Twelve Steps to A Strong QR Code Campaign

By: Guest | May 23, 2011 | 

Stephanie True Moss is the founder and chief creative officer of True Moss Communications, Inc. and editor of

The mobile revolution is happening!

Increasingly, mobile smart phones and tablets are shifting our attention away from our desktop and laptop computers to our mobile devices. As consumers access the Internet from these devices, marketers need to be focused on finding shortcuts for quicker and easier entry points. Mobile tags and QR codes give mobile devices instant access to mobile communication.

Following are 12 tips to best use these tips to understand the capabilities of smart phones for your next campaign.

  1. Learn and experiment. Understand how they work, what they are capable of doing, and how they can benefit both the client and the end user. Remember that QR codes are capable of using more than smart phone’s camera. They also can make use of the GPS, phone, SMS, Internet connection, and more. Exploit those capabilities to the benefit of the client and the person scanning.
  2. Plan for Mobile. Include videos, interactivity, mobile coupons, fun, and more. Don’t use Flash because it is not compatible with iPhones. Resist the urge to create a QR code and slap it on an existing campaign with a simple link to the company’s website. You will certainly lose the impact and disappoint the end users.
  3. Give something extra. Now is the time for creative thinking. QR codes are about offering a greater experience to the end user. Think about creating a fun and memorable campaign. Doing things like providing video instructions or care and maintenance information can be a huge help.
  4. Set goals, call to action. By having specific goals for your QR codes you can measure their effectiveness and the consumer response. Make sure to include forms to collect opt-in information.
  5. Specify dates. Running a special event, contest or sale is a great way to use QR codes. Don’t forget to add deadlines.
  6. Create the codes. There are many QR code generators out there. We recommend paying close attention to the options for tracking and analytics. Some even offer the ability to change the destination of the code, which may be a valuable option. If your QR code links to a website, don’t forget to use a URL shortener . It makes it easier to scan. Here is a great list of QR code Generators and a list of Generators that offer tracking and analytics.
  7. Include scanning instructions. Remember not everyone knows what QR codes are. Help them out by listing a few QR Code scanners that work on multiple platforms.
  8. Offer alternate response options. Offering alternate response paths, such as website URLs offers non-smart phone users the opportunity to participate. It also gives an opportunity to measure the response from different entry points.
  9. Test, test, and test again. Make sure to test your QR code to make sure that it resolves to the correct URL or content. Be sure to test using different types of smart phone platforms and QR code scanners/readers.
  10. Launch. Once the campaign is live you can begin to monitor the activity!
  11. Measure. You can gain great insight into the effectiveness of your campaigns like never before. There are many ways to track QR codes allowing you to gain a greater understanding of the effect of your marketing collateral and even your news releases.
  12. Plan for the after-life of your QR code. QR codes may remain in circulation long after the initial campaign has ended. Two things can happen when the code is scanned after the campaign ends:
  1. The end user can be greeted with a message simply saying that the promotion has ended.
  2. Re-purpose the message to a new campaign, a coupon, or video that still offers value to the scanner and the opportunity to continue to interact with new end users. See how Google has handled the after-life of a past Developer Conference QR code. The pictured QR code banner on the College of Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Alabama is a great example of the opportunity offered by QR Codes that live on. It began as a link for homecoming events. A scan today will find that the landing page gives tornado recovery information for the hard hit university and community of Tuscaloosa, Ala.

With some planning and forethought you can make your QR code campaign worth remembering and sharing!

Stephanie True Moss is the founder and chief creative officer of True Moss Communications, Inc. and editor of, a QR Code information blog. She focuses on developing creative solutions for her clients’ marketing campaigns. She is speaking about QR codes this week at the Mobile Revolution Conference in Overland Park, Kan.

  • BojanDjordjevic

    I am not sure about those QR codes and their usefulness. From the users point of view, they are too complicated and require too many steps in order to get me in the position of achiving what I want. SImply too many clicks for the feature that I am not using frequently.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see widespread user adoption of this tool.

  • NateVictor

    You have it right when you say “plan for mobile.” I can’t think of using them for anything else. I like QR codes on a business card if it is there person’s contact info because I can save the new contact with one click. Also, the code should have a clue as to what it is. A couple more things to remember, because of things like data fees, download speeds, and device capabilities I would be hesitant to link directly to a video or media rich content. Thanks for the tips!

  • FollowtheLawyer

    VCard info on printed business cards is the QR code application of the moment in legal marketing. I think that leaves too much opportunity on the table — like using a PC as a typewriter. Why not use the business card QR code to access a purpose-built microsite that includes links to the cardholder’s bio, white papers, presentations and videos?

    Here’s what patent attorney Steve O’Donnell has done:

    “My business card has a QR code on it. If someone wants the card, they’re more than welcome to keep it, but I’ve also had people scan the code (which takes them to a small mobile site created just for this purpose where they can send me an email, get a vCard, visit my full site or see my AVVO and LinkedIn profiles) and hand it back to me.”

