About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about QR codes. At the time, they were the hot new thing. Everyone was talking about them the way they are now focused on Pinterest.

So the question is, did they live up to their promise? The short answer… not yet . In November, a study by Forrester Research reported that QR code usage by consumers was up 500%. Of course, 500% of a small number is still a pretty small number and people using QR codes still represent less than 5% of the population.

But if you think QR codes might be an interesting addition to your inbound marketing plan, here are a few tips to make them more productive:

  • Place the code on a stable, easy-to-access surface. Banners at trade shows or signs on the outside of a building with lots of  pedestrian traffic work well. Bumper stickers on moving vehicles or billboards on busy highways are not really a good idea. Think about the motorist at 60 or even 30 mph taking out their phone to scan a code. It  may look cool, but it is completely useless.  And while the codes look clever on shirts, the wrinkles in the fabric render them useless.
  • A QR code is really just a link between the physical world and the online world so there is no need to  place codes in emails or on web pages. And remember, if you text it to me, I can’t use my phone to scan and activate it.
  • A QR code is content on the go. If you are sending someone to a website, be sure it is optimized for mobile devices.
It is the silly misuse of the codes which really make people think they have no place in the marketing mix. But used properly, they really add a nice dimension to your marketing.  For example:


  • On products: This is a great way for companies to share more information or invite consumers to provide feedback. Unique codes will allow marketers to identify where consumers came into contact with their product.
  • At conferences, a QR code can drive users to brochures, product information or contact information. It is much easier to scan a QR code than retype contact information from a business card. The code could move you to the top of the call back list after a show.
  • On invoices to drive customers to feedback surveys.
  • In user manuals. Don’t link to a PDF of the manual, that is silly, but QR codes can be used to great effect if you have expanded Q&A, frequent product updates or a video showing how something is done. In each case, the code should drive the user to something which provides more value.
  • Looking for more ideas?  Check out this great Mashable article and get inspired!
And just for fun, I found this video of Scott Stratton (@unmarketing) talking about the misuse of QR codes. Enjoy!  But when you are done, go back and take notes on all the things he talks about.


Need help? Contact Roundpeg, an Indianapolis marketing company.