Whatever Happened to the QR Code?

Can QR codes contribute to the success of your internet marketing campaign? Depending on who you ask you’ll get contradicting answers. So, how would you know whether or not to include QR codes as part of your internet marketing strategy?

QR Codes and Smartphones: A Disconnect in User Engagement

Photo courtesy of clevercupcakes(CC Attribution)

QR codes started in an automotive company in Japan. It was labeled on car parts and once scanned, you’d receive details about the car. QR codes were adopted in internet marketing mainly because a QR code can store a lot of information that can easily be presented to consumers. With QR codes marketers can lead consumers to the company’s website, sign-up page, or sales page, among others.

All it takes is a smartphone with a QR code reader to move consumers from an offline to online experience. And who doesn’t own a smartphone? According to CRTC Communications Monitoring Report in 2013 over 27.9 million Canadians are mobile phone subscribers and the number has since grown. This year, 55% of Canadians own smartphones, which means more than half of the population can easily access your web content given that they would want to.

But apparently QR codes failed to catch on while the smartphone market continuously grew. So how are QR codes doing as an internet marketing tactic? Marketing charts collated data regarding QR codes, which includes research on how many marketers plan to use QR codes in their campaign and how many consumers are actually scanning code.

There are several reasons why QR codes don’t seem to be a hit on consumers:

  • Smartphones do not come with QR code scanners. Consumers have to search for an app specific for this purpose. For some, it’s just not worth the search, download, and install. Smartphone users would also generally prefer a short and memorable URL to type into their phone over an unintelligible mass of pixels.
  • Landing pages do not provide relevant information or worse, the QR code leads to broken links or sites not optimized for mobile. Consumers don’t know what they get until after they. Just one bad experience and that consumer may not try to scan other QR codes again.
  • The decision was made before the consumer sees a QR code. Often when a consumer goes to a store where a big QR code is on display, the purchasing decision is already made leaving no time for whatever is offered by the QR code. After all, people tend to look for product information prior to going to the store.

Successes with QR Codes

One particular industry that benefits with QR codes is the real estate business. A QR code on the For Sale sign can lead a potential buyer to pictures of the inside of the house or similar houses for sale. In large-scale tradeshows, consumers get more information about products without talking to support staff. Freebies in exchange for sign ups via QR codes is another tactic. Clearly, if you give consumers a reason to scan your code, they will gladly do so.

Are QR Codes that Helpful?

One company’s internet marketing garbage is another’s treasure. If you are already using QR codes, analyze which of your visits are coming from the QR codes and which are from others to get a clear picture as to whether QR codes are working for you. QR codes may not be as popular as they were predicted to be but given the right implementation in the right business model and industry, you could really leverage their usefulness.