7 Powerful Tips to Supercharge Your QR Codes

One of the best ways to learn is to make mistakes.  Sure, sometimes mistakes hurt but without failure, there is no learning.  Luckily, we don’t have to rely on our own mistakes for learning, we can learn from the mistakes of others.  That works in life and with QR codes.

Over the past year, I’ve reviewed over one hundred QR codes that can be found in stores, in restaurants, on product packages, and more.  Some are good or even great while some are…    well, let’s say less good.  Most are from companies you will know and recognize, like Chick-Fil-A and Maglite while others may not be familiar to you, like InnovAsian and Allens Inc.

When looking at QR codes, there are several important points to consider.  Looking back over the past one hundred reviews, I have condensed the list down to seven areas that can have a powerful effect (both good and bad) on your QR codes.  Here they are:

7 Powerful Tips to Supercharge Your QR Codes

  1. Is there a good call-to-action near the QR code?
  2. What does the QR code look like (colors, design, etc)?
  3. Is the QR code easy to find and incorporated into the overall design?
  4. What happens when you scan the code?
  5. If a URL is encoded, is the landing page mobile friendly and designed well?
  6. If a URL is encoded, does it utilize a redirect to help with future changes?
  7. Does the action of the scan provide value to the customer?

Let’s take a look at each one and some examples

Is there a good call-to-action near the QR code?

7 Powerful Tips to Supercharge Your QR Codes - Good call-to-action - Jimmy Johns

Jimmy Johns Freaky Fast – Read the complete review

Most often, the first thing a customer will notice when it comes to QR codes will be the call-to-action.  A good call-to-action will have a specific task you want the customer to perform, such as “Scan this code”, that will have a specific result, such as “…to learn more about our bread”.  Don’t just plop a QR code on your product and hope someone will know what it is, what it will do, or even, how to scan the code.

7 Powerful Tips to Supercharge Your QR Codes - Good call-to-action - Honey Maid

Honey Maid Graham Squares – Read the complete review

A bad call-to-action is either does not exist or incorrect.  An incorrect call-to-action might read “Scan this code to learn more about our widget” but when scanned, you are taken to the company home page or worse, to a page dedicated to a completely different product.

By adding a little customization to your QR codes, you can get by without an obvious call-to-action.  For example, you could put a Facebook thumbs up icon in the center or near your QR codes that, when scanned, will take the user to their Facebook page to like your business.  This idea works with encoded phone numbers with an image of a phone, encoded contact information with an image of a person, and more.

Check out Jimmy Johns, Honey Maid, and the Lagniappe for examples of good calls-to-action.

What does the QR code look like (colors, design, etc)?

7 Powerful Tips to Supercharge Your QR Codes - QR code design - Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme Krispy Skremes – Read the complete review

QR codes don’t have to be black and white squares that look like they were added as an afterthought.  As long as there is enough contrast between the elements and the background, QR codes can be coordinated to your needs.  Many companies and QR code generators will customized the color and even the shape of the elements (the small squares that encode the data) for more visual appeal.

I personally like to add images to the QR code itself.  Company logos and icons that provide clues to the function are great ways to customize you QR codes.  Just be sure to scan your QR codes after any customization to ensure they still work.

Here are a few great looking designs to take inspiration from: Krispy Kreme, Naturipe, and Bud’s Best cookies.

Is the QR code easy to find and incorporated into the overall design?

7 Powerful Tips to Supercharge Your QR Codes - Incorporating QR codes into the overall design - LongHorn Hospitality Club

Longhorn Hospitality Club – Read the complete review

Not very many people create QR codes for fun; they have a purpose.  A QR code works great as a shortcut to move interaction from print to a digital format.  If no one can find your QR code, no one can scan your QR code.

Many people consider QR codes ugly but there are always ways to incorporate them into your design by changing the color, adding logos, and adding visual elements around the code itself.

For some ideas how how to incorporate QR codes in your overall design, check out Jimmy Johns, Kohls, and Enterprise.

What happens when you scan the code?

7 Powerful Tips to Supercharge Your QR Codes - Scanning the QR code - Chick-Fil-A Martha Speaks book

Chick-Fil-A – Martha Speaks – Read the complete review

QR codes can be used to store many different types of data; GPS coordinates, contact information, phone numbers, web addresses and more.  When someone scans your QR code, what happens?  If you haven’t really thought about it, you need a plan.

Think of a QR code as a shortcut that will help the person scanning the code follow a path.  This path can either be deliberate (something that you created) or unexpected.  Sending people to your main page on your website is possible but not as effective as sending them to a custom landing page that speaks directly to them.  If they are reading Fortune magazine, your landing page should welcome readers of Fortune magazine.

Most QR codes out in the wild are encoded with URLs but many of the other data types can be useful.  Check out Chick-Fil-A, Pioneer Sports, and Yellow Tail wine for both good and bad examples of scanning.

