QR Codes. You are doing it all WRONG!

by WillR
45 replies
[rant]

This is just a little rant.

I am so surprised by the amount of QR codes I see these days, both inside this forum and also in regular offline advertising, that NEVER include an alternate text version of the link alongside the QR code.

It is an absolute WASTED opportunity and will lose you a ton of business.

You need to remember it is still only the MINORITY of people that have QR code readers on their phone so by not including a text link beside or under that QR code, you are ignoring the majority of people reading your ad. It's ludicrous and it's very annoying for those without QR code readers.

People. If you ever use a QR code ALWAYS make sure you place a text version of the link beside or underneath that QR code so the majority of people seeing that QR code still have the opportunity to visit your website.

[/rant]
#codes #qr code #wrong
  • Profile picture of the author SJJPFTW
    100% agree on that WillR. Its not so bad when they are on movie posters etc as a quick search on YouTube will point you in the right direction, but this afternoon I suffered a classic case of what you have described.

    I was looking in the window of a real estate agent and saw a house that I might want to know more about. The only bit of information on how to learn more (other than to wait and call the agent on Monday) was a QR code in the corner of the listing square that was not even THAT obvious. Ridiculous! And I am not going to there website to wade though all there listings just to find one house.

    I see lost opportunities like this every day and I shake my head in wonder.
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  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    I guess if business owners were so perfect then they wouldn't need us. The problem is I see many offline marketers (even in this forum) using QR codes incorrectly.
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  • Profile picture of the author jakesy
    I also agree Will..But even worse I have scanned several QR codes only to be taken to a site that is not mobile optimised..Including one advert on the second page of the Saturday paper from an employment agency and also on a mitre 10 catalogue...just cant understand what they were thinking
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    • Profile picture of the author hayestrio
      Originally Posted by jakesy View Post

      I also agree Will..But even worse I have scanned several QR codes only to be taken to a site that is not mobile optimised..Including one advert on the second page of the Saturday paper from an employment agency and also on a mitre 10 catalogue...just cant understand what they were thinking
      You are so right. I called 3 ads today that ALL had the QR code going to a facebook page or website that was not a mobile site. I was able to speak with 2 owners and have appointments with them later this week! This could be a nice little niche just going behind the idiots that don't know what they are doing and fixing it (for a price).
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruha
    to add to this rant, why am i seeing qr codes without sms around them. can deliver the link and collect leads.

    i know in my area there are a couple of hacks running around selling these things that have no idea how to use them themselves. oh well, more business for me.




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  • Profile picture of the author Keithyt
    Good point Will. I have to admit to being one of the guilty and thanks for the heads up. Another reason why WF is good VFM. You don't just get good advice in WSOs. That's for sure.
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  • Profile picture of the author CoachManny
    I saw a highway billboard with a QR code super large.

    I was like "how does that pay off?" No one is going to scan that thing.

    Those billboards are like 10K a month.

    How do they justify spending that much and put a big ole QR code on it?

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  • Profile picture of the author Nail Yener
    That's a really good point Will.

    Some advertisers in my country also started to use QR codes on newspapers, magazines and on the streets but I can't believe how they expect people to know what to do with them.

    No links, no explanations, no "scan with your smartphone" type of lines, nothing. They just put it, and most of the times they put in places that nobody would or could ever scan it with their smartphones.
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    • Profile picture of the author jnels999
      Good observation, Will. I've been thinking the same thing. So what about a "best practices" list for using QR codes?

      I'll start the list using the suggestions above, and everyone please add to it. Some of these may be wrong, or need tweaking, and certainly need adding to:

      1. Put the destination url next to the QR code.

      2. Choose a mobile friendly destination.

      3. Create a memorable or simple url for direct entry.

      4. Include a call to action like "Scan this code with your phone."

      5. Include alternate call to action like "Or text xxxxxx to xxxxxx for information."

      OK, what else?

      John
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    • Profile picture of the author WillR
      Originally Posted by Nail Yener View Post

      That's a really good point Will.

      Some advertisers in my country also started to use QR codes on newspapers, magazines and on the streets but I can't believe how they expect people to know what to do with them.

