Tuesday, June 25, 2013

9 Best Practices for Effective QR Codes

Quick Response (QR) codes should be viewed as an extension of direct marketing, as they use many of the same principles of direct mail and consumer outreach marketing. Think of them as a print device that directs the viewer to an extended online marketing conversation.  More importantly, from a direct mail perspective, QR codes incite a “call-to-action” response. By scanning a QR code, you are a respondent to a marketer’s or merchandiser’s offer to access an online website. In doing so, this implies, directly or indirectly, that you are interested in the product(s) or service(s).

The better we understand the “rules of engagement” for QR codes, the higher the response rates will be.  Nine best practices to follow when using QR codes include:
  1. Design a mobile site experience specifically for the QR code purpose, preferably a micro-site, instead of a full website
  2. Optimize the site for all major mobile browsers (approximately 85% of QR codes are scanned on a Smartphone)
  3. Create light, fast-loading graphics on the micro-site
  4. Keep the site design simple with big buttons & easy touch navigation (think “thumb-able”)
  5. Make it easy to connect with the brand via phone, email, or Twitter
  6. Ensure the internet is available where the audience will scan the QR code  (i.e. not the subway or airplane)
  7. Lead people to what they should buy, join, visit, or share
  8. Conclude with the “call-to-action,” answering the question “why should I?”
  9. Test, test, test -- tweak the design, and then test some more.
From a design point of view, the biggest missed opportunity is to generate a generic QR code from available resources, and simply use it as is. Imagery, photography, and any other aesthetically pleasing features should be used to make the print QR code more engaging, enticing, and inviting. Maximize brand-building opportunities by integrating brand and logo elements into the QR code, as well as other symbols, colors, and drop shadows.

The complete version of this feature  also appears in the current issue of Consolidated Graphics’ emerge magazine, under the title “QR Codes: Be Creative.”