Mobile

Does QR stand for Quasi-Ridiculous? (an analysis)

QR Code Crowne Plaza Hotels Does QR stand for Quasi Ridiculous? (an analysis)

I understand QR codes are the new “it” thing, the Taylor Lautner of calls-to-action. And indeed, given the increasing ubiquity of smart phones (41% in the U.S. according to new research by my client ExactTarget), many of your potential customers have the capacity to interact with your QR code.

But whether they will or not isn’t about technology adoption, it’s about design, relevance, ease-of-use, and suitability of purpose.

The example above is a bit of mixed bag in this regard.

Design

You certainly know that this ad features a QR code. In fact, the QR code itself is substantially larger than the logo of the company (Crowne Plaza Hotels). If you want to run an expensive national print ad campaign to make sure people think your hotel is all post-modern and zeitgeisty, then I guess this qualifies as killer graphic design. From a branding and behavior likelihood perspective (the QR code dwarfs the URL, which is more likely to be used), this is misplaced design priorities, Exhibit A.

Relevance

Once I get out my magnifying glass to realize this is a promotion for Crowne Plaza hotels, I’m more interested in the overall premise. It took me quite a while to figure out the mechanics of this offer, however. The ginormous headline doesn’t explain anything, and the body copy talks about $75, $300 and includes an asterisk, a URL, two font colors and capitalization on Vacation Pay. Whaaa?

Reading the mouse type at the bottom of the ad tells me the opportunity window for this promotion is until August 31, but it still never explains the $300 reference. After a bit of pondering, I’ve come to believe it means that you can only use this promotion 4 times. Why they wouldn’t say it that way – and why it needs to be said at all in the body copy – is a mystery to me.

photo e1310921422445 Does QR stand for Quasi Ridiculous? (an analysis)

Ease-of-Use

Scanning the QR code with your smartphone takes you to a simple form where you ostensibly add your first name, last name, zip, and email address (twice). I tried to submit this form five times, and got an error message every time. Ultimately, I had to go to the website and register there, which negates the advantage of QR in every possible way.

Suitability of Purpose

The only field required on the form is email address. That’s commendable, as we all know that EVERY data point you request has a negative impact on your conversion rate. But if Crowne Plaza only needs email address to register you for this promotion, why use QR at all?

It would be substantially easier – and you’d have a much larger potential audience – if you asked people to simply text message in their email address to sign up. 89% of Americans 15 or older have a phone capable of this action, it would take a lot less of their time to participate, and they wouldn’t get a broken sign-up form.

In fact, I wrote a post years ago about US Airways using SMS to allow passengers to sign up for their frequent flyer program. But that’s when SMS was still cool. QR gets all the love now, and stole the hype from text messaging seemingly overnight.

And marketers are buying it in bulk. I’m as guilty (probably more so) than you, as we included 22 Microsoft Tags (QR’s urbane, proprietary cousin) in our book The NOW Revolution.

I like QR. I like it’s interactivity and tracking and multi-media capabilities. But I don’t like it just to be able to check off “Put a Huge QR Code in Our Print Ad” in a Powerpoint presentation of marketing “wins”. So before you take your mobile efforts to QR-ville, make sure you understand when, why, and how it makes sense.

Agreed?

  • http://kexino.com/ KEXINO

    I really think that too many marketers are putting technology ahead of application with regards to QR codes.

    Firstly, I think that marketers assume that the average person knows what a QR code is: I’m not so sure that most people do. The ad talks about “scanning” the code, and assumes that the reader knows that they need to scan it with their smartphone which has a QR code scanning app already installed (why Apple, Google and the rest don’t implement QR code scanning in their camera apps is a mystery to me – why should I have to have a dedicated app?).

    Outside of people who live and breathe Marketing, and those who live and breathe Tech (and those, like me, who live and breathe both) I would contend that many people haven’t got a clue what they’re supposed to do when they see a QR code. Having a smartphone doesn’t necessarily make you any more technically competent than owning a Ferrari makes you a racing driver. I believe that we’re still in the learning stage – educating our target market as to what they need to do, as well as educating campaign creators and implementers that, on its own, sticking a QR code on something doesn’t do squat.

    As you’ve experienced, unfortunately the majority of campaigns that use QR codes have been ill-conceived and poorly executed. Most times I zap a QR code only to go to a website that’s not been optimized to be viewed on a mobile – thereby negating the vary reason of using a QR code in the first place!