      No links, no explanations, no "scan with your smartphone" type of lines, nothing. They just put it, and most of the times they put in places that nobody would or could ever scan it with their smartphones.
      Nail,

      You actually reminded me about this the other day in your latest WSO. You had a QR code for people to scan but right above that QR code, you had a shortened Google url people could also type into their phone directly.

      Here's a screenshot for others to see.


      THAT is how it should be done.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
    Originally Posted by WillR View Post

    [rant]

    This is just a little rant.

    I am so surprised by the amount of QR codes I see these days, both inside this forum and also in regular offline advertising, that NEVER include an alternate text version of the link alongside the QR code.

    It is an absolute WASTED opportunity and will lose you a ton of business.

    You need to remember it is still only the MINORITY of people that have QR code readers on their phone so by not including a text link beside or under that QR code, you are ignoring the majority of people reading your ad. It's ludicrous and it's very annoying for those without QR code readers.

    People. If you ever use a QR code ALWAYS make sure you place a text version of the link beside or underneath that QR code so the majority of people seeing that QR code still have the opportunity to visit your website.

    [/rant]
    Good point Will !

    It's also mind boggling to note how many people do not actually point QR codes to mobile optimized landing pages. Here in Toronto Canada I see serious marketing and advertising budgets spent on mobile campaigns with QR codes that link to regular desktop websites. Its really irritating that these agencies are charging in some cases tens of thousands of dollars for these broken mobile marketing campaigns!
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    • Profile picture of the author AUKev
      I split test a number of QR Codes in a direct mail discount publication back in the Spring of this year. The shortened URL underneath the QR code received TEN times the traffic that the QR code did. We used a link shortener to track the number of visitors to the landing page. The ONLY way to get to this landing page was via the QR code and link in the advertisement.

      Take it to heart that you are losing HUGE volumes of traffic without a direct link.
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      • Profile picture of the author WillR
        Originally Posted by AUKev View Post

        I split test a number of QR Codes in a direct mail discount publication back in the Spring of this year. The shortened URL underneath the QR code received TEN times the traffic that the QR code did. We used a link shortener to track the number of visitors to the landing page. The ONLY way to get to this landing page was via the QR code and link in the advertisement.

        Take it to heart that you are losing HUGE volumes of traffic without a direct link.
        Bingo. There you go. Ten times the traffic to the url.

        Who ever said QR codes were effective?!
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        • Profile picture of the author EasySt
          Great point Will! I didn't even think about that, but clearly it makes a big difference.

          I've been looking for codes, and scanning them to see if they go to a mobile optimized site. The large majority don't.

          HUGE OPPORTUNITY!
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          • Originally Posted by EasySt View Post

            Great point Will! I didn't even think about that, but clearly it makes a big difference.

            I've been looking for codes, and scanning them to see if they go to a mobile optimized site. The large majority don't.

            HUGE OPPORTUNITY!
            Same exercise, same result.

            What do they think they were going to be scanned with? LOL
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            • Profile picture of the author EasySt
              Originally Posted by The Offline Advisor View Post

              Same exercise, same result.

              What do they think they were going to be scanned with? LOL
              Seriously!!!

              I look through the magazines I get and scan every code I see (looking for potential customers) and so far only 1 has linked to a mobile site.

              Now, a lot of these sites are big shopping websites that sell hundreds of products. I'm afraid to even approach these type of people for mobile sites because I don't know of a software or way to build out a mobile site that massive.

              But, for custom QR codes, they are right up my alley!
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  • Profile picture of the author zylun
    I agree, without some description or a text that graphical image we called QR codes are nothing of course more one must have a smart phone too.
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  • Profile picture of the author pradeepkolanu
    well, I came through an incident regarding QR code on my site, I generated QR code from a free QR code generator and added it on my website but suddenly the generator's website gone down and my QR code gone invisible, Then I extracted image and added that image on the website and now all is well.
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    • Profile picture of the author martbost
      Well crap...how did I miss this? You are absolutely right that a lot of opportunity could be lost by this. I just dropped off some table tents for a local business client of mine the other day and sure enough, I didn't put a text link on them. I will get them updated and out to them pronto!!!

