Introduction to the QR code
The Quick Response code, or more commonly referred to as a QR code, has been a major trend soaring upward in 2011. A QR code is a two dimensional graphic that is generated with some form of content that will be displayed after scanning the code with your smart phone.
The amount of content stored will affect the size and matrix of the QR code. The matrix of the code refers to the black chunks inside of the square graphic, the more content, the bigger and more packed the QR code will be. Content stored in the QR can be a wide array of media, most commonly used for web addresses which will load a specific web page after being scanned. These codes can be used to send SMS messages, plain text, compose emails, adding vCards to your contacts and open applications you have installed on your phone.
The QR code’s success this year can be attributed to several factors. The cost of a QR code is almost non-existent. Creation only take seconds, and placing the code on to media is also minimal, and painless.
Customization of a QR code, using different colors or embedding your brand into the code is also a big appeal to implement these into your own marketing efforts. The QR code has up to a 30% error correction, meaning you can change up to thirty percent of the QR code while keeping the main 4 boxes intact, and still have it scan properly.
For more information about the cool things you can do with QR customization, follow this link: http://on.mash.to/rLhkdr
The QR code in the wild
Marketers and freelancers alike have been placing QR codes on every piece of print collateral, TV commercials, Billboards, and in emails to try to get customers familiar with the new way to communicate content. Herein lies the problem. The majority of these marketers and freelancers have missed the point of a quick response code.
The race to be on the cutting edge has left these people blind to the correct way to execute a QR code. The users are accessing mobile devices to scan the QR codes and are delivered with large and non-mobile friendly content.
Its happening more and more each passing day. Threats to your personal private data, and un authorized access to the content you have collected over the years. I am talking about viruses and malicious content. QR codes can indeed land you on content that is malicious and bad for your personal data and your mobile phone. Unfortunately with a rise in technology, there will be a way to bring it down as well.
For a lengthly research paper on QR code security follow this link: http://bit.ly/v3ZsCE
Problem: Mobile Devices
The QR code was meant to be an easy to access means to navigate to specific content on a mobile device without having to memorize long URLs or certain instructions to complete a task.
Users are coming in contact with these QR codes while out shopping or while sitting at restaurants and scanning them with their mobile phones. Placing QR codes on billboards is risky business, putting them on TV commercials probably doesn’t get much conversion and using them in emails is almost pointless as the user is already on a computer when they read the email.
Problem: Mobile Content
After scanning a QR code in public, I am usually still moving. After waiting for a page to load I notice that the content is not formatted for a mobile device. This is a turn off for the user and will produce more bounce rate than conversion rate.
QR codes have been pushed so fast, that the way people are accessing this content has been a giant oversight. The user doesn’t want to wait very long for the content to load, or zoom in to the content that is relevant. This takes away from the mobile experience and from the message you are trying to get across via the QR code.
*Solution: Interactive Mobile Experience *
Based on our problem set, there are many ways we can combat bad QR experiences.
Setting QR codes in ways that the user, with their mobile phones can scan them safely and easily is the first hurdle. Going along the security line, placing your QR code along side your branded logo can also ensure the user is scanning a legit code and not a malicious one.
Labeling what the code will do where the user is scanning, will create a sense of trust between the user and your brand. This also can assist in the security mentioned before allowing the user to see what should happen instead of guessing. Scanning a random QR code is much like taking a shot in the dark. With a clear label of the content after scanning, the user will know what to expect before completing their action.
Displaying well formatted content for a mobile device that focuses on the message of your QR campaign should be your goal. Making use of the smaller screen and limited real estate, you should focus on what is important such as a sign up form, campaign specific content, or other interactions with the user.
2011 has been a great year with some amazing trends in the creative field. We have seen mobile devices explode into a bigger more viable platform. With that has come more ways to communicate and display content.
QR codes are great for almost every field out there from automotive, to technology, to medical and beyond. Getting users familiar with this new technology has been quick and well received. Getting the people who make and distribute the QR codes to focus on mobile and targeted content has been a slow uphill battle.
The clear thing is, QR codes will only go up from here, as more and more companies adapt to using them in their marketing and tracking efforts, and more and more users recognize and interact with these QR codes. The need to deliver more formatted content for the mobile user is becoming a must if a company wants to see a return on investment.