Though quick response codes can be a wonderful tool, there are times when they are best unused.
There is a time and a place for everything, and the QR code is certainly no exception to that rule, so while there are some ways in which these barcodes can be used to enhance a mobile marketing campaign, provide consumer education, or boost the security of a payment transaction, there are also moments in which it may be best to forgo their use.
It is tempting to add quick response codes to virtually everything due to their low cost and ease of use.
However, when it comes to displays, posters, packaging, and other areas that are visible to consumers, this real estate is limited and highly valuable, so it is important to add a QR code only when it will actually be of benefit. Otherwise, it could be in your best interest to use that space for something else that will generate a greater impact.
Consider the following times when it may be best to choose not to use a QR code.
• Outdoor event banners – though it may be highly tempting to add a massive, scannable QRcode to your banner, this may not be the most practical or appealing location for people to scan. Not everyone has their smartphone out and ready during this type of activity, and those who do are not going to spend much time waiting for the wind to settle down so that the quick response code isn’t too wrinkled or wavy to obtain an accurate read. This is especially true because many people are still a little bit “scan shy” when it comes to standing in a crowd and attempting to take a clear picture of a banner or barcode.
Instead, add the barcode to items that you will be giving away, so that attendees will be able to scan when they bring them home. Don’t forget to include a call to action, for example “Scan now to see pictures just posted of today’s event!” Include a share button on the page so that users can show their friends and spread the word at the same time.
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• On an ad – this may sound contradictory to everything that we have said so far on QR Code Detective, but while ads can be the ideal spot for these barcodes, if they are not properly used, then they may as well be skipped, altogether.
If you add one of these black and white squares, you also need to commit to adding a clear call to action. Telling people that they should scan and why will help to make that happen. Otherwise, it remains a mysterious black and white square that they would overlook just as quickly as they would a UPC code on a product package.
• If it can’t be safely or accurately scanned – if your barcode requires smartphone users to go well out of their way or even do something dangerous to read it, then you would be advised not to include it. For example, a barcode has no place on a billboard that is seen only by cars whizzing by on the freeway, or if someone would need to lean over subway tracks to read the barcode on the last car of the train, then you are going to encourage people to place the lives of themselves and others in danger if certain individuals attempt to give it a scan.
Equally, if the QR codes are so small that a smartphone app won’t even pick it up, then the odds are that the device user is going to give up before anything happens. In either case, this tool would be best left out so that the space could be used for safer and more effective purposes.