Where not to use QR codes

In its eagerness to connect with riders, the transit authority has mounted ads that urge residents to contact them by phone, in person, the web – and even by QR code, printed right there on the ad.

This is fine however, only if the ad aren’t mounted in subway cars.  And for other places within the metro you’ll be able to get the reception you got to search a QR code; it’s not on the subway.

There are pretty lots of reasons to think of QR codes as an extensive tool in marketing.

QR codes are too cheap to deploy – in fact, you can generate them for free, and once you’ve sunk a huge amount of money into the infrastructure to support them in your website’s content management system, there’s no extra cost needed to send them out.

They’re increasingly ubiquitous, which means that a decent number of smartphone users have scanning software on their handsets and of course, know how to use it.

QR codes can perform genuinely helpful tasks, particularly when it involves linking the real world to the digital space, be it a geographical location, sort of a realtor’s registration in front of a house for sale, or perhaps a selected product on a shelf.

And marketers who have place QR codes to figure say that lots of people are really scanning them.

All that said, not all QR code deployments are meant to succeed, and today’s enthusiasm has seen them coming out in places that are as unhelpful because the deployments are innovative.

There’s some cause for pause.

Is there even a reason people won’t scan them?

The mere presence of a cell signal is one condition for a operating QR code, however not the sole one.

If your QR code is fine grained and simply too small or too detailed older cameras built on cellular phones won’t be read it well and it can even hardly scan them, leaving customers feeling foolish for having taken out their phones to wave at a non-functional code.

My aging iPhone 3G was unable to scan codes at Tim Horton’s, that printed a customer-survey code on shiny laminate offering the winner a year’s free coffee. Certainly ain’t a bad incentive after all – however it’s useless if the last mile doesn’t work.

Similarly, at a U.S. motel chain, I found a high-definition code (again, printed on laminate) that was too small that the iPhone’s camera couldn’t get all its details even by the time the handset was held at a enough proximity to scan.

Additionally, it’s necessary to consider the physical position of your QR codes. If  you would like your codes to be scanned seamlessly and at the people’s convenience, have them placed in a location in which people can scan them in regular position.

At Shoppers Drug Mart for instance, a flyer bearing a QR code is visible on the front wall of a the cart, and is facing inwards. The sole approach the code might probably be scanned was if the user somehow contorted himself or herself into an empty cart. This often may not be true but strictly speaking, at least it’s user-friendly.

Don’t scare them off

Remember: Scanning a QR code may be a public act. You can’t scan codes discreetly – a user needs to walk right up to it, load up an app, and point the camera to the code. In other words, when you scan an ad it also means publicly associating with it.
This means that, not like with other forms of advertising, lurid or over-the-top appeals which may solicit a surreptitious click in private seems not to work in public forums.
Nor will this apply to crass advertising: Enthusiastic health non-profits would possibly think twice regarding the use of QR codes on transit ads particularly sexual health.

Have you give people a good reason to scan?

This is where the QR code question begins and ends. It’s too simple to convince yourself that, as a marketer, you’ve provided fellow marketers with an incentive to find out more about your product.

But keep in mind that consumers’ thresholds for interest are totally different than your own. Some are overwhelmed by QR codes, on top of standard advertising, and if there was any explicit technological thrill associated in scanning a code, it’s fast wearing it off.

The upshot is that QR code marketers face an uphill climb to entice would-be scanners.
Critically, a QR code seen on adverts can’t simply link to the desire advertising. A few meters from home, a bus shelter ad for a dietary supplement featuring an endorsement from a minor celebrity, together with a QR code exhorting viewers to scan the code only to find out additional info about what could be a personal story.

That being said, one pitch may leads to another pitch. Even for celebrity followers, that’s too tricky to sell.

QR codes may also be risky. They’re visually hostile, and detract from the punch a well-designed ad carries. Place a QR code right in a conspicuously useless spot, waste users’ time with self-evident content, or implement them they work unreliably, and you’ll frustrate customers and  even destroy both your offline and online brand.

Ideally, QR codes offer an honest and reliable service to customers, putting them  involved with info they’d have had to look for, or may need to be forgotten to look up.

The more useful you can make them; definitely more users would appreciate you.
Just always bear in mind you need to put on your consumer’s hat and you can assume like another user who’s bombarded by QR codes – and not the marketer who’s too desirous to use them.

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