      Thanks for the virtual "Smack to the back of the head" on this one Will...I needed it!
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  • Profile picture of the author snob1of2
    Originally Posted by WillR View Post

    [rant]

    This is just a little rant.

    I am so surprised by the amount of QR codes I see these days, both inside this forum and also in regular offline advertising, that NEVER include an alternate text version of the link alongside the QR code.

    It is an absolute WASTED opportunity and will lose you a ton of business.

    You need to remember it is still only the MINORITY of people that have QR code readers on their phone so by not including a text link beside or under that QR code, you are ignoring the majority of people reading your ad. It's ludicrous and it's very annoying for those without QR code readers.

    People. If you ever use a QR code ALWAYS make sure you place a text version of the link beside or underneath that QR code so the majority of people seeing that QR code still have the opportunity to visit your website.

    [/rant]
    I absolutely think you are 100% wrong. IF you place the web address or link to where it goes the QR codes will become obsolete. No one will SCAN them. For those you see you scan and/or contact them to show them what they are doing WRONG.

    Sell them what they need.

    Fourteen Years ago when DVD's were first coming out...you could barely find them at Blockbuster. When I asked them when they were going to be changing out to provide more DVD's than VHS...their answer was "We won't. It is a FAD like Beta and will not last". REALLY??? Where is Blockbuster now?

    I also work for AT&T and Twelve years ago I worked in the in the DSL Dept...I asked when will we be integrating like Verizon to provide super fast speed... AT&T's answer was "We won't, the expense doesn't justify the means and Dial-Up will be all that will ever be needed". Now U-Verse is Everywhere!!!

    Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what outside, but what is inside that counts.
    -Aladdin (Disney)

    If you want to Rant...then Rant. But do your homework and figure out why they aren't working and provide an actual solution. To provide a work-around to scanning will make these beta/dial up products and keep from them progressing to Blue Ray/U-verse products
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    • Profile picture of the author WillR
      Originally Posted by snob1of2 View Post

      I absolutely think you are 100% wrong. IF you place the web address or link to where it goes the QR codes will become obsolete. No one will SCAN them. For those you see you scan and/or contact them to show them what they are doing WRONG.

      Sell them what they need.

      Fourteen Years ago when DVD's were first coming out...you could barely find them at Blockbuster. When I asked them when they were going to be changing out to provide more DVD's than VHS...their answer was "We won't. It is a FAD like Beta and will not last". REALLY??? Where is Blockbuster now?

      I also work for AT&T and Twelve years ago I worked in the in the DSL Dept...I asked when will we be integrating like Verizon to provide super fast speed... AT&T's answer was "We won't, the expense doesn't justify the means and Dial-Up will be all that will ever be needed". Now U-Verse is Everywhere!!!

      Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what outside, but what is inside that counts.
      -Aladdin (Disney)

      If you want to Rant...then Rant. But do your homework and figure out why they aren't working and provide an actual solution. To provide a work-around to scanning will make these beta/dial up products and keep from them progressing to Blue Ray/U-verse products
      I was not ranting. Why not do your own homework?

      I completely disagree with you and if you are not putting a text version of the link next to the QR code, then quite frankly you are doing yourself and/or your client a disservice.

      There is nothing to argue about here. That's a FACT.

      Adding a url next to the QR code is ONLY ever going to result in more people coming to your website which is the whole purpose of marketing. If you disagree with that then you are probably in the wrong business. If you want to sit back and try and prove your theory right, that's fine. But the reality of the matter is that every QR code should have a url next to it and anyone that doesn't is just a massive wasted opportunity.

      QR codes have already been around for years in the states and they still have not taken off like people thought they would. Not putting a text link under your Qr code is not going to change that situation at all. The MAJORITY of people do NOT have QR code apps installed on their phone. By leaving off a text link you are totally ignoring the majority of your target audience. What a waste.

