qrcode blogMany business are now finding it chic to use the latest new toy in the marketing arsenal: the QR Code. 

QR code creators free and many readers are free as well.  What marketer doesn’t like FREE. 

Way too often I see businesses displaying a very poor use of these codes, a big FAIL.

Instead of talking in generalities I am going to name names and actually examples I have run across recently.


I received a flier in the mail for the Cabelas 50th anniversary sale.  near the address box, there was a QR code that would allow me to enter their 50th anniversary drawing.  I scanned the code.  It took me to a mobile friendly web page.  That is GREAT. Then to enter the contest I had to click on a link and it took me to the registration form…on their full web site.  Big FAIL. I could barely see the form, unless I zoomed in on the screen which made it more difficult to see what I needed to do.  I started to fill in the form and could only get one field filled in.  The registration page was not mobile friendly and I lost interest in continuing.

Centris Credit Union

A post card sent to my home invited me to checkout Centris and switch my accounts. Near the address form was a QR code.  Problems with the code; way too small about 3/8 inch square making it very hard to scan, and the code took me to their full web site, which took time to load and then difficult to navigate.  Big FAIL.

GTI Direct

A sales rep gave me one of his business cards which had a QR code on the back. I scanned the code and I landed on the company’s web site.  After waiting about 3 minutes for the full web site to load on my mobile device, I did not bother trying to see anything on the site Another FAIL. No one is going to wait that long to see your site.

Dolce Café

A friend gave me his son’s business card from this new restaurant in the area.  I scanned the code on the card which took me to their full web site   All I could see is a nice logo, but no navigation.  Seems the JAVA web navigation does not play nice on mobile devices. BIG FAIL.

P & L Technology

Well, a technology company, they should at least know how to use this neat Technology, so I thought.  In their ad inside the September issue of Strictly Business magazine, I scanned the QR code only to find that it took me to their FULL web site. Another FAIL.

Auction Solutions

Also in the September issue of Strictly Business was an ad for Auction 
Solutions with a QR code. Again it took me to their FULL web site which took some time to load and then hard to see unless I zoomed around the home page.  Another FAIL.

SBA Midlands

As a member of the Small Business Association of the Midland I took interest in the Strictly Business magazine ad using a QR Code to promote the Rule of Thumb Small Business Conference.  The code does not work at all when using MobileTag reader and IE, but does work when using ScanLife reader and Opera browser, but it takes me to their full web site. Not good. Another FAIL.

Complete Nutrition

Also in Strictly Business (the last of four ads using QR codes in this issue) Complete Nutrition  used a QR code to let me find a location near me.  While not taking me a mobile friendly site, scanning the code did take me to the form to fill in my zip code to find a nearby store. While this did provide me information on their full web site inside my mobile browser, it was a bit difficult to see right away where the results were unless I scrolled to the right and then saw the list of possible locations.  Only a Partial FAIL for not using a mobile friendly landing page.

The end of the QR Code

Years ago I used to sell newspaper advertising and would tell my clients that there are so many “bad” ads in the paper that even mediocre ads will stand out, I will make your ad even more effective as I will make it great and it will jump off the page. The QR code today is being used in so many terrible ways that this will eventually lead to people not bothering to scan the code…ultimately killing the effective use.  There will no way possible to make your use of the QR code stand out if people stop scanning codes due to poor implementation like the examples I point out here.

Right now there are two possible devices that will scan a QR Code; A Smart Phone or Tablet device. Smart Pones for the time being will still be the predominately used device to scan a QR Code.  Just for the simplicity, the readiness of having the device with you, and the connectivity aspects (always connected to a phone line or Wi-Fi).

What to Do

When you think of using a QR code, or your agency says lets use a QR code, Consider these four steps:

  1. Will the landing page or pages be mobile friendly? 
  2. Will the landing page engage my prospect to take the desired action?
  3. Will the place with the QR code is used entice the user to scan my code?
  4. Before implementing any QR code TEST IT, TEST IT, TEST IT.

I used both a Windows Mobile device and an Android device to test all the codes mentioned above with the SAME RESULTS. Test the QR code landing page like you would with any web site, across multiple devices and browsers All the above FAILS could have been avoided if the Four steps would have been taken.  Above all, QR Code users need to remember that a mobile device will be used to read your code and the landing page where you send the Scanner needs to be Mobile Friendly.

What is your take on QR Codes? Let me know if you spot any other poor uses of QR Codes.

A post I wrote in April points out a couple of novel uses of QR codes and MS mobile tags.