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QR codes - some practical guidance

Have you used a QR code yet? These are fast becoming an engaging way of improving your marketing by acting as a powerful connector between your target audience and yourselves. (If you're not up to speed with what this actually is,  you may first want to look at a previous post that describes all

I thought it might be useful to give you some practical guidance to ensure your QR code actually works wherever you use them - so let’s start with size.

32mm square is still the recommended size for QR codes that include a URL (website address) since this fairly well guarantees that they can be scanned by all camera phones on the market.  However, reducing it to 26mm square will still capture 90% of camera phones and the latest phone models have macro capabilities which can deal with QR codes that are less than 10mm square

Of course things change when users do not have direct access to the printed QR code – for example on signs and posters.  The general advice is that you should think in terms of a 1:10 ratio.  In other word if someone is likely to be scanning your code from 50 centimetres away the QR code should be 5 centimetres square and for something 10 metres away – like an advertising hoarding – the height should be at least 1 metre.

Do think also about the likely angle of view and test this before you roll out a whole campaign! 

What about colour?  Contrast is absolutely key to the QR code working so it should have a dark colour on a light background.  You can't go wrong using black on white,  but if you want to introduce colour make sure it is a solid one rather than a screened tint. Cyan and magenta should probably be avoided but 100% yellow should be fine.  

Make sure’s

Do you want to collect specific data or make them do something in particular? Before you start decide what you are aiming to get out of using QR codes – this of course applies to all marketing initiatives!

Remember that people using their mobile phones to scan your code mobile – i.e. not in their offices with a laptop or PC. So it’s no good using them to flag a website if that website is not optimised for mobile phones!

It’s vital to give people a reward for scanning.  If you’re going to make QR codes central to your marketing you need to delight every time or people simply will not bother to scan and they certainly won’t pass it on – which of course is exactly what you would like them to do. Your reward might be a coupon, an offer, a preview or an entertaining video clip – something which will add value.

If you’re not sure whether your target audience is savvy about QR codes add in a line of text explaining what they have to do, what they will get from doing it and perhaps even how to download a QR scanner onto their phone.

Be careful about making a QR code so big on a mug that the curve compromises its scanning properties. Also be careful about adding these to T-shirts as the fabric folds may do the same.

Make sure you measure and monitor the results of using a QR code.  Of course this applies to all marketing initiatives!

Do you have any more practical advice you would like me to share?

Thanks to clevercupcakes on Flickr for the image