      Arguments are good. But arguments for arguments sake (such as yours) are just pointless.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob28x
    I don't completely agree with you snob1of2. I, and I think most others, would still take 2 seconds to scan the qr code then take the time to try and type the url into our browser.
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    • Originally Posted by Rob28x View Post

      I don't completely agree with you snob1of2. I, and I think most others, would still take 2 seconds to scan the qr code then take the time to try and type the url into our browser.
      Damn right!
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    • Profile picture of the author snob1of2
      Originally Posted by Rob28x View Post

      I don't completely agree with you snob1of2. I, and I think most others, would still take 2 seconds to scan the qr code then take the time to try and type the url into our browser.
      Rob and Offline, Please re-read my post and how it began...


      I absolutely think you are 100% wrong. IF you place the web address or link to where it goes the QR codes will become obsolete. No one will SCAN them. For those you see you scan and/or contact them to show them what they are doing WRONG.


      I am all for scanning only...I don't have time to waste time writing down codes or phone numbers. My message is a bit deeper...please really read it. QR codes IF properly done and educating in the process is our future...

      Instead of writing a url or phone number provide a custom code and a scan app that reads the code the best
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      • Profile picture of the author Rob28x
        Originally Posted by snob1of2 View Post

        Rob and Offline, Please re-read my post and how it began...


        I absolutely think you are 100% wrong. IF you place the web address or link to where it goes the QR codes will become obsolete. No one will SCAN them. For those you see you scan and/or contact them to show them what they are doing WRONG.


        I am all for scanning only...I don't have time to waste time writing down codes or phone numbers. My message is a bit deeper...please really read it. QR codes IF properly done and educating in the process is our future...

        Instead of writing a url or phone number provide a custom code and a scan app that reads the code the best
        Ah, sorry I did mis-read it. Late night on the computer seems to have that effect on me.
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        • Profile picture of the author imarketleap
          I think that everyone has a point here. IMO, the biggest thing we need to think about when we are selling these codes is the customer base of the client. If a majority of their customers are not scanners - don't have time, are paranoid or don't have smart phones, then the business owner has to provide some alternative to the code in order for all customers to be able to "play."

          If the offer is onsite (as in scan now for discount) then I don't think the web address should be next to the code. Alternatives would be a punch card, or ask me about XYZ offer. However, if it is any type of media that is not contained within the business, then I think the web address absolutely should be included, and again, this also depends on the market being targeted by the client.

          <Sigh> - apparently, the biggest hurdle with QR Codes is getting them to point to something that works on a mobile device...

          "In one survey done in USA, 87% of people said they would scan a customized, branded QR code over a plain and ugly black and white one."

          bettropo - can you site the source of this info? I would love to include it in my own marketing plan. Thanks!
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          • Profile picture of the author betroppo
            Originally Posted by imarketleap View Post

            "In one survey done in USA, 87% of people said they would scan a customized, branded QR code over a plain and ugly black and white one."

            bettropo - can you site the source of this info? I would love to include it in my own marketing plan. Thanks!
            Yeah head over to QRLicious dot com and the stat is on the home page and in the short video. I skyped and talked to one of the owners and he confirmed they did the survey, be it a small one. I think it was in Denver and it was 88%

            Cheers
            Mark
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            • Profile picture of the author Carm
              Hi Will,

              The way I see it, QR codes should be used as an add to an ad ( addition to a printed advertisment). Used that way, the web address of the business will be included with the ad somewhere, on the flyer, page, brochure etc. To educate the people, even though QR codes have been around for some time, then the 'tell them where to go - what to do' needs to be included for the code. Once they find out what to do, download an app to their phone, select it and scan the code to immediately be calling, emailing, opting in, purchasing, right then and there.

              That's why it is so important if the code is going to a website then that site had better be a mobile site that loads fast, like yours Will, and the info they are wanting is right there.....this should be on it's own page on the mobile phone too, not the main url.

              I've been watching QR Codes for quite a while now and more and more are appearing in offline advertising material.

