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In my last post, I talked about how the success of QR really depends on developing a smart mobile strategy and executing that mobile strategy with good mobile design. In this post, I thought I’d further that discussion by pointing out additional factors that influence QR code success. One, you need to thoughtfully integrate barcodes into your print ad and/or packaging. Two, you need to include enticing text that explains to consumers what they get for scanning the barcode. Having a visually prominent barcode accompanied by a solid offer will lead to desired traffic.

Solid QR Design Drives Mobile Web Success

Let’s do a little experiment. Flip through some magazines and look at how different companies are using barcodes in their print communications. How often do you see a barcode by itself with no additional explanation like a simple “Scan here”? How frequently does the copy explain what you’ll get by scanning the barcode? For example, a barcode might be accompanied by text like: “Scan to find the nearest boutique” or “Scan here for a coupon”? Is the barcode sitting in the corner of the ad all by itself?

Your research will probably show that most QR codes look like stickers placed into an ad with no explanation at all. That’s a big problem. Especially with new technology, consumers need to be taught what to do. You have to give them a reason to scan the code. This is where your mobile design strategy comes in. If you want to raise awareness about store locations, lead them to a boutique. If you want to increase product trial, offer a coupon. Good mobile design will entice consumers to take additional action.

When I look at how barcodes are used in print ads, I often think of the barcode as a call-to-action. It’s essentially a ‘button’ that leads consumers to make a purchase or learn more about a product. But most QR codes are not being used that way. Instead, you’ll find barcodes placed in the corner of ads all by themselves. To me, this is the equivalent of using a button on a web page with no text whatsoever.

The solution? Integrate the barcode into your ad and include a solid offer. The code should be seamlessly placed into the ad’s design just like any other element. It should also lead to a site whose mobile design promotes further consumer action. Going back to the button analogy, you wouldn’t put a button off in a corner of a critical web page. Rather, your whole design for that web page would center on driving the user to take action.

The QR code should be similarly integrated into your print communications in a way that is visually appealing and provides incentives for scanning. Check out this slideshow on visually creative QR codes from Mashable. I’d expect to see a lot more creative use of QR in the future as designers become more familiar with them.

Lastly, you want to create various QR offers and test them to determine which one yields the best response. To do this, use the same print ad and only vary the ‘preview’ of what the user gets with the QR code, such as:

  • Scan for location
  • Scan for coupon
  • Scan for video

Then track the hits on your mobile designed site to see which incentive delivered the most traffic.

There are plenty of companies who are using them correctly. According to a post on Online Spin, Home Depot and Best Buy have launched extensive QR centered campaigns, putting tags on their products to enhance the in-store experience. Also, over 45,000 new codes were created last quarter alone. Barcodes are rapidly taking their place as a viable marketing tool. The key is to use them strategically and design them wisely.

You’ll see more success when the QR design experience is thought through.

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