QR Codes – Still a Viable Option

After reading the article, “4 Marketing Techniques that Consumers Completely Ignore”  on iMediaConnection, I thought I had to address the author’s comments about QR codes.

Here is what the author, Greg Kihlstrom, wrote:

QR codes

You know what they are, you probably see at least several a week on various advertisements you run into. But are you using QR codes in your marketing? In 2012, Inc found that 97 percent of consumers don’t even know what they are, yet they continue to be used.

You may run across some marketers who are adamant that they work well, and even big brands use them in various ways, but to rely on a QR code to make your campaign successful is not a good idea.

According to a report by comScore, despite the dramatic rise in mobile usage year over year, the number of people scanning QR codes has plateaued since 2012.

If you are going to use a QR code in your advertising or marketing, make sure that you provide at least one alternate way to access the same information. With at least 9 in 10 consumers not recognizing what a QR code even does, you run the risk of having a key part of your campaign be completely missed by your target audience.”

My Reply

Mr. Kihlstrom,you cite two research reports, which are about three years old, does that make sense? Does research that old really provide an accurate representation on how well QR codes are used and known by consumers in 2015? Yes, I know QR codes are not readily tracked and/or reported on by research and analyst firms but, even if you cited ScanLife’s most recent report for 1Q2015, a more accurate picture and assessment of the QR code landscape would then be known.

Mr. Kihlstrom, in regard to your comment, “…but to rely on a QR code to make your campaign successful is not a good idea,” how do you respond to the brands that have relied on a code and, it was due to this reliance, that made the campaign so successful (see example here)? Shouldn’t you really say to marketers, if you are considering the use of a QR code for a campaign, you need to ensure that the code experience and interaction, from start to finish, is seamless, frictionless, unique, clever, relevant and of value and benefit to the consumer?

Mr. Kihlstrom, when you talk about having code alternatives, depending on what the code is meant to scan to, I’m not sure that comment or suggestion makes a great deal of sense. Unless short URLs are being used, to put an alternate URL on a printed page or package might look extremely awkward, and it might also be difficult for a consumer to remember the URL to type in should the code not work properly. (According to best practice, the code should be tested in a variety of ways to ensure its scanability.)

Why people still feel the need to bash QR codes instead of accepting them for what they are, and how they can potentially add value and benefit for a brand or merchant, I don’t know. The technology works and can very easily add another sales channel by which consumers can learn about, shop for and purchase a product or service. If used and marketed correctly, consumers will do anything but ignore a brand’s QR code.

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