organically grow a mailing list by asking users to opt-in.
Whatever your objective, make sure to state it clearly and concisely next to your QR code. A
code without any information next to it is going to look like a bland pattern and can even be
mistaken for a part of the overall material design by customers who aren't very tech-savvy. Try
using a single sentence to describe the value your QR code offers and the action that needs to
be taken. "Scan this code to like us on FB" or "Scan to receive a discount" are great calls to
action because they ensure that the technology is clearly mentioned while the link destination
comes up in the form a kicker.
Sourcing Your Code!
If you're going to use a free QR code generator, do a little research and find quality software
that has the least number of error rates. Code generators are only as good as the programmers
that develop them, so be wary of new programs and test extensively.
Placing Your Codes
One of the greatest things about QR codes is that they can be placed anywhere! On advertising
billboards, signage, printed material, websites, the sidewalk, buildings, vehicles and virtually
any conceivable public space. There's even a QR code that's been embedded into a gravestone
that leads to a memorial site! You are only limited by your imagination, so try to think up novel
ways to leverage QR technology in the interests of your brand.
Understand that a QR code is a form of physical hyper-linking and that means in order for it to
deliver results it must be scanned in an area that offers wireless connectivity, i.e. mobile signal
reception. Underground mass rapid transit systems, some auditoriums and halls and airplanes
do not have this prerequisite and should be added to the list of places that DO NOT support a
QR code campaign.
QR codes are dynamic and you can redirect them. This makes a single permanent QR code in a
prominent location a constant source of customer interaction. That's why metrics are
Keep measuring the success (or failure) or your campaign. The key thing to worry about is how
long people are spending on the landing page that your QR code leads to and the number of
visitors to the page. If you find that results are unsatisfactory, tweak you materials accordingly.
Design vs. Scannability: A Fine Line
A huge challenge with QR codes is to balance out design with scannability. Here are some tips
to help keep your code on the level.
We've covered quite a distance from the time when QR codes needed to be monochrome with
a distinctly checker box look. Today's QR codes can be designed to fit the theme of virtually
every marketing campaign. This is made possible by the fact that modern codes can have up to
30% of their pattern obstructed and still be scanned successfully.
To take advantage of this, you'll want to find a reliable code generator that creates codes with a
30%, 20% or 10% error correction rate. This will allow you to integrate your graphics into your
code or even to super impose an image over part of the code box.
The higher the level of superfluous graphics (from the scanner's point of view) the higher your
error correction percentages will have to be. Keep in mind that adding graphics to a QR code
with 0% error correction rates will result in a completely unscannable code.
However, remember that a high level of graphical addition and improper placement can reduce
the readability of your code. To solve this problem, keep testing your code and move the
graphics around it to until you achieve optimum scannabilty while retaining a great looking QR
Test your QR codes with multiple readers and devices. QR codes are still a relatively emerging
technology and before you start printing them on everything conceivable make sure you test
the scannability of your code on multiple mobile operating systems, most importantly (Apple,
Android and Blackberry). In fact, test out several different code scanning apps as well. This is
especially important when using highly stylized custom codes.
While designer codes can look great on your brand materials make sure to use colors that
create an effective contrast. Too little contrast can make the code indistinguishable from the
background and will lead to poor scannability and reduced scan rates.
QR codes need to be large enough to be registered by mobile scanners and a code that's too
small can have a serious impact on your campaign. If you're using Microsoft Tags try to ensure
that your code is at least 1 sq. inch in size, although 1.5 sq. inches is a far more readable option
when using standard codes.
The Quiet Zone
When it comes to brand packaging, every available space tends to be filled with marketing
material or general information. In order to make sure that your codes are scannable, you're
going to have to leave a margin of uncluttered space around it that's devoid of text or graphics.
This constraint makes it important to incorporate your QR code ideas into your design layout
right from the beginning rather than treating it as a last minute addition. Also, keep in mind
that the `quiet zone' around your QR code needs to be a white or a light color.
Ditch The Gloss!
Glossy materials tend to reflect a lot of light and can distort a QR code to the point where a
scanner has difficulty reading it. If placing a code on a glazed surface (such as a magazine page
or shiny packaging) is unavoidable, design the code to be substantially larger. This will
overcome most of the scanning problems posed by the shiny patches of light on a gleaming
The debate still rages about whether QR codes are a passing fad or an enduring marketing
mechanism. However, given their low cost and ease of implementation, it's a good idea to
incorporate them into your marketing strategy since you have the chance to capture a lucrative
emerging market. With these tips and a little work you should have a successful QR campaign
up and running in next to no time.
About The Author:
Linda Mentzer is a published author and senior marketing manager for an information
management company that has helped sell thousands of software products on a global scale.
With over 11 years of experience in electronic marketing techniques, Linda has authored
articles for several leading business journals, worldwide.