Originally designed for use in tracking vehicles during assembly, two-dimensional bar codes (also called QR codes, matrix barcodes, or scanlife codes) have come into their own for unique marketing uses and more.
The most popular variant is the QR code, with its distinctive three boxed corners. QR codes make a lot of sense where:
- Users can be expected to have smartphones
- While the user will start with content in place, they will complete the interaction on their phone
- The user has a code scanning app, or can quickly download a recommended version
Realistically speaking, current technical limitations on QR codes are due mostly to reader apps. While becoming more and more popular, few readers have completely integrated all of them with the different phone platforms. For example, the GPS coordinates format is not well supported at this point. A link to a Google map, instead, eliminates the risk of failing on many different phone/scanner combinations. It’s also wise to steer clear of non-QR codes at this point, which include Data Matrix, Aztec Codes, Scanlife codes and Micro QR codes. QR codes are easily the most popular and best supported to date.
Current Usage of QR Codes
QR codes are seeing a creative explosion of applications. Some of the most direct uses include:
- Contact information encoded into a QR code printed on a business card
- Printed QR codes on brochures or data sheets pointing to a webpage with more information on a product or service
- The newest applications – scan-to-text, scan-to-call, encoding wifi connection info, GPS and more
One attribute that is not mentioned often is the impression that a QR code gives of the company. Do you want to be seen as an early adopter of new marketing technology?
How to Create Your Own QR Codes for a Website Destination
1. Get your destination website address (www.mygreatwebsite.com)
2. Tag it using the Google Analytics Tracking code builder so that the traffic can be tracked once it gets to your website.
4. Now build the QR code using the above mentioned Google Chrome plugin or an online service like http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/
QR Codes Gone Wrong
Since it’s an emerging industry, QR code usage has seen some very poor implementations. In general, don’t put QR codes:
- On the outside of moving buses (but inside the bus is fine)
- On huge billboards near highways (am I supposed to scan it while driving??)
- In tiny formats on printed materials (too difficult to scan)
- On t-shirts (wrinkles and curves make them difficult to scan)
Some other don’ts for QR codes include:
- Linking to a mobile unfriendly website or huge form
- Linking to a flash website (few mobile devices fully support flash)
- Linking to your company’s homepage (I can just as easily type it into Google)
- Link it to your website without including Google Analytics tracking code. Otherwise, the traffic will show up to your website under the “direct” source and it will be difficult to attribute exact impact of the QR code or of traffic from the QR code on different mediums (brochure vs business card vs datasheet).
Want to test out your QR code scanner app?
Try some of the QR codes below and let me know what you think!