The Biggest Threat to QR Codes? Us!

By | June 1, 2011

Love John Foley’s post (below — amen! amen!), but I thought I’d throw my two cents in here, too. You know, because I like to be a pest like that.

As an industry, if we’re going to promote QR codes, we really need to be using QR codes ourselves. That ought to be a best practice, too. I say this because I continue to be amazed by the number of printers promoting QR codes but who appear not really to understand the marketing dynamics behind how they work. There is more to a QR code than just taking someone from the printed piece to the Web. You need to understand why the person is scanning the code, what they are expecting to see, and how they want to interact with the information on the other end.

I just talked to Patrick Whelan, owner of Great Reach Communications, who licenses a QR code primer that printers and others can brand to their own companies and use as their own. He’s so busy right now selling licenses to these things that it’s making his head spin.

On one hand, I’m thrilled. I wrote the primer, so I’m glad it’s getting a good reception. But then I think about many of the QR codes I’ve scanned in this industry that resulted in a really negative experience. If consumers have a marginal — or worse,  negative — experience using a QR code, that begins to impact their perception of the value of scanning them.

The more bad scans, the less value they’ll see in the next one. So I’ve seen the face of the greatest to QR code adoption and it is us!

Suggestions? Before marketing and promoting QR codes, start scanning QR codes around you. Evaluate the user experience. What did you expect to see? What did you actually see? How functional was the site? Did the experience of using the code bring value to you?

Going through this process for a few weeks will help you begin to think through what works and what doesn’t. This way, when you promote QR codes to your customers, you’ll be one step ahead of them in being able to provide, not just the code itself, but real insight into what makes them work.

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3 thoughts on “The Biggest Threat to QR Codes? Us!

  1. Michael Jahn

    I agree. I do find them useful for many things, but am often frustrated when interacting. I often find myself wanting to do something that turns out to be very clumsy to accomplish, or discover that the QR Code landing page is not at all optimized for viewing on a smart phone.

    In some cases, there are simply better ways to get information into my hands – one thing that is frustrating is QR Codes on business cards – very few folks use the correct approach, and the QR Code delivers me to some web site, and the contact detail ends up being emailed to me, not what I wanted – I find myself saying “hey, that nice, but do you have Bump?”

  2. marc zazeela

    Interesting, Heidi. I think the producers should also be mindful that the codes are going to be scanned by some mobile device. If you lead to a full sized web page, it’s going to be pretty hard to see on a phone. The page should be adjusted to the correct screen size for the devices being used to view them.

    I scanned some codes and was sent to a web page where the fonts were so large I could only fit one or two words at a time, in my viewing area. It would have been fine on a PC but…

  3. Art Stowe

    Where do I get the software needed to get QR codes to work on my computer

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