    Apart from a (very) few notable exceptions I think we’ll have to wait until the novelty-effect wears off before we see truly user-centric, innovative and/or creative implementations of the technology.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @KEXINO It’s true. If I showed that ad to my Dad (and it ran in Golf Week, a decidedly older demo) I’m pretty sure he would have NO IDEA what to do with it.

  • prindoz

    As you said, it’s ZEITGEIST (like this german based word ;-)) to us QR codes, but nearly noone spends the time to think in the right direction when using QR codes. I agree with @KEXINO that it is still necessary to inform the user even in ads, what he/she has to do to use and scan the QR code correctly. This may take a while, but it’s worth, as it is essentially to get a good response rate.

    Not every Ad needs a QR code, if SMS messeging is easier, whynot use this, your’re right. When QR comes together with a great idea, a great offer and the right target group, and all ends up in a mobile website with all trackable and personalized reactions like mail confirmationa nd personal website… then QR is used perfect and shows it’s impact in marketing.

    Greetings from Germany

    Christian

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @prindoz @KEXINO Thanks Christian! I appreciate the comment.

  • margieclayman

    Well, these two gents said everything pretty much I was going to say. It’s like using a URL, really, except that there are a few technological details you need to consider and it can be accessed in a different way. Would you take an ad to a page about a totally different product or service? Let’s hope not! So even if you have a page that would look awesome on an iPhone, don’t lead people there if it isn’t pertinent.

    And yes, forms on a phone = big no no. They aren’t that smart yet :)

    • theAaronCraig

      @margieclayman I respectfully disagree. It’s not like using a URL because with a URL you have to type the URL in to the browser which can be a pain to do when you are on the go. Taking a snapshot of the code with your smartphone should take less than 10 seconds, and then you can even save it for later. Not only that, by using the QR Code, you can embed a bit.ly tracking URL into the code so you can track it. You most likely won’t use the bit.ly URL if you are just using it as a URL on a brochure, print ad, billboard, etc. You will most likely being using a targeted URL, which by the way, can be long and again, hard to type into your browser.

      • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

        @theAaronCraig @margieclayman I’m going to have to side with Aaron on this one. In theory, QR would be a terrific replacement/augmentation for a URL. I’m just not sure this is one of those times.

        • margieclayman

          @theAaronCraig @JayBaer I didn’t quite word that the way I wanted – my fingers, they are Russian!

          What I meant was that a QR code should be used with thought just like a URL *should* be used (although that is not always the case). A URL that takes you to a homepage when you are talking about a very specific product doesn’t do you a lot of good. A QR code that takes you to a page with forms doesn’t do you a lot of good. Any time you are leading people from one marketing channel to another, you need to have a reason, a plan, and a way to measure.

          That’s what I was trying to say in my pre-coffee form :) (I think).

  • jvanrijn

    The QR code is technology and should be lower in rank than your customers, your strategy, your marketing and your message in my humble opinion. The mobile webform isn’t optimized, AT ALL. Which field label goes with which field? just to mention one thing. QR and the smartphone have great potential as they are amigos in the field, add email to that and you have a winning combination. Just dont forget the customers, strategy, marketing and message. Some more reading on the topic:http://www.emailmonday.com/mobile-email-strategy

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @jvanrijn I had that same reaction on label placement. It appears as though this is actually a mobile-designated form, as the website version is slightly different. In this instance, the field labels are inexplicably below the field itself (or at least that’s how it rendered for me). Confusing, at best.

      • jvanrijn

        Plus there are multiple fields, i think probably too much for 1 screen. Making it harder to fill and easier to just forget about it. But Jay, where did the iAd come from? Was that a part of the form? I hope not! @JayBaer

  • DuratranBuzz

    “It would be substantially easier – and you’d have a much larger potential audience – if you asked people to simply text message in their email address to sign up”

    BUT there is a monumental difference between the two stretgies…you ready?….still?….it’s called the MOBILE WEB.

    Scanning QR codes are the fasted way to link to the mobile web. PERIOD. EXCLAMATION POINT.

    Texters can’t get over this simple fact. It’s ALL about the mobile web and user experience now.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @DuratranBuzz I love the mobile web. I use it almost as much as the regular web. But I disagree that it’s all about the mobile web. It is all about the user experience, and always has and will be. In this case, when all you need to gather is an email address, SMS provides a far superior user experience, in my estimation.

  • http://www.aweber.com/blog/ justinpremick

    I think you hit the key point in your last paragraph, Jay.

