Are QR Codes Right For Your Small Business?

By now, most of us have seen the square barcodes stamped on everything from magazine ads to shampoo bottles to t-shirts. And with their seeming rise in popularity, many small business owners wonder, should I be using them too? The answer is still a resounding “maybe”.

Key factors to consider when deciding whether or not to get into QR (Quick Response) Codes are:
a) what you hope to accomplish with them
b) the audience you are targeting
c) the amount of time you have to devote

If you see a clear use for the codes in your business, such as driving people from print ads to your website where they can purchase your product, then it may be worth investigating. But if you interested simply because you feel you’re falling behind the trend, it’s not necessarily mandatory.

Consider your audience. Not only do QR code consumers have to own smartphones, they also need to be tech-savvy enough to have downloaded a QR code scanning app and know how to use it. Are these people your best customers? If not, you may want to consider more traditional marketing vehicles.

Finally, how much time do you have to devote to QR codes? According to a recent study, only 17% of smartphone users reported having ever scanned a QR code (comScore, June 2011). So if you have limited resources at this time, you might want to put your efforts into more proven methods for the time being. However, if you have the time to devote, it never hurts to learn more about new marketing avenues through which to reach your customers.

If you do choose to give QR codes a try, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:

1. Consider accessibility. Codes on billboards and in subways with no cell service will only frustrate the user. Wherever possible, include your web address along with the QR code. This ensures that people who don’t have mobile access will still be able to see your information.

2. Put your code on your printed marketing materials, like business cards, brochures, and advertisements, encouraging your customers to learn more on your website.

3. When generating your code, maximize compatibility with as many phones as possible, and do not get too elaborate with different colors. Black and white codes are the most reliable.

4. Track your response. Whenever you try a new marketing technique, it’s important to see if it’s a good use of your resources. Code generators like Kaywa, bitly, and Microsoft Tag provide this service.

5. Perhaps most importantly, make sure the page to which you are directing users via QR codes is optimized for mobile browsing!

Have you tried QR codes for marketing your small business? Tell us what you think!

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