5 tips for using QR codes

According to recent statistics, in the month of June, 14 million U.S. mobile phone users used their smart phones to scan QR or barcodes that were found in newspapers, magazines and product packages that could be found in a store or at their residence.

By Christopher Kourtakis, director of sales and marketing, 360° Industry Solutions — According to recent statistics, in the month of June, 14 million U.S. mobile phone users used their smart phones to scan QR codes or barcodes that were found in newspapers, magazines and product packages that could be found in a store or at their residence.

Was your company’s digital code among one of the 14 million that was used to access information about a brand or specific product? If the answer is no, then you are missing a tremendous opportunity to offer your customers access to discounts or coupons that you are currently offering — or the opportunity for your consumer to learn more about a product or service that you offer.

As mobile QR codes and barcodes are becoming more mainstream, they provide enormous potential to present brands and information about your company with brilliant results.

Listed below are five tips or best practices to help you have a successful campaign and ensure a positive return on investment.

Be Everywhere

The use of mobile barcodes should be present throughout any and all advertising or marketing that you do. The QR code or barcode should be incorporated into all digital and traditional media so that the consumer has 360° exposure to your marketing campaign. This will also ensure that consumer experience, dialogue and interactivity are at the heart of the campaign and not simply an afterthought.

Make It Easy While Driving Value

Giveaways, discounts and exclusive offers, special websites or videos are great ways to engage your customer while providing value. When your customer scans your barcode or QR Code, they should provide the consumer with a brand experience that is exclusive, dynamic and interactive.

Please take into account where a mobile barcode or QR Code is located within your ad. Consumers must be able to find it easily and scan it quickly. If you are placing the code on an outdoor banner, boat show display or on a boat at a show, make sure the code is at eye or arm-level. If you are using it in a print ad, the code should never be printed on a fold or in a crease. This will hinder the customer’s opportunity to properly scan the code.

When placing the code, make sure you leave a minimum of 1-inch by 1-inch of white space around the mobile barcode, as is recommended. If you are using a QR code in a television ad,  make sure the code remains on the screen long enough for the customer to launch a code reader on their mobile device and scan the code.

Keep It Simple

Specifically branded or customized QR codes are a great way to attract customers, but they also need to recognize what it is.  Some of the QR codes that I have seen recently do not even look like a QR code, and the opportunity is missed for a consumer to scan the code. When choosing colors for the code, make sure you stick with black and white. Some readers may not be able to pick up multiple color variations.

Develop a Customer Attraction

When a customer is scanning your code, they are using a mobile device. They expect instant results and do not want to have to click their way through a website to get to what they originally visited your site for. The barcode or QR Code should link through to a mobile-enabled site rather than a PC-designed site.

Make sure you test the functionality of your code with multiple devices prior to launch. Dead links (a code that goes nowhere) send the wrong message and you will lose a customer forever, as they are not going to come back and attempt to scan that specific code or another code that you provide again.

Account for Objectives and Analytics

Educate your audience, build brand loyalty, increase customer engagement and ultimately boost your company’s sales.  Whatever the campaign objective, be sure to define its goals before integrating a mobile barcode. Consider monitoring the campaign using a barcode management platform or make sure that you keep detailed records of where the codes were used and any other information that you can obtain.  This will help you focus or target a specific group for your next campaign.

Following the above practices gives you the opportunity to have a successful campaign and will provide you with a positive ROI.


  1. Chris,

    I just shared this article with my team @exumatech (DockMaster). We make heavy use of bar coding in our systems and need to be thinking about how this technology could be used across many aspects of a marine business.

    At this time I am not aware of anyone replacing barcodes with QR codes to price parts. By and large, QR Codes are used for marketing purposes. But we need to watch this trend. As you indicate, we see the need for incorporating QR Codes into POS applications such that customers can receive discounts at the retail counter.

  2. Cam, as a decade long Dockmaster user I am very interested in your use of QR codes. We have been using them since they came out! We typically include one on every spec sheet for our sales dept and am interested to see how you determine their use and to see if you can make it so we can store our QR code in DM to print on a DM spec sheet. Glencove submitted QR barcoding to the Top 100 as a ‘best idea’ and was recognized for that submission… it should have come in first because it is a very valuable tool and you now see them everywhere!

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