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Are QR Codes Still Effective?

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by | Jun 18, 2014 | Digital Marketing

It’s been a little over one year since our last blog about QR codes, so it seems like a perfect time to do a follow up. If you don’t know what QR codes are, here is the post giving you an overview on what QR codes are. Go ahead and take a minute to reread it, its short.

Originally, QR codes were used for manufacturing purposes as a way to track parts in ways that classic bar codes couldn’t. Eventually, businesses discovered that they could use them for marketing purposes. QR codes offer a lot of benefit for businesses by encouraging audience interaction. They act as an easy way to provide people with more information about a certain topic or to drive more traffic to a website. The codes are also extremely simple to make. Tons of sites will generate QR codes for free. Coupled with the fact that they were new, cool, and took advantage of new technology, these are the reasons that QR codes became so popular for businesses.

As mentioned in last year’s article, there are some limitations for QR codes. More people have become aware of what they are, or can recognize them when they see them. The problem now is that many people don’t know how to use them. They know that you can scan them on your phone, but some people are not aware of what app to use to do so.

There is also the problem that people are not using QR codes as much as they used to. The widespread use of the codes has taken away that initial “coolness” factor that drove much of their earlier success. Many businesses themselves are to blame for QR codes falling usage. There has been very poor implementation across many businesses. There are countless examples of poor usage of QR codes. Here are some of my favorite examples: on the back of a Pepsi truck, on a subway, behind an airplane, billboards. Even the TSA is guilty of poor QR code usage when their own posters direct to the wrong site.

None of these examples are isolated examples of bad design. This is a common practice among many businesses both large and small. The poor use of QR codes leads to a low click-through rate, which means that developers won’t devote as much time to developing quality content if no one is going to view it. This again leads customers to have low expectations with QR codes, further lowering click-through rates.

So the ultimate question becomes: are QR codes still worth using? For the most part, I’d say no. They are easy to make, but these days, people will often only scan the code if there is a good incentive for them to do so. This means that you have to produce good quality content, which takes time. If you can produce something that is worth peoples’ time, and can place the QR code in an easily accessible place, then by all means use them. But for the majority of businesses, it simply isn’t worth the effort that it used to be.

Do you have any good or bad QR code stories? Let us know in the comments!