Last spring, my wife, Rachael, and I were at the local home improvement store shopping for some flowers. As we were browsing, a particular set of flowers caught my eye because of what was printed on the label - each one contained a QR Code. I thought this was brilliant.
Most flower labels normally contain information about the care of the plant - the amount of sunlight is required, how often to water it, etc. This is the information that I had expected to see when I scanned the QR Code on the label… perhaps supplemented with a nice photo of the flower. However, I was disappointed to only be directed to the company’s homepage.
This company missed the opportunity to utilize the QR Code in a creative and useful way. This was a classic case of use before understanding.
Consider these guidelines when using QR Codes for marketing purposes:
1. Always extend context. If the QR Code is printed on a flower label, give the user information about that flower. If it is printed along with a product in a catalog, link to the actual product page so the user can learn more about the product or make a purchase. Do not simply link to your homepage.
2. Consider providing a mobile site. It can be assumed that users will be scanning your QR Codes on mobile devices. Nothing can kill a mobile user experience more than to serve up a site that is not optimized for mobile devices. Do not take the user to a page that was created using Flash.
3. Understand your market. QR Codes are new and they are still considered on the fringe of interactive media. The people that will recognize a QR Code and understand how to use it are more tech savvy than your ordinary John Doe. Thus, the QR Code should serve as an auxiliary feature, and not the main content. Do not create a marketing piece that only contains a title and a QR Code (unless it is intended for use at a conference for New Media professionals).
QR Codes are trendy, but do not make a mistake of integrating a trendy interactive technology without some strategy to drive it. Always understand how to use a technology before you put it into practice.