    As marketers roll out QR campaigns, it’s important to track the results — in terms of traffic, signups, orders, LTV and/or any other success metrics that an organization identifies — and to learn from those results. A marketer could easily split test campaigns employing QR vs. campaigns employing SMS, or test different treatments of QR codes, just as with any other element of a campaign.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @justinpremick Good point, especially because I think this campaign ran in multiple publications. A split test on functionality would make for a great case study.

  • theAaronCraig

    chuckgose sent me the link to this post today as he knows I am a QR fanatic. My biggest problem with QR Codes is the marketers who use them in an ineffective manner. Some marketers have no strategy for them.As I recently wrote in a post I wrote about how dumb marketers could be the demise of QR codes, “Go back to school and retake Marketing 101! Any basic Marketing class will tell you that every marketing tactic must be backed by a solid strategy and must have a call to action.”

    I also agree that tracking is important to track the use of QR Codes just as you would with any other marketing tactic deployed as part of your overall marketing campaign. There are several software programs available for tracking QR Codes, but the company usually requires you to use their QR Code generation software which can limit your creativity and flexibility with developing QR Codes. However, for any type or URL that is embedded into a QR Code, marketers can track the QR Code by making the URL a bitly. This is probably the easiest way to track QR Codes.

    Bottom line is that most marketers miss the boat when they don’t incorporate QR Codes, or any other type of new technology into their overall marketing campaign. But don’t blame the QR Codes, blame the poor strategy deployed by the marketers.

    You can view my post here: http://bit.ly/n9vCnF (shameless plug). ;)

    Thanks Jay for writing a great post.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @theAaronCraig chuckgose Excellent point about tracking Aaron. Thanks for mentioning that key aspect.

  • http://www.sentori.co.uk/ sentoriapp

    In other QR news, I found one on a tub of butter the other day. No explanation about what scanning it would do, but, being curious, I tried it. I got a 404 error on a website. Yay!

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @sentoriapp I was hoping for a “churn your own butter” video, so you’d know just how hard it is. Damn.

  • PJProductivity

    Yeah, I’m with you. Normally I wanna give new developments a shot, but there’s got to be some relevance and actual benefit. It sounds to me as if there are way too many opportunities for trip-ups for the customer just yet. Maybe it’ll work itself out – I am somehow reminded of the overwhelming number of fail whales we all saw back in the early days of Twitter …

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @PJProductivity There’s tons of great QR case studies and examples. I’ve done some really interesting campaigns with my clients, too. It has potential, but you have to really think through the experience ecosystem first.

      • theAaronCraig

        @JayBaer @PJProductivity Exactly Jay. Every campaign must be thought through when using QR Codes. This is where many marketers fail when using new technologies such as QR Codes.

  • JackieKaufenberg

    Even though this campaign is not put together as best as it could, I disagree about having them text instead. Even if I have the capability to text doesn’t mean I will. Each text costs me money.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @JackieKaufenberg Fantastic point Jackie, thank you for mentioning that. I’ve had unlimited texting and data for so long, I totally forgot about paying for each text. I would think in this case that the $75 savings would be an incentive enough to send a text, but I could be totally wrong on that. Excellent contribution to this discussion. Thanks!

  • laurenamcmullen

    I like the concept of QR codes but they are just plain UGLY! so I think they will be hard to make advertisers adopt them. Maybe people might be interested if they could come up with a code that is more visually appealing.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @laurenamcmullen That’s one of the reasons we used Microsoft Tag in the book I wrote with ambercadabra We think Tag looks nicer, and you can make custom versions very easily that include your logo (or whatever). See http://nowrevolutionbook.com for an example of that.

  • TheTimHayden

    Nice work, Jay…I empathize with this post. SMS is still the dominant mobile-to-mobile and consumer action with handsets. With 150MM feature phones still on the streets in America, marketers are foolish to dismiss SMS altogether, and there is nothing more successful than coupling SMS alongside QR code “marketing” when attempting to engage smartphone users.

    What’s most entertaining (as frustrating) about QR codes is that there is NOTHING special about the QR codes alone…where the hype sadly starts and stops. Marketers must understand that QR codes are not a channel or savior to deliver mobile web traffic. The offline promotional/educational responsibilities (compelling design and copy that tell me why/what happens when I scan…”tease me, please”) are equal in importance to delivering a mobile-friendly, brief and relevant message or action once a QR code is scanned.

