Good QR Code, Bad QR Code

QR Codes have been called the marketing tool that marketers love to hate. Why? Because so many seem to provide absolutely no value.

Perhaps you scan a QR Code and it doesn’t go anywhere at all. Perhaps you get an error or the page to which the code points doesn’t exist. Perhaps you see a QR Code on a product you are interested in, so you scan the code and end up at a manufacturer’s non-mobile website where you get lost in a maze of links so dense that you forget why you went there in the first place.

Does this mean that QR Codes are a waste of time? No. It means not enough thought was put into creating them.

When you are thinking about creating a QR Code, the first thing you should do is ask yourself, “What purpose do I want this code to serve? What do I want the person scanning it to get out of it?” If you don’t have a good answer, wait until you do.

A great example of QR Code use is Best Buy. When you enter a Best Buy store, all of the products have QR Codes. When scanned, the codes take you to products specs, customer reviews, and other information not available on the shelf talkers or product packaging that will help them make a purchase decision. The QR Code puts the information in the customer’s hands at the very time that they need it — as they are making the decision. That’s a QR Code used well.

Contrast that with a QR Code placed on a lawnmower that takes you to the manufacturer’s corporate site. Or a QR Code on a “house for sale” sign that takes you to the realtor’s entire inventory. Those are QR Codes used poorly. It’s not the QR Code that’s the problem. It’s the lack of thought behind it.

When creating QR Codes, think about the end use!

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