The 6 Biggest Mistakes Marketers Make With QR Codes

10 Jun

1. Using Codes That Don’t Enhance the Experience

With all the hubbub going on about QR codes right now, it’s tempting to throw a QR code into whatever project you’re working on just for the “cool factor.” QR Code Mistakes

Unfortunately, this leads to lots of poorly thought out consumer experiences.  QR codes being posted on websites rather than a simple hyperlink is a perfect example. Instead of just being able to just click a link, the user has to take out their phone, open a scanner app, scan the code and then wait for the glacial mobile browser to take them to your content, where they view it on a 4” screen rather than a 19” screen – with no mouse and a touchscreen keyboard.

Sure, they might think it’s pretty cool if it’s their first time using a QR code, but the moment that novelty wears off it becomes purely irritating. It’s also a waste of an awesome opportunity, because there are hundreds of ways to use them correctly. 

Bottom line: No matter how shiny, new, and cool the technology, you should never use it just for the sake of using it.  Ask yourself how using a QR code will enhance the user’s experience.  If you can’t think of anything, ditch the code.

2. Lead to a Non Mobile-Optimized Website

This is an extremely common mistake.  Using a QR code pretty much guarantees that 100% of all people using the code will be viewing your site with mobile phones.  Websites not optimized for mobile are difficult to navigate, take a long time to load, and are generally no fun to view on a phone.

Creating a mobile-optimized site is a great investment, especially due to the explosive growth in mobile browsing.

3. Directionless Codes

Another huge mistake is having your QR code link to your website’s main page instead of specific content relevant to whatever the code was on.  Usually this mistake is paired with a non mobile-optimized website, which means the user has to wait longer – and then when it does load it’s not what they wanted.

Don’t make people search around your site to find what they’re looking for. They won’t do it, and all you’ll get is a bounce.  If the QR code is being placed on an advertisement, it should take users directly to the content with your ad.

4. Codes That Don’t Scan Well

All QR codes are not created equal, especially if you’ve done some beautification (which you should).  Before you mass produce something with a QR code on it, make sure to test the code with several different phones and several different scanning apps.  If the code doesn’t scan within 3-5 seconds for each and every device, you need to make the code more scannable.

You can make a code more scannable by doing any combination of several things: You can make the code larger, or if space is limited, use a code with a lower error correction rate to lessen the module size of the code.  You can also try changing the code colors for better contrast. If all else fails, you need to shorten the message in the code.  If it’s a URL, use a URL shortener.

5. Ugly Codes

Stock QR codes are ugly, there’s no getting around it.  The idea that creating an attractive and well-planned layout is important to catching your audience’s attention isn’t a new concept.  Why would QR codes be any different?

Thanks to the error correction capabilities built into the codes, you can create custom QR codes that beautifully compliment whatever style you’ve created.

6. Not Explaining What the Code Does

Many QR codes are placed in an ad or on packaging without any clear explanation of what the code will do.  While this lack of information may sometimes be used to build curiosity as part of the user experience, the vast majority of unlabeled QR codes are confusing and should be avoided.

Think about it: if you were surfing the web and you came across a hyperlink simply labeled “click here,” you may be tempted to view it.  However, upon doing so the likelihood of you performing the intended action (making a purchase, filling out a form, etc.) is very unlikely.

The quality of content in your link will always outweigh the novelty of the medium you use to spread it.


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