    I’m afraid too many marketers see QR codes as a band-aid they can slap anywhere…with bad experiences for consumers that reduce future “scan confidence.”

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @TheTimHayden Exactly Tim. Thanks for the comment. People have to understand that all QR does is turn your URL into a scannable graphic. It has no powers of its own, inherently. It’s a road sign, nothing more, nothing less. Doesn’t mean it’s bad (I love em in theory), it’s just not all-powerful.

  • UnMarketing

    You are the wind beneath my wiiiiiiiiiings. I once scanned a QR code at a car show, it brought me to a site that was not accessible from a mobile phone. (slams head on a car hood)

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @UnMarketing Ian Greenleigh be3d just mentioned on Twitter seeing QR codes on posters in the SUBWAY, where there is no Internet access whatsoever. That’s my favorite!

  • http://www.iDiazMarketing.com/ iDiazMarketing

    I agree completely Jay! It seems as though any new “toy” in the marketing world results in a lot of over-use and “undert-hought” of the customer experience (along with some really brilliant uses too!). One thing that will always hold tried and true with any marketing effort — consider the customer’s point of view and how they can engage with you in a way that helps them determine if there is opportunity between the marketer and marketee to do business. why might they respond…what happens after they do…and how are you going to CARE about your new connection who just took time to learn more about you.

  • gborgford

    Blaming QR codes on poor execution is like blaming the messenger for delivering bad news. It’s all about the execution and QR codes are more engaging than requested that the consumer text in something. At the end of the day you also have to look at your audience target…if you are after more affluent and/or early adopters, then QR codes should be considered. That all said, it’s what happens at the other end of the QR code that makes the campaign successful or not and I’ve seen both cases for poor execution and most excellent.

    • theAaronCraig

      @gborgford Preach it!

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @gborgford I agree. I’ve seen a lot of great QR executions too. I don’t mean to blame the medium, and I don’t think I did. Just a cautionary tale of falling in love with something without thinking it through, similar to the post I wrote last week pillorying a restaurant for a crazy “like” campaign on email & Facebook. I try to be an equal opportunity curmudgeon.

  • http://iangordon.me/ IanGordon

    QR codes can be very effective tools, but just like twitter and facebook logos, without a compelling reason to use them they mean nothing. I have found they are best used targeting tech savy smartphone owners, and as such you better have something cool (that works on mobile!) on the other end.

  • thebrendadollteam

    How on point this is! It reminds me of the days when people thought “Website: build it, and they will come.” Not so. Just like anything else, marketing takes work. Great job, Jay.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/dschulenberg dschulenberg

    Perhaps the campaign was testing the validity of QR for the Crowne Plaza consumer audience? No question there could be tweaks to make it more user-friendly and being digital they have every opportunity to tweak the campaign midstream to reduce/eliminate the hurdles of conversion. As ever, a good reminder of all the facets of campaign execution that need to align around the users’ experience foremost to drive business value.

  • strote

    How about a post on a successful QR campaign with stats? I have had more error messages and useless landing pages that I’ve begun to doubt that anyone is doing it right.

  • kiverson1529

    There are so many people using these in 2-D & boring ways. I don’t want to scan a QR code just to see your contact information. Why not a video of you explaining who you are & why we should care? Real estate agents are using these to go to a boring page with the home details, like it came from the MLS. Why not a link to a visual tour? I just don’t understand why you would use technology with so many cool opportunities in such boring, unimaginative ways.

    • prindoz

      Most of the time I think, that this is the mystic thing with cross media. You have to combine channels and technologies to have the full impact. But most of the time, and especially when it comes to QR codes, the client thinks that QR code alone ist enough and no need to think in direction like you mentioned with video and all that stuff. Even if a video ist created with a mobile phone, but live, authentic and with a message from the company or e.g. the sales persone, it would have much more success than linking a QR code to a website which isn’t made for mobile devices. A shame…you’re right. @kiverson1529

    • http://kexino.com/ KEXINO

      @kiverson1529 We’ve just put together a turnkey package for print services providers to sell-on to their customers that’s exactly what you’re outlining. It’s using video, but only because we’re assuming that printing companies should have that side covered themselves!

      If you’re interested, you can take a look at our sample at http://youtu.be/Sp_OCz_nMgg (have your QR-code reader ready ;-))

  • redheadjessica

    Completely agree! I feel like there must be some good uses for QR codes, but I haven’t seen very many yet. I think people are definitely jumping on a bandwagon and not thinking their implementation through at all.. .

