There was a time when QR codes are the hottest thing in the marketing world. Originally designed by Denso Wave in 1994, these were used by the automotive industry in Japan to track different parts in manufacturing the vehicles.
Due to its readability and ability to store large information as opposed to other UPC barcodes, QR codes were adopted by other industries, in particular the marketing industry, which uses the barcodes to track and analyze results of their marketing efforts.
In order for people to view the information contained in QR codes, people scan the barcodes using the QR code scanner from their mobile device. They will then by redirected to the link where the information is stored so viewers can see.
The process sounds simple enough for both marketers and their audiences to apply, but QR codes did not catch on as expected. Even with people bringing their smartphones with them at all times, a 2013 survey indicates that only 21% of people have scanned a QR code using their phone, with 2% of people who scan QR codes at least once a day.
Soon enough, QR codes have become an afterthought in the marketing industry. Even as early as 2012, people have already mocked the use of these barcodes with different websites featuring the ridiculous uses of QR codes as part of their strategy to promote their products and services.
So are QR codes, for the lack of a better word, dead?
Not if you’re in China.
In a feature we published a couple of weeks ago about light app development, Chinese have found good use with QR codes in relation to light apps, which are lightning-fast, informative pages from online businesses in China. For people to scan the bar codes from their mobile devices, they use WeChat – the biggest social messaging online tool in the country – to share the apps.
From the example above, one could see the importance of QR codes not only as part of a strategy, but also when used correctly within a context. Some of the QR codes used in western markets are haphazardly conceived just for the sake of having the code featured in the product.
This also proves that QR codes can be applied in different industries. Light apps show how the barcodes are used as part of the web development experience. It is through the process of discovering content using light apps that QR codes play an integral role, something that web developers and UX designers may want to consider and incorporate the next time they develop a website.
Here are some great examples on how QR code is used to promote products and services.
Was there any question that one of the best ways on how to use QR codes is include them on print products like business cards and brochures? Granted that some bar codes on print materials are ill-conceived (including QR codes on billboards displayed along highways, anyone), the example above goes to how QR codes can raise interest to target audiences and encourage them to scan the code using their devices.
First, there is value offered to recipients of the print material who scan the codes. In the example above, they not only can listen to the stream of the song, but also download it if they wish. In other words, the reward of performing the act of scanning QR code is great and is of high value.
Using this QR code campaign, Walmart, in collaboration with Mattel, encouraged people to scan the QR codes for a chance to purchase the products from the window display online and have the purchased products delivered in front of their doorsteps. The Virtual toy store was set up along PATH, the underground walkway in Toronto.
What makes the campaign effective is the time when it was launched. During the holiday season, people strive to buy their gifts from department stores as early as possible to avoid the long lines to the counter. Through Walmart’s QR code campaign, customers who haven’t shopped online before will be compelled to try it. It also helps that the location of the campaign is conducive for its target audience to stop by and scan the barcodes using their devices.
If you have an app, then posting creative print ads of your apps available for download is the way to go. While the ads don’t really say anything much about the apps, the barcode for each is designed using photos (Instagram) and blocks (Angry Birds), both of which are compelling enough to attract the interest of its target audience.
Even if you have a blog or a site that you want to drive traffic to using QR codes, it is possible to implement a campaign for this. Following the examples above, all you need to do is think things through by making sure that people will be compelled to scan the bar code on your print materials or others. Below are some suggestions to get your inspired:
- Create a QR code linking back to your blog/site and print it out on your business cards. Attend seminars, conferences, and events where you can use the cards as networking tools.
- For graphic designers, use QR codes as watermarks that link to your portfolio site so visitors can view more of your work and clients can hire you to do theirs.
- Use WordPress to run your blog or site (if you don’t know how to use this powerful platform, here’s a link to learn WordPress). From there, you can download QR code creator plugins so you can access the barcode images from your dashboard.
Final thoughts: QR codes are just as effective as any marketing or website UX tool if used correctly. Hopefully, the examples and suggestions above will help you come up with a creative QR code campaign that will help your website or blog meet its online goals.
More on QR codes:
Author: Christopher Jan Benitez
Content marketer during the day. Heavy sleeper at night. Dreams of non-existent brass rings. Writer by trade. Pro wrestling fan by choice (It’s still real to me, damnit!). Family man all the time.