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At the core, QR codes help convert a moment of consumer discovery into one of action. But, are people using them?

According to comScore, Inc in a recent study they performed, 14 million mobile users in the U.S., representing 6.2 percent of the total mobile audience, scanned a QR code on their mobile device. The study also analyzed the source and location of QR code scanning, finding that users are most likely to scan codes found in newspapers/magazines and on product packaging and do so while at home or in a store.

'QR codes demonstrate just one of the ways in which mobile marketing can effectively be integrated into existing media and marketing campaigns to help reach desired consumer segments,' said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile. 'For marketers, understanding which consumer segments scan QR codes, the source and location of these scans, and the resulting information delivered, is crucial in developing and deploying campaigns that successfully utilize QR codes to further brand engagement.'

So ideally, QR codes are just another great tool to add to your marketing mix if appropriate for your target audience to bring an offline experience online.

Recently Mashable had a great blog post from Matthias Galica, CEO of ShareSquare and he outlined mistakes that can be avoided as you develop marketing strategies that include QR code elements. I agreed with his ideas and have provided a summary of his great information in our blog below:

'Consumer-facing QR codes are hitting mainstream America hard this summer. Despite the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats, many well-intentioned marketers are crippling their campaigns with simple mistakes.

This is a big reason why QR codes still get a bad rap from some folks. QR codes by themselves are fundamentally neither good nor bad, they're just a means to an end: an offline-to-online delivery mechanism. It's what's beyond the code that usually determines whether the experience will delight or disappoint.Unfortunately, many early adopter marketers aren't yet fully versed in the best practices or optimal use cases. It's the adventurous consumer that suffers from the growing pains.

Mistake 1: Not Testing the Code

Common sense right? Until you're able to read a QR code just by looking at it, you should always test the proofs with a variety of smartphones and scanning apps before you release a campaign.

Mistake 2: Getting Too Fancy With Text

If your goal is to get people to a mobile web experience, you should only ever encode a short URL. Don't include any plain text, since many barcode scanners (even gold standards like ShopSavvy) won't tease out the link. If you're hoping a user will copy/paste on a mobile device, don't bet on it.

Think of the QR code as a physical hyperlink that every barcode scanner should be able to immediately 'click.' If your QR code requires the user to do much more than point and scan to arrive at the intended content, you're probably doing it wrong.

Mistake 3: Serving up Non-Mobile Pages

Your QR code scans successfully but you've pointed the user to a standard desktop website, when 99.9% of QR codes are scanned by a mobile device. Fail.

Mistake 4: Putting QR Codes Where There's No Data Signal

Where your ad will run is just as important as how you implement it.

Tesco's recent QR code 'grocery store' in a Korean subway worked great because those platforms have Wi-Fi. This is not the case in the U.S. Placing QR codes in locations without Internet access is a sure way to make your audience upset. Make sure you know where the ads will be, and if possible, run tests to make sure they are visible and will still work.

Mistake 5: Not Offering Enough Value

This point is highly subjective but also probably the most important. The proper mindset is to reward the user for scanning your QR code. This 'reward,' however, will change depending on what you're trying to promote.When coupled with a clearly articulated call-to-action near the QR code, we've found the most compelling campaigns tend to offer one or more of the following:

  • Exclusive rich media, videos and photos
  • Exclusive or time-sensitive access
  • Free downloads or swag
  • 'Instant Win' contests
  • Special offers, coupons or gifts
  • 'Secret' information
  • Deep integration with social media to activate viral loops'
QR Codes are rapidly showing up everywhere, almost as a trend. I recently saw one embedded in a 15- second broadcast TV Spot…now let's face it…it would take a savvy DVR user to stop the TV, get close enough with your mobile phone, capture the image and then click through to the page…FAIL.

As always, know your audience, know your medium and then use this as yet another great digital marketing tool, when and where appropriate. We look at it as another fun way to provide moments of delight for your end users.

And for the record…Our QR code in this blog goes to our Facebook page – we are shameless and we want you to 'like' our page.