If you are using QR codes as part of a marketing campaign then there are a number of basic points to consider. I promise you don’t need to be Lisa Simpson to understand them! But to maximise the effectiveness of your QR code marketing campaign resist the temptation to do anything too clever. Assume your audience is no smarter than Homer Simpson. Put simply, keep it simple stupid (KISS)! So ‘clever’ things to avoid include:
QR code colours
Radically changing the colours of the whole QR code or parts of it. Black and white is the highest possible contrast. You might be able to get away with a dark colour on a light background but avoid lowering the contrast too much if you can. Avoid reproducing codes in metallic inks or foils too as the reflective nature will inhibit scanning. A classic mistake designers often make is ‘reversing out’ QR codes – making the black elements white and vice versa, for placement on a black or dark background. This almost always makes the code unusable!
QR code size
To make scanning successful as possible, QR codes should be no smaller than 1 inch (25.4mm) square. If you are displaying your code on a dark background (not reversed out, remember) you also need to leave some white space around the code. Ideally this white margin should be at least as wide as the centres of the three large squares on the code (see below).
While there is no upper limit on the size of a code, you need to think what is appropriate for the situation. Which needs nicely on to the next point!
QR code placement/location
If you are reproducing QR codes on business cards, packaging, magazine adverts and the like, then follow the size advice given above. However if you are displaying QR codes on a house sale board, poster, billboard etc then you need to consider how close a person will be to successfully scan the code. For example, there is no use placing a 1 square inch code on a billboard no one can get near! So don’t place QR codes in places that are impractical for scanning.
QR code resolution
QR codes are available from many sources. Assuming you use snap.vu, our free account creates codes in raster formats (JPEG and PNG) that are suitable for everyday use and home/office/school printing. If you intend to use your QR codes any larger than 1 inch (25.4mm) square or want to ensure the highest possible print resolution then our paid account gives you access to your QR codes in PDF and EPS formats. These are vector file formats. This means that rather than being made up of dots or pixels as JPEG and PNG files are, the QR code is defined mathematically as point using the PostScript language. This allows PDF and EPS QR codes to be used at any size without a loss of definition or looking ‘fuzzy’.
QR code call to action
Most people know what QR codes are used for. Or do they? You can significantly increase the scan rate of a code by adding a call to action next to it. So for example on the back of a business card you could display the code and include some text, ‘Scan to view and download my contact details’. By the way if you are interested in doing this then create a snap.vu contact code as it creates your contact page for you.
QR code destination
This is the single most overlooked aspect of QR code usage. While it’s possible to scan a QR code from a laptop or desktop PC webcam, the vast majority of codes are scanned using smart phones. So how does your content look on a mobile phone screen? The best case scenario is that your content is ‘responsive’ or mobile optimised. Put simply it fits the screen without pinching or zooming. Worst case is that your content doesn’t display correctly or even at all on mobile phones. For example sending iPhone users to a Flash based website, like The Simpsons, because Flash is not supported on that device. Check how the destination looks and works on a smart phone before you launch your campaign.
QR code metrics
Assuming you’ve followed all the advice above, what’s left to do? Make sure you measure your marketing. A snap.vu free account will tell you the date, time and device type for each scan. And it can even send you an email every time one of your codes is scanned. But for more advanced marketing insights you need a snap.vu paid account. Because in addition to the free features it gives you information on the geographic location where the code was scanned and displays a time graph of your scan traffic. In addition you can export your scan data to CSV.
QR code marketing campaign checklist
- Call to action?
A lot of this advice sounds so simple even the Simpsons mutt, ‘Santa’s Little Helper’ could follow it. But now you’ve read the advice I can guarantee you will be able to spot some QR code stupidity around you. Just make sure you’re not the one left saying doh!