QR Codes on Product Labels and What You Should Consider

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Creating Brand Engagement

Quick Response (QR) codes are two-dimensional graphics that can be scanned by smartphone cameras to automatically retrieve text, photos, videos and URLs. Being mobile-friendly, these codes are used to attract an audience to online materials via an offline stage.Creating these codes is the simplest part! There are numerous websites devoted to creating custom QR, easily found by searching for “QR code generator.” The ZXing Project QR Code Generator is the simplest to use. Just input where you want the code to land, and it will generate the scannable image that you may save and print.

However, choosing what to do with your QR code is a bit trickier. Many small businesses make the mistake of simply inputting a link to their website through the QR rather than creating a more engaging or rewarding destination on the other end.

Digital Strategist Kyle J. Britt at BooneOakley—an ad company known for its creativity in new Internet marketing—said: “The most active usage of QR codes results in downloaded material. This isn’t an opportunity to ‘look cool.’ It’s an opportunity to showcase yourself, and what you have to offer through new technology.”

Things to Consider with QR Codes

  1. Who is your audience?  Recently, Nielson reported that about 28% of mobile users have smartphones, and even less know how to use them. If you can’t imagine your audience quite “hip” enough to be scanning QR codes, then it might not be necessary at this time.
  2. What are your goals with QR codes?  Whether to boost awareness, or to gain consumer loyalty, you should focus your efforts on how the QR destination will impact the consumer in a manner relative to your brand and product. Sending them off to your website or Facebook profile is about as effective as a salesman pointing to an aisle and saying, “It’s over there.” You have an opportunity to engage with customers at the point of purchase – and you have their full attention. What do you need for them to understand about you?
  3. How will you reach these goals with QR?  Track the number of scans your QR gets to understand and identify its effectiveness. Tie the link to a free Google Analytics account, or other internet metrics service, and witness how the user interacts with the destination you’ve given them.
  4. How will you get them to scan it?  The effort of whipping out a phone and activating the scanner app can be exhausting for some people. Also, QR is not popular enough to assume that everyone knows what it is just yet. While very popular in Japan, QR is relatively new to the US, so make sure you include a bit of instruction on how to use the QR wherever you place it. A simple “use your smartphone to scan this code” may be sufficient enough, but don’t presume they won’t need further incentive to take the effort to scan it.

What can I do with my QR Code?

Here are some ideas that you can link to your QR for maximum effect:

Introduction – Tell smartphone users to scan the QR for quick testimonials and further product information that was too big to put on the label in the first place!

How-to Instructional Videos – Great for including recipes, do-it-yourself advice or other fun/unique ways to enjoy your product.

Events – Advertise local and wide events with QR—even link the code to paperless tickets—and start engaging your customers directly.

Coupon – Paperless or printable coupons can be effective towards acquiring consumer loyalty with your product, with zero cost on materials.

Rewarding Media – A link to a photo, album, video or other digital media that connects with your brand identity and gives the customer something extra for choosing you.

Social Media – Encourage customers to follow you on Twitter, check-in at Foursquare, comment on your Yelp or Facebook profiles by sending them there instantaneously. Promise of rewards or benefits is always a nice incentive.

Contact Info – Automatically import your phone or texting service number to invite a direct connection with your customers.

The possibilities with your QR code labels are endless! You can even customize the QR to include logos and different colors now! It’s up to you to decide, and we encourage you to be creative with it. The destination you chose to send your consumers via QR could be an impression you don’t want to lose.

QR Code Troubleshooting

A quick checklist of tips to avoid problems that you may encounter with your QR codes:

  1. Are you using the right format? Some businesses have spread to other types of barcodes, including Data Matrix, which are still relatively foreign to smartphones. QR is currently the format of choice between iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
  2. The size of the QR code is crucial. If the actual code is too small (like the size of a quarter), most low-resolution cameras won’t be able to read it, making nearly all your printed QRs completely inert. For big, billboard QRs, most phones use digital zoom that lowers resolution, again making the code unreadable.
  3. The longer the link, the harder it is to scan it. Link-shortening services such as bit.ly can help you make your QR scanned easily on the first try.
  4. Test it again and again. Use as many different phones, as many different applications, as possible to scan to test if your QR is performing correctly across the board.

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