When to Use a QR Code?

QR CodeSat on the tube this morning an advert for British Airways (I think) caught my eye. Not the content, but the fact the fact it had a QR code as the call to action. This seemed a little odd to me, given tube trains spend most of their life underground where there isn’t currently access to the Internet.

A similar thought occurred to me walking past a hotel currently being built in Moorgate. On the side of the building works, about 50ft above street level, is a massive banner featuring a QR code. The code must be at least a metre square in size. You can of course pick up an Internet connection outside in Central London, but how would you scan a code at that height and of that size?

Then of course there are the QR codes you see on some television shows. The BBC trialled this recently on a cookery show, where you were invited to scan the code on your television screen to get to the recipe. The few seconds available didn’t even give me time to reach my phone, let alone start up the scanner app.

These to me are all good examples of when not to use a QR code.

When then should you use a QR code?

Here’s a simple checklist to work with. If you can satisfy each of these points then you could think about using a QR code in your campaign:

  1. Your target audience is tech savvy and likely to have a smartphone
  2. You have a landing page optimised to work on a mobile phone
  3. Your call to action does not require downloading a large file, completing a long subscribe form, or doing anything that will eat up a lot of bandwidth
  4. Your QR code will be in a position where it is easy to scan and where there will be an internet connection
  5. You have an offer or call to action based on real value for your target audience

QR codes are quick, easy, convenient and trackable, but ultimately not worth the ink if you don’t meet these criteria. Perhaps a more simple vanity URL would be a better option for your campaign.

Please let us know if you have used QR codes succesfully. We would love to give some examples of best practice case studies here on the blog.

  • Mike Jackson

    These qr codes are really helpful as just using your smartphone you can read the data available on it. But internet connection must be available for scanning the code.

    • Andy Bargery

      Very true Mike, without an internet connection your QR code isn’t worth the cost of the ink it’s printed with.

  • http://www.couponfacet.com/coupons/premier_packaging andrew

    It is good to know.I learned something new.I saw the symbol before but i didn’t know what it was. Thank you for taking the time to write this.Vary helpful to me.

  • http://www.magnificoevento.com ceralacca

    tried to use QR for marketing but with little success. My market is not ready yet :-(

  • http://www.postfreeadvertising.com/ nik

    I will try QR code.Thanks agian

  • http://www.maxminisite.com max

    Thanks for the post. I know understand QR codes.

  • http://www.broadband-expert.co.uk Anonymous

    I also got a QR code on my first site and it has been useful. It is one of the best solution. I am now thinking to add it in my other sites.

  • http://www.virgonotebook.com/ Agung Culun

    I am going to try and integrate the QR code into my business plan. Thank you for taking the time to write this brother

  • http://martimoneymarketing.com Steve Martinelli

    QR codes are awesome. I pull them from clickbank where I promote as an affiliate. Anyone can get them. My struggle is where to use them? I have found in my short time using them that offline marketing is the way to go with QR codes. I place ads on hard copy and place them at coffee shops, eateries, etc.

  • http://www.promocodeshub.com Wynston joy

    It is good to know.Using this we can avoid most of the mistakes and provide good solution.

  • http://www.tvnoopreviews.com Richard

    wow. i learned something new. i saw the symbol before but i didn’t know what it was. thanks!

  • http://www.thasariya.com Shakil Thasariya

    Thanks for nice article. But what are the benefits of QR Code?

  • http://www.blogdog.co.uk Blogdog

    I’ve been wanting to implement one for a product I’ve been promoting but like you said, the product’s target market aren’t really tech savyy :/

  • http://www.whatarefeverblisters.com Michael

    After reading this article, I think I am going to try and integrate the QR code into my business plan. Thank you for taking the time to write this, very helpful.

  • praveen kumar

    What are the main benefits by using QR code?

    • Andy Bargery

      There are plenty of benefits, but just a handful are:

      – lower cost than printing lots of literature to give away
      – quicker access to additional information for your target audience
      – provides an opportunity for your customer to engage with your marketing message in the palm of their hand
      – simple and easy to setup

  • http://www.mypapershredder.com Anonymous

    whats the full name of qr code?

    • Andy Bargery

      QR = Quick Response.

  • http://www.androidcruze.com geetha

    Yep iam using a qrcode on my blog to make the users download any stuff its very usefull and comfortable.

  • Alex Morris

    I quite like QR codes and I can see, in time, their popularity rising but a lot of people won’t have a clue what they are. “What’s that massive barcode doing on that building, dad?” That kind of thing. I suppose to take them to a new level in public awareness they have to be put on slightly odd things.

  • http://belajarsepanjangjalan.blogspot.com/ Belajarsepanjangjalan

    errr, this technology isn’t yet available in indonesia. but once QR code here, i think your post will be a reesource for debates. :)

  • http://cebuanddavao.com/ Nonoy

    I got a QR code on my blog and it has been very useful for readers, especially those who own smartphones. The user just have to download a code reader on his/her smartphone and capture the code with the cam, then the information that goes with the qr code can be read through that capture.

  • http://www.lexlingo.co.uk Marko

    I agree with the usefullness of QR codes in everyday life.
    But I also noticed that some of them are not readable at some points, which is annoying if other people with different devices can actually read them.

  • http://walkerhomesecurity.com/ manojtwa

    I cannot see QR requirements finding on in a big way any time soon. Organizations keep forcing QR requirements but it never seems to arrive at significant enormous with the mobile cellphone having community. NFC, however, has the prospective to be enormous. It’s much simpler to beat out your NFC empowered mobile cellphone and run it over something than it is to discover the cellphone, begin the QR app, and factor it at the value long enough for the cellphone to sign-up the value and go online

  • http://www.marcozian.com Marcozian

    Hey Andy,

    I agree there is always a time and a place for QR codes but the other thing is that this tech, even though it has been out for quite sometime, is still in it’s infancy. Agencies like mine are just now learning that they can provide remarkable ROI in print and video.

