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Companies tend to make the same slip-ups over and over again when it comes to using QR codes. These mistakes not only cause businesses to lose out on profit but also, most importantly, ruin the consumer experience. I have looked at the most common problems and have suggested  effective ways in which your business can combat them.

Problem 1: URL Shortening and Linkrot

There are many companies that, rightly or wrongly, use third-party URL shorteners such as This is a clever way to make sure that the created QR code does not become too complex, because the code is as complex as the content it is storing. By using a URL shortening service this ensures that the code can be scanned by most smartphones. The problem with these third-party systems, however,  is that they are open to glitches and link rot.

This means that if the shortening service stops altogether all the links you have created and all the codes you have placed on product packaging, business cards signs and so on, would also stop working. The links are essentially broken – link rot. There has also been substantial criticism of the business model of these services as more than 60% closed down as a consequence of spammers abusing their service.

Solution: you need to make sure that your QR codes  and links associated to them work in definitely. Make sure you host shortened URLs on your own domain or use a dedicated QR Code software to do that for you.

Problem 2: Lack of Purpose

The person scanning your code will go through a series of decisions during the process. Firstly, they will see the code on for example a product. Secondly, they will now decide whether to scan so if there is no clear call to action this may not happen. Thirdly, the consumer will take out their mobile phone, launch the app and finally scan. Lastly, they will view whatever you decided they should see.

Did you know that the vast majority of scan outcomes is a company’s desktop website? This means the consumer will have to pinch and zoom and spend a fair bit of time trying to find what they are looking for. How long would you spend before giving up? Another lost sale. Giving consumers the same information through the QR code that they could already get elsewhere is ultimately a waste of a great sales opportunity.

Solution: Think of the QR code as a VIP membership card which you can only get if you are very special. So, the QR code is not only the gateway to  online worlds it is also a direct channel to exclusive content and information. When a consumer scans your codes make sure that what ever they see cannot be accessed anywhere else except from that particular QR code on that particular product. Also, make it very clear that this truly is exclusive content and that they are lucky and very special.

When you plan to market a product or service using QR codes carefully consider what exclusive content or information you will provide the person scanning, because if you fail they will never scan again. The best way to ensure that there is always something different when someone engages with your code is to use a QR code software that will help you change the destination of the code at different times during the day without having to replace it.

Problem 3: Not Knowing if there is return on investment

Successful marketing campaigns capitalizing on QR codes can get a lot of scans. Heinz most recent QR code campaign in 2012 received more than 1 million. It is therefore essential that you know where this sudden influx of traffic is coming from. A common problem is that the business does not treat traffic coming from a QR code as website traffic which means they have no idea if there campaign is providing a clear return on investment.

Solution: send traffic to a unique URL from a trackable QR Code so that you can analyse this traffic more easily. This puts you in control of the Code and you can easily gauge return on investment. It will be worth your while.

As you can imagine with any new technology there is a steep learning curve. However marketing using QR codes does not have to be complicated as long as you consider the code as an extension of your brand and another point of engagement for consumers. This means that there needs to be a clear call to action so that people know why they are scanning your QR code. And, that the information they see is exclusive to them. Invest in a decent QR code Software so that you do not suffer from link rot and poor analytics.

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Posted by Johannes Ahrenfelt

Johannes Ahrenfelt is the co-founder of 99SQUARED Ltd. Their first product SQUARE:CODE is a QR Code Software that offers a unique management system for QR Codes, giving businesses complete and flexible control of how they communicate with consumers.Rather than linking to a single, fixed URL from the QR Code, SQUARE:CODE lets businesses manage their code – so that it could point to a website about a sale one day, and an event on their business’ Facebook page the next.

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