If a URL is encoded, is the landing page mobile friendly and designed well?

7 Powerful Tips to Supercharge Your QR Codes - Mobile friendly landing page - National Mango Board

National Mango Board – Read the complete review

Even if your landing page contains great information, if your visitors can’t read the information, it is useless.  A poorly designed web page that is difficult to read on mobile devices will add barriers for your visitors.  Years ago, many people would have pinched and scrolled through websites on their mobile devices but now, with better design, they shouldn’t have to do all that work.

Make it easy on your visitors to learn about you, your company, and your product by making your mobile sites and landing pages mobile friendly.

Don’t forget that mobile devices can be rotated so your landing page needs to look good and be functional in both portrait and landscape orientations on multiple devices.  For a few examples, check out PDQ, the National Mango Board, Publix, and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

If a URL is encoded, does it utilize a redirect to help with future changes?

7 Powerful Tips to Supercharge Your QR Codes - Importance of URL redirects - Sunset Mini-Cucumbers

Sunset Cucumbers – Read the complete review

The internet is a fluid, ever changing place.  What works today may be replaced by something better tomorrow.  Years ago, web pages were all written in static HTML.  To make pages more dynamic, many are now created on the fly using PHP, Active Server, Flash, Shockwave, and more.  As long as you don’t change things too much or redesign your site using different processes, your links still work.

Encoding URLs that redirect traffic to your landing page using 301 redirects or something similar can help your QR codes stay useful for longer.  When you decide to redesign your site, you can just change the redirect to the new landing page.  Since your encoded link still works, your QR code is still useful.  It is possible to create a 301 redirect for any URL but most times, that detail is overlooked unless redirects were built in from the beginning.

In the event that a mistake was made, using a 301 redirect can save your QR code from annoying customers and wasting the opportunity to engage with them.  Check out Sunset Mini-Cucumbers, CRC, and Turbana for examples of redirects.

Pay close attention to the Sunset Mini-Cucumbers review.  After a major problem with all three QR codes on the package (and a quick tweet), the company changed the redirects and saved the day.

Does the action of the scan provide value to the customer?

7 Powerful Tips to Supercharge Your QR Codes - Providing value with QR codes - CRC Heavy Duty Silicone Spray

CRC Silicone Spray – Read the complete review

One of the goals of your business and life should be to help people.  As Zig Zigler said,

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.

How does your QR code and landing page help your customer?  Do you provide information?  Does your QR code act as a shortcut to help customers perform a task easier?  Is the information you present to customers who scan your QR code relevant to them when the code is scanned?

If you want visitors to watch a 3 minute video, don’t put your QR code on a billboard or the side of vehicle; changes are good they will be driving when they see the QR code.  Don’t encode your GPS location and display the QR code in your business (they already know where you are, they are standing there).  Instead, present customers with video demonstrations of your products before they buy to encourage the sale or encode a calendar event for your VIP party so your most important customers can easily add it to their calendars.

If you are looking for some ideas to add value using QR codes, check out CRC Silicone Spray, Pet Supermarket, and Smart Books.  Each provide great information for the customer.

Looking at the Smart Books example, you can see where tremendous value is added with each QR code, sharing videos and information that would be impractical or impossible to print in a book.  The more ways you can share information with your customer or target market, the more likely you will help them.

Wrap up

There you have it, 7 Powerful Tips to Supercharge Your QR Codes.  To recap, here they are again:

  1. Is there a good call-to-action near the QR code?
  2. What does the QR code look like (colors, design, etc)?
  3. Is the QR code easy to find and incorporated into the overall design?
  4. What happens when you scan the code?
  5. If a URL is encoded, is the landing page mobile friendly and designed well?
  6. If a URL is encoded, does it utilize a redirect to help with future changes?
  7. Does the action of the scan provide value to the customer?

By utilizing these tips, your calls-to-action will draw their attention encourage your customers to scan your codes.  They will notice an attractive, well designed QR code that is incorporate into the overall design, not just printed as an afterthought.  When they scan your QR code, they will be using a shortcut that you designed to guide them along a path that you created.  Their experience on your landing page will be fluid as they navigate easily around your mobile-friendly site.

When your site is redesigned or pages are no longer needed, the encoded URLs will be redirected to relevant pages so you never lose an opportunity to engage with your customers.  Lastly, the information you provide through your QR codes will help your customers understand your products and the world around them.

Your QR codes may be successful without implementing a few or any of these tips but why do things the hard way.  Learn from the mistakes and successes of others to make your QR codes be the best they can be.  Your QR  codes and the value they provide can be the key to more business, more profits, and more customer loyalty.

If you are not using QR codes in your business, give them a try.  Check out my free ebook for more tips and helpful suggestions to supercharge your QR codes.