How to QR Code the Right Way

Target announced this week that the retail giant will be putting QR codes on toys this holiday season in an effort to battle Amazon and encourage online purchases (while in-store).  They plan to showcase the season’s top 20 toys, each of which will sport a QR code that lets consumers buy them online and have them shipped direct to avoid the hassle of a product being sold out or not available in-store.

QR codes are becoming more and more mainstream as the use of smartphones and overall consumer competency continues to increase.  Theses codes are prominent in print advertisements, billboards, television ads, and even t-shirts and many other mediums.  Facebook recently announced that 40% of its active users, or 400 million people, currently use mobile devices to access the site; Twitter says that half of all usage of its site comes from smartphones.  As more and more people are on the go and more connected to their mobile devices, how are you seeing the adaptation of QR codes being used with brands?

Below I will outline the Top Five Ways to QR Code the Right Way:

1. Make sure that utilizing a QR code makes sense

Before you hop on board the QR code craze, make sure that the addition of this technology to your marketing campaigns coincides with the marketing objectives.

2. Decide what medium to use
QR codes are not restricted to simply web-based content.  You can utilize codes for text, email, contact information, videos, mobile-optimized landing pages, etc.  Select which medium makes the most sense for your campaign, and provide an incentive for the user to scan the code.  You must focus on creating a unique user experience that they can only get via the QR code.

3. Take users to a specialized location (that is mobile optimized)
Provide an incentive for users to scan the QR code by taking them to a (mobile optimized) location that they couldn’t normally access.  We suggest a specified YouTube video that is only accessible from the link in the code, or a landing page.  It is hugely important to make sure that customers have an easy and good experience with your content, and making it mobile friendly is the first step.

4. Make sure the link is traceable 
Utilize a free service such as, Google Analytics or a paid option like Omniture to create a unique link for the QR code so you are able to measure how many people scan and view the code.

5.  Test, test, and re-test!
Once you use an application to generate a QR code, it is imperative to test the code through numerous apps and mobile platforms to make sure it is working correctly.  Avoid making the most common mistake in using QR codes!

Last year, Heinz put QR codes on ketchup bottles in US restaurants to promote its new environmentally friendly packaging.  When scanned, the code took users to a mobile site where users could win prizes by answering  “green” trivia questions.


Heinz reported that more than 1 million consumers scanned the codes.

How are you seeing QR code success stories from brands?  Let me know if the comments section below. Also, please scan the QR code below to connect with me on LinkedIn so we can continue this conversation!

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