Category Archives: Toolkit

QR codes: effective tool or fad?

QR codes are becoming increasingly common to spot.

Not sure what a QR (or quick response) code is? Well, they are the little squares filled with black and white that remind you a bit of swiss cheese. Still not sure, there’s one in the image below. They are essentially links that you click on with your mobile phone by using an app that you can download from your favourite app store.

Since they started to emerge as a mainstream tech communications tool, there has been a debate on if they are simply a fad and whether they are useful or whether they are an effective tool. I don’t think they are a fad but if they aren’t used properly they could be. Eventually, I think they will be replaced by a better tool but for now I think they have the potential to play a leading role in your communications mix–especially if you are looking to add a cost-effective option to your toolbox.

Here’s Scott Stratten in a funny take on poor use of QR codes.

Make QR codes work for you!Boston Pizza QR code for online customer feedback

Like Stratten, I’m in favour of QR codes when they make sense and believe if they are used properly they can be really effective.

I found a recent example when my family visited Boston Pizza recently. In this case, they were looking to improve upon the traditional paper comment card by getting people to scan the QR code and give feedback immediately and easily. They also included some great prizes as an incentive including a prize just for using the code. I don’t know what the results are but I’m confident that Boston Pizza is getting more feedback than previously and that is also more useful since it is typed into a database instead of someone deciphering hand writing.

I’ve been experimenting with QR codes over the last six months and I’ve made my share of mistakes with them. So here are some tips I’ve learned about first hand or in doing some reading about them to help you make the most out of QR codes:

  • Have a pay off – You need to do more than just take people to a website. There must be a destination, call to action or other payoff to make using the QR code worthwhile. Examples might be a video or a download of a band’s song.
  • Be mobile friendly – By definition, people using QR codes are using their smart phones to get their. The destination should either be designed for that use or at least be a reasonable user experience.
  • Let people know what will happen – A QR code by itself relies on people’s curiousity to scan. Be proactive and let them know what will happen and what the payoff is.

How to create a QR code

Creating QR codes is simple enough. There are a number of  sites that generate them with a few quick steps. You can even download the code in a format suited to how and where you will use it.
Kaywa is one I’ve used. A Google search will give you other options.
Speaking of Google, if you are logged in and using its URL shortener service you can also make a QR code by clicking on details. I understand this option also comes with stats.

What do you think?

How could your organization use QR Codes and in a way that people would want to use them? Or do you have any examples of successful use of QR codes to share? Or failures?

First entry in the Communicate & Howe! Toolkit:

A regular feature of this blog will be entries into the Communicate & Howe! Toolkit. The idea behind the Toolkit is to introduce or highlight tools that help you get the most bang for your communications buck. The idea is that you can learn about many tools you can use to meet your communications needs. There is… Continue Reading