How to Make Marketing with QR codes Work for Your Business

The following is a guest post by Johannes Ahrenfelt, co-founder of 99SQUARED.

Are you thinking about marketing with QR codes? Take a look at this first.

When starting out using QR codes, companies sometimes make the same mistakes again and again. These mistakes not only cause businesses to lose out on profit but also, most importantly, ruin the consumer experience. This article will explain what some of the most common problems are and will suggest solutions that will ensure your marketing campaign with QR codes can carry on as you planned.

Problem: No Objectives

Many businesses using QR codes for the first time make one fundamental mistake, namely to use them without a clear business focus. Imagine if you set out to use Twitter for the first time and all you did was to set up the account and write one tweet: “Follow ME!”. What is the likelihood of someone engaging with you? Very unlikely of course. The same goes for QR codes. Even very experienced marketers that start using the technology forget to think of at least a basic mobile strategy.

Solution: Consider the following questions before embarking on a marketing campaign using QR codes:

  • What call to action should we use to ensure that people scan our codes in the first place? We need to give them a reason.
  • What’s in it for the consumer? What will people see when they scan? Should we direct them to a mobilized landing page or perhaps a message?
  • How should we track engagement?
  • List 5 ways we can retain their interest and get them coming back.

You would be surprised how many companies and individual marketers that forget to answer these important questions before beginning their campaigns.

Problem: URL Shortening and Linkrot

Companies that embark on marketing campaigns using QR codes tend to use third-party URL shorteners. This is a good strategy as it ensures that most smartphones can scan the code, because if the URL is too long some mobile phones are unable to complete the scan successfully. Some of these third-party tools can however cause havoc for those using it as if it goes bust (either the actual tool but also the business that created it) or has any glitches, then the links you created and the codes you have placed in ads, on  product packaging and so on, would also stop working. The links are basically dead – link rot.

Solution: Your codes and your hyperlinks must work all the time. The best way to make sure this happens is to either host shortened URLs on your own domain or, the easier option, use a dedicated QR Code tracking software to do that for you.

Problem: Lack of Purpose

The person scanning your code will go through a number of decisions during the process. They will:

  1. see the code on for example a product packaging or business card.
  2. decide if they should scan – so if there is no clear call to action this may not happen.
  3. take out their smartphone, open the QR Code Reader app and then scan.
  4. view whatever you decided they should see.

As you can see the consumer undertakes a series of steps before engaging with your brand so there needs to be a very conscious outcome, otherwise what was the point for them to scan? It may come as a surprise to you but the vast majority of QR codes lead to a company’s desktop website which has not been mobilized. This means that the consumer experience is one of pinching and zooming to find the information they scanned to get. Very few people would do this for any length of time. Giving consumers the same information via the QR code that they could already get elsewhere is ultimately a waste of a great sales opportunity.

Solution: The QR code is not merely a gateway to the online world, it is also a direct communication channel to exclusive content and information. So, when someone scans your QR code make it worthwhile. Whatever information they see needs to be exclusive to that particular experience, to that exact code and to that specific product. If you can change the information people see when they scan the code at different times of the day week or month that would be even better to retain their interest and for them to keep coming back.

As with all marketing, it’s important to consider your business objective for using QR codes and how this technology can help you achieve that. QR codes is an extension of the brand, an opportunity for your company to provide a gateway between products and services and targeted online content that will not only engage but also help to convert customers. There are other problems also worth considering that have not been mentioned here, for example the actual placements of the Code, frequency of codes in your marketing material and what size it should be to ensure a successful scan. But, if you consider the major problems listed above and how you can use the solutions suggested then you are very likely to have a successful and profitable campaign using QR Codes.

About the Author

Johannes Ahrenfelt is the co-founder of 99SQUARED Ltd. Their first product SQUARE:CODE is a QR Code Tracking Software that offers a unique management system for QR Codes, giving businesses complete and flexible control of how they communicate with consumers.

Rather than linking to a single, fixed URL from the QR Code, SQUARE:CODE lets businesses manage their code – so that it could point to a website about a sale one day, and an event on their business’ Facebook page the next. – QR Codes You Control