  • http://QRmedia.us/ truemc

    Interesting perspective, but the QR Code is not the problem. The implementation and design are!

    As for your points that the website URL or sending an SMS would suffice, lets step back and remember that when website URLs were added to the first TV commercials and print ads, not everyone knew what they were or how to use them. Not everyone had their own computer. The same holds true for SMS, there is still a large portion or the population that doesn’t use texting even though they carry a phone capable of sending and receiving text messages. Stepping froward to QR Codes, there are those who will scan a QR Code, but dislike typing a URL into the browser of their phone – fat fingers syndrome. Crownplaza.com/vactionpay – Not Found! Make that crowneplaza.com/vacationpay. It is very easy to make mistake and move on without completing the task especially if it begins to feel like a TASK!

    Better design of the ad and the mobile landing page would have made this a campaign that you might have praised for it’s use of QR Codes. Would it have been different had it used the more visually appealing Microsoft Tags?

    Did we need cars when the horse and buggy got people where they were going? Did we need buses when we had trains? Airplanes? New technology and QR Code specifically are another avenue for engagement. If Crowne Plaza reaches new customers with QR Codes or SMS or URLs or phone numbers – great!

    Perhaps you might try a different QR Code scanner – one that doesn’t put in ads that cover part of the mobile landing page or one that opens URLs in the phone’s browser. I had no problem submitting information the first time. (Note: I would have scanned the QR code out of curiosity, found a boring form and moved on. I doubt that i would have filled out the form if it were not for this post! My guess is that Crowne Plaza is thrilled with the publicity they are getting from this post.)

  • TerryTerry

    Has anyone verified with Crowne Plaza whether or not this ad was “successful” for them – according to their goals and objectives ? The form worked just fine for me.

  • http://www.TedCurtin.com/ TedCurtin

    Great article Jay, I also agree with Aaron Craig’s response and loved his post with the 8 commandments. You might appreciate this short post I wrote on the problem with QR Codes on my Marketing Insights blog:

    “Your QR Code is hurting your brand” http://www.TedCurtin.com/qr_codes.html

    Keep up the good work.

    Ted

  • dibbler46

    Definitely. QR codes or microsoft tags are only useful if they take you online immediately to where you intended to land when you snapped the code.

  • ReallyBigPeach

    I agree with your statements regarding this ad. It’s a BAD ad. But I don’t think the problem is with QR as you seem to imply in your headline. In fact, MOST of the problems with the ad are with design, and copy writing. Clients use bad marketing devices and make poor design choices ALL the time. But just because people don’t use the tool well, I don’t think we can blame the tool.

    A few years ago everyone and their dog was doing “opt in e-mail newsletters”. And most of them sucked, and were done all wrong. But that doesn’t mean that opt-in e-mail sucks. It just means that people are idiots.

  • http://www.theprcoach.com/ ThePRCoach

    Funny how some jump in to defend the latest shiny social media tool despite: lack of strategy, poor execution, cluttered design, questionable targeting (early QR adopters in numbers large enough to justify these ads?) and a confusing offer and incredibly complicated fulfillment process.

    Just a minute while I turn on my smart phone, wait while it finds a signal, scan the code and wait to get the web page. Now I’ll just follow the simple “As Easy as 1-2-3-4″ process, while still on my phone:

    – Register: by filling in the too-long form. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

    – Book” online (no URL or hotlink provided) or call (no 1-800 or any phone number given). Um… people?

    – Submit: rebate form requiring me to look up the rebate website address and fill in another form to pre-submit and track my rebate. Then, using a four-step process to first find my IHG (I thought this was a Crowne Plaza deal?) rebate. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. Fill in more info, click and find all I have to do is print in the rebate form, attach my bill AND (in Canada) A COPY OF MY MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE!!! WTF?

    – Mail: the registration and rebate forms, hotel bill, and marriage certificate off to El Paso Texas to wait for my rebate which is actually a $100 check not a pre-loaded $75 Mastercard. Score, I think.

    Even without a strategy and poor execution, now they’ve made me go through too many hoops and arrived a final stupid requirement for fulfillment. I later discovered in Canada and the US there was also a $100, year long honeymoon special but most consumers would have been long gone by then.

    Maybe these marketing geniuses could have instead said: Call us on that cell phone in your pocket or purse. Register with our helpful representative and we’ll give you a coupon for $75 off instantly when you book…blah, blah, blah. Simple, much more effective. Oh, and dump that marriage certificate crap would you?

