QR Codes: Ubiquitous? Yes! Effective? Well . . .

Are QR Codes effective?If you’ve followed our posts for a while you’ve probably seen an article or two about Quick Response (QR) Codes. Chances are you’ve also seen QR codes (such as the one to the left) pop up in all kinds of places. We’ve seen them at bus stops, on billboards, in magazines, on direct mail pieces. Lately they’ve even popped up on TV. QR codes seem to be reproducing like rabbits. That must mean they’re working, right?

Not so fast!

CNN recently reported that many people don’t understand what QR codes are—or what they are supposed to do with them. You can read the whole article for yourself, but here are a few highlights to consider.

It’s not just “tech-averse” people who aren’t using the codes. Of 500 college students at 24 schools across the U.S. who were surveyed, 80% had smart phones and had seen QR codes. But only 20% we able to successfully scan the QR code they were given. And 75% said they were unlikely to try it in the future.

The CNN article suggests several reasons why QR codes may not be catching on. Our take is that QR codes are a tool. Tools are supposed to make it easier to do something you want (or need) to do. If the tool doesn’t make your life easier or better—who needs it?

A few years ago there was a big political flap about the so-called “bridge to nowhere.” People were upset that millions of dollars had been spent building a bridge that led to a place nobody wanted to go. There was nothing wrong with the bridge—structurally. But it was a waste because it provided no value.

A QR code is a bridge that takes a customer to a landing page. If the information on that landing page doesn’t help that customer or provide him with something he wants—or doesn’t allow him to act on the information he finds—the whole experience is a frustrating waste of time. It’s a bridge to nowhere.

That’s not a bad tool. It’s bad marketing.

What kind of experience are you having with QR codes?

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Blog Post Written by Spencer Powell

Spencer is the Inbound Marketing Director at TMR Direct. Spencer specializes in helping clients create and execute effective inbound marketing campaigns.