QR Codes seem to be popping up everywhere these days small business owners have to be careful to ensure that they are used in an effective manner. Here are some items to take into consideration.

They seem to be popping up everywhere, in magazines, store displays and, for more intrepid and unconventional marketers, even on bodies.  What is this latest marketing device; Quick Response Codes or QR Codes.  The ubiquitous squares that enable companies to provide a wide-range of information about the products or services they are selling.

Why this sudden proliferation in these devices?  First, it enables consumers to almost instantaneously access information about the products being displayed.  Secondly, as reported by StatCounter, an analytics firm, global internet usage through mobile devices, excluding tablets, has doubled year on year since 2009 and now accounts for 8.5% of all internet access.   As prices for both equipment and data access plans decrease, more consumers will be equipped with these devices and it expected that internet usage through these devices will continue to increase.

How should a small business owner position him or herself to take advantage of this potentially powerful marketing device?  Just like in any other marketing campaign following the adage of “look before you leap” makes the most sense.  In a recent edition of Marketing Profs, Michelle EIchhorn, the director of marketing for Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc put forth five steps everyone who is considering using these devices should follow.  They include:

  • Planning:  Just what are you trying to accomplish with this code?  Who is the customer that you are trying to reach and what message are you trying to communicate?  What is your “call to action”; will your message resonate with the customer or will it fall flat?  Without a doubt, this is the most important part of the entire evolution for, if the plan is flawed, the end result will be flawed as well.  I know that I am “preaching to the choir”, but way too many people become mesmerized by the tool and forget about its purpose.
  • Create a mobile-friendly landing page:  All too often, small business owners will forget how the prospective customer is viewing the information and make the initial landing page difficult if not impossible to download, view or navigate.  It has to work or it will do more harm than good.  In addition to being mobile-friendly, there has to be a consistency of “look” or brand with your webpage.  Use the same colors, formats, etc…
  • Link to your website:  Provide an easy and expeditious way to get to your website for more information.
  • Establish and use tracking and analytics:  Just like everything else you do in marketing, there has to be some sort of return for your investment.  How can you capture and develop a deeper relationship with those who access your QR Code?  Are you reaching the “right” customers or just passers-by?
  • Test:  It has to work the first time and every time.  Have friends, co-workers test all aspects of the Code site on a variety of platforms.  How does it and all the associated interfaces look and work.  If there are any shortcomings, correct them immediately.

QR Codes certainly have the potential to deepen the marketing experience and drive more customers to your business.  Just like any other marketing tool, it must be properly thought out, planned, implemented and measured.  Don’t get caught up in the hype at the expense of your business.

This article was written by Jim Carroll, Executive Director with the SBDC of Hampton Roads, VA