    I’m with you on this one Jay! I think I need a holiday… at the Four Seasons.

  • patrickallmond

    This has nothing to do with QR code problems. This has to do with poor design and an overall poor marketing campaign.

    The best implementation of this would have been to:

    1. Color the QR so it matches the theme of the ad. QR codes do not have to be black and white

    2. Give the user a special offer by them using the QR

    3. Express that special offer by sending any user that scans the mobile friendly page that says “Thank you for scanning our QR code in xyz ad.”. The put the squeeze on them for their email address.

    • http://thecontentcocktail.com/ C_Pappas

      @patrickallmond How about telling them what a QR code is and how to use it? Why do we assume that everyone who sees this ad will know what that funny square barcode is?

  • http://thecontentcocktail.com/ C_Pappas

    Great point Jay and I have mentioned this myself to companies who are considering ways to reach mobile audiences. The comeback to using QR codes is to increase engagement. I can use the example of your book readers. You can essentially get a feel for how engaged your readers were and how much they read and paid attention to by comparing books sold to pages visited via MS tag and time spent there. I think that its exactly as you mentioned right up front; QR codes are the ‘it’ thing to do right now just as SMS was, dare I say, back in the day. Apps are another perfect example. Brands are creating apps for the iPhone and completely neglecting the rest of us who dont have an iPhone. Why not suppport the masses when it comes to promotion, your content and increasing action? QR codes seem to be on everything and there is no shortage of them, but the ratio of those that see them to those that know what they are and can access them is way off. For fun, I asked a few people in my personal life if they knew what they were; they had no clue what a QR code was and/or had not even noticed it. Marketers get so caught up on the latest technology that we forget consumers may not even know what that funny barcode is, let alone that they use their phone to access it. But I bet if I asked them about texting, they would know what to do and could probably do it in under 10 seconds.

  • gnemechek

    I agree with you Jay. QR codes can be great if used properly and if they are given the right context. Also to your point in one the comments, if you Dad was seeing this ad he would have no idea what to do with it. The thing I noticed when looking at the ad is that the url is buried, the QR code is too big without a clear call to action for what to do with it, and I think one important call to action is missing. “Call us” with a campaign-specific phone number. Nothing replaces human contact. This is exactly the type of ad where a phone number would work very well as a way to engage the audience, get them to call, show them how fabulous Crowne Plaza customer service is and get them signed up for the package. Heck, you can even still put the QR code there to auto-dial the phone number instead of sending them to a landing page.

    Here’s a link to an article about how they can be used with phone numbers:http://blog.ringrevenue.com/bid/51061/One-Secret-Use-of-QR-Codes

  • kweiss01

    QR codes, like anything else, need to add value to the consumer’s experience. And look cool.

  • GreenA_V

    I’m torn here.

    In many cases, I adore QR Codes. Say I’m at a conference and in the hallway there’s a sign with the URL taking me to the mobile app. Well, I enter that URL and go to the mobile site for the conference. However, I forget to bookmark it and forget the URL. And, I didn’t have time to actually write it down – that’s a given if you’ve seen the intensity of my hallway conversations at any conference :) If I had snapped a code, it would be stored in my history and I could easily go back to the URL.

    I really like it for cases where I’m looking at a sign and don’t have the time or resources to write down a hard-to-remember URL.

    However, I also adore your proposal to use SMS. It’s such a quick and dirty means of getting information sent TO me instead of having to pursue it. The only drawback is that thanks to the heydays of telemarketing, a lot of people have the fears of sharing their mobile #…

    Love this post (wait, haven’t I said that before?) – I have one in the works that is similar.

    Midori

  • http://www.socialmediawannabe.com faybiz

    http://www.socialmediawannabe.com/2011/06/wheres-qr-code-when-you-need-one.html

    I loved this instance of when it SHOULD have been used…

    and I am with you on SMS- easier and more people are doing it versus QR

  • uskovic

    @paulwiggins thx for the RT on @jaybaer’s QR post. Was an interesting read

  • LDAcademy

    @elearningoddess very good article – it just show how important it is to keep it simple, relevant and also provide good info thanks

    • elearningoddess

      @LDAcademy thanks!

  • beau_thebault

    Yes, yes, yes! Having spent the last few years designing pre-media businesses, 2D / QR Codes have been on the radar for a number of years. I think it is awesome technology… if done right. The way not to do it is as you see above. I was particularly disappointed when Ralph Lauren ran a QR ad by simply laying a code over an otherwise stunning image.

