As QR codes continue popping up everywhere and becoming more mainstream, QR code critics have more and more fodder. So many people use them wrong, diminishing their value for those who use them right.
As Scott Stratten says (hilariously, by the way), “Every time you use a QR code for something and don’t think it through, a kitten dies.”
To counter this, we will be talking a lot about QR code campaigns this month. We plan to cover where to (and not to) put QR codes, what to include with your code, tips for when to use a QR code, and tracking the scans of your code.
Companies trying to embrace mobile marketing want to put QR codes on anything and everything, not realizing that QR placement needs to be strategic.
We’ve touched briefly on how QR code placement can backfire, specifically looking at how details matter. Sure, a QR code in your storefront is a great idea, but not when it’s so high up that it can only be scanned from the roof of the building across the street. But today, we’re going to look at places where QR codes should never, ever be.
Don’t put a QR code:
- On a smartphone screen - Unless your target demographic is people who own multiple cell phones and enjoy having to use them both at the same time, putting a QR code in an MMS message, mobile app, or on a mobile website will not work. (Tweet this)
- On a moving vehicle - I have seen two offenders of this rule in the past month. Do not put a QR code on your car or truck, or give away bumper stickers with your QR code on them. It’s a great way to kill people. (Tweet this)
- On a highway billboard- Again, it’s a great way to kill people. Even if it wasn’t wildly dangerous to try to scan a QR code while driving, cars would be moving too fast to line up the shot, and the height of the code would make it difficult to scan. Which brings me to the next no-no… (Tweet this)
- Above a basketball player’s eye level - How many giants have smartphones? Is that your target demographic? If so, go ahead and put a QR code on the second story of a building. Otherwise, the code can be a little above eye level, but the higher the user needs to hold up their phone, the more distorted the code appears in the scanner. (Tweet this)
- In an email - The whole point of QR codes are to link users to some sort of digital content. They are for when actual hyperlinks are not possible. If someone is checking email, they’re already connected to the internet. It takes longer to open the scanner app than it does to click a link. (Tweet this)
- On a bathing suit (or any clothing) - Let’s disregard the fact that QR codes need to lie flat and bodies tend to have curves, which can mean codes on bathing suits not scanning properly. Do you really want to be responsible for the awkwardness of someone going up to another person and saying, “Can I stare and point my phone at your butt/chest/stomach?” (Tweet this)
- On the wall above a urinal - First of all, whipping out a smartphone and opening an app with a camera will make the other men in the bathroom extremely uncomfortable. But more importantly, what happens if the guy drops his phone while scanning the code? He will hate your brand and your QR code. (Tweet this)
- On your skin - QR code tattoos are a bad idea. Even if it’s temporary, you will have to deal with the same awkwardness that comes with putting them on clothing. But more importantly, if you have a QR code tattoo, you’re not allowed to gain weight, age, or change your body at all for the rest of your life. If you do, the code will stretch or sag or something, and won’t scan. (Tweet this)
- In the subway - Subways usually don’t have cell service, so put a QR code in a subway car at your own risk. Even if there is service, the car would need to be empty enough for someone to have an unobstructed view of the code wit their phone. If you want to put a QR code somewhere at the station, don’t make the scanner stand on the subway tracks to get a clear scan. (Tweet this)
- On a tombstone - Please, please, please do not memorialize your loved ones by putting a QR code on their tombstone, as Woodland Cemetery wants you to do. That tombstone is going to be there forever, and technology changes very quickly. (Tweet this)