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QR Codes in Mobile Marketing Campaigns

October 21, 2010

What is a QR Code?

A QR Code is a two-dimensional visual code readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. These codes created by Denso-Wave in 1994 were mainly used in Japan for tracking car parts used in vehicle manufacturing. QR stands for Quick Response because QR Codes are designed to allow their contents to be decoded at high speed. The information encoded can be URLs, text, pre-formatted SMS, phone numbers but to name a few.

Application of QR Codes in Mobile Marketing

Nowadays QR Codes are cropping up all over the world and they are becoming more and more popular in their use as part of Mobile Marketing Campaigns. A lot of marketing companies realize the potential of QR Codes and their many uses. The codes create a bridge between printed media and virtual media which allows for example a newspaper to run a printed advert in the paper with a QR Code attached, leading to a mobile website. The user who spots the advert can simply scan the code with their mobile phone and this opens up a different world and advertising experience.

Print media is generally pretty expensive with regards to ad space but if the advertiser takes advantage of QR Codes and mobile technology that scannable code can lead to a mobile-optimized site with video, polls, brochure download, discount coupons and much more. It all seems easy but a lot of campaigns are not well planned. Printing and generating the QR Code is the easy part but its the user experience after that where a lot of campaigns fail.

Tips for Designing a QR Code-based Mobile Marketing Campaign

  1. Determine what you are going to do with the QR Code when it is scanned. Will you be offering discounts, displaying products, offering brochure download, showing video or teasers of a new product? Be extremely clear about this from the start.
  2. Once you have decided what the target of your campaign is now make sure the mobile web part of your campaign is in place. If you create a QR Code campaign you have to have a mobile website in place, as anyone who scans a QR Code with an embedded URL is expecting a fully optimized mobile website. Your mobile campaign could fail if this is not in place. Test on different mobile phones to make sure the user experience on the various mobile platforms is consistent.
  3. Make sure the content embedded in the QR Code is as short and focused as possible which makes it easier for scanners to read the QR Code. Use URL shortening to shorten embedded URLs.
  4. Choose where you are going to place the QR Codes. Will it be billboard media, newspapers, magazines. When you have decided that, make sure the QR Code is readable and not too small. The graphics around it should not be too distracting as it may drive the user away from the main objective of the campaign – to scan the QR Code to obtain more information.
  5. Analytics are very important. You want to find out how many people have scanned the code, when it was scanned and how the user then interacted with the mobile site. Make sure your data collection and analysis back-end is in place, and you use different embedded URLs for each media in which you place the QR Codes.
  6. Test, test & test. Test the full end-to-end scenario as this will help you ensure a successful QR Code campaign. Test using a combination of different scanners and mobile phones.
  7. Add Social Networking media into your campaign. If you think people like the content they see on your mobile site then don’t be afraid to let them share it. This will help create a viral effect and push your campaign further.
  8. Think about embedding a logo in your QR Code campaign to further promote your brand. This reduces the code readability but QR Codes have up to 30% error correction ratio and if you do embed a logo make sure to test it thoroughly with different phones and readers.

About the guest author

Patsy O’Connor is co-founder of and is also a Telecom Consultant specializing in CRM and Billing. His areas of expertise include Business Development, Web 2.0/Social Media, Social Media E-commerce, Telecom Consultancy, QR Code Consultancy and Business Analysis.

Link to Patsy on Facebook.

Author: Patsy O'Connor


  • December 5, 2010 3:41 pm | Sean Brady

    I have seen QR Code all over facebook, and such. I think even tigerdirect or one of those companies might be using it. It’s still sad that those without smart phones can’t access this content. When will that change?

  • December 19, 2010 4:39 am | Paul Harris

    i thought QR codes weren’t that common because i barely see them anywhere except on my Blackberry. Yes, about time things changed.

  • December 21, 2010 9:14 am | Manivone Khounviengsay

    I came through your blog and really it’s great.Thank you

  • January 8, 2011 3:01 pm | simsjohan

    I think even tigerdirect or one of those companies might be using it.i really like this mobile.

  • January 8, 2011 6:13 pm | Mobile Phones UK

    I really loved reading your blog. It was very well written and simple to undertand. Unlike additional blogs I have read. I also found it very interesting. In fact after reading, I had to go show the spouse and she ejoyed it as well!

  • March 3, 2011 8:33 pm | sebastian

    It seems QR code based campaigns are popular among Japanese as below:

    Does anyone know which company was the most successful in the QR code usage?

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