QR Codes: Best and Worst Practices

qr codeMore and more businesses are taking advantage of QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) to drive offline clients online. As is the case with almost any marketing practice or technology, there are effective ways to use QR codes and there are things you should avoid doing. Let’s take a look at some best and worst practices when it comes to this (still relatively new) innovation.

Does it Work? This may seem incredibly obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many businesses don’t test their code before putting it out in the marketplace. Run some tests first to make sure devices can read your code before you print up thousands of posters or cards or tee shirts. And take into consideration what kind of substrate the code will be on (tee shirt/paper/online/etc.). Test your code using a variety of scanning devices to make sure it works.

Where is it Taking Readers? Where will someone end up if they scan your code? To your website (is it optimized for mobile?)? To a landing page? To a map? To Facebook? To a specific YouTube video? To a text message?

How Big Should Your Code Be? If you make it too small (smaller than a postage stamp) scanners will have a hard time reading it. Most print applications should have something about 1.5” x 1.5”. But that would get lost on a billboard or a large poster (like at a bus stop). Again, test it before you produce tons of codes.

Measure Your Responses. You’ll want to make sure you know which visits to your site come from your QR code. Google Analytics indicates the referring site, so that’s one good way to keep track of the number of scans you generate.

KISS (Keep It Short Slick). Use a shorter URL to generate your code. Longer URLs generate more dense codes—which can be harder for scanners to read. So keep your destination URL as short as (realistically) possible.

Optimize for Mobile Experience. Remember: people are using their smart phones to scan in these codes. That means they are going to be on those phones (not on laptops) when they arrive at your destination. Don’t make them navigate through a bunch of stuff that’s hard to see on a handheld device.