QR codes are quietly becoming one of the biggest trends in digital marketing. According to a study by Pitney Bowes, the growth of QR code scanning has increased by an astounding 400%. Another Pitney report found that their use among businesses increased from 8% in 2011 to 50% in 2012.
The data shows that QR code use is on the rise. However, businesses are learning that getting positive results from this trend is rather tricky. Take note because we're about to dive into how you can improve your QR codes and get better marketing results in the process.
Make Sure It's Easy to Scan
When it comes to QR codes, scannability is a make or break type of thing that can't be ignored. If people have a difficult time scanning it the first time, they may very well give up. We live in a fast food world where people want everything in an instant, so this is not a gamble you can afford to take. In general, a QR code should be anywhere from ¾-inches to one-inch when designed for printed materials, and larger when placed on other items that may need to be read from a distance. Not sure about its scannability? Test it rigorously before rolling it out in your marketing campaigns.
Use the Right Media
In many cases, the media you use says a lot about just how easy your QR codes will be to scan. You may be tempted to print them on a couple dozen T-shirts, but keep in mind that the nature of the material and its tendency to fold could make scanning them rather difficult. Cups and mugs can also be problematic if their curves are too extensive. Generally, the best media for QR codes is a smooth, flat surface a user can easily run their device across.
QR codes are almost exclusively a mobile thing. In fact, a report by Mashable mentioned that a staggering 99.9% of them are scanned by some type of mobile device. So if you're trying to connect people to a website, make sure that site is equipped with a landing page optimized for a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Not only must the code be easy for those devices to scan, the pages and content must be designed for them to process. The better experience the user has, the more likely they are to share and convince friends to scan as well.
Add Compelling Text
Rarely will a QR code draw the right kind of attention on its own. Text is often the first and only thing people will see before they even begin to process what the heck that strange looking bar code even is. When implementing text into your QR code design, approach those words like a headline. A good headline can be humorous, snazzy, or controversial. Just make sure it's short, to the point, and includes a clear call to action so people know they are supposed to whip out their trusty gadget and get to scanning.
Make it Worth It
QR codes usually lead to a destination somewhere online. Where do you plan to take your customers and prospects? Hopefully it isn't the same website they've already seen or a LinkedIn page they can easily navigate to from Google. QR codes are at their most effective when they connect the individual with something special. Something exclusive. Free gifts, time-sensitive information, and coupons for deep discounts are examples of content that go great with with a QR code.
Measure Their Impact
Like email or another content marketing program, QR code campaigns are something you should track and measure on a regular basis. How else will you know where you stand? Using reporting software the likes of Google Analytics can help you identify which actions were taken after the scan and why. In measuring the impact of your QR codes, you will uncover valuable insights that can be used to craft future marketing campaigns and get a better return on your investment.
With experts estimating that one billion people will own smartphones by 2016, the future is looking very bright for QR codes. Adoption is picking up on the marketing side, but the true fate of this emerging trend will determined by their success rate. Once more brands see that QR codes have some substance to their hype, they will start to create a bigger, more lucrative market.
Francis Santos is the Marketing Manager for Benchmark Email. He graduated from Cal State Long Beach and holds a degree in Journalism. In addition, he is also the executive editor for separate popular news blogs. Follow him on Twitter: @emailfrancis