    @Anad you are right. but as the tech becomes better your tv will store the info behind the code and give it to you on demand.

    No my question is this. How will QR codes show up to benefit social media? This is an interesting question to me.

  • http://www.ontimesharetips.com Jaya Lakshmi

    Why has Google dropped them? Why is Apple not interested?
    Too many obstacles in my opinion. Download a reader, scan the photo, and normally receive a link to a web page that is not configured to your handset.
    If I am an advertiser I can only use QR codes in print campaigns, QR codes can’t be used on TV or radio nor communicated orally.

  • http://showlowflooringstore.com/ Show Low Carpet Store

    I saw a QR value on a TV expert the other day. I thought to myselfself, you have less than 30 simple a few times to take out your cellular, load the QR value visitors app, and take that image … or you can just sit still. Delighted I just kept where I was. It would have been interesting to see how well it research on an LDC tv though.

  • http://www.processsensors.com Robert

    This new way of sharing information with our audience should be used when we really have something interesting to say and we can say so in a new fashion.

  • http://www.venezianoplastering.co.uk Anonymous

    ive never had to use the code although im starting to see it everywhere. To be honest, i heard that them codes can take information from your mobile and give information to third party sites

  • http://www.sparklevalley.com Sourav S

    Makes sense.
    Well I have recently made a mobile ver. of my site but only kept the very useful texts in the mobile version. It automatically comes up with a QR code. Any how I have posted the code in my site…


  • http://www.sunshinestatervs.com/ Anonymous

    I knew that QR codes are significant. But got to know when to use them and when not.
    Thanks for sharing this excellent post.

  • http://www.cleanserevolution.com Mark

    QR codes can be really interesting tools to provide your potential and current clients with information presented in an inviting way.

  • http://www.rebateshut.com Jonathan

    i agree these codes can prove to be very useful but at the same time they also pose some security risks since alot of info can be hidden behind them

  • http://www.ripoffreport.com/lawyers/richard-harris-law-f/richard-harris-law-firm-dave-b-89f2d.htm Anand

    I saw a QR code on a TV commercial the other day. I thought to myselfself, you have less than 30 seconds to pull out your phone, load the QR code reader app, and take that picture … or you can just sit still. Glad I just stayed where I was. It would have been interesting to see how well it read on an LDC tv though.

  • http://www.simptomi.rs Dr Dragan Stojicevic

    I totally agree with anonymus.
    These codes can be really useful.

  • http://www.tvmi.com Cristy

    Why has Google dropped them? Why is Apple not interested?
    Too many obstacles in my opinion. Download a reader, scan the photo, and normally receive a link to a web page that is not configured to your handset.
    If I am an advertiser I can only use QR codes in print campaigns, QR codes can’t be used on TV or radio nor communicated orally.

  • http://www.shopfittingsaustralia.com.au/ Gabrielle

    Yeah, nowadays most of the people are tech savvy. QR codes are very popular among the tech savvy.

  • http://www.genericdropshipper.com/ Norma Baker

    Yes, before you start you should always keep yourself ready for all challenges. Nowadays most of the people use smart phone to do all there transaction online so be prepared to reach them with ought any error or you will loose them.

  • http://www.schoolofcreativebusiness.com Alease Michelle

    I have not used a QR code myself but it sounds like a good idea for artist linking to their portfolio or an ebook, social media landing page, etc. Thanks for bring it to our attention.

  • http://www.irctcpnr.in Anonymous

    QR code is very usefull. even PayPal introduced QR code for product. Users can buy products simply by scanning the QR code. how cool it is ?

  • http://www.shoptabex.co.uk Info

    for me i don’t see how QR codes are going to become something of the future, i believe that in the future there will become a much practical way in achieving the same results.

    • Andy Bargery

      I agree, perhaps near field communications?

  • http://www.teamaguilar.com/4s-ranch-real-estate.html Alex Aguilar

    I can’t see QR codes catching on in a big way any time soon. Companies keep pushing QR codes but it never seems to reach critical mass with the smartphone owning public. NFC, on the other hand, has the potential to be huge. It’s much easier to whip out your NFC enabled smartphone and swipe it over something than it is to unlock the phone, start the QR app, and point it at the code long enough for the phone to register the code and go online.

    • Andy Bargery

      I totally agree. Near field communication does present some exciting and interesting opportunities for marketers.

  • http://top10bestgoldsites.com/ John

    Andy, I didn’t know this about QR Codes. I will make sure to use your check list. Thank you.

  • http://www.bosnachat.com/ Toby Hanks

    QR Codes are great, easy to use but not so popular. I hope they will become more popular.

  • http://www.thebest25sites.com anonymous

    QR codes can be used in a card, magazines or newspapers to give people immediate access to your information. Very popular in Japan apparently.

  • http://www.kudoswebdesign.co.uk Anonymous

    The pottential for QR codes i get. The only issue i see is the convenience of pulling out your phone to scan a QR code. Basically how practical is this? Defo one to watch.

  • http://www.pwcom.co.uk Paul Wilkinson

    Good points, Andy.

    I have seen QR codes used very helpfully when they link through to a website giving information that is likely to change (for example, an event website giving updated travel information).

    And during a London-wide architecture event, QR codes were used as part of a self-guided tour of Shoreditch – scan the code and get information about the building, its designer, client needs, etc.

    I also have QR codes on the back of my business cards. One version links to my Google online profile – which changes from time to time (and certainly more often than I reprint my cards!).

    • Andy Bargery

      Thanks Paul. The self guided tour for the London architecture event sounds very good indeed. I’m sure there are many opportunities to replicate this within the events sector.