Many of the arguments against using QR Codes to drive consumers from print to mobile have nothing to do with the QR Codes themselves. They have to do with the unnecessary mistakes on the part of those employing them. These mistakes are easily avoided, so whether you are adding QR Codes to direct mail, marketing collateral, in-store signage, or any other location, take a lesson from the Pennsylvania Wildlife Management Unit.
This was a great idea. This poster was placed at the base of the Mt. Nittany hiking trail, which is visited by thousands of hikers every year. This area is also open to hunting during limited times of the year. Placing this sign at this strategic location was a great idea.
The challenge is that the poster was placed there last hunting season. This shouldn’t necessarily be a problem—the code simply points to a page on a website, and if that page is updated, the code will take the person to the updated page—but in this case, when the 2015-2016 hunting season ended, the page was taken down instead of being updated. Consequently, this code takes you nowhere except to a blank page with an “x” in the corner.
The challenge for marketers at large is that such preventable errors affect everyone using QR Codes, not just the PA Wildlife Management Unit. For every code that goes nowhere, it incrementally undermines the confidence of everyone who scans QR Codes at large. If you’re an avid scanner, as I am, you might not be put off by the error. But if you’re a casual scanner, it could create a barrier to future use.
The moral of the story is that whenever possible, use QR Codes to point people to web pages that will be updated, not pages that have a limited shelf life. In doing so, you both benefit your marketing and everyone else’s.