Was that a Cheetah or a QR? Top 5 things you SHOULD or SHOULDN'T do when using QR


Everyone wants to use Quick Response (QR) code in their marketing because of the mystery
behind the scan or "cool" effect, but for people who actually take out their smartphones
scan that QR it is very frustrating, when we realize that the marketer failed
to understand how to use this convenience. Although there are many things to look out for
I believe these five rules can get you very far!

Top 5 things you SHOULD or SHOULDN'T do when using QR

Business Considerations

Let us look at some basic business considerations, why do we decide to use QR and how do we know if we are benefiting?

Rule #1 - QR usage must to be tracked!

What is the point of using a QR if you do not know if someone is using it. Make sure that you track all urls that you using. There are free and paid service that track URL usage for you by providing you an alternate "short URL" which serves two purposes. 

  1. You get nice stats of who is using and
  2. It is short enough that you can type it.  Try ayna.in or bit.ly

Rule #2 - QRs are a fancy way of printing a hyperlink a smartphone can read

Consider what happens if your customer likes your message and does not have a QR reader.  You should always provide a short URL next to the QR. At ayna you can have QRs that  1) use short urls 2) display the short next to the QR itself, which makes its integration and printing much easier. Try code.ayna.com!

Consumer Considerations

So we talked about some of the consideration from a business point of view and the goal of not losing customers and tracking QR usage.  Let us consider the consumer side of the equation

Rule #3 - QRs Should ALWAY point to a Mobile friendly page

QR as designed to be scanned by mobile users, and we continue to find QRs that link to main  page of a business site. Please point them to a mobile site!  If you do not have a mobile business site then get one from ayna.com.

Rule #4 - QR Should point to something related to the information around it

You know you can do more than URL with QRs right? if not consider this. QR can trigger a phone call, and SMS or Email message to be sent, you can download a business card, connect to a wifi network and more. Do not restrict yourself.

I saw an ad today for a company that cells wireless home phones, and had a bunch of phones on the ad and a QR next to them, so I assumed it will have the info about the phones, and maybe a list with specification and prices or offers. I got my phone, scanned and was greeted by their main page, so I closed my phone with disgust.

Do not disrespect your customers and insult their intelligence, give them value when they scan a QR.  For instance on a web page when we place a QR it usually points to a meCard that downloads the information the phone into the address book (that is a nice value), but scanning a QR on the web that takes me to the mobile page is not (I can just click it)

Rule #5 - QR should be placed where people can scan them

Always consider the physical space and distance between the person scanning and the QR itself, so do not make them small and post them on 10 meter high pole, or huge and I have one meter space between me and the QR so it will not fit in my phone screen.  Do not put them in crowded areas that I will obstruct traffic to scan them, or there are a stream of people walking past me and the QR. (That actually happened to me in NYC in the south ferry station on a small QR code perched high up the crowd, so I had to push my way to it, scanned it and .... it gave me a HUGE form to fill for the university to get some info. You kidding? I need to fill this complex form from my smartphone? -- at least let me put an email and email the form or info to me...)

And please, please do not put them on:

  • Highway billboards! Who is going to scan them while driving? It is cruel! 
  • Network dead zones. Ok I am in a subway and there is a QR linked to web page (be kind enough and provide me with a vcard that is downloaded without network -- yes we have done that).  or even better, provide me with free wifi access
  • Do not post them on Cars, buses, bunnies or cheetahs.  Instead opt for bus stops or inside cabs not outside. These are fast moving targets.

Last Words

Thank you for taking the time to read this, QRs are amazing tools of communication, so use them wisely.  You would not stand in the middle of the highway and call out your website name, so do not do the same with QR. Place them where people can use them at their own speed. This is not the wild west and see who can scan fasterUse them on menus, suggestion boxes, printed ads, brochures, pricing labels, store labels, and if you just happen to have an 40 year old cheetah that is not very fast maybe you can add few more dots and make your own QR.

Adonis El Fakih is founder of Ayna.com, and has been helping business owners since 1997. Today he helps  retail professionals and shopping mall managers to connect with consumers and simplify the sales process using social media and mobile enabled technologies.



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