    Instead:

    1) Design the code; add design elements to the code, add color, add icons, design it and the ad for each other – graphic design 101.

    2) Make the mobile experience compelling! Don’t just harvest an email or have a coupon code. Interact via SMS, email, calls, multiple screens, multiple calls to action, even try going across media!

  • stothartegemg7
  • nbmartin3

    I think your post does a good job of highlighting the fact that too much of the focus on 2D bardcodes is on the novelty of the format, and not enough thought goes creating a customer experience. A clear call to action (which, as you mentioned, doesn’t exist on this particular ad) should lead to an experience that considers the context of the person scanning. I think over time as people become more familiar with the technology, more thought will be put into the best way to use 2D barcodes.

    Several people mention in comments that the number of sub-par implementations can be discouraging, but it also tells me that because they are disappointed they must have high expectation for what should be done with the technology. Something you highlight in this post that I hear over and again is that 2D barcodes should minimize the barriers for people to engage with a brand in someway, and the experience should consider the context of how/when/why the scan takes place. Perhaps this will give commenters reason for some optimism: A well executed use of 2D barcodes (in this case Microsoft Tag) was done by Porsche. They used a two-prong strategy to deliver content to the person scanning that considers the context of the medium and location the scan takes place. In a nutshell, if a Tag is scanned in the showroom it delivers information on the vehicle. If a scan takes place on an ad outside the store the content aims to get the interested party into the nearest showroom. Here’s more information on the use case if you’re interested: http://tag.microsoft.com/community/tag-blog-item/11-07-18/Porsche_Drives_the_Mobile_Conversation.aspx?category=

    Jason Falls also touches on this idea of delivering a great backend experience on our Tag blog: http://tag.microsoft.com/community/tag-blog-item/11-06-29/The_One_Thing_Your_Tag_Strategy_Needs.aspx?category=tag%20tips

    Nick Martin

    Online Community Manager

    Microsoft Tag

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @nbmartin3 Thanks Nick. I love that Porsche idea. Very cool.

      So I write a book (the only major business book I think) that includes tons of Tags, and do 20+ interviews about it world-wide, and FALLS gets to write a guest post for you? What’s up with that? ;)

  • dilauracqgn8
  • haqkraoq6
  • Jaineen

    @msrasberryinc Good question!! I’m going to ping @ron_crittendon for his opinion on QR codes

  • hilbrandjbbxl9
  • wittmantcqs4
  • DirectResponse.net

    I love the idea of QR codes. They’re dummy proof and they draw interaction. My one negative about them is their design. I feel that big white and black chess board takes away from the ad’s beauty at times. My one big positive is the potential it has for interaction. These QR codes can lead to any URL you create, so creating custom URLs or videos strictly for a specific ad can create a lot of fun ads.

  • selfmademom

    @Socialologist speaking of which what is your favorite #iphone app for it??

  • jaybaer

    @shanebarnhill Thanks Shane. Much appreciated.

  • dblacombe

    @sandlerhamish thanks for RT! QR is quasi-something, but not mainstream.

    • sandlerhamish

      @dblacombe true; and the ad critique was hilarious

      • dblacombe

        @sandlerhamish I know! In the vein of “what I’d like to have told the client” when I worked in adverts.

  • ramirezmozfo2

    @nathalie101 http://is.gd/ZeO9KG

  • fluaittuenxx3
  • ericosx

    @_myelefant_ “Contactez moi” J’attends toujours votre réponse… une semaine déjà #Noumea

  • raduenzxndfn1
  • smorty71

    “the Taylor Lautner of calls-to-action” Love that!

  • IanKEllard

    @NigelPurves oh Jesus, this is horrible. The qr code is just so big. But that’s hardly the point. I have literally no idea whats on offer

    • NigelPurves

      @IanKEllard whatever it is it’s definitely $75. Or $300. But it’s definitely a hotel. Or golf membership.

      • IanKEllard

        @NigelPurves I think – I THINK – that if you spend 300 quid at the hotel you get 75 quid on a prepaid golf gift card. What I know is….QR!!

