The QR Code Debate

by Kim Taylor

We recently had a small debate in our office about the relevance of QR codes and whether there’s still a place for them in marketing.  I argued that they were “out” and that many marketing and PR people I follow mostly mock their usage.  But, who cares about mockery if they’re effective, right?

The ink was barely dry on my argument when Curley & Pynn Founder & President Roger Pynn handed me two recent pieces of direct mail with, you guessed it, QR codes.  The first mailer presented three options for requesting a copy of a long-term planning guide:  go online with a code, scan the code or complete the form and mail it back.  Scanning the code was easy enough and it pre-populated his information for ordering the guide book (keep a lookout in the mail for that one, Roger).

In this scenario, scanning the QR code was the easiest of the three options.  My only complaint was whether their target audience (a presumably older demographic) would know what a QR code was and how to scan it.

The second was a small postcard for a local cabinet maker.  Scanning the code launched their website, which sadly was not optimized for mobile … totally pointless use of a QR code.

The moral of the story is obvious, I think.  If you’re going to use QR codes, think about how you use them.  Make it worth it for the user to open their app and scan the code.  And, most importantly, don’t send them to a website not optimized for their phone—that’s the ultimate dead end.

2 Responses to The QR Code Debate

  1. Kerry Martin says:

    Counterpoint… what happens when every good domain name is taken and you’re stuck with something really long? Doesn’t the QR code then become easier than typing in a long URL (or a shortened one with crazy character combinations)?

  2. I remember suggesting to put a QR code on marketing material and someone promptly told me that QR codes are out. The more I thought about it the more I believe it! I don’t have a QR code scanner downloaded on my phone right now and I don’t plan on it. I wouldn’t use it that often. I can’t see myself downloading it unless there was a huge incentive to scan a QR code. I like your thoughts especially about how much of a waste it is if the website is not optimized.

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