When it comes to QR codes, people seem to either love them or hate them. Marketers usually think they are either the holy grail or the plague. The QR-lovers argue that they are still in their infancy in the United States and just need more time to be adopted by the masses. Those on the opposite side argue that they will never catch on because the "work" of scanning a QR code on a smartphone and the reward granted are not balanced. Well, I think both sides are right.

As they are used now, QR codes won't last. People have the wrong idea about what they are. I have heard people describe QR codes as "a fast way to get to a website or Facebook page on your phone" and "a way to get coupons." True story: a friend of mine had heard about a contest that involved scanning a QR code to enter a contest. When we encountered another code in a storefront, she scanned it and wondered what the contest was and if her entry worked. She thought their only purpose was to enter contests. Basically, most people still have no idea what QR codes can really do.

As much as this may make you want to shake your head at these silly people, it is not their fault. I think QR codes are one of the most misused marketing tactics out there. QR codes are beginning to pop up everywhere, but only a small number of companies have a thorough understanding of how to use them effectively. Smartphone users are more likely to encounter a worthless QR code than they are one that actually exemplifies their potential.

If you want to QR codes to stick around, then work to change the public perception of QR codes. Yes, many people still see them as a novelty, but using them that way will just ensure that they die a quick death in the U.S. (they are more popular in other countries). I'm going to leave you with a few requests that will hopefully resonate with other people too:

  • Please only use a QR code to give the scanner information that they will want or need at the time of scanning. Do they really need to like your Facebook page while they're walking down the street, or can it wait until they get home? QR codes should have an immediate reward for the scan to be worthwhile to the scanner. (Tweet this)
  • Please put some serious thought into where you are putting a QR code and why you are putting it there. Is it a place where users will be willing and, more importantly, able to scan it? (Tweet this)
  • For the love of technology, please don't put a QR code on your website that links to your website, especially if it isn't even optimized for mobile browsing. (Tweet this)

Are you rooting for QR codes? Share your requests for mobile marketers in the comments!