The Lowdown on Action Codes

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QR codes have earned a bad name. But those less-than-attractive squares are just one of several ways that you can make pages interactive…and done right, they really do work. QR Code

What exactly is a QR code and who uses them?

A QR Code is a 2-dimension bar code that has been around since the mid-90s. It was created by the Toyota subsidiary, Denso Wave, as a way to track vehicles in the assembly line. The main purpose of the code was to be able to scan components at high speeds. We all know the traditional 1D barcodes, which can be found on just about every product out there; you know the one the cashier scans to ring up your purchase. A QR code is basically that 1D barcode on steroids. It can hold up to 100 times more information than a 1D code, thus making it a very attractive piece of technology, but no so attractive by marketing and design standards.

QR codes are popping up everywhere, from product packaging to in-store promotional pieces, magazine and newspaper ads, direct mail, and even at the doctor’s office. That’s right, drug companies have even jumped on board. For those consumers who have a Smartphone and a QR reader, it is by all means, a type of instant gratification. In the few seconds that it takes the consumer to get out their phone and scan the code, they have what the information they want/need right there at their fingertips, literally.

In a sea of codes, how can you make yours stand out?

Besides the traditional path of taking the consumer to your website to get more detailed information on a product, you can create a special interaction. Take them to a landing page, or micro-site that was created for a specific campaign that includes special offers, contests, exclusive content, etc. And, to give it that extra special touch, the most exciting use of a QR Code is to personalize the consumer’s experience. A QR Code can contain a Personal URL, which holds key demographics, individual to the user, so that when they reach their destination, it is personalized just for them. Not only can their name appear on the page, but the messaging can be tied to their geography, their preferences, or whatever data you have on file for them. Remember though, whatever the purpose, it must be clear to the consumer why they are going there and what they will get out of it.

QR Code = Tracking.

Traditional ads have no call to action. They are put out there for brand awareness and while you hope that consumers are looking at them, you really have no way of knowing for sure. QR Codes, on the other hand, not only give you a way to interact with each consumer on a personal level, but they also give you a way to track that interaction. Whether you are tracking on a generic or an individual level, QR Codes give you that added bang for your buck. Just make sure that your reporting tracks the key items that satisfy your program objectives!

Here are a few tips for a successful QR Code experience:

  • Be sure there is a clear, concise objective. What do you want to get out of the program? Email collection, social interaction, online purchases, etc.
  • Who are you targeting? You must always remember who your ideal consumer is when designing your program. And, PLEASE remember to tell them WHY they are scanning. Make it valuable and worthwhile. It is all about exclusivity. Make them feel like they are getting something special.
  • Do not let the design take over usability. For example, if you are measuring ROI based on the number of scans of the QR Code, then be sure not to bury it in the piece. Make sure there is a clear call to action and that the code stands out -there are ways to creatively integrate a QR Code into your design.
  • Provide an alternative to the QR, aka a URL or Personal URL. While Smartphone users are constantly on the rise, not everyone has access, and you don’t want to leave any consumers out; that could be a real turn-off. Also, make sure where ever you are sending the user is Mobile (and Desktop) friendly.

Now, here’s a few fun examples of what you can do to spruce up your QR Code:

Beauty Brush QR darthvader_qr Wine Bottle QR


This article was written by swhite