              When you see the big companies using QR codes, here in Australia companies like big supermarket chains, big hardware chains, department stores and when they use them in advertising that is a way to provide more info to the 'shopper' without having to spend the dollars on the actual print and size of the ad.....and when you see Calvin K putting up huge QR codes in the middle of New York for 'shoppers' to 'see' what is behind the code (cheeky stuff!!!) and in Korea a supermarket has people shopping on their way home from work with nothing but advertising hordings of their product shelves all with QR codes for the order placed to be delivered to the person's home within x number of hours......

              QR Codes are here to stay but it is in the offline world that they will nestle in to our daily lives and we will all learn to be comfortable with them. It's just a matter of time and that time is not long either.

              Had 2 cents to spare so thought I would share it with you......


              Cheers

              Carmel
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    • Profile picture of the author snob1of2
      Thanks betroppo
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  • Profile picture of the author Galahad
    Originally Posted by WillR View Post

    [rant]

    This is just a little rant.

    I am so surprised by the amount of QR codes I see these days, both inside this forum and also in regular offline advertising, that NEVER include an alternate text version of the link alongside the QR code.

    It is an absolute WASTED opportunity and will lose you a ton of business.

    You need to remember it is still only the MINORITY of people that have QR code readers on their phone so by not including a text link beside or under that QR code, you are ignoring the majority of people reading your ad. It's ludicrous and it's very annoying for those without QR code readers.

    People. If you ever use a QR code ALWAYS make sure you place a text version of the link beside or underneath that QR code so the majority of people seeing that QR code still have the opportunity to visit your website.

    [/rant]
    Great point Will, thanks for this thought. I already integrated it in to my own QR codes and also in the advice sheets I give to my customers.

    Best
    Galahad
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  • Profile picture of the author betroppo
    Well I see Will's point and it makes sense in the now or short term because we are wanting to monetize, but you have not talked about branding and a call to action. In one survey done in USA, 87% of people said they would scan a customized, branded QR code over a plain and ugly black and white one.
    Call to actions …

    Scan now to see how we can help you”


    under the code you tell them to get the best code scanner for free @ www.i--xxxx.mobi. It takes a few seconds more to get the scanner and scan than it does to type www.wearethebestplumbersinnewyork.com and the intrigue of scanning the designer code would be an attraction or novelty in these developmental times.

    Snob1of 2 makes some good points and I think in the long run, scanning will be second nature to all but the tech defiant. Once Augmented Reality kicks in … well that's heading towards "beam me up scotty”
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert X
    Hey,, thanks for the idea. I'm gonna find QR codes that don't have mobile optimized sites. Sweet! Another way to market the biz

    Robert X
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  • Profile picture of the author RashmiP
    Great discussion on QR code! Not only it takes lots of space, without text, its almost meaningless. Less than 5 percent people track websites through QR codes and a wrong message can harm you.
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    • Profile picture of the author Galahad
      I second betroppo on his view: If you use a custom designed QR code like you can do it with Jovana Sumars Instant QR Code Revolutions PS actions you have an eyecatcher AND a huge door opener with potential customers.

      I sold a mobile website two weeks ago on a wakeboard event. I just showed the owner of the boat (and wakeboard shop) my custom designed QR codes and it blew him away. The same evening I did one for his shop - the next morning he signed the contract for the mobile optimized website ...

      If you have such a QR code like this one here on your biz card:


      the people get very curious about it and ask me what that is. Bang - that's your opener ...

      Just my two cents
      Galahad
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      • Profile picture of the author mak25
        Originally Posted by Galahad View Post

        I second betroppo on his view: If you use a custom designed QR code like you can do it with Jovana Sumars Instant QR Code Revolutions PS actions you have an eyecatcher AND a huge door opener with potential customers.

        I sold a mobile website two weeks ago on a wakeboard event. I just showed the owner of the boat (and wakeboard shop) my custom designed QR codes and it blew him away. The same evening I did one for his shop - the next morning he signed the contract for the mobile optimized website ...

        If you have such a QR code like this one here on your biz card:


        the people get very curious about it and ask me what that is. Bang - that's your opener ...

        Just my two cents
        Galahad
        Very nice - But - is it trackable?
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        • Profile picture of the author Galahad
          Originally Posted by mak25 View Post

          Very nice - But - is it trackable?
          Hi mak25,

          the tracking in my opinion (it's new to me) depends on the kind of action which is triggered by the code.

