This is a picture of the crap waiting for me in my mailbox today….100% of my mail had QR codes printed on the packaging. I know exactly what a QR code is, I have MULTIPLE apps on my phone to decode them and I fancy myself as a marketer. Want to take a guess at how many of them I scanned?
There are two things responsible for the demise of the QR code:
1) Decoding a QR code is difficult…
I laid eyes on my first mobile optimized QR code in 2007, 6 years later it’s still not a “native” feature of any mobile operating systems. Google and Apple could have done marketers a huge service by allowing the stock cameras to simply notify the user when there was a scannable QR code in the frame. Instead, there are over 50 applications (most of them free) on the iPhone app store with a similar amount on Google Play.
2) Marketers have failed at creating an experience…
If you have by chance scanned a QR code in the past, chances are you’ve been burned. You go to the work to dig up (or re-download) your favorite QR code application, scan and BUM…BUM….BUM….you get directed to a website (sometimes optimized for your mobile phone), maybe something fancy like a phone number or a contact form *YAWN!* You probably didn’t make that mistake again…
So that’s it?? They’re just done?
Many fads never last long enough for them to actually catch on and I fear the QR code is about to meet this fate as well. If you’re considering QR codes on anything customer facing, make sure it’s purposeful. Here are a couple of ways I would utilize QR codes if I were running their mobile strategy (one national, one local):
24 Hour Fitness – Virtual Trainer: Instead of having an application that just finds 24 Hour Fitness locations around me, take the opportunity to engage users inside of your club and collect information on how they use your equipment. After picking a customized workout plan online, enable your customers to track their workout by posting unique QR codes on each machine, checking off routines and charting progress in real-time. Who knows, maybe going to the gym could become fun….
Bier Station – Bier Experte: Bier Station is my favorite new watering hole in town (if you’re in KC, go check it out). One of the best things about this place is discovering new beers. They could use a QR code to link customers into their sales database to view top-selling/trending beers…making it even more fun to go pick out the next one! Who needs a menu?
While QR codes could be on their way out, mobile technology is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Those who come up with ways to engage customers in unique experiences with mobile technology will always win out over those who simply slap the next mobile fad into their marketing materials.