Well actually, if they are laughing, that may be a good sign. Let me explain.
Every single day now, I see QR codes presented everywhere – on business cards, advertisements, yellow pages, retail signs, television commercials, telephone poles, gravestones, and even tattooed on people’s arms. Even an old fool like me knows that QR codes will be replaced in the not-too-distant future by much more elegant solutions. But for now, when used correctly, they canarguably simplify the interface of typing a long URL into your phone’s browser. (I say arguably, because one can reasonably contend that simply presenting a tiny URL, like the one pointing to this post – http://bit.ly/JHm8tJ could be used equally well.) Nevertheless, until we can simply wave our smart-phone like a magic-wand to invoke content, this fat-fingered author would rather scan than type (and no…NFC will not be the answer for vast array of printed material).
The debate over scanning vs. typing is largely irrelevant anyway. The real problem with 99% of the QR codes that I see plastered about is the complete lack of pay-off. Most of the time, after I scan a code, I’m like ‘that’s it?‘ ’Where’s the beef?’ ‘Where’s my prize?’
To compound the annoyance of time wasted, most codes I encounter direct me to a web site designed for a desktop user. Before you proudly slap a QR code onto your business card, you really need to open your site on a phone and see what actually get’s presented to the user. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your ad space and worse, the time of your prospects.
QR codes are scanned by mobile phone users, so if your code doesn’t direct to a site that has been specifically designed for a mobile phone, it’s really better not to present a code at all.
Sadly, I’ve come to expect a let-down when I scan a QR code these days. I say ‘sadly’ because my company designs mobile web sites and apps and promotes the use of scan codes as an effective way to drive mobile traffic. So poorly executed QR codes only serve as ammunition to the naysayers who argue QR codes are a waste of time. The truth is – most QR codes are a waste of time because of terrible execution.
Pointing a QR code to a mobile web site (or app) is a prerequisite to a good scan campaign, however that alone will notengage your users. Prospects want to realize a pay-off. This may mean presenting GPS-enabled driving directions, a Click-to-Call button, or an easy way to request contact. Better yet, engage your prospects with a feedback survey, a coupon or reward, a trivia game, or a humorous mobile-optimized video that promotes your business or message.
Finally, the QR code itself. Most of the ones I see are god-awful ugly black and white, devoid of any stylization. Don’t underestimate the importance of stylizing your QR code. They need not be monotone. Find someone with knowledge of PhotoShop and have them apply their ‘art’ to the code and the presentation that surrounds it. Doing this will turn your mundane geek’ish looking scan code into something that more resembles a work of graphic art.