Over the past couple of years, QR codes have cropped up everywhere from billboards to ketchup bottles, and have become a must-have gimmick for some marketers. 

At our Digital Cream event this week, I was discussing QR and mobile marketing with Mark Brill, who had been moderating the mobile roundtable. 

The upshot is that, when used well, QR codes can be a useful tactic for marketers, when used badly they’re utterly pointless. 

Mark showed me some excellent examples of QR codes, good and bad, from his Pinterest page.

Here is a selection of those….

Good QR

QR at point of sale

This example is taken from Selfridges and, in case you hadn’t guessed, it’s a molecular cooking set. I’m not totally sure what it does, but I want one. 

The object itself arouses curiousity, but the QR code allows shoppers to find out more:

Why is this good? According to Mark Brill

There’s plenty of dwell time as it’s in the kitchen department of Selfridges. The engagement is pretty good, as it links to a useful video to explain how this new product works. It’s also well targeted. Those interested in molecular cooking are likely to be techie, probably have smartphones and will probably bother to scan the code.

Good use of QR in print

This is simple, but well-executed and would apply to a number of offline businesses. 

Simply scan the QR code on the VW ad, download the app, and find out where your local dealer is. 

Bad QR

Scan for T&Cs

No-one wants to read terms and conditions, let alone scan to view them on a small mobile screen. Why did they bother? 

Bad landing page

It’s not just about placing a code somewhere people want to scan it, the whole journey needs to be taken into account. Look at Toyota for a good example of this.

While there’s nothing especially wrong with the placement of this QR code, it takes users to a site with an out of date security certificate.

Ugly QR

On a travelator!

Yes, a travelator. This video was taken by Mark at an airport, and the QR codes are on a Minolta ad. Not exactly easy to scan… 

What is QR best practice? 

  • Make sure the QR code serves a purpose and adds to the user experience.
  • Make sure it leads to a mobile optimised site. 
  • Consider location. Look to place them where people have the time and opportunity to notice and scan them.
  • Don’t just use QR for the sake of it. You’re spoiling it for those that use it well. 
  • Put it where people will notice it.
  • Make the code big enough so people can scan it easily.
  • Include a call-to-action (CTA) telling users what they stand to benefit from scanning the code.