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QR Code Best Practices

1. Create QR codes that are scannable.

Big—make your QR codes at least an inch high, if not 1.25 in. Why? Size matters when you are trying to scan. Smaller size codes may take longer to scan if they scan at all and that is a deal-killer on all levels. Keep quiet areas and borders within and around your codes to ensure scannability.

2. Shorten URLs.

Use bit.ly or goo.gl, they are free. Don’t pay to shorten a URL unless there’s some other service attached that makes it worth your while. Why shorten URLs? The less data that your QR code holds, the more artistic you can make them without your images interfering with scan ability. Sure some QR codes will have an error correction rate nearing 30 percent, but a fancy looking code that doesn’t scan will leave you dead in the water.

3. Location and Accessibility 

QR codes bridge the print and the digital world. Placing them on your website is fine, but QR codes are made to be placed on bus shelters, promotional literature, store walls and restroom stalls. Accessibility is key. People have to be able to find them to use them. If you put them on the side of a bus, fine—but, guess what? They can’t scan it when the bus is moving away from their smartphones. Think placement through logically and put yourself in the shoes of your audience.

4. Don’t Use QR Codes Just to Use Them

Creating QR codes just because you want to keep up with the business down the street is not a viable reason to invest your time in them. Know what you want to accomplish. Have a strategy. Figure out how to execute that plan and how you want to track your codes. Sticking QR codes arbitrarily on telephone polls hoping to bring in some business is hit-or-miss. Hone in to location, placement and reward. Musicians would use them differently than your local grocer. A non-profit would use them differently than a marketer tracking information from 18- to -34-year old Millennials.

5. Freshen Up Your Information

Don’t bring users to information that has been out there for years or that is easily found elsewhere. Make your content valuable to your audience. QR codes are meant to engage, not simply redirect. Decide what your metrics for tracking should be before you ever put a QR code in the public eye. Have a way to follow-up and evaluate your QR campaign.

6. Keep QR Codes Effective

Too much of anything is not a good thing. Like antibiotics, use QR codes only when needed in order not to reduce their effectiveness. Remember that you can make a big impact within that little matrix of space. You want the “wow” factor and friends to share their QR experience with friends.

7. Instruct the User

Don’t lose your audience, especially those not techno-savvy. Give instructions how to scan QR codes and how to download a reader where and when appropriate. Remember that not everyone owns a smartphone; provide alternatives to scanning to get the same information.