      • gulletteilhf8
  • aschottmuller

    Your points on design, relevance, and a value-added user experience are right on. Too many marketers have been hypnotized by including a fancy new piece of technology and have completely forgotten about quality marketing tactics for memorable, awesome experiences. Of all the QR code campaigns I’ve seen (which is a lot), this one isn’t terrible. They actually employ most of the best practices on my checklist: http://qrcodechecklist. However, that also points out that marketers need to think beyond a mobile barcode checklist and still incorporate UX logic and marketing strategy in their promotions. Poor implementation is the fault of the marketer, not the technology. QR codes still provide a unique and revolutionary opportunity to bridge non-digital and digital worlds if executed properly.

  • aschottmuller

    Although the size of the QR code is not attractive, I do have to give Crowne Plaza credit for actually making the QR code large enough to be scanned by inferior camera phones. (I could even scan the code in the image that you posted.) Most marketers don’t understand that inferior camera phones, or ones w/o autofocus, (e.g. iPhone 3GS, Blackberry) are incapable of scanning codes smaller than about 1″x1″. They test with their new iPhone 4 and assume that means the code is scannable for everyone. Too small, unscannable QR codes are an epidemic in most QR code campaigns, so Crowne Plaza get props for getting that right.

  • inspirex

    @salmajafri the qr code timing was slightly off when they came in….now, the timing seems to be just right with all camera phones.

    • salmajafri

      @inspirex exactly. but you still need to install a barcode reader on your phone first.

      • inspirex

        @salmajafri Blackberries and Iphones have qr code readers almost pre-installed.

  • http://justicewordlaw.com/ Justicewordlaw

    I do agree with the idea of how QR Codes are now being bounced around totally different then what they are some times meant for. It seems that some of the marketing coordinators for these companies just come up with an idea of one day throwing a QR codes together and just putting a discount with it. I have tested and tried to use a lot of different qr codes but as you did I run into issues where I continuously got an error message when trying to place information.

  • DavidSpinks

    The increased adoption of the QR code still confuses me. It’s something that it seems the average consumer (non-tech community) has not adopted at all.

    I’ve never seen anyone scanning a code outside of a tech or social media conference.

    And yet so many companies have QR codes on their advertisements. Definitely seems to be a case where the consultants and agencies are pitching QR codes for whatever reason, without having any actual proof of traction. Maybe it’s to give this vibe of being innovative, or maybe they’re so focused on how it COULD be used, that they forget to think about why someone would use it in the first place.

    IMO, the QR code won’t be useful until a QR code scanning app becomes widely recognized in the mainstream. Right now people see the codes, and still have no idea what it is, let alone how to scan it.

    Until people see a code, and immediately know what to do in order to interact with it, I wouldn’t invest my time or money into a QR code strategy.

    • TheTimHayden

      @DavidSpinks

  • BGS_WestMids

    @sentoriapp This is great as it highlights the potential downfalls of QR miss use! QR has so much potential – were hoping to show that! :-)

  • letstalkandchat

    I just found a great company that builds websites for info products. To keep your costs low, they’ll mentor you on how to create your site, design a marketing funnel (one of the guys works in Hollywood and makes really slick videos), and the other guy programmed Myspace. If you’re looking to have professional web design for your small business and not waste any time or money then check their site out. Check them out: http://www.mikelmurphy.com/easy-info-product-site-system/

  • myersmemories

    I found your comment below true but you would have to own a text short code with the carriers to manage these, correct? Does ExactTarget have kit in their portfolio to help?

    It would be substantially easier – and you’d have a much larger potential audience – if you asked people to simply text message in their email address to sign up. (89% of Americans 15 or older have a phone capable of this action)

  • myersmemories

    I found your comment below insightful but I thought you would need to have your own text short code with the carriers to manage this, correct? Does ExactTarget have kit in their portfolio to help?

    “It would be substantially easier – and you’d have a much larger potential audience – if you asked people to simply text message in their email address to sign up. (89% of Americans 15 or older have a phone capable of this action)”

  • taylordesign

    @tphcanada visually they are really ugly. Technically they are an interesting tool. I don’t like seeing 10 of them on a realty ad.

    • tphcanada

      @taylordesign An interesting tool indeed! Have you seen any clever uses of them? This is one of my favourites – http://t.co/1jieN3n1

      • taylordesign

        @tphcanada I haven’t seen anything that creative. Great find.

        • tphcanada

          @taylordesign Thanks! If you come across any cool uses, feel free to share with us! We’d love to see.

  • http://www.iquestintl.com/ Ronie Walter @ IT Staffing Agencies

    Your share a good information Jay. Sharing  this kind of information would be great. I see more discussions below which can make this topic more interesting. Thanks Jay.