QR Codes are NOT Redundant!

QR Code Image
Posted on: in Mobile Marketing The Formula Digital Marketing

Although the QR Code has been around for almost 20 years, its use as a marketing tool has only recently started to gain traction in South Africa.

QR Codes have in the past few months, started to crop up everywhere from packaging, to advertising, signage, printed marketing materials and more. An increasing number of consumers are learning what they are and how to use them.

Seen as the next marketing gimmick, many companies have seemingly jumped on the bandwagon in an attempt to ensure that they are seen as cutting edge in their marketing efforts.

STOP – lets learn from the mistakes first

The debate as to whether ‘QR Codes are Dead’, is one that is currently raging in countries that have been using them in marketing for some years already. Although people either love or hate them, it is certainly fair to attribute their bad rap to their inappropriate use.

In South Africa we tend to trail behind on trends – and we certainly have done so with the QR Code. But this gives us a distinct advantage in that we can avoid the mistakes that our US and European counterparts have made.

As part of a well thought out mobile marketing strategy, QR Codes can be an innovative way of sharing or providing information. But they need to be used in the right place, need to be geared to the right target market and above all – need to be used for the right reasons.

Understanding the Target Market

Not all mobile phones have the capability to scan QR Codes and only the very latest Smartphones are now manufactured with a pre-installed app, which enables the user to scan QR Codes easily.

Consideration #1 – only that sector of the market which has access to the latest Smartphones will (for now) be able to scan QR Codes easily.  Technology is evolving virtually overnight however, and Smartphone penetration is on the distinct rise in South Africa. This consideration will change in a very short space of time, so be sure to plan ahead.

Consideration #2 – although Smartphone adoption is on the rise, we need to question how tech savvy the market is. Smartphones are currently for many users, a status symbol, rather than a well optimised piece of technology. Again this is an evolving consideration as people will in time, learn how to use QR Codes.

Using QR Codes in the appropriate places

The thoughtful placement of QR Codes is imperative. Who would place one on a freeway billboard so that drivers can have an accident while trying to scan? or on the side of a bus stop facing oncoming traffic so that people place themselves in danger to scan? or on the back of a bus so that scanning is virtually impossible? Believe it or not – these mistakes have happened!  Place yourself in your customers shoes and find the easiest, most accessible way for them to interact with this technology.

For a laugh and some ideas as to what NOT to do – visit the WTF QR Codes website. Some of the posts and comments are scathing to the nth degree – but it represents a range of good, current examples of where the inappropriate use of QR Codes can irritate or even alienate customers.

Give customers something valuable

QR codes are all too often used to drive prospects to a website home page or some other piece of advertising material. To make matters worse, some of these are website pages that have not been optimised for mobile phone use, or feature out-of-date or invalid special offers.

Marketing material is not often intrinsically valuable to a customer and would hardly ever warrant the effort you’re making them put in to scan a QR Code and read about your company. Best practice in marketing uses the shortest route to get the message across, so a QR Code is not ideal for that purpose. A QR Code should rather be used to link the consumer to a positive, valuable experience that in some way makes their life easier or more enjoyable.

  • Business Cards – take them to your LinkedIn or other online personal profile / page, or use to link them to your vCard.
  • Special Offers – offer current, valid coupons, exclusive discounts and freebies.
  • Mobile Purchasing – let customers make purchases from the palm of their hand.
  • Surveys – take customers through an easy to access satisfaction survey process.

But the best possible way to use a QR Code is to offer the customer an enhanced experience with supplementary information about a product or place. Think of uses such as a detailed list of ingredients in food, recipes linked to a product on offer, manufacturing processes (if it’s interesting!), tips and how-to’s, history or information of a location etc.
Take a look here and here at some great examples of how QR Codes have been used well!

QR Codes are here to stay!

There are opinion pieces dating back to 2010 and 2011 claiming that QR Codes are on the brink of redundancy, yet we’re continuing to see more of them every day.

Those who create the technology we see around us, have insight into future trends which inform how they develop their products. If tablets and Smartphones are only now being distributed with pre-loaded scanning apps, we think this is an indicator that QR Codes are for one, here to stay. In addition to this, consider the fact that new technologies such as ‘Google Glass’ will make good use of QR Codes.

Would a weed eater result in a beautiful evenly mowed lawn? It is pointless to use any tool incorrectly. The QR Code can thus hardly be considered an epic fail. It is a wonderfully useful little tool which can, if used properly, be greatly beneficial to you and your customer both now and in the future.

Do you need help to create and integrate QR Codes in your marketing strategy? Give Garth Dahl or Shiraz Khatib a call on 021 556 5661 or email us: info@theformula.co.za. Our marketing consultations are always free – we thrive on taking part in your success!


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