Why QR Codes Fail [Data]

10 Ways to Increase QR Code Usage

From a marketer’s perspective, QR codes make offline surfaces and content a cost-effective conduit to deliver online marketing content across a wide variety of formats.

While QR code adoption increased from 1% in 2010 to 5% in 2011 according to Forrester, only one in eight smartphone owners uses QR codes. With smartphone ownership positioned to grow at an accelerated pace, why isn’t QR code usage expanding at a similar rate?

Based on recent college student research four out of five college students has a smartphone, but only one out of four has successfully used a QR code. comScore found that the sweet spot of QR code usage is 25-34 and one in three QR code users has a household income of over $100,000. Like other early phase technology related products, men tend to use QR codes more than women.  (Here’s additional QR code research and charts.)

To understand the challenges marketers who want to use QR codes face, here are ten ways to prevent QR code failure and incorporate QR codes into your marketing more effectively.

  1. QR code, what’s that? As with many new technology related services, education is needed. FIX:  Using QR codes in your marketing obligates you to explain what they are and how the consumer benefits from them.
  2. Use a mainstream QR code reader. Consumers must download a QR code reader if one’s not included with their phone’s default application set. Don’t create problems for your customers by using specialized codes. FIX:  Choose a dominant QR code format.
  3. Protect against misuse. One third of the mainstream QR code-reading smartphone apps AppSec Labs researched were vulnerable to website redirection. FIX: Use one of the QR code apps that’s less prone to redirection.
  4. Ensure QR codes are readable. Like ordinary text, QR codes become less effective if they’re too small. FIX: Make QR codes at least an inch square.
  5. Simplify QR code. Reduce the information in the QR code to aid usage. FIX: Minimize the link size by using a URL shortener before creating the QR code.
  6. Enhance QR code scanability with a plain border. To help capture the QR code, place the code on a plain background. FIX: Ensure QR codes have a design-free margin around them.
  7. Place QR codes where readers or passer-bys can access the content. This translates to thinking through your marketing executions. Using QR codes on billboards or on tall signs or buildings or in the subway means consumers can’t access your information, even if they know what a QR code is and how to use it. FIX: Limit QR code usage to locations where consumers can connect to the Internet and your content at their convenience.
  8. Include QR code usage instructions. Make it easy for consumers to read your content. FIX: Give viewers a call-to-action, brief instructions and even a link to download a QR code reader.
  9. Offer strong, interesting content. Ensure that the content at the other end of your QR code is worth the effort for viewers to get it. FIX: Create engaging content viewers find useful.
  10. Avoid competition from similar technologies, most notably NFC (aka near field communications).  NFC is projected to expand in 2015 while QR code scanning will drop to 5% of smartphone subscribers from 8% in 2012, according to The Yankee Group. FIX:  Capitalize on QR code usage in the interim to provide useful content to smartphone owners who utilize them.

To make QR codes an effective part of your marketing mix, make your QR codes as readable as possible, support QR code usage with short easy instructions, and give consumers information that’s worth the effort to look up. Of course, as with any marketing program, it’s critical to track your QR code metrics.

Are there any other QR code factors that increase usage that you’d add to this list? If so, what are they?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Here are some related articles of interest.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clevercupcakes/3985603967/sizes/m/in/photostream/



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