QR Codes 2.0: What Have We Learned So Far?
It's been a few years since these oddly patterned squares began appearing on the advertising landscape. At first glance, many people probably thought they were printing errors. Meanwhile, marketing professionals were spending a great deal of time explaining the value of QR codes and helping clients download scanning apps to their mobile phones so they could see for themselves how they worked.
Nowadays QR codes are being slapped onto any surface you can think of, including newspaper and magazine ads, postcard mailers, business cards, posters, billboards, and, perhaps most famously, buses. In addition, their use has matured to the point that we're now finally starting to see the first analyses gauging their effectiveness.
Not surprisingly, performance has been strong. Chantal Tode of Mobile Marketer reported back in October that QR codes in national magazines were yielding the highest average response rate of any measurable form of direct response marketing.
What's more, the study found that readers used their scanners multiple times during a single session, viewing an average of 18.9 mobile Web pages that originated from QR codes. The novelty of scanning may have played a part in such a large number. But what the data also makes clear is that people are now comfortable with the technology and are receptive to receiving content in this format.
There still isn't enough data accrued to write a QR Code Manifesto, and they are not without their detractors, but we've definitely seen enough of them succeed and fail at this point to establish some fundamentals.
Optimize your landing page content for mobile devices. A lot of Web page design software comes with programs that promise to optimize your site for mobile-device viewing. These might not do the trick with pages any more complex than simple HTML. Make sure you test it thoroughly before launching.
Shorten the URL first: A QR code stores the URL data within its dots. Shorter URLs mean the dots can be larger and thus easier to scan. Run your landing page URL through bitly or Goo.gl first and reduce your audience's frustration level when trying to access the information.
Don't prolong the experience. Too many marketers use QR codes for elaborate campaigns. Scan founder Garrett Gee told Forbes this practice runs counter-intuitive to original intent of the QR code. They were in fact, "designed by nature to be a shortcut. The goal should be to scan, take a quick and valuable action, and [be] done," says Gee.
Offer the customer something. Tode also noted that research indicates higher response rates were driven by offers for discounts, coupons, or the chance to win a prize. For some people, the ease of signing up for a Twitter feed or Facebook fan page is incentive enough to fire up their QR scanning app. Make the payoff worthwhile to the intended audience and communicate it clearly in your call-to-action.