The Resident Connection, Written Posts

The Good and Bad of QR Codes

14 Comments 27 March 2011

On last week’s Podcast episode of Apartment Marketing Gone Digital one of the topics brought up was QR codes.  I think we all agreed that QR codes have the potential to be REALLY cool.  So many things are making themselves mobile friendly today that QR codes actually make some sense.  As smartphones get faster, have more memory, and more applications come about, it’s clear that our internet experiences are evolving more and more to mobile devices.

That said, I still question the use of QR codes for a couple reasons.

1. Where is that code pointing to?

What treasure is at the end of that QR code rainbow?  Is it just a website homepage or a Facebook page?  Or … does it lead to something that truly is unique to the code?  Is there something special?  A pot of gold, so to speak.  If there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow then is the customer going to tell their friend about it?  Are they going to share it further?  I think these are all critical things a marketer should consider before heading down the QR code path.  If nobody is talking about it then it’s crap advertising that’s being ignored and forgotten.

2. People’s time is important

I commented on a QR code post our good friend Mike Brewer had a couple weeks ago with this point.  This really ties into point number 1 as well.  From my experience, I haven’t found myself saving any time scanning a QR code compared to just typing in a URL.  If I, or any potential customer, is going to take the time to scan a QR code I sure don’t want to just be led to the homepage of a website.  I would feel as if I was being fooled.  In my mind this crazy code should lead to something unique or special, and if I’m just taken to a website homepage I’ll be disappointed.  That’s something I’ve seen before and could have just typed in or Googled in less time.  And while your Facebook wall or Twitter page may be great, I’ve seen that before too so don’t waste my time there either.

It’s kind of like “checking in” on Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook, etc.  After awhile a badge or mayorship really isn’t worth the time it takes for your GPS to figure out where you are.  Those services are only as powerful as the content  other people leave or the coupon the business offers.  The “coolness” of checking in, getting a badge, or being a mayor fades away, and I see the same thing happening to QR codes unless marketers start to get creative.

Bottom line, if you’re going to use a QR code for some of your marketing I believe the code is only as good (or cool) as what’s at the other end.  Just send me to your website and the “coolness” factor of using a QR code is completely washed away from my mind.  There is WAY too much potential for using these QR codes to just turn around and ruin the user’s experience with a lackluster treasures at the end of the QR code rainbow.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire format gets ruined because poor marketing becomes associated with them.

Go ahead, scan the QR code in this post (please don’t print this, it can be done by scanning it right on your computer screen) and let me know if you think it’s a good or bad use of the technology.  I especially want to know if you think it’s a bad use so we can all keep challenging each other to do better.  Thanks so much!

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