          If you only display a text message (not SMS, but plain text) like "welcome to our club, show this to the waiter and we give you 10 % off this evening" then you obviously can't track it - at least not automatically, but the waiter can create a tally list.

          But if the code redirects you to a website THROUGH my redirection script on my website then my website will register the redirection and show me the stats (I use WP and Pretty Link, sometimes even goo.gl)

          And if you get a SMS/text message then you will have the phone number of the prospect/customer ...

          If you use some coupon code generator then you can track through their system (or create such a system yourself, see here: WP Coupon Generator Plugin )

          Many ways to track here ...

          P.S.: And Jovana - the creator of the PS actions which creates such beauties like the QR code above - told me that they have a tracking system in the making. Based on the experience I have now with here and her programmer Arief I expect very, very much from this ...
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert X
    The URL is a must. Not everyone has the app for scanning QR codes.

    Robert X

    p.s. duh!
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  • Profile picture of the author daddykool
    Nice point Will, however the fact that nearly *all* Q4-2012 onwards smartphone manufacturers / os developers are now concentrating on *voice entry* for nearly every single aspect of searching/entry... most codes, typing, voice entry, OCR, etc etc, will be really lost, as can be seen from my dictation on the forum now! [rooted samsung galaxy S3 running jelly bean and google vocal]
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    • Profile picture of the author MaryEJ
      Originally Posted by daddykool View Post

      Nice point Will, however the fact that nearly *all* Q4-2012 onwards smartphone manufacturers / os developers are now concentrating on *voice entry* for nearly every single aspect of searching/entry... most codes, typing, voice entry, OCR, etc etc, will be really lost, as can be seen from my dictation on the forum now! [rooted samsung galaxy S3 running jelly bean and google vocal]
      I doubt QR codes will ever be lost. You can't compare QR codes to voice search. QR codes are direct links to whatever it is you are wanting to share with your customer. A quick scan takes you to any page, adds your contact to their phone, offers a text list or email list opt-in, coupons, special offers, punch cards, loyalty memberships... just about anything. It has zero to do with search much less voice search.

      If you are trying to get a person to sign up to your email list, do you want to offer an immediate scan, or do you expect to write on the advertisement, "Go to Google Search and speak into your phone: go to http.//myspecialsite.com/offers/offer23.htm or .pdf or whatever"? Do you expect your customers to prefer having to voice search for your coupons and ads or offers... or would you rather they quickly scan it? A scan creates a captive audience and zero opportunity to lose your potential customers to an incorrect search result. Even if they need to download the app to get started, it only takes about 30 seconds one time.
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  • Profile picture of the author nalsur1960
    It seems that most of the discussion above are related to QR code containing URL. In this case, then I think WillR does have a point.
    But QR code does not necessarily contain URL only, it could contain many other things.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob28x
    I myself will start using a short URL under the QR codes from now on. I hadn't actually thought about it much before to be honest, but I can understand the reasoning behind it. No reason not to give consumers more ways to get the information.
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    • Profile picture of the author ocflyfish
      I totally agree. I meet with a bagel shop owner on Friday and she even mentioned that not many people have QR readers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert X
    I have totally noticed everywhere now that I have been awakened by Will. There's no instruction of what to do so most people won't get it for a while. There's just a square code,, nothing else. I bet a lot of people wonder "what the hell is that?"
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    • Profile picture of the author WillR
      Originally Posted by Robert X View Post

      I have totally noticed everywhere now that I have been awakened by Will. There's no instruction of what to do so most people won't get it for a while. There's just a square code,, nothing else. I bet a lot of people wonder "what the hell is that?"
      You are right. Even just adding a call to action saying 'Scan this QR Code' would increase your response rate. I've seen some people even include a link to a free QR reader right next to the code so people can go and download the app and then scan the code.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob28x
    The last QR code I did before reading this thread, I will say I added "Scan the code above with your smart phone" under it. It was a start in the right direction lol
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