Last week Mashable singled out five reasons why QR code marketing is not the new “hot spot” in town as every marketer thought it would be by now.
If there’s one thing we know almost too well it’s that it’s easy to forget about usability altogether when we’re immersed in a marketing project. But as the article pointed out:
“However, let’s consider the user’s side of things. In order to scan a barcode, a user has to: 1. Get out their phone; 2. Unlock their phone; 3. Boot the app; 4. Get the code in focus and scan it. This is assuming they already have an app that scans barcodes. For most users, it’s faster to just search Google for whatever the code is giving them a shortcut to.”
As far as the user experience is concerned, another crucial aspect is somewhat being ovelooked. Where the QR is being put is no tiny detail that can be ignored. As the author would argue:
“Location is another important consideration. QR codes are showing up everywhere, on everything, with seemingly zero thought about context. (For some interesting use-cases, check out WTFQRCODES.) For instance, besides being impossible to scan, QR codes on highway billboards are dangerous and waste valuable visual real estate. A shortened URL, especially one created with a vanity URL shortener, would be easier and more effective.”
Looking into our own business, maybe it’s hard to tell the difference between one of our numbers and a traditional phone number; a similarity that does indeed create some confusion. Yet, it’s also a plus because most of our minds associate phone numbers with a two-way communication act, as opposed to a barcode which is often related to a mere commercial application.
QR codes are ugly. Worse still, they’re indistinguishable from codes used for industrial purposes. So a code on a product can be misinterpreted as a tracking barcode instead of a marketing outlet.
Perhaps they’re not pretty, but QR codes have an undeniable futuristic appeal and they can considered useful in some contexts, like when someone is waiting for a bus or reading an article. Provided there’s a free WiFi connection, of course.
The reason we’re not bragging about the first signs of QR codes ineffectiveness is that at best they’re being misunderstood, and by that we mean they’re being used in many ways, all with different degrees of non-sense.
The gist is, 1ring and QR codes are not competitors. What we are indeed trying to counteract is the bandwagon effect that’s leading companies worldwide to adopt QR codes in all sorts of cases when context is clearly not suitable. There’s plenty of space in terms of permission marketing and engagement for both tools.
“And they lived happily ever after.”