4 Mistakes Marketers Make With QR Codes

    by Anum Hussain

    Date

    September 21, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    qr code cupcake

    Question: How do we become cool and trendy inbound marketers?
    Answer: Try QR codes.
    Response: Hooray! We’ll put a QR code on our website today.

    (Weeks later...)

    Question: What were your results?
    Answer: Uh…?

    There are a few problems with this interaction, and many modern marketers are facing them today. QR codes are quickly integrating into marketing efforts as a tool for leading consumers to some online destination: a website, blog, social media account, etc. As a quick reminder, QR codes are simply 2D barcodes that can be scanned using a smartphone reader application. Your mobile browser will then direct you to the linked site. 

    However, many are making small mistakes that make an immense impact on their strategy—or lack thereof. Here are four mistakes to avoid when braiding QR codes into your marketing efforts.

    1. Using QR Codes Online

    QR literally stands for quick response. Making a QR code your Facebook picture, Twitter icon, or posting one on your blog isn't exactly creating a situation for a quick response. Instead, doing so asks visitors to take out their smartphone, open the reader application, scan the item, and then see the link open in a separate mobile browser. For such online platforms, just use a link. There’s no need to get fancy when a simple link can navigate the consumer from one site to the other faster. One of the best ways to leverage QR codes is in places where your audience is already on the go and only has access to their smartphone, like when they're out and about and away from their desktop or laptop computers.

    Think of QR codes as a tactic that just falls under the mobile marketing umbrella rather than marketing as a whole. To learn more ways to effectively utilize these nifty little 2D barcodes, check out these 5 useful ecommerce applications of QR codes.

    2. Ignoring Traffic Sources

    Let’s imagine you’ve developed this brilliant plan that includes an awesome QR code as a tactic. The idea is unique, the execution is strong, and the feedback is positive. But is it actually doing something? To assess whether or not your QR code is even effective, you need to track where your traffic is coming from, as well as how much traffic is actually produced.

    Instead of generating the QR code with a direct link to the landing page of your choice, use bitly.com to shorten your link, and use that version instead. Bitly allows you to analyze how many clicks (in this case, scans) that shortened link received. Now you will have data detailing how many people scanned the code, on what day they scanned it, and which country they scanned from. (The latter would be helpful if your campaign included an international audience.) For more information about creating tracking URLs, check out the "Marketer’s Guide to Tracking Online Campaigns."

    3. Linking to Boring Web Pages

    Where are you sending people with your QR code? Your first goal with a QR code is to give people an amalgam of curiosity and desire to take the moment to scan. Once those two aspects are fulfilled, there better be some form of customized content for them to discover. One method could include posting a special YouTube video and making it exclusive to QR code scanners only by selecting the “unlisted” sharing option, which means only people with the link to the video can view it. Now, you have exclusive video as an incentive for anyone who scans the QR code.

    One major mistake people make when linking QR codes to URLs is in linking to their general website's homepage. Make the most out of the code scanner's experience by instead creating customized landing pages to point the code to. There, you can provide instructions on what the user should do next or use the page to offer them a discount or another offer.

    4. Linking to a "Web Page Unavailable"

    Whatever you do, do not send people to a web page that reads, “Page Cannot Be Displayed,” or “Web Page Unavailable.” In other words, check to ensure you’re linking to a mobile-optimized website. For example, websites built on Flash are not encrypted to open on a mobile browser. Test and check that your code works well on mobile devices before plastering it everywhere.

    Have you experimented with a QR code-inspired campaign? What have you learned from your experience?

    Image Credit: Aral Balkan

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