    And think about the money you could save at trade shows/events – production costs, shipping, storage – if you eliminated printed collateral by creating an online .pdf library that could be accessed through a business card QR code. Your business card becomes a virtual trade show display that you carry in your pocket. No more worrying about expensive brochures getting thrown away before they leave the exhibit hall.

    Put another way, the printed business card was the world’s first mobile branding application. Why not bring it into the digital age?

  • jennimacdonald

    Great points to make using QR codes successful. Most people get caught up in the cool techy side and they forget about the analytics side.

  • FocusedWords

    This is a broken link: tracking and analytics. I would love to see the page. I agree wholeheartedly with you. QR codes are being grabbed and slapped on everything because it is the next “great” thing. In truth, a QR code is nothing more than a tool to aid people in getting your information. If your QR code takes me to a website that is just trying to sell me, I’m not going to pay attention. If your QR code takes me to a website that gives me something useful, you’ve taken the first step in acquiring a new customer.

  • RyoatCision

    Very thorough suggestions here on all fronts, from test and development to campaign planning to metrics—thank you Stephanie. I especially agree with bullet 3—smart phones promise (and deliver!) a rich online experience, and QR codes are a great way for marketing to step up to these new expectations. Multimedia and/or interactivity seem especially important to include. ryoatcision

  • Lesley

    Just wanted to point out that the link to qr codes that offer tracking & analytics don’t work!

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  • good_survey

    Good points. For “Plan for the after-life of your QR code” I think is best to use Dynamic QR code as it offers more friendly approach to change landing URL.

  • @Lesley Hi Lesley – sorry for the slow reply! I just fixed the link:

  • truemc

    @good_survey Dynamic codes are great, but even if the QR code is not dynamic or up-dateable, and it leads to a URL, there is no reason not to add new or updated information even if there is no new promotion. Don’t let your QR code lead to a dead end.

  • truemc

    @FocusedWords QR codes are a great bridge to an online experience not possible before without a lot of typing. You are right that without a rich experience, QR codes are nothing more than another tool to share information. QR codes can open doors to richer dynamic experiences. Resist the urge to slap on a QR code without a real plan that can give the scanner a richer experience!

  • truemc

    @jennimacdonald The beauty of QR codes is that they can make the response printed pieces measurable in ways not possible before. Analytics can help you refine and improve any campaign!

  • truemc

    @FollowtheLawyer Great ideas. There are several apps available that actually create a mobile app with most all of the above information. You are exactly right about saving on printing costs. Think about all the printed materials people would no longer have to pack and either check or carry on planes as they return from conferences! Print smaller brochures with QR codes leading to videos and further information. QR codes can be the bridge to sharing information in new ways.

  • truemc

    @NateVictor Victor you bring up a good point about labeling what the QR code leads to – a great idea! If you are concerned about data usage, just take a picture of the QR code and save it until wifi is available! Most of the QR code scanners will scan from stored photos so you can still experience “Thrill of the Scan!”

  • truemc

    @BojanDjordjevic Perhaps there will be a few who are confused, but as people become more accustomed to seeing QR codes, they will be more likely to scan those that interest them. Once you download a good scanner, it is very easy to deploy the scanner and point it at a QR code – the scanner does the rest. Download once then scan all you want – with one maybe two clicks at most! No harder than downloading Angry Birds and most QR Code scanners are FREE!

  • Kaia Roberts

    Once you create a QR link to a URL, can the user be re-linked to another data type – such as a video? Or does this require designing a separate QR? A 1:1 approach, one QR to one data type?

  • truemc

    @Kaia Roberts If you create your URL with a service that offers dynamic — or changeable — QR Codes, that is an option. If your QR Code is not dynamic, a work-around might be that you could place a link to a video on the target URL. If that is not an option, create a separate code. It pays to consider your goals and purpose at the beginning of your QR Code creation process.

  • FocusedWords

    Just saw a recommendation for a restaurant to put a QR code on their take out menu. That way the person could scan the QR code and place a call to the restaurant. To me, this is what is wrong with QR mania. I could probably dial the number from the menu faster than I could scan the code. Now if the idea had been to use the QR code in place of the full take out menu, there would be value in that. I then have the menu on my phone anytime I want to order take out. That’s my rant for the day.

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  • nbmartin3

    The best way to use a 2Dbarcode and have control over changing the back end experience at any time is to use Microsoft Tag. It’s kind of the next generation of QR Codes and is being used a lot in print media.

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  • wineywomen

    I am excited about all the possibilities these QR codes offer…I have several winery friends that I would like to somehow leverage this with regarding tasting notes for their wines

  • DawnCollea

    wow, so many great ideas here! I agree with your suggestions and I have used them myself. Some of the comments are a bit out there for me, but then creativity is the key and I will applaude that always. Thanks for the info. I put you in my favorites!

    Dawn Stark

  • Her work routinely involves developing creative solutions for print and web campaigns, search engine optimization, social media and especially QR Code consulting.

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